I chronicled a good deal of the meet up portion of my NY trip the other day. That was a big part of of the journey. However, the trip took place because my friend Sue had mentioned that Richard Rohr would be speaking and asked if I wanted to go.
Last September Sue and I took a field trip to Fairfield University to hear Greg Mortensen, author of Three Cups of Tea give the convocation talk. It was a great little day trip and hearing Mortensen was wonderful.
This year became an overnight and hopefully a tradition has been born.
This is the third time that I have heard/seen Rohr in person. The first two times were as follows… In January 2006 at the Politics and Spirituality event that I went to in DC and then again in August of 2007 when he gave a talk at the NY Open Center. This time the event was held at St. John’s University in Queens and took place at the St. Thomas More Church. Rohr was there to promote his newest book, The Naked Now.
It is a bit of a mystery to me that Rohr has not gotten himself thrown out of the RC church. He goes pretty far and wide and yet seems to have no real repercussion, which is great.
Rohr often speaks about the challenges of dualistic thinking, a topic near and dear to my heart.
Rather than the constant need to divide and objectify the world around us with various labels such as left/right, right/wrong, good/evil, republican/democrat. liberal/conservative, progressive/orthodox and so on. Rohr suggests that perhaps we should consider the invitation to live in the tension between the poles and enter into what we encounter there.
This is something easier said than done and Rohr acknowledges that. In his talk he remarked that this is much of the work of the “second half of life.” I think that he may be right about that; although there are many younger people who have inner wisdom, some of this comes later. It really does take time to get to this place.
In the figure of Jesus Christ, we really have this ultimate expression of non-dualism. Starting from the position that Jesus was both fully human and fully divine and that he was of both heaven and of earth, Rohr brought forth the more mysterious and contemplative elements of Christianity.
In his own words, the new book, The Naked Now, is the follow-up and companion piece to his landmark work (those are my words), Everything Belongs. I did not buy the new book yet, too much other reading right now, but I do look forward to it, as I love Everything Belongs.
As for prayer, Rohr really makes strong points about prayer not being something we do in any task-like fashion, but rather a journey that we undertake. So often prayer, due to what we learn in church, is a matter of doing certain things to please some hungry God. What we should seek is a union with a God who initiates all and loves us deeply, passionately and a God who does not see us in the divided ways we see ourselves.
I will say that after having experienced Richard Rohr three times that he is warm, wise and a generous and compelling speaker with something worth hearing!