Albuquerque, USA: Meeting an American Icon – Fr. Richard Rohr OFM
Willem Klaver mhm with Richard Rohr OFM

Albuquerque, USA: Meeting an American Icon – Fr. Richard Rohr OFM

During the recent Assembly of the Association of American Catholic Priests in Albuquerque, New Mexico (June 25-28), I had the privilege of meeting Fr. Richard Rohr OFM. The American bestselling author and one of the greatest spiritual writers of this moment has inspired me for a long time. Several of his books helped me to stimulate Mill Hill students in Jinja to reflect on the meaning of male spirituality. Several of his books have been published in the Dutch language area, including “Falling Upward” and “The Divine Dance”. Basing himself on biblical texts, theology and insights of philosophers and mystics, Richard Rohr critiques the human ego that seeks its own justification and certainty. He advocates a contemplative spirit and tradition to better understand spiritual things. People must learn to combine knowledge and knowing with the unknown and all that lies beyond ou rken. Many Christians, according to Richard Rohr, have now left the churches because the concept of truth has been overplayed, a truth anchored not so much in the love of God but more in the rational or quasi-legal.

There is not just one version of catholicity.

He describes the American version of Christianity in general as the most arrogant form, namely a religion of privileged whites who are in a powerful and comfortable position and cannot identify with, among others, the poor and the immigrants. The other is a major threat to the human ego, with the result that one always has to choose between two opposing parties as one excludes the other with their own concept of what is right (eg Democrats or Republicans).

In non-dual thinking, however, the trinitarian concept of unity in diversity holds sway and with patience and humility two seeming opposites are held until they become One in Love. As soon as we can let go of our own ego with its claim to be right and hold the truth as a point of reference and discover the transformative power of faith, we can create room for mercy, love, etc. An inner peace comes over us as soon as we realize that “God’s knowing is different from my knowing “. As St. Augustine described it: the moment you understand it, it is no longer God.

It is not so much about wanting to change other people as we ourselves are the biggest problem. Richard Rohr poses the painful question: how can someone take religion seriously while historically the most Christian states in America have proven to be the most racist, hateful and egoistic people who think it is their calling to change others rather than themselves ? In the past, black people were always seen as the ones who destabilized America and now it’s the Mexicans, the Latinos, the LGBT folk, etc. According to Richard Rohr, the gospel has the power to save the world but we should not waste time  ‘in our little battles’ because we consider ourselves important and want to be right. Richard Rohr makes the following appeal: let us feel free to love the truth, that God is love and that God is truth. And if that is true, then it is true everywhere and it comes from the Holy Spirit!

Willem Klaver, mhm
Bronx, New York

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