Christians are usually sincere and well-intentioned people until you get to any issues of ego, control, power, money, pleasure, and security. Then they tend to be like everyone else. We often give only a bogus version of the gospel, a fast-food religion, without any deep transformation of the self; and the result has been the spiritual disaster of Christian countries that tend to be so consumer-oriented, proud, warlike, racist, class conscious, and addictive as everybody else and often even more so, I’m afraid. (Richard Rohr, posted in “Mindful Christianity” on Facebook.)
I intend to use this astute wisdom of Fr. Richard Rohr for a series of posts as here he eloquently notes concerns I have about the Christian faith, concerns which are relevant to me personally. Here Rohr elucidates how “the flesh” (the Apostle Paul’s term) is very present in our Christian faith, an awareness which that antithesis of our faith (i.e. Satan!!!) does not want us to be aware. “Awareness” is a powerful antidote to the ego’s machinations which is why we resist it so intently, even to the point of wrapping the teachings of Jesus around our self-serving orientation to life so that we can never let the light of day shine upon them. I have a hunch that Paul’s “besetting sin” was his recognition of this quandary, the deep-seated, intuitive understanding that, though the “Spirit is willing, the flesh is weak.” Human frailty is so pronounced that each of us attempts to hide from it, even to the point of taking spiritual teachings like those of Jesus and turning them into “a platform for the display of our carnal abilities.” (W. Ian Thomas) The very human need for a persona will often seize upon spiritual tradition and incorporate it into its complicated and deep-seated (i.e. unconscious) scheme to hide from our frailty, even though it is only in our frailty that we discover God and therefore our self. This is what Jesus had in mind when he noted, “He that will find himself must lose himself.” (my paraphrasing of Matthew 10:39) and the “self” here that must be lost often includes the Christian persona that we have clung to the whole of our lives.
This issue is very relevant to the Christian voice of today when so many critics, from within and without of Christianity, are warning that the tradition is in jeopardy. This is because religious leaders have not heard the same prophetic voice that Rohr listens to and have succumbed to the siren call of what Rohr termed “fast-food religion,” alluded to by Dietrich Bonhoeffer as “cheap grace” and by, Vance Havner, an early 20th century fundamentalist evangelist as a, “cheap and easy believism.” Now the Christ I believe in is not in jeopardy and cannot be, for He is the “Cosmic Christ” that Rohr elsewhere describes, being beyond the grasp of the time/space continuum. But Christian tradition, sustained by rote ideology is a “house build upon sand” and thus not a reliable object of faith.
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