Richard Rohr

(S)He’s a verb.

May 10, 2019

At the Trinitarian level, God is a verb more than a noun, God is a flow more than a substance, God is an experience more than a deity sitting on a throne. And we live naturally inside that flow of love—if we do not resist it.

Everything is attracted to everything: life is attracted to life; love is attracted to love; God in you is attracted to God in everyone and everything else. This is what it means for everything to be created in the image of God (Genesis 1:26-27). 

Once we allow the entire universe to become alive for us, we are living in an enchanted world. Nothing is meaningless; nothing can be dismissed. It’s all whirling with the same beauty, the same radiance. In fact, if I could name the Big Bang in my own language, I’d call it the Great Radiance.

The inner radiance of God started radiating at least 13.8 billion years ago. We must realize that we are the continuation of that radiance in our small segment of time on Earth. We can either allow it and let the Trinitarian Flow flow through us or we can deny it, which is to deny the divine image.

This is nothing I can prove to you. This is nothing I can make logical or rational. It can only be known experientially in the mystery of love when you surrender yourself to it, when you grant subjectivity or a blessed I-Thou relationship to every other thing—a plant, an animal, a single tree, the big blue sky, “Brother Sun, Sister Moon” [Father Francis of Assisi].

-Richard Rohr, Center for Action & Contemplation

Center for Action & Contemplation: disconnection and love

May 7, 2019

‘I’m convinced that beneath the ugly manifestations of our present evils—political corruption, ecological devastation, warring against one another, hating each other based on race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, or nationality—the greatest dis-ease facing humanity right now is our profound and painful sense of disconnection. We feel disconnected from God, certainly, but also from ourselves (especially our bodies), from each other, and from our world. Our sense of this fourfold isolation is plunging our species into increasingly destructive behavior and much mental illness.

Yet many are discovering that the Infinite Flow of the Trinity—and our practical, felt experience of this gift—offers the utterly grounded reconnectionwith God, with self, with others, and with our world that all spirituality, and arguably, even politics, is aiming for, but which conventional religion and politics fail to access.

Trinity overcomes the foundational philosophical problem of “the One and the Many.” Serious seekers invariably wonder how things can be both deeply connected and yet clearly distinct. In the paradigm of Trinity, we have three autonomous “Persons,” as we call them, who are nevertheless in perfect communion, given and surrendered to each other with an Infinite Love. With the endless diversity in creation, it is clear that God is not at all committed to uniformity but instead desires unity—which is the great work of the Spirit—or diversity overcome by love.

Uniformity is mere conformity and obedience to law and custom; whereas spiritual unity is that very diversity embraced and protected by an infinitely generous love.

This is the problem that our politics and most superficial religion are still unable to resolve.

Trinity is all about relationship and connection. We know the Trinity through experiencing the flow itself, which dissolves our sense of disconnection. The principle of one is lonely; the principle of two is oppositional and moves us toward preference and exclusion; the principle of three is inherently moving, dynamic, and generative. Trinity was made to order to undercut all dualistic thinking. Yet Christianity shelved it for all practical purposes because our dualistic theologies could not process it. 

God is not a being among other beings, but rather the Ground of Being itselfwhich then flows through all beings. As Paul says to the intellectuals in Athens, this God “is not far from us, but is the one in whom we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:27-28). The God whom Jesus reveals is presented as unhindered dialogue, a positive and inclusive flow, and a waterwheel of outpouring love that never stops! St. Bonaventure called God a “fountain fullness” of love. 

Our sense of disconnection is only an illusion. Nothing can stop the flow of divine love; we cannot undo the eternal pattern even by our worst sin. God is always winning, and God’s love will finally win in the end. Nothing humans can do can stop the relentless outpouring force that is the divine dance. Love does not lose, nor does God lose. That’s what it means to be God!’

Image credit: (detail), Andrei Rublev, c. 1400-1410, Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow, Russia.
Trinity: The Trinity depicts the three angels who visited Abraham at the Oak of Mamre (Genesis 18: 1-8); the painting is full of symbolism and is interpreted as an icon of the Holy Trinity. At the time of Rublev, the Holy Trinity was the embodiment of spiritual unity, peace, harmony, mutual love and humility.

Marianne Williamson, Democratic Presidential Candidate who bases her platform on love and connection, needs only 2,400 singular donations [$1-$5], 65,000 total, to be allowed to join the first debates schedule for June in Miami. Please donate at https://www.marianne2020.com

“A nation’s behavior is just like an individual’s – either an expression of our higher nature or our lower nature. In the case of both, cause and effect holds: whatever we do has consequences. Love leads to harmony & lovelessness to chaos.That’s why wisdom is relevant to politics.”

 

‘Spiritual questions are more important now than ever.’ -Harari

April 9, 2019

Fr. Richard Rohr: ‘My colleague and Episcopal priest Cynthia Bourgeault writes about this in her book The Meaning of Mary Magdalene:’

Today, within the mainstream of Christian sacramental practice we have indeed forgotten much of what our wisdom forebears once knew. Most Christians are still familiar with anointing only in its most stark and literal form, as the sacrament of “extreme unction,” administered shortly before physical death. While the ceremonial use of anointing for healing is on the increase (and this is a positive trend), even within these healing circles most people are unaware of the tightly interwoven threads that connect this action, through Mary Magdalene, to redemptive love and rebirth into fullness of being. They would be astonished to discover that anointing has not only something but everything to do with bridal mysticism and that it is not physical death but “dying before you die” that is its primary field of reference. To reclaim anointing in its original context would make it the sacramental centerpiece of a whole new vision of Christianity based on spiritual transformation and the alchemy of love. 

Center for Action and Contemplation

March 28-31

‘The quantum, the subatomic, the elemental, and the very minerals of the earth.

The very waters that fall upon the earth, run through our rivers, our bodies, and fill our oceans.

The plants, the trees, all living and growing networks that root into this earth.

The animals in our skies, in our oceans, on the land, all creatures great and small.

Human beings: every race, nationality, status, equality, or gender–ALL human bodies.

The angels and the spirits, those that move in the unseen realms and in other dimensions.

The great planetary bodies, the galaxies, and the whole cosmic mystery.’

God loves things by becoming them. -Richard Rohr

No despair of our can alter the reality of things, nor stain the joy of the cosmic dance, which is always there.

-Thomas Merton, 1915-1968

Your religion is not the church you belong to, but the cosmos you live inside of.

-G.K. Cheserton

“Once we know that the entire physical world around us, all of creation, is both eh hiding place and revelation place for God, this world becomes home, safe, enchanted, offering grace to any who look deeply. I call that kind of deep and cals seeing ‘contemplation.'”

-Richard Rohr, The Universal Christ

“Have I not told you that I am in the spirit as the spirit is in me? It is man who sees only poverty, for he sees with the eyes of the master of the world. But where man sees poverty, the spirit sees only abundance. What the spirit sees, I see, and what I see the spirit sees, and what the spirit sees, is.” -The Gospel of Thomas

For Richard Rohr, there are six simple claims that order the fullness of his finest book “The Universal Christ: How A Forgotten Reality Can Change Everything We See, Hope For, and Believe.”

  1. Christ is not Jesus’ last name. It’s a word used by the ancients to talk about the anointed one, and the Reality and flow of love in the universe found from the very beginning of time.
  2. We might then “accept being accepted”– that we are fully loved and embraced as we are, not because of who we are or what we do.
  3. See Christ in every thing. And not just fun, ecstatic parts of life — but in the depths of grief and pain as well.
  4. Start with original goodness. Why do Christians so often talk about “original sin?” It’s not even in the Bible. And in fact, the Bible starts with a story about how every thing and every one is good, good, good, and very good.
  5. Love is the meaning — it’s the underlying energy that powers the universe and available to each and every one of us as a divine flow.
  6. And, a sacred wholeness, which includes even the negative aspects of life’s way — typified in the Christian story as the cross.

“Jesus of the People”, artist Janet McKenzie

https://www.janetmckenzie.com

The Christ Mystery is indeed “the way, the truth, and the life,” but this is not about a religion or group one can join (which is how we have heard it), but rather a mystery of Incarnation that can be experienced by all, and in a million different ways.

-Richard Rohr, Oneing

“I think New Mexico was the greatest experience from the outside world that I have every had.” -D.H. Lawrence

Hope within the hopeless.

March 1, 2019

Richard Rohr, Center for Action and Contemplation:

“Without a Shared and Big Story, all humans retreat into private individualism for a bit of sanity and safety.

Perhaps lack of attention to the [ancient] Mystery can be seen in the way we continue to pollute and ravage planet Earth, the very thing we all stand on and live from. Science now appears to love and respect physicality more than most religion does! No wonder that science and business have taken over as the major explainers of meaning for most people today (even many who still go to church). Christians did not take this world seriously, I am afraid, because our notion of God or salvation didn’t include or honor the physical universe. And now, I am afraid, the world does not take [this] seriously.

Hope cannot be had by the individual if everything is corporately hopeless.

It is hard to heal individuals when the whole thing is seen as unhealable.”

Circle of connection.

February 14, 2019

“The entire universe is about connection and relationship…from the smallest atom to the galaxies and everything in between. Sin (missing the mark) and evil (false awareness) emerge when we try to stand outside of that circle of connection.” 

-Fr. Richard Rohr, Center for Action & Contemplation

St. Francis, while looking at the stars one night:

If these are the creatures, what must the creator be like?”

 

Ishvara

December 23, 2018

“We are waiting on the Divine Presence and listening to the voice of intuition, we come into a consciousness of peace and a realization that we all belong to one human family.

For surely God desires peace on earth and good will among (wo)men, and Christmas is the day of good will among (wo)men. It is a day when we find a common cause and gladly make our gifts of love to each other in the spirit of him who said, ‘Love one another. … It is your Father’s/Gaia’s good pleasure to give you the Kingdom.’

“Today, as our thought ascends in prayer, our good will is going out to the whole world. Today our great desire is that peace and good will shall come among all people and all nations, binding all together in golden chains of love.”

-Science of Mind

Love looked down and saw hate. “I will go there,” said Love.

“The ability to respect the outsider is probably the litmus test of true seeing. And it doesn’t stop with human beings and enemies and the least of the sisters and brothers. It moves to frogs and waters and weeds. Everything becomes enchanting once we have full sight. One God, one world, one truth, one suffering, and one love (see Ephesians 4:4-6). All we can do is participate.”

-Richard Rohr, Center for Action & Contemplation

You didn’t come into this house

so I might tear off a piece of your life.

Perhaps when you leave,

you’ll take something of mine:

chestnuts, roses, or a surety of roots.

-Pablo Neruda

“What makes Neruda such a great poet is the largeness of his heart, and through is large kindness, he suggests that giving heals and that until we step into that space between each other and try, nothing can happen. But once we do, giving and receiving become the same, and we all grow stronger for going there together.”

-Mark Nepo

The inner blueprint.

December 4, 2018

 

In the beginning was the Blueprint, and the Blueprint was with God, and the Blueprint was God. . . . And all things came to be through this inner plan. The inner reality of God became manifest in the outer world as the Cosmic or Eternal Christ. No one thing came to be except through this Blueprint and plan.

This Blueprint was the true light that enlightens all human beings who have come into the world. So, the true light, Consciousness, or Love itself precedes and connects and feeds all of our smaller lights and attractions.

This Light/Life/Love shines in the darkness, and the darkness cannot overcome it. “The visible galaxies we see strewn across space are nothing more than strings of luminous flotsam drifting on an invisible sea of dark matter,” writes astrophysicist Adam Frank.

Franciscan Sister Ilia Delio explains: “Scientists speculate that dark energy comprises about 73 percent of the total mass-energy of the universe and accelerates expansion of the universe.” Somehow the universe is an interplay between light and darkness.

This lays a wonderful foundation for a new consciousness and a new cosmology—and a very different notion of religion itself.

~Richard Rohr

The Scandal of the Particular

November 27, 2018

The Franciscan Way

 

Fr. Richard Rohr:

“Because Francis was not an intellectual, he did not begin with universal philosophies and ideas and abstractions. He began with the specific, the particular, the concrete: this person, this squirrel. I believe love is always, by its very nature, particular. “Just this!” When you start with the specific, you have a beautiful doorway to the universal. On the other hand, when you start with universal theories, it makes it very hard to ever get back to respect for the particular. In fact, you tend to find a reason to see that the particular is never good enough. It is always flawed and imperfect. There is inevitably a reason why this particular person or thing cannot be included, because it is seen to be abnormal, poor, broken, leprous, sinful, or unorthodox. Look at our Christian history: it seems to have been a nonstop search for who is unworthy and who does not belong. What a horrible waste of energy.

Walter Brueggemann says the entire biblical revelation is built on “the scandal of the particular.” Get it in one ordinary, concrete moment. Struggle with it there, fight with it there, resist it there, fall in love with it there. It’s a scandal precisely because it’s so ordinary. What is true in one place finally ends up being true everywhere. This is especially clear in the sacrament of the Eucharist. The Eucharist offers one focused moment of truth, showing that the Christ and this ordinary bit of elemental bread are one, and therefore the spiritual and the material can apparently coexist. Struggle with that, resist it, fall in love with it, eat it. You can’t just think about it rationally in your mind. Spiritual things are known in a whole-body way. You know them with your body, heart, soul, and mind all operating together. In this mysterious sacrament of Eucharist, you eat the bread; it becomes one with you; you become one with all those around you who are the same Body of Christ. It’s a corporeal, cellular knowing. The bread is for the sake of the people, it is food for the sick and weary, a medicine for the soul to let people know that they are what they eat! Instead, as Pope Francis says, we made it into a distant “prize for the perfect,” and its transformative and healing power was lost.”

Gateway to Silence:
“I am who I am in the eyes of God, nothing more and nothing less.” —Francis of Assisi

Indivisible wholeness.

September 10, 2018

“The whole of humanity, “forms, so to speak, a single living being.” In Christ we form a single body, we are all “members of one another.” For the one flesh of humanity and of the earth “brought into contact” in Christ “with the fire” of his divinity, is henceforward secretly and sacramentally deified.”

Olivier Clément, The Roots of Christian Mysticism, 2nd ed. (New City Press: 2013), 46.

“Even science confirms that there is no clear division between matter and spirit. Everything is interpenetrating. As Franciscan scientist and theologian Ilia Delio often says, “We are in the universe and the universe is in us.” Christ’s very nature mirrors this universal reality, that we are all one, just as he is one within himself.”

-Richard Rohr, Center for Action and Contemplation

~

Presence of Spirit Everywhere, Dr. Ernest Holmes

The Spirit of God, which is Life, is present everywhere. Like the air we breathe, It presses against us. On the mountaintop, in the valley, in the desert, and in the ocean–there is no place where Life is not. Therefore, in whatsoever direction we move, we move in God. In God we live, move, and have our being.

God is one undivided and indivisible Wholeness, one divine and spiritual Presence, our universal and all-encompassion Person. Perhaps it is a little difficult for us to understand the meaning of such an all-inclusive Person, but the very fact that we are personalities presupposes such a conclusion. Our endeavor, then, is not so much to find God, to discover the Divine source of our personal being, as it is to become acquainted with God.

Today, I consciously commune with the Spirit. I know that it presses against me and flows through me. I endeavor to feel this presence as a living reality in my life. Knowing that the Divine Presence is in everyone, I sense that the Spirit is in everyone I meet. I do my best to respond to this Spirit. Seeing It everywhere, I keep my consciousness open and alert that I may better understand the union of all life with its pure and perfect Source.

~

‘There is no one in this world who is not looking for God. Everyone is trudging along with as much dignity, courage and style as the possibly can.’ -Hafiz

“It’s nice to know we are all looking for God. It’s nicer still to know that we can find God in each other. After all, we’re all doing the best we can, with as much courage and style as we can. […] I have truly found that judgments, which are usually condemnations, are built on assumptions. And assumptions are built on quicksand–they suck up my good sense and my loving heart, so that as I drag someone down, I go down, too.”

-Rev. Katherine Saux, Science of Mind

He who possesses one [of the virtues] and does not offend the others, possesses all; and he who offends one, possesses none and offends all; and every one of them confounds vices and sins.

-St. Francis of Assisi

‘Everybody wondered why…’

July 22, 2018

Richard Rohr, Center for Action and Contemplation

More than a theological statement that requires intellectual assent, the Eucharist is an invitation to socially experience the shared presence of God, and to be present in an embodied way. Remember, within a Trinitarian worldview, everything comes down to relationship.

First, let me share some context. In Jesus’ time, the dominant institution was the kinship system: the family, the private home. That’s why early Christians gathered in house churches, much different from the typical parish today. In Matthew’s Gospel the word house is used many times. Jesus is always going in and out of houses (as in 8:14, 9:10). What happened around the tables in those houses shaped and named the social order. Table friendship ends up defining how we see friendship in general.

Jesus often used domestic settings to rearrange the social order. Nowhere was that truer than with the meal—with whom, where, and what he ate. This is still true today, more than we might imagine. (Another example of Jesus changing the social order is in the relationship between employers and workers.) Jesus’ constant use of table relationships is perhaps his most central re-ritualization of what family means. Note that he is always trying to broaden the circle (see Luke 14:7-24 for three good examples). Jesus brought this all to fullness in his “last supper” with “the twelve.” This was not to emphasize male fellowship, but the full quorum of the twelve tribes of Israel. (I know it does not look that way to us now, but the Eucharistic meal was from the very beginning a gathering of both women and men, which shows how Christians understood equality.) 

Jesus didn’t want his community to have a social ethic; he wanted it to be a social ethic. Their very way of eating and organizing themselves was to be an affront to the system of dominance and power. They were to live in a new symbolic universe, especially symbolized by what we now call open table fellowship.

In all cultures, sharing food is a complex interaction that symbolizes social relationships and defines social boundaries almost more than any other daily event. Whom you eat with defines whom you don’t eat with. Certain groups of people eat certain kinds of food. Through our choices and behavior at table, we name and identify ourselves.

This might seem like an unfair example to some, but today a vegetarian (or even vegan) diet has become a conscious choice for many because they’ve studied the politics of food: who eats meat and who can’t eat meat; what eating meat is doing not only to our health but even to the planet. Researchers surmise that the meat-heavy Western diet contributes to one-fifth of global emissions on our planet.  Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh writes:

As a spiritual family and a human family, we can all help avert climate change with the practice of mindful eating. Going vegetarian may be the most effective way to stop climate change.  

Jesus already showed us in practice and in ritual that the spiritual, social, political, and economic move together as one. In fact, that is what makes something “spiritual”—that is whole, combining sacred and secular, matter and spirit.

 ___

*Thich Nhat Hanh, “Blue Cliff Letter,” 2007, https://plumvillage.org/letters-from-thay/sitting-in-the-autumn-breeze/.

*Adapted from Richard Rohr with John Bookser Feister, Jesus’ Plan for a New World: The Sermon on the Mount (St. Anthony Messenger Press: 1996), 67-68, 77-79.

“…feminine, cooperative and supportive.”

July 17, 2018

The shift to a more sustainable political policy will involve:

. . . a shift of emphasis away from means towards ends; away from economic growth towards human development; away from quantitative towards qualitative values and goals; away from the impersonal and organisational towards the personal and interpersonal; and away from the earning and spending of money towards the meeting of real human needs and aspirations. A culture that has been masculine, aggressive and domineering in its outlook will give place to one which is more feminine, cooperative and supportive. A culture that has exalted the uniformly European will give place to one which values the multi-cultural richness and diversity of human experience. An anthropocentric worldview that has licensed the human species to exploit the rest of nature as if from above and outside it, will give place to an ecological worldview. We shall recognize that survival and self-realisation alike require us to act as what we really are—integral parts of an ecosystem much larger, more complex, and more powerful than ourselves. 

James Robertson, Beyond the Dependency Culture: People, Power and Responsibility, as cited by Richard Rohr and The Center for Action and Contemplation.

We cannot expect to draw a pattern of this right seeing from he objective world of confusion or our inner thoughts of doubt and fear. We are to look and think independently of the confusion in the moment.  I am seeing through confusion to peace, through doubt to certainty, through fear to faith. As I do this everything I look upon shall become transformed and reborn. -Ernest Holmes

Terrible things are hard enough to experience the first time. Beyond their second and third and fourth experience as trauma, ,their impact can easily makes u become terrible if we do not keep our want to love alive. Perhaps the most difficult challenge of being wounded is not turning our deepest loving nature over to the lie and way of the wound. The human heart–no matter how often it is cut–can reassert its impulse to love. -Mark Nepo

Also from Mark:

I see that we’re such fragile, resilient creatures, here for just a long unplanned moment, tumbling and waking in this beautiful, harsh tender existence.

Dialogue is a matter of understanding, of peeling away the mind to stand under (our thoughts) in Oneness.

Tyranny & Treason

July 16, 2018

Richard Rohr:

We believe our elected officials are called to public service, not public tyranny, so we must protect the limits, checks, and balances of democracy and encourage humility and civility on the part of elected officials. 

We reject any moves toward autocratic political leadership and authoritarian rule. . . . Disrespect for the rule of law, not recognizing the equal importance of our three branches of government, and replacing civility with dehumanizing hostility toward opponents are of great concern to us. Neglecting the ethic of public service and accountability, in favor of personal recognition and gain often characterized by offensive arrogance, are not just political issues for us. They raise deeper concerns about political idolatry, accompanied by false and unconstitutional notions of authority.

___

DT, next to Putin, refused to say whether he believed US intelligence or Russia on 2016 elections.’ [NYTimes]

Treason: The offense of assisting its enemies, or, adhering to, or giving aid & comfort to its enemies by one who owes it allegiance.

Congress, your move.

___

The Atlantic:

The Crisis Facing America, by David Frum

The country can no longer afford to wait to ascertain why President Trump has subordinated himself to Putin—it must deal with the fact that he has. […] At the 1787 convention in Philadelphia, the authors of the Constitution worried a great deal about foreign potentates corrupting the American presidency.

America is a very legalistic society, in which public discussion often deteriorates into lawyers arguing whether any statutes have been violated. But confronting the country in the wake of Helsinki is this question: Can it afford to wait to ascertain why Trump has subordinated himself to Putin after the president has so abjectly demonstrated that he has subordinated himself? Robert Mueller is leading a legal process. The United States faces a national-security emergency.

https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2018/07/trump-putin/565310/

The power of organized people.

July 10, 2018

Richard Rohr

Center For Action & Contemplation

People have good reasons to be angry and afraid today. Poverty, racism, climate change, and so many other injustices are causing real suffering for much of the world. Unfortunately, dualistic and oppositional energies cannot bring the change we so desperately need; we cannot fight angry power with more angry power. Only the contemplative mind has the ability to hold the reality of what is and the possibility of what could be. Unless our hearts are transformed, our fears will continue to manipulate our politics, reinforcing a polarized and divided society.

Quaker activist and teacher Parker Palmer has a hopeful, but not Pollyannaish, view. He writes:

Human beings have a well-demonstrated capacity to hold the tension of differences in ways that lead to creative outcomes and advances. It is not an impossible dream to believe we can apply that capacity to politics. In fact, our capacity for creative tension-holding is what made the American experiment possible in the first place. . . . America’s founders—despite the bigotry that limited their conception of who “We the People” were—had the genius to establish [a] form of government in which differences, conflict, and tension were understood not as the enemies of a good social order but as the engines of a better social order.

As “We the People” retreat from the public square and resort to private gripe sessions with those who think like us, we create a vacuum at the center of America’s public life. Politics abhors a vacuum as much as nature does, so nondemocratic powers rush in to fill the void—especially the power called “big money.” . . .

When the Supreme Court gave big money even more power [in the 2010 Citizens United decision], it made many Americans feel even more strongly that their small voices do not count. . . . Wrongly held, our knowledge of the power wielded by big money can accelerate our retreat from politics, discouraging us from being the participants that democracy demands and reducing us to mere spectators of a political game being played exclusively by “them.” 

Palmer quotes Bill Moyers: “The antidote, the only antidote, to the power of organized money in Washington is the power of organized people.” 

Justice education.

June 14, 2018

The Sun Does Shine: How I Found Life and Freedom on Death Row. The book is now a best seller on a number of lists including the New York Times Book Review and Amazon.  urrent EJI [Equal Justice Initiative] staff member and former client, Anthony Ray Hinton, spent 30 years on death row for a crime he did not commit.  His memoir is a powerful and revealing story of hope, love, and justice.

Richard Rohr, Center for Action:

Commitment to Nonviolence

Violence is awful. Violence is ugly. Violence is the saddest of human acts. As [Pope] John Paul stated, “War is a defeat for humanity.” It is so very difficult to lead people into a willing critique of their politics, their country, their allegiances, without some awareness of how violence is so often the handmaid of greed and power. 

When our lives are active and occupied in the name of doing good, there is little space for violence and doing harm.

Community

Community is the most neglected and probably the most difficult ingredient for us to hold to in the U.S. context. And for the most obvious of reasons—we have come to worship at the altar of independence, individualism and autonomy. As much as there is a deep hunger for connection, common purpose, and kindred hearts, there is a merciless, deep-rooted entrenchment in the forces of competition, freedom and self-rule.

As you might guess, when I say community I do not mean the bowling community, or even the church bowling community. Rather, I mean a community that makes very intentional commitments, including those I have mentioned so far: engagement with those of the margins, justice education or formation, simplicity, prayer, and peacemaking.

We must imagine what peace and justice look like on this earth, and we must begin the work of crafting structures, institutions, human realities that are the antithesis to division, hate, greed and scarcity, that anticipate and cultivate justice and goodness and peace.

Restorative justice.

June 12, 2018

The aim of restorative justice is to return the person to a useful position in the community. Thus, there can be healing on both sides. Such justice is a mystery that only makes sense to the soul. It is a direct corollary of our “economy of grace” and yet the term restorative justice only entered our vocabulary in the last few decades. How can we deny that there is an evolution of consciousness?

What humanity really needs is an honest exposure of the truth and accountability for what has happened. Only then can human beings move ahead with dignity. Hurt needs to be spoken and heard. It does not just go away on its own.

As any good therapist will tell you, you cannot heal what you do not acknowledge. What you do not consciously acknowledge will remain in control from within, festering and destroying you and those around you. In the Gospel of Thomas, Jesus teaches, “If you bring forth that which is within you, it will save you. If you do not bring it forth, it will destroy you”.

Only mutual apology, healing, and forgiveness offer a sustainable future for humanity. Otherwise, we are controlled by the past, individually and corporately. We all need to apologize, and we all need to forgive or this human project will surely self-destruct. Otherwise, history devolves into taking sides, bitterness, holding grudges, and the violence that inevitably follows. As others have said, “Forgiveness is to let go of our hope for a different past.” Reality is what it is, and such acceptance leads to great freedom, as long as there is also both accountability and healing forgiveness.

-Richard Rohr, Center for Action

Crossroads of identity.

June 11, 2018

As we saw earlier this year, humans need concrete and particular experiences to learn the ways of love. We don’t learn to love through abstract philosophy or theology. That’s why Jesus came to show God in human form, revealing a face we could recognize and relate to. Let’s first call justice giving everything its full due. Thus, it must begin with somehow seeing the divine (ultimate value) in the other. If we really see someone in their fullness, we cannot help but treat them with kindness and compassion.

Even as we know that every human’s being is inherently and equally good, dignified, and worthy of respect, we cannot ignore our very real differences. The problem is that the ego likes to assign lesser and greater value based on differences. Until all people everywhere are treated with dignity and respect, we must continue calling attention to imbalances of privilege and power. Arbitrary, artificial hierarchies and discrimination are based on a variety of differences: for example, gender, sexuality, class, skin color, education, physical or mental ability, attractiveness, accent, language, religion, and so on.

“Intersectionality” is a rather new concept for most of us to help explain how these attributes overlap. You can be privileged in some areas and not in others. A poor white man has more opportunities for advancement than a poor black man. A transgender woman of color has an even higher risk of being assaulted than a white heterosexual woman.  Someone without a disability has an easier time finding a job than an equally qualified candidate who has a disability.   

Pause for a moment and think about the areas in which you benefit, not because of anything you’ve done or deserve but simply because of what body you were born with, what class privilege you enjoy, what country or ethnicity you find yourself in.

In the book Intersectionality in Action, experienced educators recognize that “admitting one’s privilege can be very difficult,” especially for those who consider themselves tolerant and prefer to not use labels, “calling themselves color-blind, for instance.”

When we finally recognize our unearned benefits—at the expense of others—we may feel ashamed and that may lead us to make excuses for ourselves or overly identify with a less privileged aspect of our identity (for example as Jewish or female). Yet as we move beyond these attachments and emotions, “[We] learn that [our] privileges and disadvantages can coexist, intersect, and impact the way [we] move through different environments.” 

We must work to dismantle systems of oppression while at the same time honoring our differences and celebrating our oneness!

Our differences must first be maintained—and then overcome by the power of love. 

Infinite Love preserves unique truths, protecting boundaries while simultaneously bridging them.

-Richard Rohr, Center for Action

BIONEERS

•compound racism

•intersectionality

•justice vs status quo

•women’s leadership

‘When the current president rode a wave of white anxiety into the White House in 2016, it was part of a backlash to the Obama presidency, one that revealed an increasingly explicit white nationalism and revived an overtly exclusionary agenda: roll back rights and protections for people of color, immigrants, Muslims, women, and gay and transgender people. Then came the backlash to the backlash: a rapidly spreading awakening that all these peoples, movements and struggles are actually connected in one story. Visionary law professor and change-maker Kimberlé Crenshaw shows that it’s only at the crossroads of our many identities that will we will find a story big enough to embrace the diversity and complexity of our globalized 21st century world.’

Leadership.

June 8, 2018

I’m sad to report that in the past few years, ever since uncertainty became our insistent 21st century companion, leadership has taken a great leap backwards to the familiar territory of command and control. Margaret Wheatley 

Center for Action & Contemplation

Richard Rohr

There is no greater training for true leadership than living in the naked now. There, we can set aside our own mental constructs, receive input and ideas from all directions, and lead even more creatively and imaginatively—with the clearer vision of one who lives beyond himself or herself. This is surely why some of Christianity’s great mystics, such as Catherine of Siena (1347-1380), Ignatius of Loyola (1491-1556), and Teresa of Ávila (1515-1582), were also first-rate leaders, motivators of others, and creative reformers of institutions.

Here are some insights into what every good, servant-hearted, nondual leader knows and practices, whether in community, in the workplace, or in the classroom. Creative leaders:

  • are seers of alternatives.
  • move forward by influencing events and inspiring people more than by ordering or demanding.
  • know that every one-sided solution is doomed to failure. It is never a lasting solution but only a postponement of the problem.
  • learn to study, discern, and search together with others for solutions.
  • know that total dilemmas are very few. We create many dilemmas because we are internally stuck, attached, fearful, over-identified with our position, needy of winning the case, or unable to entertain even the partial truth that the other opinion might be offering.
  • know that wisdom is “the art of the possible.” The key question is no longer “How can I problem solve now and get this off my plate?” It is “How can this situation achieve good for the largest number and for future generations?”
  • continue finding and sharing new data and possibilities until they can work toward consensus from all sides.
  • want to increase both freedom and ownership among the group—not subservience, which will ultimately sabotage the work anyway.
  • emphasize the why of a decision and show how it is consistent with the group’s values.

In short, good leaders must have a certain capacity for thinking beyond polarities and tapping into full, embodied knowing (prayer). They have a tolerance for ambiguity (faith), an ability to hold creative tensions (hope), and an ability to care (love) beyond their own personal advantage.

Jon Meacham/The Soul of America, The battle for Our Better Angels

“The Presidency is not merely an administrative office. That’s the least of it. It is more than an engineering job, efficient or inefficient. It is pre-eminently a place of moral leadership.”

-Franklin D. Roosevelt

Eleanor Roosevelt, who knew much about the possibilities and perils of politics, wrote shortly before her death in 1962, “The course of history is directed by the choices we make and our choices grow out of the ideas, the beliefs, the values, the dreams of the people. It is not so much the powerful leaders that determine our destiny as the much more powerful influence of the combined voice of the people themselves.

“You do not lead by hitting people over the head. Any damn fool can do that, but it’s usually called ‘assault,’ not ‘leadership.’ I’ll tell you what leadership is. It’s persuasion, and conciliation, and education, and patience. It’s long, slow, tough work. That’s the only kind of leadership I know, or believe in, or will practice.”

-Dwight D. Eisenhower

A community paradigm.

May 9, 2018

There is simplicity…ease…in kindness, inclusivity, and  compassion. Complexity and chaos are created when we allow ‘other’, dominance, greed, and power.

Grace is born in community, communication, and care.

A new paradigm, therefore, is created locally, which in turn effects the collective.

Not government, or policy, or military.

We, the people, can embrace our own dialogue, and meaning, without outside influences born of profit, and alternative motive.

’It’s not that there are no difference—the world is made of infinite variety—rather it is the seizing of differences, the fearing of differences, that keeps us from feeling grace.

Paradoxically, everything in life touches the same center through its uniqueness, the way no two souls are the same, though every soul breathes the same air.

The mind’s worst diseas: the endless deciding between want and don’t want, the endless war between for and against.’ -Mark Nepo

‘Living in community means living in such a way that others can access me and influence my life and that I can get “out of myself” and serve the lives of others. Community is a world where brotherliness and sisterliness are possible. By community, I don’t mean primarily a special kind of structure, but a network of relationships. On the whole, we live in a society that’s built not on community and cooperation but on individuality, greed, and competition—often resulting in oppressive economic systems, unnecessary suffering, and environmental devastation.

Today we might call powers and principalities our collective cultural moods, mass consciousness, or any institutions considered “too big to fail.” These are our idols. We are mostly oblivious to this because we take all our institutions as normal civilization and absolutely inevitable. It is the “absolutely” that makes us blind and allows us to make passing structures into complete idols. Because we partly profit from these frequently collective evils, it doesn’t look like evil at all—but something good and necessary. For instance, I’ve never once heard a sermon against the tenth commandment, “You shall not covet your neighbor’s goods,” because in our culture that’s the only game in town. It is called capitalism, and we live comfortably because of it. It is only our unwillingness to question such powers and principalities, or in any way limit them (which is worship), which makes them into a false god. “The angels of darkness must always disguise themselves as angles of light.

(see 2 Corinthians 11:(14-15)

The individual is largely helpless and harmless standing against the system of disguise and illusion. Thankfully, we’re seeing many people, religious and secular, from all around the world, coming together to form alternative communities for sharing resources, living simply, and imagining a sustainable and nonviolent future. It is hard to imagine there will be a future without them.’

-Richard Rohr

 

 

Collective consciousness.

May 5, 2018

‘The dynamic relationships in a family, classroom, workplace, or grassroots movement can have an evolutionary effect, creating new ways of thinking and being. Louis Savary and Patricia Berne share how Christopher Bache, a college professor, noticed what he called “collective consciousness” emerge when he gave assignments to small groups of students. Many showed abilities “as team members” that he hadn’t witnessed before in their individual work:

Bache recognized that each of the teams in his classroom had a life of its own . . . [and] enjoyed a kind of “collective consciousness.” They were thinking as one unit and each person seemed to have access to the consciousness of the others. When someone on the team made a good suggestion, everyone on the team seemed to recognize its value, so it became easy to implement with minimal discussion, without people taking sides, pro and con. 

Savary and Berne turn to Pierre Teilhard de Chardin to explain how this happens:

Teilhard’s insight [that union differentiates] revealed that each student team had become a true unity, or “union.” It had also become a new being. . . . The team as a unit was more complex than any of the individuals in the team, and their shared consciousness was richer . . . than any of the team members.

Furthermore, that new being (the Third Self, or the team, itself) allowed each member to find a fuller identity and capacity within that team. Each student was, in Teilhard’s words, “differentiating” himself [or herself]. . . . In order to contribute to the success of the team, each member was challenged by that team spirit to manifest latent abilities in themselves. . . 

Love is the most powerful force or energy in the universe. That power is multiplied in relationships. Love’s potency is released most powerfully among people who have formed a relationship (a union). People who truly unite for a purpose beyond themselves become “differentiated” as they unite and work together in a shared consciousness to achieve their larger purpose.

In a true relationship, no one’s individuality is lost. It is increased. That is the beauty of Connections.
These unions that enjoy a collective consciousness become the launching pads for the next stage of evolution, as we learn consciously how to create them and use them. [2]

I see groups working creatively on many fronts, often outside church and political structures, with a growing capacity for what many call “intersectionality” (recognizing the interconnectedness of race, gender, and class). One wonderful example is the new Poor People’s Campaign led by Rev. William Barber and Rev. Liz Theoharis, and joined by people across the United States. They’re continuing Martin Luther King, Jr.’s work to dismantle racism, poverty, and war. (Learn more about the Poor People’s Campaign and how you can join below today’s meditation.) Next week we’ll explore more of the generativity and healing that can happen within such community.’

-Richard Rohr, Center for Action and Contemplations

~

The Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival
Fifty years after the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., people around the country are taking up his mantle, challenging systemic racism, poverty, the war economy, and ecological devastation. We are compelled to stand with those on the margins. Rev. Dr. William Barber, Rev. Dr. Liz Theoharis, and organizations across the United States are mobilizing thousands to mass non-violent civil disobedience from May 13-June 21 at state capitals and in Washington, D.C.
Learn more and sign the pledge at The Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival poorpeoplescampaign.org

“We hold the mystery of transformation…’

April 13, 2018

Richard Rohr, American Franciscan friar and author

”Being on the edge of the inside…”

“Your body is not an isolated, separate entity. We are our truest selves only in community—with our ancestors (carrying their stories and DNA), our natural environment, and our neighbors. We hold the mystery of transformation…”

Today Barbara Holmes continues reflecting on the Black Lives Matter Movement (BLMM) and their evolving, embodied way of fighting for justice:

As the millennials will tell you, “This is not your grandmother’s Civil Rights Movement (CRM).

”They are right. Although both the CRM and BLMM seek the betterment of life for black people and their communities and both resist oppression with contemplative practices and activism, they use different strategies and leadership models and seek different goals. . . .

The BLMM is a decentralized network of local organizations. . . . Patrisse Cullors, a founder of the BLMM, says, “We are not leaderless, we are leader-full.” [1] . . . It is difficult to infiltrate, undermine, or disrupt an organic movement that draws its power from regenerating communal cells. . . .

During the CRM, the blindness of dominant culture to the plight of the African American community meant that the message had to be delivered by one voice in language that white Americans could understand and support. Lives were at stake, and [Martin Luther] King’s biblical and patriotic references combined with his soaring oratory ignited the nation and inspired the movement.

Now, fifty plus years after the CRM, another approach is needed, and the BLMM like the LGBTQIA justice movements are updating the art of contemplative confrontation and noncompliance with the status quo . . . oppression and violence against black bodies. Today, the most respectable image that young protesters can offer is their authenticity, resolute voices, and pride in community and culture. . . . The BLMM uses disruption for transformation rather than the predictable politeness and political compromises that were part of the ordinary negotiations of social activists. . . .
They block traffic and refuse to allow “business as usual.” The response is not riot or violence, it is the twenty-first-century version of the sit-in. CRM activists got parade permits and stayed along the side of the road so as not to interfere with traffic. BLM activists “shut it down” with song, putting their bodies on the line. . . .

BLM activists are not singing “we shall overcome,” they are not saying “I am yet holding on” or “making a way out of no way” like the church mothers and fathers of old. They are saying “we ain’t gonna stop ‘til our people are free” and “I can’t breathe,” as they shut down malls and highways to stop the killing of young black men and women. [Far too often, by the very officers who are supposed to “protect and serve,” I might add.]

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