Spiritual Capitalism – Richard Rohr

The phrase “spirituality of subtraction” was inspired by Meister Eckhart, the medieval Dominican mystic. He wrote that the spiritual life has much more to do with subtraction than it does with addition. Yet, I think most Christians today are involved, in great part, in a spirituality of addition and, in that, they are not very traditional or conservative at all.

The capitalist worldview is the only one most of us have ever known. We see reality, experiences, events, other people, and things-in fact, every thing-as objects for our personal consumption. Even religion, Scripture, sacraments, worship services, and meritorious deeds become ways to advance ourselves—not necessarily ways to love God or neighbor.

The nature of the capitalist mind is that things (and often people!) are there for me. Finally, even God becomes an object for my consumption. Religion looks good on my resume, and anything deemed spiritual is a check on my private worthiness list. Some call it spiritual consumerism. It is not the Gospel.

+Adapted from Radical Grace: Daily Meditations, p. 114.

From Me to We

Father Richard makes a distinction between first-half-of-life and second-half-of-life spirituality:  

Most cultures are first-half-of-life cultures, and even sadder, most organized religions almost necessarily sell a first-half-of-life spirituality. In the first half of life, it is all about me: How can I be important? How can I be safe? How can I make money? How can I look attractive? And, in the Christian scenario, how can I think well of myself and go to heaven? How can I be on moral high ground? These are all ego questions; they are not the questions of the soul. It is still well-disguised narcissism, or even sanctified narcissism, which is surely the worst kind.  

I’m sad to say, I think many Christians have never moved beyond these survival and security questions. Even “wanting to go to heaven” is language for securing my future, not a shared future, or a common future for humanity; religion becomes a private insurance plan for that future. It’s still all about me, but piously disguised. It’s not really about love at all! 

Any sense of being part of a cosmos, a historical sweep, or that God is doing something bigger and better than simply saving individual souls (my soul in particular), is largely of no interest. This becomes apparent in the common disinterest of so many when it comes to Earth care, building real community, simple living, and almost all peace and justice issues. For many Christians—stuck in the first half of life—all that is important is their private moral superiority and spiritual “safety,” which is somehow supposed to “save” them. It creates what I am now calling a “cult of innocence,” not any real human or divine solidarity. [1]   

Once God and grace move us to the second half of life, religion becomes much more a mystical matter rather than a moral matter. Then it’s about union with all and participation in and with God. Indeed, this is the work of true religion: to help us transition from stage to stage, toward ever-deeper union with God and all things.  

Those who fall into the safety net of silence find that it is not at all a fall into individualism. True prayer or contemplation is instead a leap into commonality and community. We know that what we are experiencing can only be held by the Whole and we are not alone anymore. We are merely a part, and as such a very grateful and totally satisfied part. This is “the peace the world cannot give” (see John 14:27).  

Real silence moves us from knowing things to perceiving a Presence that imbues all things. Could this be God? When we begin to experience a mutuality between ourselves and all things, we have begun to understand the nature of Spirit. God refuses to be known as any kind of object, but only as a mutuality.

[1] The phrase “cult of innocence” was coined in a tweet by author and pastor Nadia Bolz-Weber, and is explored in depth in Brian McLaren’s new book Do I Stay Christian?.  

Adapted from Richard Rohr, A Spring within Us: A Book of Daily Meditations (Albuquerque, NM: CAC Publishing, 2016), 87–88, 208.

Nothing Stands Alone – 2022 Daily Meditations

I have been reading these daily meditations from the Center for Action and Contemplation for over five year now. It is usually, the first thing I read every morning. What a great way to start the day! This year’s theme is perfect for this COVID chaos period. I hope you will join me on this journey – since indeed – Nothing Stands Alone.

Grace and Peace,

Brian

In the 2022 Daily Meditations, Father Richard Rohr invites you on a journey of understanding God as Relationship—with ourselves, each other, and the earth—through the theme of Nothing Stands Alone.

What could happen if we embraced the idea of God as relationship—with ourselves, each other, and the earth? Could salvation simply be the willingness to remain in loving relationship with all creation? We will explore these questions and more in the 2022 theme for Daily Meditations, Nothing Stands Alone.

Over the next twelve months we will explore how relationship itself invites us to experience God’s presence in ourselves and each other. Fr. Richard calls this “participating in the wholeness of the Body of Christ.”

“Our sense of disconnection is only an illusion. Nothing human can stop the flow of divine love; we cannot undo the eternal pattern even by our worst sin.”

–RICHARD ROHR

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Every Saturday you’ll receive a summary of the previous week’s meditations and an invitation to practice—this will be your opportunity to go deeper with the wisdom and teachings and apply them in your day-to-day life. Each summary will link to the full meditation on our website for further reading, a good option if you want to follow along but would prefer to receive fewer emails.

Find previous years’ meditations in the web archive.

How to care for yourself while practicing physical distancing – By Rubina Kapil

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If you or someone you care about feels overwhelmed with emotions like sadness, depression or anxiety, or like you want to harm yourself or others call 911.

You can also contact the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA) Disaster Distress Helpline at 800-985-5990, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255 or text MHFA to 741741 to talk to a Crisis Text Line counselor.

This is a stressful time for many. With the government and media sharing updates throughout the day and the fear of the unknown, it is understandable to feel overwhelmed, stressed and anxious. You are not alone.

Millions of people across the country are facing the same worries and challenges that you are. During this time, it is important to remember that it’s OK to not be OK. It’s also important to take care of your mental health.

While practicing physical distancing, there are easy self-care strategies that can help reduce feelings of depression and anxiety, or prevent anxiety before it even starts.

Use these tips from the MHFA curriculum to take care of your mental health while practicing physical distancing.

  1. Eat healthfully to keep your body in top working order.
  2. Exercise reduces symptoms of depression and anxiety, whether we’re working out at home or taking a solo jog around the neighborhood.
  3. Practice relaxation therapy. Focusing on tensing and relaxing muscle groups can help you relax voluntarily when feeling overwhelmed, stressed or anxious.
  4. Let light in. For some people, increased exposure to light can improve symptoms of depression. If you can, open the shades and let more sunlight in.
  5. Be kind to yourself! Treat yourself with the same compassion you would a friend.
  6. Stay connected. Even if you can’t get together face-to-face, you can stay connected to friends, family and neighbors with phone calls, text messages, video chats and social media. If you’re feeling lonely, sad or anxious, reach out to your social support networks. Share what you are feeling and offer to listen to friends or family members about their feelings. We are all experiencing this scary and uncertain time together.
  7. Monitor media consumption. While you might want to stay up-to the minute with COVID-19 news, too much exposure can be overwhelming. Balance media consumption with other activities you enjoy, such as reading, cooking or listening to music.

Self-care doesn’t require you to go outside or spend a lot of money. Adding small changes to your routine can make a big difference to your overall mood and well-being.

Thank you for choosing to #BeTheDifference and remember to practice self-care with Mental Health First Aid.

The Day Death Died – Reverend B. Gail Williams

No one cried

the day death died

there was no weeping

no grieving

songs of joy

victoriously weaving

the story of Jesus

risen alive

the day that death died.

 

The vail was parted

pushed aside

Jesus risen with us to abide

 and love us to life

when we die

no black cloth

 no hearse appeared

glorious colors

bright apparel

song

dancing

no celebrant cried

the day death died.

 

The day death died

angels sang

Father God smiled

Earth’s children laughed

bells rang

rock rolls

empty tomb

Easter morn

the day death died

and so

we shall all live

through Jesus Christ

our Lord.

 

Amen

 

Happy Easter! This poem was written by my childhood Pastor. He recited it at my Father’s Celebration of Life service six years ago. What a gift from a hand guided by the greatest gift giver of all.

Richard Rohr: “Divine Dance: The Trinity and Your Transformation” | Talks at Google

Father Richard Rohr visits Google to speak on his new book, Divine Dance: The Trinity and your Transformation. Father Rohr highlights his unique ideas on how to have a relationship with God in the modern day and how religious people can be respected for having a “mystic worldview” in a scientific world. If you can’t find the time to watch the full version – forward to the final 10 minutes for an awesome summation.

 

Christpower – John Shelby Spong

Lucy Newton Boswell Negus

 puts in free verse the thoughts of Bishop John Spong

Christpower

 

Far back beyond the beginning,

stretching out into the unknowable,

incomprehensible,

unfathomable depths, dark and void

of infinite eternity behind all history,

the Christpower was alive.

   

This was the

living,

bursting, pulsing,

generating, creating

smoldering, exploding

fusing, multiplying,

emerging, erupting,

pollenizing, inseminating,

heating, cooling

power of life itself: Christpower.

And it was good! 

Here

all things that we know

began their journey into being.

Here

light separated from darkness.

Here

Christpower began to take form.

Here

life became real,

and that life spread into

emerging new creatures

evolving

into ever higher intelligence.

 

There was a sacrifice here

and

a mutation there.

There was grace and resurrection appearing

in their natural order,

occurring, recurring,

and always driven by the restless,

creating,

energizing

life force of God, called the Christpower,

which flowed in the veins of every living thing

for ever

and ever

and ever

and ever.

And it was good!

 

In time, in this universe,

there emerged creatures who were called human,

and the uniqueness of these creatures

lay in that they could

perceive

this life-giving power.

 

They could name it

and embrace it

and grow with it

and yearn for it.

 

Thus human life was born,

but individual expressions of that human life

were marked with a sense of

incompleteness,

inadequacy,

and a hunger

that drove them ever beyond the self

to search for life’s secret

and

to seek the source of life’s power.

This was a humanity that could not be content with

anything less.

 

And once again

in that process

there was

sacrifice and mutation,

grace and resurrection

now in the human order,

occurring, recurring.

And it was good!

 

Finally, in the fullness of time,

within that human family,

one

unique and special human life appeared:

whole

complete

free

loving

living

being

at one

at peace

at rest.

 

In that life was seen with new intensity

that primal power of the universe,

Christpower.

And it was good!

 

Of that life people said: Jesus,

you are the Christ,

for in you we see

and feel

and experience

the living force of life

and love

and being

of God. 

 

He was hated,

rejected,

betrayed,

killed,

but

he was never distorted.

For here was a life in which

the goal, the dream, the hope

of all life

is achieved.

 

A single life among many lives.

Here

among us, out from us,

and yet this power, this essence,

was not from us at all,

for the Christpower that was seen in Jesus

is finally of God.

 

And even when the darkness of death overwhelmed him,

the power of life resurrected him;

for Christpower is life

eternal,

without beginning,

without ending.

It is the secret of creation.

It is the goal of humanity.

 

Here in this life we glimpse

that immortal

invisible

most blessed

most glorious

almighty life-giving force

of this universe

in startling completeness

in a single person.

 

Men and women tasted the power that was in him

and they were made whole by it.

They entered a new freedom,

a new being.

They knew resurrection and what it means to live

in the Eternal Now.

So they became agents of that power,

sharing those gifts from generation to generation,

creating and re-creating,

transforming, redeeming,

making all things new.

 

And as this power moved among human beings,

light

once more separated from darkness.

And it was good!

 

They searched for the words to describe

the moment that recognized the fullness of this power

living in history,

living in the life of this person.

 

But words failed them.

 

So they lapsed into poetry:

When this life was born,

they said,

a great light split the dark sky.

Angelic choruses peopled the heavens

to sing of peace on earth.

They told of a virgin mother,

of shepherds compelled to worship,

of a rejecting world that had no room in the inn.

They told of stars and oriental kings,

of gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

 

For when this life was born

that power that was

and is

with God,

inseparable,

the endless beginning

was seen

even in a baby

in swaddling clothes

lying in a manger.

 

Christpower.

 

Jesus, you are the Christ.

 

To know you is to live,

to love,

to be.

 

O come, then, let us adore him!

 

~John Shelby Spong

 

*************************************************

 

Spong writes about the origin of this poem:

 

“Many years ago, in 1974 to be specific, for the sermon at the Christmas Eve Midnight service at St. Paul’s Church in Richmond, Virginia, I sought to redefine Jesus through the medium of poetry.  I could, even then, no longer see him with credibility as the incarnation of a supernatural being who lived above the sky.  That image to me made the relationship between Jesus and God somewhat like that of Clark Kent to Superman.  I had come to understand Jesus both as something more than that and at the same time as the essence of what life itself is all about.

The God I met in Jesus was not an invasive divine power who entered this world from outer space.  I rather experienced God as the primal life force that surges through all living things, but which comes to self-consciousness only in human life and was somehow uniquely seen in its fullness in Jesus of Nazareth.  I also experienced God as that power of love that always expands the levels of consciousness in which all of us share and into which we evolve as we become more deeply and fully human.  This was for me a breakthrough into a new religious understanding.  That understanding came to a new intensity when I wrote my book: Eternal Life: A New Vision – Beyond Religion, Beyond Theism, Beyond Heaven and Hell. 

After that service a very gifted poet from Richmond, Lucy Newton Boswell Negus, laid my words out in free verse.  Then she took my sermons over the previous three years, lifted the essence or climax from each and put that into the same free verse form.  Ultimately, Thomas Hale Publishing Company published that project in a coffee table size volume entitled Christpower.  I was elected bishop in Newark some three months later and this book all but disappeared.  In 2007, however, this volume of theological poetry, was discovered, revised, updated and republished by St Johann Press in Haworth, New Jersey, and is now newly available in a paperback version from Amazon or directly from the publisher.  Encouraged by the response of my readers I have used this new version of this Christmas sermon as my column every year since 2007.“