Thursday, March 13, 2008


A friend just returned to me my copy of Richard Rohr's book Hope Against Darkness and I picked it up today and this is the first thing I read.

"People say they do not want to give way on important moral issues, but far too often they don't want to give way on the ego's need to be right, superior and in control."

Later he says this:

" Who of you can say with total certitude that you know you're doing God's will? I don't any day of my life, and it's very unsatisfying. That's what it means to "bear the mystery," to hang with Jesus on the horns of the human dilemma, to agree to find God in a clearly imperfect world. We would much sooner have certitudes, we would much sooner have order and control and know who the good guys are and the bad guys are. We don't want to hang in this ambiguous, compromised place with Jesus. Most would prefer dogma and perfectly objective morality to biblical faith any day. Certitude allows you to predict and control outcomes, and justify rewards and punishments. That's not all bad. The trouble is that it is not the message that shouts from the cross."


Todd said...


these are interesting quotes....although I can't say I agree with some of what I've read of Rohr (although some of his quotes about where real church fellowship takes place are stellar), I love this quote:

"Certitude allows you to predict and control outcomes, and justify rewards and punishments. That's not all bad. The trouble is that it is not the message that shouts from the cross."

Henri Nouwen had some great excerpts in his book, "In the Name of Jesus" that dealt with God's call to be more "mystical" than "moralist."

being what I guess would be pretty "conservative" in some areas whereas other's might find me too "liberal" in others (I hate to label, I just really want to grow in Christ-likeness), I often go back in my mind's eye and wonder what it was like for the prostitute, tax collectors, and rabble that got to hang with Jesus in the flesh......truly amazing! The Rabbi smashing down separation walls and throwing open the doors of God's invitation to the burned out, messed up, sexually confused, and castigated to come home....

I'm glad he did so and the call still is open.....I sure hope I can reflect the same thing....



Todd said...


i like those quotes ha ha!


Sue said...

RR never fails to leave me walking away feeling both lighter and more grounded at the same time. I love his take on things ...

Blessings to you today, Kentster!

Kent said...

Sue, if I remember right I think Paul told me that he might be doing a conference with Richard later this year. Just like you I have so appreciated Richard over the past two years since I ran across him here on the net.

Here is a link to the article that introduced me to Richard. It links to part II so scroll to the bottom once you get there and you will find a link to part I but the link at the end of part I does not link back to part II so you will have to click back on your browser to get back to part II...did you get all of that?

Sue said...

Thanks, Kent. I'm gonna print these out to read them. Reading Mr Rohr is like having a piece of nice chocolate :)

Jennifer said...

If Sue can have her ellipses, you can have your quotes and I'll have my italics. :)

These layers just keep peeling off. It's surreal. It's amazing how we can think we are somewhere and our eyes have been so opened and then....then He takes us somewhere else, further and increases the light even more until it almost seems like it's too much...then we start all over again. Incrementally leading us deeper, yet at the same time freer, into Him.

My test for the mystic vs. certitudes is whether or not you can keep your certitudes when you are faced with Auschwitz. In his book, Man's Search for Meaning Victor Frankl observed that while in the concentration camp the people who had a strong faith did better than those who did not. Faith and certitude are like oil and water in some respects.

We won't all be faced with such a horrible lot, but there are other troubles which can seem as bad in the midst of the pain.

Jennifer said...

...and I hope by "you" it didn't sound like I was saying you, Kent.

Kent said...

Jennifer, I'm finding the incremental process to be as you described.

Faith and certitude are like oil and water. Listen to how Richard says it.

"Whenever I think there's a perfect pattern, further reading and study reveal an exception. Whenever I want to say "only" or "always," someone or something proves me wrong. My scientist friends have come up with things like "principles of uncertainty" and dark holes. They're willing to live inside imagined hypotheses and theories. But many religious folks insist on answers that are always true. We love closure, resolution and clarity, while thinking that we are people of "faith"! How strange that the very word "faith" has come to mean its exact opposite."

I had a friend in a conversation a few weeks ago say that when it comes to God it is all about his character and when it comes to us it is all about our identity. Since hearing that I have spent much time thinking on that and to me that describes and simplifies it pretty well. Those are two things that are certain as we walk through life in a world of great uncertainty.

Kent said...

Jennifer, the morning after that conversation when my friend said that about it being about God's character and our identity I woke up with this thought running through my head. I think it was an indication that his Spirit in us never sleeps.

Jennifer said...

I remember that post and have found it to be very true.
It's revealing of subtle fear.

In my life,this revolves around my children, as you know!, and after listening to you for these past few months I've realized how many fears control my parenting.

There's a sign on the side of the highway out here that has this written on it:

"If you sacrifice liberty for security, you will lose both; liberty and security."

I think of you every time I drive by it.

todd said...

came across this today in a little volume I have called, "The Spirituality of Imperfection" thought you all may enjoy....

Rohr uses a language more familiar to those steeped in 12 step spirituality. In an article on A.A.'s third step, he counsels that spirituality involves the letting go of three needs: the need to be in control, the need to be effective (somebody help me!:), and the need to be right, surrender of the "demand to have the last word," seems a prerequisite to the kind of listening that allows participation in the healing power of storytelling."

As I read this, I thought of 1 Cor 13 "Love never fails"....could this mean that God/Love has the last word? heh heh!

love to all,


Kent said...


Jennifer, that's funny that I come to your mind when you see that sign. It really seems to go even farther than the sign says. I would say it like this, maybe it's the same thing:

There is no "security" to be found in this world of uncertainty. So forfiting any liberty you posess in the hopes of a hollow promise of security seems to me to be a trade no one would be willing to make.

We are only secure in Him "bearing the mystery" as we hang with Jesus on the horns of the human dilemma, to use Rohr's language.

Jennifer said...

Well, you said it much better, but that's what I think when I read the sign. They only have a few words for the side of the road. :)

Maybe others see something different, but I took it to mean that the pursuit of security is wasting liberty. The same as what you just said for sure!

Sue said...

LOL. She has a point, Kentster. Your billboard would take up 14 fields :)


Kent said...

I've never been accused of being pithy by my wife. Hmmmm maybe there is a lesson here for me? hehe

Sue said...

No, dude. Keep talking :)

Jennifer said...

Yes! Keep talking!

Kent said...

okay I will.