Tag Archives: faith

How Can Everything Be Sacred?

(reprinted from Richard Rohr’s Daily Meditations 1/2/2018)

The three monotheistic religions (Judaism, Christianity, Islam) teach that one Creator formed all things. There is thus a radical unity at the heart of the universe’s pluriformity, resolving any conflict between diversity and the shared “divine DNA” found in creation. This theo-logic allows us to see “the hidden wholeness” in all things and to confidently assert that “everything belongs.” The distinction between natural and supernatural, sacred and profane, exists only as a mental construct.

Unless we first name the underlying goodness and coherence of reality, along with our own imperfection, we will attack evil with methods and self-righteousness that will only deepen the problem.

You may be asking, as so many have over the years, “Richard, how can you make such naïve blanket statements like ‘Everything is sacred. Everything belongs?’ What about Hitler, nuclear bombings, ISIS, Westboro Baptists, and the United States’ epidemic of mass shooters?” I agree that we can and should name evil as evil. But unless we first name the underlying goodness and coherence of reality, along with our own imperfection, we will attack evil with methods and self-righteousness that will only deepen the problem. This is Nonviolence 101. It wasn’t until the twentieth century that the importance of nonviolence became widely acknowledged.

Evil lurks powerfully in the shadows, in our unconscious complicity with systems that serve us at others’ expense.

Further, Christianity has far too easily called individual, private behaviors sins while usually ignoring or even supporting structural and systemic evils such as war, colonization, corporate greed, slavery, and abuse of the Earth. All of the seven capital sins were admired at the corporate level and shamed at the individual level. [1] This left us utterly split in our morality, dealing with symptoms instead of causes, shaming people while glorifying systems that were themselves selfish, greedy, lustful, ambitious, lazy, prideful, and deceitful. We can’t have it both ways. Evil lurks powerfully in the shadows, in our unconscious complicity with systems that serve us at others’ expense. It has created worldviews of entitlement and privilege that were largely unrecognized until rather recently.

Once you can clear away the web of illusion you will be able to see that every created thing is still made in the image of God.

Only contemplative, nondual consciousness is capable of seeing things like this without also being negative or self-righteous. Once you can clear away the web of illusion you will be able to see that every created thing is still made in the image of God; every being has the divine DNA or essence. There is no profane place, person, or creature. We can even find the sacred in seemingly secular human endeavors like sex, food, work, economics, and politics.

“Christ is everything and he is in everything” (Colossians 3:11). To see this is to have “the mind of Christ.”

[1] See Richard Rohr, Spiral of Violence: The World, the Flesh, and the Devil (Center for Action and Contemplation: 2005)

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Do Better

Well, here I am: writing to get back into the habit of writing. I can’t believe it’s been over a year since my last blog post; over sixteen months since my last published book, These Threads of Faith; and, almost 2 ½ years since I’ve spent time with the Drifter Series in, The Privilege of Sin.
It’s not like fodder hasn’t been there. There’s been plenty of grist for the mill. But the muse has just been…gone. Setting pen to paper, or in my case fingers to keyboard, only filled me with a sense of frustration and bewilderment. With the past year’s events I’ve often been more irritated than inspired. 2017 couldn’t have been over with soon enough.

So now, here we are: 2018. Everything is new. Everything is filled with a renewed sense of hope and optimism. Everything is waiting to be reopened, reborn, like the first buds of spring.
Yeah, I know, I don’t believe that either. Continue reading Do Better

On Hanegraaff and Orthodox Christianity: Or, a Church Service Worth Attending

Hank Hanegraaff, the “Bible Answer Man”, has recently converted to Eastern Orthodox Christianity and apparently this is causing quite a stir in the evangelical community.

On returning from a trip to China several years ago, Hanegraaff remarked, “I saw Chinese Christians who were deeply in love with the Lord, and I learned that while they may not have had as much intellectual acumen or knowledge as I did, they had life. I was comparing my ability to communicate truth with their deep and abiding love for the Lord Jesus Christ.”

“Since that time,” he added, “I’ve been impacted by the whole idea of knowing Jesus Christ, experiencing Jesus Christ, and partaking of the graces of Jesus Christ through the Lord’s Table.”

One of the recent articles I read on the subject was from Ed Stetzer. Writing on Christianity Today’s website, the focus of his article was on the possible reasons why the Orthodox liturgy is so appealing to evangelicals today. One of the things he says is,

The early church was indeed more focused on the Eucharist and was more liturgical in structure, nature, and expression. There are things we can learn from that today, but we have to also acknowledge that much of what we see was, indeed, cultural. As a missiologist, I’m not drawn into early Christian cultural forms and am concerned that some are equating them with eternal truth.
The evangelical bent towards Western individualism has opened the door to an ‘every Bible for itself’ mentality where, combined with the digital age, rogue armchair theologians can be equipped with major influence without proper ecclesiological accountability. It’s a bit of a “me version” world of Bible translation. Lacking a central definition and protection of truth can cause (and has caused) much of evangelicalism’s problems.
In Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy, that is not typically the case. In these church structures, there are tighter reigns on vetting truth and defining orthodox beliefs. Some see the Church organizationally as a means to preserve biblical truth from the changing tides of cultural waves.
The question I want to answer: Are we looking for the right things? Do we want to model with exactitude the cultural form of the early church? Is that the ultimate value?”

Personally, I’ve not been drawn toward the Orthodox faith, but I can see the appeal in a return to the “structure, nature, and expression” of the first century church (or the few centuries after). The difference as I see it though is Continue reading On Hanegraaff and Orthodox Christianity: Or, a Church Service Worth Attending

Today’s a cookie day

Today’s a struggle, and I thought long and hard about whether or not to even put this post out here. Sometimes I write because I feel it’s something I want to say. Sometimes I write what I believe needs to be said. Then there are those times that I write just for myself.

It’s a cheap form of therapy and, even as I hit the “publish” button, I wonder if today isn’t one of those days.

Obviously, I decided to put it out there.

And I decided to air this not because I was searching for some sort of confirmation, or even some sort of sympathy or encouragement. Not really.

I did it because, when it comes down to it, I know I can’t be alone. I’m not the only one who feels, or has ever felt, this way.

This is a “me, too” post, because today’s a day I’m really struggling with faith.

Today is one of those days where I can understand those who feel that religion is just an opiate for the masses.

Today is one of those days where I can see that a belief in something beyond myself is a necessary part of existence for a species blessed (or cursed) with a higher consciousness; if we don’t believe in a “something more out there” what’s the point of our existence at all?

Today is a day that I see the argument of those who believe that faith and religion are panaceas for the poor, the marginalized, the “less than” of the world; those who’ve realized that they will possibly, probably, never make it in life, at least to the extent the world’s advertising would have us believe is possible; or, to the extent of those we choose to compare ourselves to, always coming up short because there is always someone on the other side of the someone we’re emulating.

Maybe it’s because the bootstraps we’re supposed to pick ourselves up by just aren’t long enough. Or we’re wearing the wrong boots altogether. The poor, the marginalized, the widows and orphans, we need our brass ring, too. Even if it’s something we have to wait for some fine day, when this life is o’er.

Today is a day I get all that.

And there’s one thing this kind of a funk makes me realize (maybe this is even where my hope is, at least for today): having a faith in something beyond ourselves is not an upward trajectory. It is not a slow climb up a long mountain. It is not even the constant unveiling of truth upon truth.

Sometimes—most times—faith is a roller coaster. Sometimes we’re at a peak. Sometimes we’re in a valley (and the transition can be swift). Sometimes there are twists and turns. Sometimes there are brief moments of respite.

Sometimes the goal is to reach the end, wide-eyed and winded, excited to find out what’s next.

And, sometimes it’s all we can do to reach the end without losing our cookies.

Today just happens to be a cookie day.