Reading Richard Rohr’s meditation this morning, he writes about Paul’s conversion. He said that Paul’s way of thinking was changed as he, a persecutor and possibly a murderer, was now a chosen vessel. “This overcomes the artificial line between perfectly good and totally bad, between evil and virtue,” says Rohr. “He now knows that he is both sinner and saint, as we too must trust.”
Reading Paul’s story in the bible would lead one to believe that once he was zapped by the light, his change was instant. I don’t believe this and a careful reading of his letters will show a Paul that was egotistical and continued his tendency to judge. In other words, his character flaws hung on. I suspect his transformation was gradual once he experienced his awakening and there was probably work to be done right up to the end of his life. Rohr suggests a lingering conflict in Paul, as well. “(He) often presents two seemingly opposing ideas, such as weakness and strength, flesh and spirit, law and grace, faith and works, Jew and Greek, male and female.” He goes on to talk about us: “Our normal, dualistic thinking usually wraps itself fully around one side and fully dismisses the other – thinking this truth is truth – when it is much more just a need for control or righteousness. Like Jesus, Paul invites you to wrestle with the paradox.”
For me the paradox is that I myself am both saint and sinner. I mean now, today. I sometimes have loving thoughts and sometimes mean thoughts. I sometimes am self-centered, at other times other-centered. I sometimes feel self-righteous and other times am humble. I know I have a long way to go but I think I am getting better, at least I hope so.
I have been watching the political jargon and am getting depressed by it. I think it is because I see what Rohr is seeing – dualistic thinking, that “wraps itself around one side and dismisses the other – thinking that truth is truth – when it is much just a need for control or righteousness.” Find this judgment hard to swallow? Then look at the fruits of the jargon. Does it bring people closer to or further away from the love that Jesus calls us to? Does it open our eyes to seeing that that all are children of the same God or does it lead us to blindness? Are our feelings moving toward fear and hate and depression or toward joy and love and serenity?
I myself try to refrain from the jargon of division and hate, but I continue to be effected by it for it is very loud right now. Very loud.