An Organic Unfolding – 8 quotes from Richard Rohr’s book – Eager to Love: The Alternative Way of Francis of Assisi

by Mark Votava


1. Something nice, proper, and culturally accommodated

“My personal belief is that mainline, organized Christianity has too often missed out on the freedom and joy of the Gospel and often settled for something nice, proper, and culturally accommodated.  It was organized into a formal religion that did indeed become a living spirituality for many people.  But the common variety of church life in most denominations could be called ‘fast-food’ religion instead of deeply nutritious meals that feed and change people at deep, unconscious levels…  Christianity has largely reflected current cultural values, and even bourgeois values, during most of its history…”

2. An entirely different philosophy

“Yes, we formally believed that Jesus was both human and divine at the same time ‘somehow,’ but with our largely dualistic thinking, we ended up being only human – and Jesus for all practical purposes ended up being only divine.  We missed the major point – which was to put the two together in him – and then dare to discover the same in ourselves!  We made our inclusive Savior, that we could imitate and participate with, into a Redeemer that we were told to worship as a quite exclusionary God.  Jesus, who was always and overwhelmingly inclusive in his lifetime, seemed to create a religion that had an entirely different philosophy.”

3. Circle of connection

“The entire universe is about connection and relationship – from the smallest atom to the galaxies and everything in between.  Sin and evil emerge when we try to stand outside of that circle of connection.”

4. Confirms in the soul a kind of emotional sobriety

“…we must move to the laboratory where all such radical change can occur – inside of our very mind, heart, and the cells of our body.  I call it the laboratory of contemplative practice, which rewires our inner life and actually confirms in the soul a kind of ‘emotional sobriety’ plus an inner sense of divine union so we can do the needed works of justice with both peace and enduring passion.”

5. Integration of the negative

“I suppose there is no more counterintuitive spiritual idea than the possibility that God might actually use what we fear, avoid, deny, and deem unworthy.  This is what I mean by the ‘integration of the negative.’  Yet I believe this the core of Jesus’ revolutionary Good News, Paul’s deep experience, and the central insight that Francis and Clare lived out with such simple elegance…  Such surrendering of superiority, or even a need for such superiority, is central to any authentic enlightenment.  Without it, we are blind to ourselves… and blind guides for others.”

6. Still trapped in dualisms

“Gender seems to be a very deep archetype in the soul, and thus any gender identity confusion is indeed quite confusing as long as the mind is still trapped in dualisms, or as long as we still try to read reality in a non-contemplative or egoic way.”

7. An alternative consciousness

“There are very few teachers of the true contemplative mind even to this day.  Most still think of ‘contemplative’ as being introverted and taking some quiet time, but seldom as knowing how to develop an alternative consciousness that is ready for God.  The older tradition of contemplation is only being rediscovered in our time, after Thomas Merton and others pulled back the veil and revealed that we had lost it – for centuries now.”

8. An organic unfolding

”Salvation is not a divine transaction that takes place because you are morally perfect, but much more it is an organic unfolding, a becoming who you already are, an inborn sympathy with and capacity for, the very One who created you.  Each is both a part that is like the Whole and also contributes to the Whole…”

Which quote do you like the best?