Franciscan Priest Richard Rohr has been a significant voice in my journey, particularly over the course of the last decade. I’ll never forget the Eucharistic celebration I was a part of and Rohr was the officiating priest. Nor having a coffee and conversation with him.
His latest book is Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life. It’s a small format hardcover book, was published a month or so ago, and I’m looking forward to reading it.
Meantime, here’s an excerpt from a review of the book written by Margaret D’Anieri for the Englewood Review of Books
“…The thesis of Richard Rohr’s latest book is that spiritual maturity comes only after we’ve lived with the rules and the categories and the knowledge that are necessary to the formation of a self – and then asked ourselves some version of “is that all there is?” The lyrics of this great existential song [Lyrics by Jerry Lieber and Mike Stoller, performed memorably by Peggy Lee] capture the futility and emptiness of much modern, Western life: We continue to look to experiences, knowledge, status, religion, our own right opinions – even books – to give meaning to our lives. Richard Rohr argues that all of those things that establish our identity are but the starting gate for the spiritual life. Many people never get past establishing and holding on to their identity, and hence never make it past what he calls “the first half of life”. We learn to do only our survival dance, building what Rohr calls a container:
‘[T]he task of the first half of life is to create a proper container for one’s live and answer the first essential questions: “What makes me significant?” “How can I support myself”? and “Who will go with me?” The task of the second half of life is, quite simply, to find the actual contents that this container was meant to hold and deliver… In other words, the container is not an end in itself, but exists for the sake of your deeper and fullest life, which you largely do not know about yourself! Far too many people just keep doing repair work on the container itself and never “throw their nets into the deep” to bring in the huge catch that awaits them’…”
Also, I highlighted a fascinating interview with Rohr back in 2007. It’s titled “Seeing with God’s Eyes”. If you missed it, or have just or recently discovered Rohr you’ll enjoy listening to him. Podcast (in three parts) available here.
Of interest to you might also be an equally new (Feb 2011) publication by Rohr which looks like it’s a book version of a 3-Day Conference which Rohr has given (and which is available in audio form – 6 CD’s). The description of the conference is indicative of the book’s content:
“…The world knows when we are just quoting clichés that we hardly believe ourselves, just mouthing doctrine not connected to the lived experience of humanity.” begins Fr Richard Rohr at the teaching for the John Main Seminar in Thousand Oaks, California. In his loving and humorously confrontational manner, he reminds us to embrace our humanity and encourages us to question the ways in which we live our beliefs. Expanding on the theme of ‘contemplation and actions’, Rohr speaks of the lack of inner experience and inner authority in our Western culture. “Every viewpoint,” Rohr says, “is a view from a point.” Beyond the world of constantly changing opinion, we can find a place to stand, in our true self, which enables us to see beyond the fixed boundaries of the ego. Many of John Main’s teachings are interwoven into this 3-day conference series as Rohr describes “the inward, downward journey that sets us free.”