Have you ever had a chance to be a part of an international event, a gathering people from across the world, all of whom had a chance to ask questions and hear responses live?
Father Dan Kroger, Franciscan Media CEO, and I, as Franciscan Media’s Product Development Division Director, were able to be on hand for the webinar celebrating the release of our new book with Father Richard Rohr, Yes, And…: Daily Meditations.
And we were most certainly not alone, with more than 1,000 people from 11 countries, some getting together in groups at a parish, for instance, and others in their homes or offices, truly present.
The interactive quality of the event and the non-traditional use of technology to, as Father Richard said, “wrap around the world,” curiously paired off with his affirmation of the Church’s ancient and perennial tradition.
And yet the webinar, in affirming tradition, offered a non-traditional (or at least non-usual) way of reading the Bible’s New Testament. Father Richard spoke of “the Jesus hermeneutic,” an interpretation of scriptures “the way Jesus would.”
It is that understanding that permeates Yes, And… in a provocative and compelling way that brings the Scriptures to life.
“We don’t have the words of Jesus,” Father Richard said, noting that Jesus did not speak Greek, the language from which we have his words. But having the exact words doesn’t matter nearly as much, he noted, as focusing on the fact that “Jesus paid attention to some things and not others.”
Jesus “will ignore those (Old Testament) Scriptures,” for instance, that are “punitive, exclusionary and triumphalistic,” he said, adding that Jesus “treats women with such respect” and his actions do not draw divisions among people.
Christians seeking to enter into the mind of Jesus should look to his actions as described in scripture as well as his words.
Using the Jesus hermeneutic, Father Richard in Yes, And… helps guide us not chronologically—though there are 366 meditations in the beautifully bound hardcover book—but through themes that walks us through our quest to walk in sync with God. Those themes are:
2. If God is Trinity and Jesus is the face of God, then it is a benevolent universe. God is not someone to be afraid of, but is the Ground of Being and on our side.
3. There is only one Reality. Any distinction between natural and supernatural, sacred and profane is a bogus one.
4. Everything belongs and no one needs to be scapegoated or excluded. Evil and illusion only need to be named and exposed truthfully, and they die in exposure to the light.
5. The separate self is the problem, whereas most religion and most people make the “shadow self” the problem. This leads to denial, pretending, and projecting instead of real transformation into the Divine.
6. The path of descent is the path of transformation. Darkness, failure, relapse, death, and woundedness are our primary teachers, rather than ideas or doctrines (Process).
7. Reality is paradoxical and complementary. Non-dual thinking is the highest level of consciousness. Divine union, not private perfection, is the goal of all religion.
Here in Yes, And… you can see the coalescing of Father Richard’s thoughts where everything belongs as in “yes, and…,” where experiencing and then admitting one’s brokenness is key to healing and connecting with the divine, where to divide is not divine, where individualism as a goal itself works against divine union, where our questioning about faith and the human condition is tied directly to our quest to know and love God.
Photo top: Father Richard Rohr, OFM, speaks at the “Sic et Non” webinar August 6, 2013, at the Center of Action and Contemplation in Albuquerque, N.M. (Photos by Mark Lombard)