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  • Writer's picturePenelope Hurley

What Is

Scripture:       "Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble."

1 Peter: 3-8

Music:                 "A Thousand Hallelujahs"         Brooke Ligertwood

Message:                                         What Is

Today I share in full a beautiful excerpt from Fr. Richard Rohr's online course, "The Franciscan Way". I find it to be a bold, courageous and honest observation of where churches find themselves. 

In the CAC online course The Franciscan Way, Richard Rohr explains several different emphases in Franciscan alternative orthodoxy: incarnation instead of redemption, cosmos instead of churchiness, poverty instead of perfection, the bottom instead of the top, the humility of God, and an emphasis on the union of humanity and divinity in Jesus instead of just his divinity. In response to the question “Which one of these do you think the world is most ripe for at this time?” Richard replies:

I wonder if it isn’t “cosmos instead of churchiness.” There is such a universal disillusionment with churchiness, which is the building and maintenance of churches and services. We’ve overplayed the church card for much of the last thousand years. It’s like the messenger overtook the message. Once we divided Christianity into Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant, all of the individual churches had to prove they were the one true church. All that did was preoccupy us with the churchy conversation, while taking our eyes off the cosmos, off of what was right beneath our feet, in front of our eyes, and the very whole of which we are already a part.  

We naturally participate in the universe. We have the reptilian brain, we have the mammalian brain, we have the neocortex. We have the sensate connection with the plant world and the animal world. We’re just involved at every level with this entire universe around us. I’m told that the atoms and molecules that existed at the Big Bang are the same atoms and molecules here right now, and all they’ve done for 13.8 billion years is change form, that nothing dies.   

Nothing dies; it just keeps changing form. So, we have a natural foundation for what we call resurrection that isn’t a unique belief of Christianity—it is in the very shape of the cosmos. What this leads us to is a whole new partnership with what we used to negatively dismiss as “mere science.” Sadly, we split the universe when we did that. We said that our form of knowledge was the only true form and all those other knowers were ignorant unbelievers. We can’t do that anymore. We now know that truth is one, and we’re all seeing it from different angles and at different levels. Just because one group uses the vocabulary at one level, and those in our group use the vocabulary at a different level, what right do we have to say our vocabulary is the only true description of the universe?   

Religion is no longer a spectator sport, an observing of some distant, far-off truth, but it’s an observing of what is true in me, and what is true in me is true of the cosmos. It’s all one reality. Frankly this makes the job of evangelization—if we want to use that Christian word—much easier because we’re not bringing in an extraneous message. We’re simply naming what is.   

“we make our world significant by the courage of our questions and the depth of our answers”

― Carl Sagan, Cosmos


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