Points to Ponder

When you look at any other person, a flower, a honeybee, a mountain—anything—you are seeing the incarnation of God’s love for you and the universe you call home.
                                                                                               – Richard Rohr

Richard Rohr and John Pavlovitz are progressive Christian authors with a knack for writing that I can’t touch. So, I thought I’d share some of their comments and see if you can use them as food for thought. These are from their books I’ve enjoyed recently.

There’s no specific arrangement here. I’d just like to have you read each paragraph and stop and ponder it for a moment.

Richard Rohr, Franciscan founder of the Center for Action and Contemplation, Albuquerque, New Mexico. ­The Universal Christ: How a forgotten reality can change everything we see, hope for, and believe. 2019 (Page numbers are from this book.)

[Jesus] did not come to change God’s mind about us. It did not need changing. Jesus came to change our minds about God—and about ourselves—and about where goodness and evil really lie.  RR-151

Christians are meant to be the visible compassion of God on earth more than “whose who are going to heaven.” RR-148

Without an evolutionary worldview, Christianity does not really understand, much less foster, growth or change. Nor does it know how to respect and support where history is heading. RR-96

There is no such thing as a nonpolitical Christianity. To refuse to critique the system or the status quo is to fully support it—which is a political act well disguised. RR-94

I think humans prefer magical religion, which keeps all the responsibility on God performing or not performing. Whereas mature and transformational religion asks us to participate, cooperate, and change. RR-76

Jesus became the big billboard that announced God’s message in a personal way along the speedy highways of history. RR-29

The essential Gospel of God’s loving union with all of creation from the beginning was seldom believed—and usually actively denied or ignored by most clergy. RR-241

Your worldview is not what you look at. It is what you look out from or look through. …The important thing is that you know what your preferences and biases are, because there is no such thing as an unbiased worldview. RR-237

Spirituality is about honoring the human journey, loving it, and living it in all its wonder and tragedy. There is nothing really “supernatural” about love and suffering. “God comes to you disguised as your life.”  RR-213

I have never met a truly compassionate or loving human being who did not have a foundational and even deep trust in the inherent goodness of human nature. RR-63

John Pavlovitz, writer, pastor, and activist in Wake Forest, North Carolina. A Bigger Table: Building Messy, Authentic, and Hopeful Spiritual Community. 2017

The Church is capable of being a beautifully restorative community, one where disparate people are invited to bring the full weight of their inconsistency and hypocrisy and vacillation and to be lovingly received as they are. It can and should be a place of loving renovation and healing and growth. JP-80

Yes, there is much about us that is universal: the desire to be heard and known, the need to be loved and to love, the joy of finding our place and purpose, and the need to live into these without restraint. JP-92

I now see God through lens of one who is beloved, not one who is beloved with conditions. Life now is not a test to try and reach God, but an opportunity to notice God. I am seeking Jesus more deeply than ever—not to escape punishment, but to discover life as it is best lived. JP-164

We so often assume that the enemy of humanity must be across the aisle or across town or in another country. We almost never court the possibility that it could be in the mirror. JP -57

I come to the scriptures now not as divine dictation, but as the journal entries of those who came before me and who have walked this road of asking, seeking, and knocking. [The scriptures] are not a road map, but a traveling companion. JP164

When Christians attempt to exclude any group from the table, they distort the Church because they deny the heart of Jesus for all humanity. JP-139

[Christianity] isn’t about drawing some moral line in the sand. It’s about our willingness to be with people and live alongside them. JP-138

[The]…distance [we put] between people, …whether real or imagined—is the enemy of relationship. This chasm allows us to otherize people with little accountability to their reality. It enables us to hold onto the belief that the crudely drawn caricatures we fashion for those we disagree with are at all accurate, allowing us to craft a clearly defined us-vs.-them narrative and place them opposite us.  JP-130

The thing that glorifies God isn’t our belief system, but how we treat those who don’t share that belief system. JP-131

Did any line speak to you? It would be great if you’d share a comment about a statement that you agree or disagree with…or simply made you think.

_____________________________  Art Fabian — December 18, 2019

Dear Readers:  I hope you enjoy this Christmas season as you reflect on what it means to be an integral part of God’s Universe and how Jesus asks us to be fully Christian. Your comments have been a gift to me as they inspire me to think and try to respond.

I realize my blogs have gotten quite erratic, both because I often struggle with what I want to communicate, and because life activities get in the way. Louise and I are preparing to greatly downsize and move to Cleveland (we think) which causes my mind to wander every few seconds. However, I hope to share with you again early in 2020.