Monday, June 04, 2007

Richard Rohr @ York

Absolutely blown away by Richard Rohr at the conference I went to in York over the weekend. He's in my Jedi Council for sure.
I said to someone I feel like I've been born again again.
There's a lot of talk in emerging circles about 'powerless discourse' and a kind of doing away with the 'expert'. I disagree. Put someone who knows what they're talking about in a big room, preferably on a stage, give them a microphone and let them talk at me for hours on end. I don't particularly want to go to something like this and pool my ignorance with a load of strangers in small groups. I want to listen to a spiritual master, which Rohr undoubtedly is.
Of course, we need to make sure we're not confusing this for the real work however. The rubber hits the road when we take this stuff back into Christian community and learn together how to live it out. That's a much more appropriate context for 'powerless discourse' if you ask me.
Anyway - it was truly inspirational stuff. He was basically talking about how bad the church has been at facilitating true transformation in people. That true transformation comes through wisdom (which is actually a common description of the Spirit in the scriptures) but the church hasn't developed a wisdom culture but instead been obsessed with what he calls 'informational knowledge' i.e. it's about getting more and better information, knowing how to label things correctly etc. The church has by and large operated in this early level consciousness.
Instead we need to know how to get beyond what he calls the 'dualistic mind' to wisdom and the 'contemplative mind' which can deliver true transformation.
Of course he said a lot of other things too! I'm looking forward to listening again to the CD's.

Of particular interest to people reading this blog might be the fact that he talked in the last session about the emerging church. In his view it has 3 characteristics:

1. An honest reading of Jesus - not reading the gospels to score denominational points but an openness to receive ALL of Christ's teaching. The church has often emphasised things that Jesus didn't emphasise and ignored things that Jesus did emphasise! The emerging church is seeking to take the whole of Christ's teaching seriously.

2. A passion of justice, peace, and ecological issues.

3. An openness to developing the contemplative mind. (He joked that he would always rather talk about scripture to Catholics, and contemplation to Protestants because both groups are very happy to admit that they know little about these things...the problem comes when trying to teach scripture to Protestants and contemplation to Catholics cos both groups think they have it all worked out in those areas and don't have what he calls 'Beginners Mind'.)

Anyway - as you can see...I'm a bit of a fan...and there is a bit of a guru thing around Rohr which I know he's quite embarassed about (he said so). I did say to my travelling companions (great to be there with Jim from hOME and Ian and Gail from mayBe) that if the weekend ended in a mass wedding we were all in trouble...!!

1 comment:

Sarcastic Lutheran said...

Sounds amazing!
I agree about the expert thing. I really hate my seminary classes that are taught by faculty who embrace the whole "pedagogy of the oppressed" know, cooperative learning, which ends up meaning that instead of listening to a fascinating lecture by the professor who has spent their career learning about the subject, we sit through endless "student presentations" which make me want to love Hitler or cause myself bodily harm or something.

Give me a good lecture any day of the week.

Hey, I get to see Ian Mobsby next week, right here in beautiful Colorado. how cool is that.