Richard Rohr writes a kind of apology in his book Falling Upward regarding his relationship with the Catholic Church: “Neither I nor the churches themselves really live much of the real Gospel – at least enough to actually change our present lifestyles. It is just too big a message.” He has continued to live within the Church in spite of his criticism of her. He says “even a little bit of God is well worth loving, and even a little bit of truth and love goes a long way…Like limited parents,” he writes, “it has been a ‘good enough’ church, and it has taught me how to see that goodness everywhere, even in other limited situations…But in the end ‘Only God is good”, as Jesus said to the rich young man.” He goes on to say “The church itself is the first cross that Jesus is crucified on, as we limit, mangle, and try to control the always too big message.”
I thought about a man I know who is a member of a 12 step program who every so often has to say of his program, “It is all in the Bible.” It used to irritate me. I never actually said it but I wanted to: “Does it have to be in the Bible in order to be true?” Rohr must have been asked this very question scores of time because he responds to it: “Well, I quote Jesus because I still consider him to be the spiritual authority of the Western world, whether we follow him or not. He is always spot-on at the deeper levels and when we understand him in his own explosive context. One does not even need to believe in his divinity to realize that Jesus is seeing at a much higher level than most of us.”
I appreciate Rohr’s defense of himself as his writings are always heavy-laden with the scriptures as one would expect from a Franciscan. I have to admit that those I have read outside of Christianity’s circle often quote the words of Jesus as well.
This keeps me turning back again and again to Jesus. Isn’t it funny how that works? I don’t have my concordance with me right now, so I can’t look this up…but somewhere Jesus makes reference to those who speak the truth even though they are not his followers. Maybe one of my readers can do that.
I am off to the Northwood Writer’s Conference this afternoon. Pray for me…God, make me a sponge.