Avoiding Transformation...

This article is part of a series on scapegoating by Franciscian, Richard Rohr. It seems we always find some way to avoid the transformation of our pain. There’s the common way of fight. Fighters are looking for the evildoer, the sinner, the unjust one, the oppressor, the bad person “over there.” He or she “righteously” attacks, hates, or even kills the wrong-doer, while feeling heroic for doing so (see John 16:2). We are all tempted to project our problem on someone or something else rather than dealing with it in ourselves. The zealot—and we’ve all been one at different times—is actually relieved by having someone to hate, because it takes away our inner shame and anxiety and provides a false sense of innocence. As long as the evil is “over there” and we can keep our focus on changing or expelling someone else (as the contaminating element), then we feel at peace. But this is not the peace of Christ, which “the world cannot give” (see John 14:27). Playing the victim is another way to deal with pain indirectly. You blame someone else, and your pain becomes your personal ticket to power because it gives you a false sense of moral superiority and outrage. You don’t have to grow up, let go, forgive, or surrender—you just have to accuse someone else of being worse than you are. And sadly, that becomes your very fragile identity, which always needs more reinforcement. The other common way to avoid the path of transformation is the way of flight or denial. It can take many forms. Those with the instinct to flee will often deny or ignore pain by naively dividing the world up through purity codes and worthiness systems. They keep the problem on the level of...

Independence

As The United States celebrates its Independence Day, I thought it fitting to consider various forms of dependency. Dependence is defined as the state of needing something or someone else. Like it or not, we are dependent on each other for all kinds of things. We need acceptance, love and affection from others because we are social beings. A newborn child left alone without touch will die. We are dependent on each other to follow socially accepted behavior like stopping at red lights and contributing to common things like roads and schools. In relationships, we are dependent on each other to be there to share the workload, make a meaningful contribution and live up to our commitments. Healthy dependence is a really, really positive thing. Independence is freedom from the control, influence, support, aid, or the like, of others. When the 13 American colonies were no longer satisfied with British rule (and taxation without representation), they sought a divorce. It’s not unlike the recent decision by Britain to pull out of the European Union to preserve its sovereignty. It’s not unlike states in human development. Two that come to mind are the terrible twos. I think the twos are called terrible because children seek independence from their parents and other caretakers because they are coming into their own. They are clumsy and awkward, but they are determined to get around! Unfortunately, they don’t yet recognize the limits of social and character boundaries, so tend to severely test those around them. The other significant stage of finding independence IS, of course, during the teenage years. Children are transitioning to adulthood with changing bodies, increased responsibilities and fewer apron strings. Yet their raging hormones and lack of fully developed prefrontal cortexes (decision-making that fully grasps consequences)...

Church

How do you know you’re on a good personal track? What are the markers of your spiritual growth? What do you think it means to be a person of faith? How do you nurture growth in your life? I had breakfast with a friend the other day that expressed concern because I don’t attend church services on a regular basis. Certainly she is not the only one to have voiced such fear. This friend followed up her statement with, “There’s a lot of stuff out there; what if you get off?” I then launched into a 5-minute defense of my spiritual life. We have social litmus tests for all sorts of things. And the common one for your faith is whether or not you go to church. (Interesting how church has become something you go to instead of who you are.) I’m cool with my friend, but our conversation topic makes me crazy! I think people and ideas and consciousness evolve. (I’m so glad we don’t believe in human slavery and are past the Crusades.) So a question is worth asking: To what extent can our understanding of God and faith evolve? I think that just as the universe continues to expand, so can our understanding of ultimate reality. Do you still believe that participating in certain rituals is a good test of your relationship with God, what you believe, and how you live your life? Jesus said people will know you are his disciples if you love one another.* But today, being right has become more important than being loving. And many people outside the church (however you define that growing group of folks), is, unfortunately, dare I say, sometimes nicer and kinder than those inside. Ouch! I’m not here to rag on church...

Honey

The old saying is that you can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar. I think that is not only true for flies, but for us too. Father Richard Rohr’s devotion on Sunday, September 6, 2015 was somewhat on this topic. See the excerpt below: “Rather than making dogmatic statements about how to get to heaven, Jesus modeled and taught how to live on earth in a loving way, and he said that this was indeed heaven! But Christians have all too often pushed heaven into the future. We’ve made Jesus’ death and resurrection into a reward/punishment system for the next world, which creates tremendously self-absorbed and self-preoccupied people. It doesn’t transform anyone into compassionate, loving individuals. Instead it leads to a kind of morbid self-analysis in which people feel guilty, inferior, and inadequate or superior and self-righteous. “This dualistic approach has corrupted the true meaning of the Gospel. I would go so far as to say that by sending Christians on a path of well disguised but delayed self-interest, we prostituted the entire spiritual journey from the very start. You cannot easily get to love when you begin with threats and appeals to fear. The driving energy is completely wrong. Rather, you come to love by attraction. Change must begin with positive energy or the final result is never positive.” To this I say YES! That is why I’m so glad to find a path to God that is marked by love and acceptance instead of fear and manipulation. But oh how may people have experienced the latter instead of the former. The irony is that LOVE drives the universe. God is not far away; the loving Divine is closer than our breath. God is sweeter than honey; and He/She is always...

Try This!

A moving car is much easier to steer than a parked one. So says the cliché about moving forward in life. But personally, I think it’s a good one. While some of us thrive on change, others of us would rather get a root canal. That said, it seems all of use can be resistant, closed or even defensive to opportunities for change. Our egos can get in the way. I firmly believe we all need outside influences to get us moving. On our own we get stuck. We resist. We balk. Oh how often we miss out because we remain in our comfortable lives. We hang out with the same people, eat the same foods, watch the same TV shows. I think the following from Franciscan priest, Richard Rohr, is worth sharing. “The Dalai Lama said it well: “Every change of mind is first of all a change of heart.” I would add: ‘Every change of heart is soon a change of mind.’ This is the urgently needed work of mature spirituality…Many folks over the years, even very good-willed people, have read and listened to my presentations of the Gospel yet have actually done very little–in terms of lifestyle changes, economic or political rearrangements, or naming their own ego or shadow selves. After all, “Isn’t church about believing ideas to be true or false? Isn’t religion about attending services?” Most people just listen to my ideas and judge them to be true or false. They either “like” or “don’t like” them. But thinking about ideas or making judgments about what is moral or immoral seldom leads to a radically new consciousness. Transformative education is not asking you to believe or disbelieve in any doctrines or dogmas. Rather it is challenging you to “Try...

034: Life Stages & States Aug22

034: Life Stages & States...

http://media.blubrry.com/gcoyl/p/media.medeor.co/gcoyl/34-Stages___States_-_Jeannette_.mp3Podcast: Play in new window | Download (Duration: 20:06 — 27.6MB)Subscribe: iTunes | Android | RSSJeannette Slater & Dr. Deb discuss personal growth in light of what some have identified as life stages & states. The conversation was somewhat sparked by a brief article published by Father Richard Rohr on May 3, 2015. He builds on the work of philosopher, Ken Wilbur who described the differences between life stages & states. Here is a section of the article, though we encourage you to click on the link above and read it in its entirety: “Your stage of human development has to do with your location in time, your culture, and your education. It has to do with your level of intellectual maturity, how much you’ve been able to integrate thought patterns in a consistent and informed way. Most of us in our lifetimes have grown through a few stages, eventually seeing the limits of each previous stage (both in our own lives and within history), and moving to the next: in general, the ideal tangent is pre-rational, through rational, and on to trans-rational. The trans-rational stage builds on the other two and thus has endless horizons. This is the full trajectory and direction of human growth, with many intermediate stops and starts in between. “Your state of consciousness is more about your level of inner awakening than mere correct information. How much do you live connected to self and others and the Whole? How much have you overcome your sense of separateness and superiority? How much do body, soul, and spirit work together as one? Have you moved beyond simply reacting? Can you act and think in pure inner freedom? In traditional religious language, how much do you live in union with God? “Your...

Hiroshima

This week we “lament, and grieve our own complicity in the bombing of Hiroshima in 1945 on the Feast of the Transfiguration. The atomic bomb became a symbol of humanity’s capacity for negative transfiguration.” So writes Father Richard Rohr, keenly aware that he lives near “Trinity Site,” where the bomb was tested before it was used to destroy two cities in Japan. “This is a reminder to me,” he wrote, “that my capacity for evil is as close as my backyard and my own shadow [myself].” Transfiguration marks the time when Jesus climbed a mountain with two of his disciples—Peter and James—and was transfigured before their eyes. It was a profound spiritual experience when “dazzling brightness which emanated from His whole Body was produced by an interior shining of His Divinity.”* Whether or not you are American, I thought Rohr’s devotional on the subject was both timely and universal enough to share portions with you. May the anniversary give all of us us pause to remember and reflect. In considering the life message of Saint Thérèse of Lisieux, a French Carmelite nun who lived just over a hundred years ago, the contrast between WHO WE ARE and WHO WE COULD BE is stark indeed. Rohr went on: “What if we had studied the “science of love” in the Little Way as she did? Harnessing the energy in the smallest interactions, moment by moment, we might have found that, indeed, “Love is as strong as Death” (Song of Songs 8:6). What if we had practiced confidence as Thérèse did–as deep trust in the mercy, love, and goodness of God? Maybe we would not have found ourselves in the position where good people participated in the continual “sin of the world” (John 1:29), which I am convinced is ignorant killing. Endless...

032: Spiritual Influences Jul29

032: Spiritual Influences...

http://media.blubrry.com/gcoyl/p/media.medeor.co/gcoyl/32-Spiritual_Influences_.mp3Podcast: Play in new window | Download (Duration: 45:18 — 41.5MB)Subscribe: iTunes | Android | RSSDr. Deb and Jeannette Slater discuss their faith journeys and the many spiritual leaders who have influenced them. Life and faith are meant to be a journey that is always expanding and growing. If your faith has not changed, or if you have not felt free to ask deeply felt questions, take courage. There are places you can go and voices you can hear that will help you escape the smallness of faith. Get unstuck and inspired in this most personal, yet universal conversation. Here are the spiritual leaders we mentioned that have most deeply influenced us: Richard Rohr – Here you can read about Father Rohr, the Center for Action and Contemplation, and sign up for daily email devotionals. https://cac.org Rob Bell http://robbell.com The Robcast is Bell’s fantastic podcast; it’s available on iTunes. Shane Hipps http://shanehipps.com Ask Science Mike http://mikemchargue.com/ask-science-mike/ The Liturgists http://www.theliturgists.com Mirabi Starr http://mirabaistarr.com Winkie Pratney http://www.winkiepratney.net Gregory Boyd Blog: http://reknew.org Podcasts: http://whchurch.org/sermons-media/sermons Shane Claiborne http://www.redletterchristians.org/shane/ Ilia Delio http://www.ilia-delio.squarespace.com Phyllis Tickle http://www.phyllistickle.com Book: The Great Emergence http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/great-emergence-the-phyllis-tickle/1111409784?ean=9780801013133 Youth With A Mission (YWAM)...

Messy part 2

In the last article, I discussed something we all know: life is messy. We sometimes don’t want to face people or problems we can’t relate to, and we are likely to RUN Forrest RUN! This time I want to write about internal messy. Yea, sometimes we want to run from that also! We all have stuff, baggage, issues, shit, whatever you want to call it. It’s the ugly part of our human experience, brought on by personal failures, warped views of reality, skewed perceptions, hurts from others, the dark side of our cultures, and a lot of other factors. It’s so easy to go through life and just coast…to not really deal with our “stuff.” It seems we tend to grow and transcend in two ways: Experiencing profound, unconditional love Suffering–facing and working through our pain (facing it head on and dealing with it!) It is the later we address here. It takes much courage to engage in deep self-evaluation. We might be afraid of what we will find. Or we are tempted to run away from the pain. Who likes pain? Given the choice between an ice cream and a root canal, healthy people will usually choose the ice cream, unless of course they have a lot of tooth pain and are desperate to get help. I was talking with someone recently who discussed his experience with addiction and dysfunction. He moved to get away from his pain, but of course, the pain came with him. He tried avoiding his issues, going around them and getting in front of him, but he finally realize he had to go THROUGH them. It’s what I heard Father Richard Rohr describes as: Construction – how you develop our life, only to realize some of it wasn’t working...

031: Strong & Fruitful Life Jul19

031: Strong & Fruitful Life...

http://media.blubrry.com/gcoyl/p/media.medeor.co/gcoyl/31-Strong_and_Fruitful_Life.mp3Podcast: Play in new window | Download (Duration: 14:31 — 13.3MB)Subscribe: iTunes | Android | RSSIn this podcast, we asked several people what they think it means to live a strong and fruitful life, the purpose statement for Get Control Of Your Life. It was recorded at Conspire 2015: “A conspiracy for God conference.” Interviews include Richard Rohr, Sister Simone and Mirabi Starr. Here are the guests who commented in the order in which they appear; the public figure names appear with their websites: Chris & Phileena Heuertz – Gravity: A Center for Contemplative Activism Sister Simone Campbell, General Director of the Sisters of Social Service and Executive Director of NETWORK, a national Catholic social justice lobby. She is author of Nuns on the Bus, and featured in a documentary of with the same title; see the trailer and read about the film here. Justin Osterman from Lincoln, Nebraska Mary Frances & Robin Cunningham from Kansas Ele Clay, seminary student in Texas Mirabi Starr, Professor of Philosophy and World Religions at University of New Mexico-Taos, inter-spiritual teach­ings of the mystics, and author of multiple books including Teresa of Avila: The Book of My Life and Saint John of the Cross. See her website here. Michael Poffenberger, Executive Director of the Center for Action and Contemplation Richard Rohr is a Franciscan Priest, founder of the Center for Action and Contemplation, author of multiple books, and an ecumenical teacher bearing witness to the universal awakening within Christian mysticism and the Perennial Tradition. See Oprah’s interview with Father Richard here.  ...

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