Posts Tagged With: Richard Rohr

Falling Upward

Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life by Richard Rohr is the best book I have read in a decade, and I read a lot of books!   Richard Rohr spoke to me on every page of this short volume. I had to read it slowly, only four or five pages a day. Any more would have been too much to digest. I write in my books. I underline what I like. I place a star beside what I really like. I talk back in the margins when I disagree. I am glad to get two or three outstanding insights out of any book I read. In Falling Upward, I suppose I have 50 or more stars, which mean “Yes!” and “Amen!” Examples:

“No Pope, Bible quote, psychological technique, religious formula, book or guru can do your journey for you.”

“Resistance to change is so common, in fact, that it is almost what we expect from religious people, who tend to love the past more than the future or the present.”

“When you are in the first half of life, you cannot see any kind of failing or dying as even possible, much less as necessary or good.”

Rohr, who is a Franciscan priest, has had a similar pilgrimage, it seems to me, within Roman Catholic circles, as I’ve had within Baptist circles. As a youngster, he bought the whole package, believing every word his religion taught him, as I did. But adult realities and the shibboleths of childhood did not always fit together easily. He introduced me to the image of the “loyal soldier.” According to Rohr, when the Japanese military returned home after World War II, they were given permission, in a ceremony, to leave their soldiering behind. They had been loyal soldiers, and that had been good for their country during that period in their lives. Now their country needed them to move forward to the next step, to be farmers and merchants and craftsmen. Rohr contends that adult Christians need to be given permission to move toward mature faith, to fall upward, to be able to think for themselves and not merely to follow someone else’s orders as if they were still teenagers.

Another phrase of Rohr’s which I found helpful is “double belonger.” As teens and young adults, we work out our identities, so we claim certain tribes (I am a white, heterosexual, male evangelical Baptist Christian from South Carolina who is a Clemson graduate and who was a Young Republican in college. Other people are in different tribes. They are Hispanic or Catholic or pull for Georgia Tech or whatever…) As young adults, those categories are very important. As mature Christians, Rohr and I find them less and less valuable. We can be double-belongers! I am not required to choose sides. I can value insights from Republicans and Democrats. I would like for some of our politicians to read Rohr’s book. Being stuck in the world of either/or is not the role of a Christian. Do you really think God is either/or? Do you think God is limited to loving Baptists or Catholics, Christians or Jews or Muslims, conservatives or liberals? Teens can be forgiven such foolishness. Such bad theology from sixty-something’s is less understandable.

More quotations:

“You learn how to recover from falling by falling!”

“The only real biblical promise is that unconditional love will have the last word!”

“Every time God forgives us, God is saying that God’s own rules do not matter as much as the relationship that God wants to create with us.”

Categories: Book Review, Faith/Spirituality, Quotations | Tags: , , , , , | 3 Comments

Suggested Reading for 2017

Falling Upward by Richard Rohr (The winner, hands down, for the volume that most affected me in recent years. Rohr says life is divided into two halves. The skills you need as a young adult are not the ones you need past age forty. If you only read one book in 2017, read this one.)

Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow (Knowing way too little about the early history of our United States of America, I learned something on every page. It’s not a comic book, but it’s easy enough for adults to read. Hamilton gives perspective to this difficult political season.)

The Gifts of the Jews by Thomas Cahill (I find myself repeatedly quoting this book, so I must think it has something to say. I read everything Cahill writes.)

The Heart of Buddha’s Teaching by Thich Nhat Hanh (What I learned in Baptist life, including seminary, was a caricature of the actual beliefs and practices of other faiths. Over the past few years, I’ve been trying to listen to what Buddhists say about themselves, what Muslims say about themselves, etc. This book is a good start.)

The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration by Isabel Wilkerson (An impressive account, academic and easy-to-read, of Americans of African descent, who left a perilous existence in the Deep South and moved North, hoping to create better lives for themselves and their children.)

Under the Banner of Heaven—John Krakauer (Continuing in the theme of trying to understand worlds I know little or nothing about, I’m fascinated by Krakauer’s stories of both faithful and radical Mormons.)

Overcoming Adolescence by Marion Aldridge (Well, of course, this book impacted my life. This is my story. I distill thirty years of life’s sometimes painful lessons on the subjects of fear, grace, wisdom, power and addiction.)

Marion D. Aldridge

Mariondaldridge@gmail.com

Categories: Book Review, Faith/Spirituality, Holiday, Lists/Top Ten | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Limiting God

“I remember reading about an Irish missionary’s attempt to teach the Masai people about the Catholic Sacraments. The missionary said that a sacrament is a physical encounter or event in which you experience Grace or the Holy. The people were then confused and disappointed when they were told there were only seven such moments (and all of these just happened to revolve around a priest). One Masai elder raised his hand and said, “’We would have thought, Father, there would be at least seven thousand such moments, not just seven.’” Richard Rohr

I share that story because it’s such a perfect illustration of a huge problem Baptists have, as well as Muslims, Mormons, and Presbyterians. We all have a tendency to limit God to our experiences and our understanding.

Bad idea.

Christians claim to like Jesus (many of them, anyway), so we read the sacred texts that actually tell about him—his miracles, his parables, his teachings. To be exposed to Jesus is to discover what appear to be holy actions and holy words. We also read texts written by other people trying to explain Jesus. They wrote fifty or a hundred or a thousand or two thousand years later. Some of these writers are better than others. Some are actually un-holy. Jesus had warned about that. But persuasive people persuade and new groups get formed, believing that the Fourth Verse is more important than the tenth verse, or whatever. They become the Fourth Versers. They come to believe there is no way to follow God other than through the Fourth Verse.

The Masai elder is right. There are seven thousand moments, not just seven. A sunrise is a sacrament. A baby’s smile is a sacrament. There are tens of thousands of holy words, not just a few. God is not limited to the Fourth Verse. God told Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.” In recent years, that’s become the theme of my spiritual life. Those pivotal words include a lot of verses in a lot of books and a host of experiences. No one has the right to insist that his or her narrow understanding of God is more spot on than mine.

I self-identify as a Christian, but I suspect there are Buddhists that are more Christian than I am. I think I’ll let God work all that out.

 

 

Categories: Faith/Spirituality, Quotations | Tags: , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

What I’m Giving Up for Lent…

Richard Rohr has been a hero for the past year or two.  His insights in Falling Upward are right on regarding the different tasks we have as young adults and as older adults.

Younger, we accept what we are taught, else we are burned by the stove or killed by the car coming down the street.

Older, we should learn to think for ourselves, how to use a stove properly and how to cross a street safely.  Or, we can choose not to cross the street, Or to drive a car.  Or a truck.  At any rate, we should learn to think for ourselves and not automatically do what Mom and Dad and our church and our culture taught us.

Here is the link to subscribe to Richard Rohr’s daily meditation.

https://cac.org/sign-up

Today, Richard Rohr wrote:

“The biblical tradition hopes to reveal that whenever the prophetic function is lacking in any group or religion, such a group will very soon be self-serving, self-maintaining, self-perpetuating, and self- promoting. When the prophets are kicked out of any group, it’s a very short time until that group is circling the wagons around itself, and all sense of mission and message is lost. I am afraid this is the natural movement of any institution. Establishments of any kind usually move toward their own self-perpetuation, rather than “What are we doing for others?”

Marion’s observation: We have lost (if we ever had it and used it) the ability to think. We are not even critical of what others say, meaning we don’t process the information–Is this really true or merely words that sound true? Unable or unwilling to critique others–Christians, Muslims, Jews, Republicans and Democrats, we certainly don’t evaluate ourselves very effectively.

Tomorrow begins Lent. Good time for us to give up something — such as getting our news and our opinions from the usual sources. As I’ve done the last few years, among other Lenten disciplines, I’m giving up Facebook for Lent. I recommend giving up your usual news sources, whether Fox News or NPR.  Why not give the fear-mongers a rest for the next month and a half? We will all be better for it.

One year, I attempted to give up complaining and failed miserably.  But at least I became aware of how much I complained.

So this year, I will try to give up FEAR for Lent.  I will attempt to keep fear instilled by politicians, broadcasters, emails, Facebook and friends at bay.

Prophets, Angels and Jesus say, Fear Not.

Categories: Faith/Spirituality | Tags: , , , , , | 6 Comments

Ten Most Influential Books in My Life

You gotta be kidding me? A limit of ten? But that’s the challenge going around Facebook these days. You are supposed to create the list without overthinking it or trying to impress anybody.

More or less chronologically, here are some of the volumes that wowed me, but I cheated and there are twelve:

Man-Eaters of Kumaon by Jim Corbett

The New Testament in Modern English translated by J. B. Phillips

Black Like Me by James Howard Griffith

The Deep Blue Goodbye by John D. MacDonald

Moon and the Sixpence by Somerset Maugham

Til We Have Faces by C. S. Lewis

All the King’s Men by Robert Penn Warren

Autobiography of Malcolm X by Alex Haley

Raney by Clyde Edgerton

Codependent No More by Melody Beattie

Falling Upward by Richard Rohr

War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy

Categories: Book Review, Faith/Spirituality, Lists/Top Ten | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

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