Thursday, December 20, 2007

Rohr & Baggins

We have a lot to learn from people like Quakers and Mennonites. They're well practised in being a minority. They don't need to have crowds around them to believe in the truth. They gather in little groupings and share the word of God. Thank God this is also happening now, again, in the Catholic Church, in the base communities.

Out of the people who don't consider themselves experts or theologians comes a special gospel wisdom. It surpasses the wisdom that we ever came to by thinking that white, materially secure celibate males were the group who could best interpret the word of God. Whatever gave us the idea that a select group of overeducated people would best understand what God was saying to all people?

The poor and uneducated are reclaiming the word of God. The word of God is being reclaimed by women, by people of color and by people who still understand community and family relationships, by people who look at life from the side of the victims instead of the victors.

The word of God is being reclaimed by those who haven't been beneficiaries of the system. And we're finding that the word of God is being read with a vitality, with a truth, with a freedom that is frightening and makes some of us wonder if we've ever understood it before.

When we see what the gospel demands of our lives, we may not even want to understand it.

What Rohr says of Catholic priests applies equally, if not more stringently, not only to we Anglicans, but to the leaders of the prosperous, successful Evangelical churches of the religious right, and to the intelligentsia of the Emergent movement. We find it so easy to forget that Jesus said, "I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children." (Luke 10.21 NIV) St. Francis insisted that he was just a little poor man (poverello), and he meant it. He chose never to be ordained priest, and remained one of the Lesser Brothers (fratres minores) all his life.

Following Christ is a strange thing, much of the time. As Bilbo Baggins once said, "It's a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don't keep your feet, there's no knowing where you might be swept off to."


Padre Mickey said...

One of my favorite theologians is the Mennonite John Howard Yoder. The man knew about justice and peace.

Mike Farley said...

Thanks, Padre - I'm ashamed to admit I didn't know Yoder's work till I read your comment. I shall have to check him out thoroughly - the bits Google throws up look fascinating...