Richard Rohr — Living in Deep Time | On Being

“Picture three boxes: order, disorder, reorder.” And that if you read the great myths of the world and the great religions, that’s the normal path of transformation. Now what conservative people want to do is just keep rebuilding the first box, “order, order, order,” at all costs, even if it doesn’t fit the facts or fit reality. What’s difficult — and you just alluded to it — is so many people formed in the last 30 years were born into the second box of disorder. It’s much harder to grow up if you were formed after 1968. And yet, what I always tell the folks is there’s no nonstop flight from order to reorder. You’ve got to go through the disorder. Your “salvation project,” as Thomas Merton called it, it has to fall apart because it’s not really love of humanity or God or truth. It’s pretty much love of yourself. You don’t know that, and that’s not wrong. In fact, it’s quite appropriate. But what the great religions are talking about and I’m certainly talking about in the book Falling Upward is this necessary confrontation with the tragic, the absurd, what St. Paul would call for Christians the “folly of the cross.” Yeah, that disorder is part of the deal.”

“We used to use this phrase sub specie aeternitatis, “in the light of eternity.” This thing that you’re so worried about right now — is it really going to mean anything on your deathbed? And for some reason, that had the power to relativize the things that a young man would get so impassioned about, positively or negatively.”

“Unless the male was led on journeys of powerlessness, he would always abuse power. And I know that seems damning, but the male just can’t handle power unless he’s somehow touched upon vulnerability, powerlessness.”

“I was jail chaplain in the Albuquerque jail, a few blocks from where I’m sitting right now, for 14 years, and if there was one universal I found among the men in particular, but certainly the young women too, was it was rare, if not never, to find someone in jail who had a good father. That’s what got me just driven toward — we’ve got to start growing up men because the male of the species does not know how to hand on his identity, his intimacy, his caring to his children. And the rage in the young male who never had a dad or had an alcoholic father or emotionally unavailable father or abusive father is bottomless. It’s just — it moves out toward all of society, a mistrust of all authority, all authority figures, all policemen, of course, because — “If my dad abandoned me, I just basically don’t trust older men, and I don’t like older men. Now you can see what a bind this put us in when we defined God as masculine and called God “Father” exclusively. That’s one metaphor, but it is a metaphor. And so people who never had a loving male in their life, and we come along and say, “God, the Father, loves you,” they have no outlet to plug into, and that was my experience 14 years at the jail. I’d go in these cells, and I mean, these young guys would almost worship me because they’d never had an older man give them respect, give them attention, give them time.

“Father hunger. It’s driving so many things in our culture, even this whole corporate world of the younger male’s need to please the big daddy and get his pat on the back or his promotion.”

MS. TIPPETT: “In some place you describe someone speaking to you about this father hunger and kind of in the middle of their life and realizing, calling it, saying they realized it was a chasm, a canyon, the emptiness and pain left of a relationship with the father that wasn’t there. And the mystery that we can get very old, and that can still be with us. That this is not something that you just outgrow. And it’s incredible how we can be defined by these broken relationships across a lifespan.”

“When positive masculine energy is not modeled from father to son, it creates a vacuum in the souls of men, and into that vacuum demons pour.”

“I often see it in airports. In 46 years, I was on the road, and you’d see these people rushing through airports, neither looking to right or left, like a deer caught in the headlights. When you’re a deer caught in the headlights, trying to survive, I don’t think you develop an inner world. Do you understand? It’s just the whole life is externalized, and the soul is not born. And that’s why, again, suffering for so many becomes the only path because it’s the only thing strong enough to lead you into the world of grief, for example, or sadness or pain. And those tend to be the holes in the soul that awaken the inner world. And so an important part of every initiation rite was grief work, letting men get in touch with their unfinished hurt and begin to talk about it with other men. That’s when the floodgates opened, and all of this success that they shined with externally they finally could admit was all a charade. Everything changed after that.”

“I ask God for one good humiliation a day, and I usually get it, one hate letter or whatever it might be.”


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