Tuesday, January 27, 2009

It’s not the years, honey…

In general the only people I really trust doing reconstruction work are people who have paid their dues to deconstruction. If someone has never been able to see the dark side, they haven't gained the right to talk the language of reconstruction.

You need to have seen the dark side, have felt the sour stomach and have emerged renewed from the belly of the whale.

We don't need naïve people or people in denial. We need people who have been there, know the problems and have come out alive.

Richard Rohr, from Hope Against Darkness, p. 171

As someone who has definitely done his time in the smelly innards of that whale, I’m enormously heartened by this. Those of us who have come through these dark places sometimes envy the obvious children of light, those who have grown up in lovely Christian homes, given themselves to God with strong and shining faith in their early youth, stuck with it while they completed degrees and postgraduate degrees in Biblical and moral theology, married fellow students, gone on to a thriving ministry, and… oh, you get the picture… Rohr has a word of hope for us after all, we whose memories are full of things we’d rather not have to remember, and who sometimes are tempted to say, with Indiana Jones, “It’s not the years, honey, it’s the mileage…”


  1. Yes, that is encouraging for those of us with less than ideal pasts.

  2. I don't know if he talks about this elsewhere, but I think we have to be very careful about judging others, about "giving people the right" to talk about reconstruction. Some reconstruction is very visible to us, as with those who have been healed of miserable childhoods, addictions, anxiety/fear disorders, etc. But other people, who may appear to have had everything easy outwardly have very hidden interior lives, and often do not discuss that aspect because it is between themselves and God. What may look to be inexplicable faith and joy to some can be labeled as being naive or in denial. How many of these are walking the earth now having had interior struggles that are never revealed. We only hear about the occasional few, sometimes decades later, through diaries, letters and soforth.

  3. Good point, Gabrielle. I was thinking not about judging others, of course, but about judging myself - unfavourably - by comparison with others. Not others who have "had everything easy", so much as having made the right choices, or failed to make the choices I did make, that made my own life so problematical at times!

  4. Amen - that is so great.

    And so true!

    Glad you are back online Mike!

  5. Mike, I wasn't referring to what you said; I understood what you meant. It is the sentiments in Rohr's first paragraph that I find judgemental. I guess it doesn't sit well with me when someone thinks he has the right to "give people the right" to talk about anything, or to presume that someone "hasn't done the reconstruction work", as if he could read the depths and interior workings of their hearts and souls.

  6. Mmm. Yes, I see what you're driving at now, Gabrielle. I guess Rohr himself would if challenged mention Matthew 7.16!?