Quote for the Day

In many of the houses of the poor in Africa and Latin America, there are no locks on the doors. In fact, in many houses, there are no doors. In the U.S. we have at least two doors per household, and two or three locks per door. Is this a symptom of anything? As a nation, America is constantly fortifying itself with bigger missiles and better guns… What does this say about our priorities? Christians are often the worst of all in promoting a national security state, while still daring to read the Sermon on the Mount. It seems that the more we have, the more we want, and the more we fear losing it. Greed and materialism seem to be the fuel that drives our system much more than faith or trust in God.

— Richard Rohr, On the Threshold
of Transformation

  • Dwight

    I saw a car in the parking lot of a Christian bookstore. The car had two bumper stickers. The first read, “Let go, Let God.”

    The other sticker read, “I am protected by Smith and Wesson.”

  • anthony

    I am sorry to read that Richard Rohr is saying the same thing I heard he say 30 years ago. Of course there is a point to what he says, but come on. Peter Maurin (of Catholic Worker) had a quote from the 1930′s “if a person is not some kind of socialist when he is 20 he does not have a heart, if he is still one in his 40′s he does not have a brain.”

    We have enough analysis and debates to know what a mess we are in, what we dont have are people who are really witnesses in their lives of transformation, a deep transformation that is reflected also in their lifestyle and social living. IMHO

  • George

    Dwight, good observation.

    In another day, Oliver Cromwell is reported to have said “Keep your faith in God, but keep your powder dry.” That may be appropriate advice in time of war, but as to its application today, Richard Rohr’s comment seems to be telling another story.

  • brazenbird

    Well as someone who is only now learning about Rohr, everything he says is new to me. And I agree with his point. I knew a friend who doesn’t lock her doors. She lives in a cooperative can of way, sharing a house with other roommates and they all have jobs that are in some kind of field of service and they all contribute towards keeping the house they share. They have community meals and a community garden. When you walk through their home, there is much that could be stolen; they aren’t living as paupers. And then I consider the vulnerability of being women and women at night.

    It threw me into a bit of anxiety, just considering the potential ramifications of not locking one’s door and what it means that I always do.

  • brazenbird

    I don’t think I could have made more writing errors in my previous post. Geez! Sorry about that.

    Incidentally, I still know the friend, and she lives in a cooperative KIND of way.

  • InfiniteWarrior

    Greed and materialism seem to be the fuel that drives our system….

    This is true, but doesn’t really get at the root or come close to diagnosing the source of the malaise. Would that he’d included “fear”, which I think is better described as a deep-seated anxiety. ‘Tis also true that Conservative Christians, especially, are often “the worst of all in promoting a national security state”, but they’re hardly alone in it, are they?

    If a little cross-pollination is permissible, I’ve found David Loy’s The Suffering System among the better commentaries on the subject:

    Our basic frustration is due most of all to the fact that our sense of being a separate self, set apart from the world we are in, is an illusion. Another way to express this is that the ego-self is ungrounded, and we experience this ungroundedness as an uncomfortable emptiness or hole at the very core of our being. We feel this problem as a sense of lack, of inadequacy, of unreality….

    As in the personal ego, the “inside” is opposed to the other “outside,” and this makes conflict inevitable, not just because of competition with other groups, but because the socially constructed nature of group identity means that one’s own group can never feel secure enough. For example, our GNP is not big enough, our nation is not powerful (“secure”) enough, we are not technologically developed enough. And if these are instances of group-lack or group-dukkha, our GNP can never be big enough, our military can never be powerful enough, and we can never have enough technology….

    There we go. Now, no-one is off the hook.

    Loy suggests that Buddhism doesn’t provide an answer for resolving this issue, but I believe it does and so does Christianity. (Jesus didn’t call Thomas his twin for no reason.)

    While it’s unfortunate that Western philosophy has equated self with ego (better, “cogito”), they’re hardly one and the same. One is known in some branches of Mahayana and Theravada Buddhism as “true self”, the other as “false self”. If we’re feeling a little anxious — perhaps over the future, especially — our sages say all that’s required to feel as right as rain is (false) “self-sacrifice”, aka self-less-ness.

    “Sacrifice the ego, nothing more,” said the Sufi, ben Sa’id, and that “empty hole” at the core of our being is eternally full-filled.

    The prescription for our malaise (and the resolution of the otherwise cryptic-sounding “the cure for the pain is in the pain”) was, I think, described beautifully by Rumi:

    The mouse soul is nothing but a nibbler.
    To the mouse is given a mind proportionate to its need,
    for without need, the Almighty God
    doesn’t give anything to anyone.

    Need, then, is the net for all things that exist;
    man has tools in proportion to his need.
    So, quickly, increase your need, needy one,
    that the sea of abundance may surge up in loving kindness.

    ~ Rumi, Mathnawi, II 3279-80:3292

    A “spring…welling up to eternal life”, in-deed. [John 4:14]


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