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Richard Rohr – Evolving Consciousness

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Richard Rohr’s Daily Meditation – letting it speak for itself

The Evolving Journey

Evolving Consciousness
Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Many historians, philosophers, and spiritual teachers now agree that collective history itself is going through an evolution of consciousness. We can readily observe stages of consciousness or stages of “growing up” in the world at large (e.g. today Christians do not believe that slavery is acceptable, but many at one time did). The individual person tends to mimic these stages, and they seem to be sequential and cumulative.

You have to learn from each stage, and yet you can’t completely throw out previous stages, as most people unfortunately do. In fact, a fully mature person appropriately draws upon all earlier stages. “Transcend and include” is Ken Wilber’s clever aphorism here. Most people immensely overreact against their earlier stages of development, and earlier stages of history, instead of still honoring them and making use of them (e.g. liberal, educated Christians who would be humiliated to join in an enthusiastic “Jesus song” with their Evangelical brothers and sisters even though they would intellectually claim to believe in Jesus, or adults who can no longer play, or rational people who completely dismiss the good of the non-rational).

C. S. Lewis believed it was undemocratic to give too much power to the present generation or one’s own times. He called this “chronological snobbery,” as if your own age was the superior age and the final result of evolution. I would say the same about one’s present level of consciousness. Our narcissism always tends to think our own present stage of consciousness is the ultimate stage! People normally cannot understand anybody at higher stages (they look heretical or dangerous) and they look upon all in the earlier stages as superstitious, stupid, or naïve. We each think we are the proper reference point for all reality. G. K. Chesterton stated: “Tradition is democracy extended through time.” And I would say that enlightenment is the ability to include, honor, and make use of every level of consciousness—both in yourself and in others. To be honest, such humility and patience is rather rare, yet it is at the heart of the mystery of forgiveness, inclusivity, and compassion.

Adapted from The Dean’s Address, Living School Symposium, August 2013

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Fr. Richard Rohr, OFM, is a globally recognized ecumenical teacher bearing witness to the universal awakening within Christian mysticism and the Perennial Tradition. He is a Franciscan priest of the New Mexico Province and founder of the Center for Action and Contemplation (CAC) in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Fr. Richard’s teaching is grounded in the Franciscan alternative orthodoxy—practices of contemplation and lived kenosis (self-emptying), expressing itself in radical compassion, particularly for the socially marginalized. Ref: https://cac.org/richard-rohr

 
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Posted by on August 26, 2014 in theology

 

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Richard Rohr: learning from midrash

Richard Rohr reminds us of the ‘yes and no’ approach to Bible study, learned from Jewish tradition, where it was called midrash.  In community we learn from each other and respond to invitations to go in different directions by those in our midst.

Yes, And. by Richard Rohr

Yes, And. by Richard Rohr

Jewish Midrash

Thursday, January 9, 2014

I think we learned the Sic et Non approach in the early Christian period from our Jewish ancestors. They called it midrash. Midrash was a different way of coming to truth. It was simply where you get together and look at Scripture in an open—but faith-filled—way: It could mean this; it could mean that. It might challenge you in this direction; it might invite you in that direction. [1]

Jewish midrash extrapolated from the mere story to find its actual spiritual message. We all do the same when we read anyway, but Jesus and his Jewish people were much more honest and up front about this. Fundamentalists pretend they are giving the text total and literal authority, but then it always ends up looking like what people in that culture would want to believe anyway. (Remember, good Bible Christians in the U.S. Confederacy and in South Africa were quite sure the Scriptures justified oppression and enslavement of black people.)

To take the Scriptures seriously is not to take them literally. Literalism is invariably the lowest and least level of meaning. Serious reading of Scripture will allow you to find an ever-new spiritual meaning for the liberation of history, the liberation of the soul, and the liberation of God in every generation. Then the text is true on many levels, instead of trying to prove it is true on just the one simple, factual level. Sacred texts always maximize your possibilities for life and love, which is why we call them sacred. I am afraid we have for too long used the Bible merely to prove various church positions, which largely narrows their range and depth. Instead of transforming people, the Biblical texts became utilitarian and handy ammunition. [2]

[1] From Sic et Non; Yes, And webcast recording (MP3 download)

[2] Adapted from Yes, And . . . : Daily Meditations, p. x

Gateway to Silence:
Yes . . . and . . .

Of course, we make the association with women’s ministry (or lack thereof) in the Lutheran Church of Australia, in which this blog’s authors reside.   Decades of Bible study on this matter within our communion surely have given understanding that literal use of Scripture to prove various church position erodes its power to transform people. “Let darkness, failure, relapse, death, and woundedness (be) our primary teachers, rather than ideas or doctrines.

We can live with each other. In fact, we must. We are family – a family of diverse experience and world view. We can love each other and not pretend that we are identical. We are, after all, not so different to the sit-coms that have family seated around the Christmas table, rubbing up against each others prejudices and making faux pas to be laughed about in coming years.

By loving each other in our difference, we will grow together toward places yet unimagined.  God’s work is surely not complete – there is more in store for each of us.

 
 

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The Sin of Exclusion – Richard Rohr

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Why is it that we value those who are like us and devalue those who are different? 

Maybe it’s women or lesbians, maybe it’s aborigines or gays, maybe it’s drug addicts or prostitutes, or maybe it’s another culture.  Is it that they don’t sound like us or eat the same food as us. Is it that they see the world differently? Is it that they value different things?  Do we read the situation as one where they are criticising us?  Is that why we have to circle the wagons?

Richard Rohr has some insights into the practice of excluding people.

The Sin of Exclusion

Those at the edge of any system and those excluded from any system ironically and invariably hold the secret for the conversion and wholeness of that very group. They always hold the feared, rejected, and denied parts of the group’s soul. You see, therefore, why the church was meant to be that group that constantly went to the edges, to the “least of the brothers and sisters,” and even to the enemy. Jesus was not just a theological genius, but he was also a psychological and sociological genius. When any church defines itself by exclusion of anybody, it is always wrong. It is avoiding its only vocation, which is to be the Christ. The only groups that Jesus seriously critiques are those who include themselves and exclude others from the always-given grace of God.  (more)

 
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Posted by on June 15, 2013 in theology, women's ordination

 

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Learning to love the questions

exorcising the question cartoon by nakedpastor david hayward

I don’t think the important thing is to be certain about answers nearly as much as being serious about the questions.
When we hold spiritual questions, we meet and reckon with our contradictions, with our own dilemmas; and we invariably arrive at a turning point where we either evade God or meet God. Mere answers close down the necessary struggle too quickly, too glibly, and too easily.
When we hang on the horns of dilemmas with Christ—between perfect consistency and necessary contradictions—we find ourself in the unique place I call “liminal space.” Reality has a cruciform shape to it then—and we are taught best at the intersection of order and disorder, where God alone can make sense out of the situation and we must surrender. All real transformation of persons takes place when we’re inside of such liminal space – with plenty of questions that are open to God and grace and growth.
Richard Rohr

The following is from the 1956 (and still current) LCA  Thesis on the Office of Ministry VI:II

Though women prophets were used by the Spirit of God in the Old as well as in the New Testament, 1 Cor 14:34,35 (exegesis) and 1 Tim. 2:11-14 (exegesis) prohibit a woman from being called into the office of the public ministry from the proclamation of the Word and the administration of the Sacraments.  This apostolic rule is binding on all Christendom..

No room for doubt, no questions allowed – there is absolute certainty!  Really? These ‘answers’ have really closed down ‘the necessary struggle too quickly, too glibly, and too easily.’ Rohr (above)

The LCA was finally formed in 1966 from two synods after decades of deliberations, arguments and compromises. Ten years earlier in 1956 the two synods agreed on the Theses of Agreement as a basis for union.  Note the post-war confidence with which the authors bind not only the LCA but “… all Christendom.”  It is unlikely that any theological commission would be so bold today, given the new position, expertise, respect and authority that women hold in society today, and given the wealth of research since that time into the sociology of gender, power and violence, as well as other new fields like postmodernism and post-colonialism.

The absolute certainty of adolescence is rarely something that mature individuals are proud of in later life.  Just as the LCA was mature enough to rescind its adolescent thesis that the Pope was the anti-Christ, and just as the LCA was mature enough to acknowledge that women could vote in congregations and synods, it’s now time to acknowledge the centrality of women to the mission of the Church.  Without doing so, the LCA is bound for irrelevance.

 
 

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The Maternal Face of God – my God was too small

The following devotion is by Richard Rohr, a Catholic Priest, who reflects the increasing notion that now is the time to bring women into the centre of the church.

All this “women-stuff” is not only important; it is half of conversion, half of salvation, half of wholeness, half of God’s work of art. I believe this mystery is imaged in the woman of the twelfth chapter of the Apocalypse: “pregnant, and in labor, crying aloud in the pangs of childbirth . . . and finally escaping into the desert until her time” (Revelation 12:1-6).

Richard Rohr

Richard Rohr (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Could this be the time? It is always the time! The world is tired of Pentagons and pyramids, empires and corporations that only abort God’s child. This women-stuff is very important, and it has always been important, more than this white male priest ever imagined or desired! My God was too small and too

male.

Much that the feminists have said is very prophetic and necessary for the Church and the world. It is time for the woman to come out of her desert refuge and for the men to welcome her. As we see in the Roman Church today, this is still quite difficult, if you have been an “alpha male” all of your life. No surprise that Jesus came “meek and humble of heart” (Matthew 11:29) to undo the male addiction to power.

Adapted from Radical Grace: Daily Meditations, by Richard Rohr, p. 279, day 290

Prayer:
Oh God, show me your Your face.

Read the rest of this entry »

 
 

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