Sunday, October 26, 2008

sunday morning cemetary

The excerpt below is from Richard Rohr's book, Simplicity: The Freedom of Letting Go. His words here are from a chapter entitled, "Getting Rid of the Church", and I am struck by the insight he shares about the "problem" of middle-class and affluent American Christians in search of more. Next to Matthew 25, this may be the best argument I've ever heard for becoming the kind of person who generously supports causes that prioritize the poor and the vulnerable.

"Jesus' harshest words are aimed at hypocrites, and the second harshest at the people who are primarily concerned with possessions. He says that power, prestige, and possessions are the three things that prevent us from recognizing and receiving the Reign of God. When he says that to good, upright people, they react with indignation and consider his remarks scandalous. They call him an unbeliever, an enemy of the law, and finally a devil - because they OWN too many things that they now must defend. The only ones who can accept the proclamation of the Reign are those who have nothing to protect, not their own self-image or their reputation, their possessions, their theology, their principles, or their certitudes. And these are called "the poor," ANAWIM in Hebrew. In the Magnificat, Mary sums up the spirituality of the ANAWIM."

"If in this world we are already living in the reality of the Reign of God, then the world becomes relative and we become "pilgrims and strangers." Life can't be based on the passing; it can't be based on transitory images. Instead, we know we have to base it on the truth, on the truth of who we are, on the truth of this creation, which God says is "very good."

"Our problem consists in the fact that we're so convinced of NOT being good. And we need a great deal of trust to believe God's pronouncement that everything God created is very good. We seem to believe that only perfect things are lovable. Yet the Gospels say very clearly that God loves imperfect things. But it's only the imperfect and the broken who can believe that. Thus it happens that God throws a party - and the "good" people don't come. That's why God says that the cripples, the lame, and the blind are to be invited - and they would be ready."

"This pattern has never changed. Those who don't have anything to prove or protect can believe that they are loved as they are. But we who have spent our lives ascending the spiritual ladder have a harder time hearing the truth. For the truth isn't found up at the top, but down at the bottom. And by trying to climb the ladder we miss Christ, who comes DOWN through the Incarnation. I'm convinced that many of the guilt feelings that haunt the middle class, much of its widespread poor self-image as we call it, and much of its self-hatred and self-centeredness are due to the fact that we have settled into a world that Jesus says we should never be at home in. If you base your life on illusion, you will naturally hate yourself."

"The proclamation of the Reign of Heaven is the most radical political and theological statement that could ever be made. It has nothing to do with being perfect. It has to do with living inside of the Big Frame, the final and full state of affairs, the lasting perspective. It is not a matter of thinking differently or attending a particular kind of church service or living with a new kind of theology of redemption.
We don't think our way into a new life; we live our way into a new kind of thinking.

"The Gospel is before all else a call to LIVE differently, so that life can be shared with others. In other words, the Gospel is ultimately calling us to a stance of simplicity, vulnerability, dialogue, powerlessness, and humility. These are the only virtues that make communion and community and intimacy possible."

- Richard Rohr, in Simplicity: The Freedom of Letting Go

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Sunday, October 19, 2008

natural birth

"The entire universe seems to be operating out of a chaos theory of one sort or another. And whatever made us think that we are different than that? Well, the thing that did it more than anything else was religion. It taught us that we could be perfect.
When I spiritually direct people I strongly counsel them to mistrust any heroic gestures. They are much more food for the ego than they are food for God. God does not need your heroics—God needs who you really are. That is all you can ever give to God, not an idealized or perfect self." - Richard Rohr

Sunday, October 12, 2008

little flock

"Just as we show respect for the vulnerability of the deaf and blind (Lev.19:14), we are not to take a mother bird away from her vulnerable fledglings (Deut. 22:6). Newly planted fruit trees must be given three years to bear fruit before we may enjoy the fruit (Lev. 19:23). Even in wartime, we are not to harm a town's orchards. A besieging army may help themselves to the fruit, but "you must not cut them down. Are trees in the field human beings that they should come under siege from you?" (Deut. 20:19). Finally, in response to the primal instruction to "replenish" the earth (Gen. 1:28, kjv), the land is to "rest" from cultivation every seven years, lest the soil become depleted (Lev. 25:4). The world and all the creatures are God's, and we are the stewards, the "husbandmen" - a wonderful archaic term designating the love and care with which we are to care for soil and water, all creatures, and each other."

- Robert Corin Morris, in "An Altar of Earth: The Bible as Earth-Book" from Weavings - September/October 2008