Richard Rohr – Power of Transparency


A Purple Heart.  “Got injured because of my love of God and country.”  Bullshit.  You got injured because you were an Iraq Desert while sitting in a downed tank in the dark.   It was only a matter time before you got blasted by foe and/or friendly fire.  And you did and two others in the tank died on the spot.  Richard Rohr’s writing is below so don’t attribute my sarcasm to him.  By the way, the Purple Heart pictured was my brothers.  He struggled with PTSD but before the war, he struggled with the way his father treated him and beat him mother.  But, the struggling any of us can think of is part to the deal.  And if we look a life as a deal, that’s not totally wrong or bad.  If I said life is kind of like deciding, win or lose, to drop the guilt trip as used as another sermon about the perils of yet another mortal sin.  What’s that mean?  Mortal sin?  Once we really lighten up and relax into reading scriptures, we’re getting hot and I’m not referring to hell.  What I have continually and increasingly seen less tiptoeing and timid avoidance as a topic to not just talk about, but what I am convinced is the very topic that has gotten the Western world into the trance of trusting God’s complete wrath much more than His mercy and grace and love and I know that when I say ‘unconditional love’ that one or two or seven people who might read this will react violently against such heretical blasphemy.  Well, I don’t know what I don’t know and you don’t either.  “But God loves us but saying He has no conditions attached to His love from us is dangerous talk.”  Really.
“Great job on the newspaper article BUT it isn’t acceptable.  Don’t get me wrong, I’ve seen all the compliments and appreciation in all those letters posted all over social media.  But you surely must understand what my concern for you must be because of all of that.”  No, I sure don’t and you don’t either.  “Well, I never!”  Right on, Paper Boy.  You’ve never received too much of what you fear will go to my head and what might make me gushing like a girl asked out on her first date.  “Pardon me?  I was only asking that you consider the dangers of praise.”  No wonder you’re the advertisement manager and let others manage the pride you project and the insecurity of selling negativity.  Platitudes.  You’re concerned the compliments will give me a big head and you’re equally swimming around as a big fish in a miniature sump pump.  Yes, I’m very sarcastic and don’t wish to talk with you about this nonissue that really isn’t the issue.  “How do you know what my issue really is?”  Because I’ve seen things you’ve written and they are the best written pieces of all the people who do write for a living.  I know you write at home for nothing and it is still something that you are passionate about.

I think the Twelve Steps are inspired by the Holy Spirit and that they are the most successful programmatic teachingof the true Gospel. [1] Bill Wilson and the other founders of Alcoholics Anonymous rediscovered the spirituality of imperfection and powerlessness, which was relegated to a subtext once Christianity aligned with imperial thinking, beginning in 313 A.D. Once we looked out at society from the top instead of the bottom, the Church focused its moral program on a path of ascent instead of descent.

When you are aligned with Empire, you are forced to prefer a spirituality of achievement, performance, worthiness, and willpower, and surely not any talk of “all people have sinned” and “fallen short of the glory” (Romans 5:12, 3:23). There is no longer room “for the last to be first and the first to be last” (Mark 10:31). Conformity to cultural virtue becomes much more important than love of littleness itself or love of any outsider (read “sinner”).

It’s as if Christianity has been saying, “We have the perfect medicine for what ails you: grace and mercy. But the only requirement for receiving it is never to need it!” Jesus called himself a physician and made his case clearly: “Those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do. I did not come to call the righteous but sinners” (Mark 2:17). Bill Wilson recognized this truth and understood that the only way to give everyone equal and universal access to God is to base salvation/enlightenment on woundedness instead of self-created trophies. If we are honest, this utterly levels the playing field. Julian of Norwich, my favorite English mystic, understood the great turn around and said proudly: “Our wounds are our very trophies!” They are the “holes in the soul” where the Light and the Life can break through. [2] Exactly as Leonard Cohen’s Anthem puts it: “Forget your perfect offering / There is a crack in everything / That’s how the light gets in.”

The way of the Twelve Steps is remarkably similar to Jesus’ Way of the Cross, St. Francis’ Way of Poverty, and St. Thérèse of Lisieux’s Little Way. These and many other saints and mystics teach the power of powerlessness either directly or indirectly. It was never totally lost in mainstream Christianity, although it was a minority insight.  Many did recognize that it is the imperial ego that has to go, and only powerlessness can do the job correctly. If we try to change our ego with the help of our ego, we only have a better-disguised ego.

Until you bottom out and come to the limits of your own fuel supply, there is no reason for you to switch to a higher octane of fuel. Why would you? You will not learn to actively draw upon a Larger Source until your usual resources are depleted and revealed as inadequate to the task. In fact, you will not even know there is a Larger Source until your own sources and resources utterly fail you. 

None of us go to the place of powerlessness on our own accord. We have to be taken there. Sad to say it, but it is largely sin, humiliation, failure, and various forms of addiction that do the job. Sometimes, having ruined your marriage, your children, your job, or your sterling self-image, you have to say, “My way isn’t working.” Maybe there is another way, maybe I really do need to change. That is very often when you are finally ready to begin a sincere spiritual journey. At that point your religion morphs into a living spirituality.

-Richard Rohr