If change and growth and not programmed into your spirituality, if there are not serious warnings about the blinding nature of fear and fanaticism, your religion will always end up worshiping the status quo and protecting your present ego position and personal advantage—as if it were God. —Richard Rohr
“Much of religion has remained stuck and immature because it has not developed the gift of ‘winnowing’ reality —separating essentials from nonessentials and discerning with subtlety instead of imposing one-size-fits-all laws,” says Richard Rohr. As Rohr points out, this kind of discernment (or awakening, as some might call it) is part of the Buddhist Eight-Fold Path and what the apostle Paul was trying to convey in his letters to the Romans and Galatians—the necessary difference and tension between law and grace, or tradition and Spirit.
Paul’s letters essentially “failed” in the task of discernment says Rohr because they have been read throughout history from a “first-half-of-life” perspective, with its preoccupation with the ego, or from an institutional, clerical perspective. It is also why Jesus’ Beatitudes are so difficult for most people to get—he is pointing to “second-half-of-life” truths which can’t be understood from a “first half of life” perspective. Over the next few weeks we will talk a lot about “first half of life” and “second half of life” perspectives, the model Richard Rohr uses for growing in spiritual discernment and is so aptly described in his book, Falling Upward. It is easy to read these two ideas—first and second half of life—as binaries: one is good or preferable, the other bad or to be avoided. Nothing could be further from the truth. Both are necessary and, perhaps, not necessarily, linear. Growing in our understanding of these two parts of our journey helps us develop the gift of “winnowing” reality so that we may grow in spiritual maturity. We will take a deep dive into these distinctions this fall, using as our primary text Rohr’s Falling Upward. If you are interested in participating in a small study group of this book, instructions for group sign up are below. Also on the horizon is a new member class on Sunday, September 27th right after our Sunday service—more details about that are below. And Roberta has agreed to lead a chair yoga session one Sunday soon, before church.
In the midst of trying times, Sunday service at UCOG is a place to renew, recharge, and reorient. Your participation is essential! I can’t wait to see you this week! With much love, Linda