Dallas Willard, Richard Rohr and St. Francis Walk Into A Bar

Recently I have been reading Dallas Willard’s book The Divine Conspiracy with some friends. It has been refreshing, challenging and a joy. Willard, in his discussion about how anger often sabotages the kingdom heart, reminded me of a great passage by the Franciscan Priest Richard Rohr. Enjoy… tell me what you think… wrestle with this.

“You can take it as a general rule that when you don’t transform your pain you will always transmit it. Zealots and contemporary liberals often have the right conclusion, but their tactics and motives are often filled with self, power, control and the same righteousness that they hate in conservatives. Basically, they want to do something to avoid holding the pain until it transforms them. Because of this too common pattern, I have come to mistrust almost all righteous indignation and moral outrage. In my experience, it is hardly ever from God.

‘Resurrected’ people prayerfully bear witness against injustice and evil—but also agree compassionately to hold thier own complicity in that same evil. It is not over there, it is here. It is our problem, not theirs.The Risen Christ, not accidentally, still carries the wounds in his hands and side.” – from Hope Against Darkness: The Transforming Vision of Saint Francis in an Age of Anxiety, pg. 23

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4 comments

  1. 2reasons

    I haven’t read any of Rohr’s work. I think he is using the phrases “transform your pain” and “transmit your pain” in a special way, so that a person would need to read the rest of the work to truly understand what he means. Nevertheless, this is a thought-provoking quote.

    I would describe many of the blog entries I have read (and many I’ve written) as “righteous indignation and moral outrage.” I usually skim such entries with some dismay rather than reading them closely. Maybe Rohr is right — maybe I am simply mistrusting them, not thinking them worth much effort. I am dismayed because I would like to read something that is “from God,” but such words are sadly rare. It’s easier to read (or listen to) professional journalists, because they try to hide their indignation and outrage behind a cloak of “objectivity.” But in the end, I see in them too that “their tactics are often filled with self, power, control and … righteousness.” They would harness our energies to make the world match their view rather than God’s. It’s so hard for any of us to acknowledge that we too are sinful, that our view — right as we may think it — may not be God’s. I think this is one of the reasons I haven’t added a new post to my own blog in several months: somehow I trust myself less to write something worth anyone else’s effort to read. Maybe this is the grace of God at work in me.

    Thanks for passing this quote on.

  2. freestyleroadtrip

    But, 2Reasons, if you hold everything inside because you fear your motives, then I can’t learn something new from you. Who cares if you are right. Who cares if you are wrong. That is not the point. The point is getting it out there so we can all learn from it. You and I will learn just as much from you or I being wrong as we will from you or I being right. Maybe even more. Holding it inside closes the door on that.

  3. 2reasons

    Thanks for the encouragement, FRT. Actually, I’m less concerned about being wrong than being arrogant. I am weary of the verbal violence — the name calling, the rudeness, the arrogant assertions of opinions as obvious facts — that is prevalent on the Internet (and elsewhere). I welcome honest, humble dialog, but it’s not easy to find people willing to engage in it, even — and this was my point — myself sometimes. I’m just trying to “do unto others as I would have them do unto me.” I haven’t posted anything on my blog for a while, but I haven’t deleted it. I am hopeful that my season of silence will pass.

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