A Desire to Control – 7 quotes from Richard Rohr’s book – A Lever and a Place to Stand: The Contemplative Stance, The Active Prayer 

by Mark Votava

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1. Why many will never go on the inner journey

“…it took me a long time to recognize that my need to judge was not really a desire for truth as I had convinced myself.  My need to judge was a desire to control: To be in control of the data, to be right.  To be in control of the explanations, to define the pecking order.  To know who’s up and who’s down.  Who is in and who is out.  Who is right and who is wrong.  Who is superior and who is inferior.  That’s what is taken away from you and that’s why many will never go on the inner journey.  Who wants that power to be taken from you?  It gives us some kind of comfort to feel superior and secure; monetary comfort that I am right takes away our anxiety.  Don’t believe me?  Watch your own behavior.  Control is the first need of the ego…” 

2. In a state of victimhood and/or a state of anger

“…everyone gets tired of critique after a while.  You cannot build on exclusively negative or critical energy.  You can only build on life and what you are for, not what you are against.  It keeps you in a state of victimhood and/or a state of anger, and frankly, it’s immature if you stall there for long…”

3. Along the path to Wisdom

“I believe that an inner life of meditation or contemplation is made to order to grease the wheels that move us along the path to Wisdom.  Without it, we will always stall at mere Law or mere criticism.”

4. The view from the top

“Only near the poor, close to “the tears of things,” outside of climbing, and in solidarity with suffering, can we understand ourselves, love one another well, imitate Jesus, and live his full Gospel.  The view from the top of anything is too filled with misperceptions, illusions, fear of falling, and a radical disconnection from the heart.  You cannot risk climbing there or staying there too long.  As Thomas Merton said, you spend your whole life climbing the ladder of success, and when you get to the top you realize it is leaning against the wrong wall.”   

5. Reform and invitation

“That we could take Jesus of Nazareth and make his teaching into a moral matter instead of a mystical matter is to almost entirely miss the entire thrust of his reform and invitation…”

6. Refusing to project our anxieties elsewhere

“Mediation is refusing to project our anxieties elsewhere, and learning to hold and face them within myself and within God…”

7. Untold damage has been done

“Untold damage has been done because we let office, role, title, vestment, and formal ordination try to substitute for the free gifts of God.  It is almost as if we could not trust that such gifts could or would be given, and then we ended up not seeing them where they really were – often in women, simple workers, those outside of your denomination, the uneducated, and so on.  You could say that we tried to create gifts where they were not, and we refused to see them where they were.”

Which quote stands out to you?