Friday, March 27, 2015

In the Garden of Spirituality – Richard Rohr (Part II)


“We are not on earth to guard a museum,
but to cultivate a flowering garden of life.”


– Pope John XXIII


The Wild Reed’s series of reflections on religion and spirituality continues with Richard Rohr's thoughts on the mystical element of Christianity and thus the evolutionary nature of authentic religion.


There were clear statements in the New Testament giving a cosmic meaning to Christ (Colossians 1, Ephesians 1, John 1, 1 John 1, and Hebrews 1:1-4), and the schools of Paul and John were initially overwhelmed by the hope contained in this message. In the early Christian era, a few Eastern Fathers (such as Origen of Alexandria, Gregory of Nyssa, and Maximus the Confessor) noticed that the Christ was clearly something older, larger, and different than Jesus himself. They mystically saw that Jesus is the union of human and divine in one person, and the Christ is the eternal union of matter and Spirit from the beginning of time. But the later centuries tended to lose this mystical element in favor of a more dualistic Christianity. We were all the losers. What we could not unite in Jesus, we could not unite in ourselves!

Christianity became another moralistic religion (which loved to be on top). It was overwhelmingly aligned with a very limited period of history (empire building through war) and a small piece of the planet (Europe), not the whole earth or any glorious destiny (Romans 8:18ff) for us all. Not surprisingly, many Christians ended up tragically fighting evolution--along with most early human rights struggles (such as women's suffrage, rights for those on the margins, racism, classism, homophobia, earth care, and slavery) – because we had no evolutionary notion of Christ who was forever "groaning in one great act of giving birth" (Romans 8:22). Until the reforms of the 1960's and the Second Vatican Council, Roman Catholic Christianity was overwhelmingly a tribal religion and hardly "catholic" at all.

We should have been at the forefront of all of these love and justice issues. The Christian religion was made-to-order – to grease the wheels of human consciousness toward love, nonviolence, justice, inclusivity, love of creation, and the universality of such a message. Mature religion serves as a conveyor belt for the evolution of human consciousness. Immature religion actually stalls people at very early stages of . . . tribal consciousness, while they are convinced they [have all the answers] or "saved." This is more a part of the problem than any kind of solution. Only the non-dual and mystical mind gets you all the way through.

– Richard Rohr
Adapted from Eager to Love: The Alternative Way of Francis of Assisi
pp. 218, 222-223, 226;
and Hell, No! (CD, MP3 download)


See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
In the Garden of Spirituality – Richard Rohr (Part I)
Quote of the Day – July 22, 2010
Jesus: Mystic and Prophet
Jesus: The Revelation of Oneness
Thoughts on the Feast of the Ascension
Michael Morwood on the Divine Presence (Part I)
Michael Morwood on the Divine Presence (Part II)
Michael Morwood on the Divine Presence (Part III)
Prayer and the Experience of God in an Ever-Unfolding Universe
In the Garden of Spirituality – Ilia Delio
In the Garden of Spirituality – Beatrice Bruteau
Quote of the Day – July 24, 2012

Related Off-site Link:
The Current Culture War and the Way Toward Reform: Integral ConsciousnessThe Progressive Catholic Voice (March 19, 2015).

Image: Michael J. Bayly


1 comment:

Paula Ruddy said...

"They mystically saw that Jesus is the union of human and divine in one person, and the Christ is the eternal union of matter and Spirit from the beginning of time."

How is this not dualistic? Can you put it in words that don't separate Jesus from Christ?

I like the photo, Michael. Thanks.