Paul writes – An interest of mine is male spirituality and the work of male formation. I therefore appreciated Mike Crowl drawing my attention to a column by Fr. Richard Rohr OFM in a recent issue of Sojourners magazine.
Mike has an excerpt on his site, and while I appreciated the whole article (and wished it was longer and in more detail) I was particularly struck by the following:
“…There is little talk or concern for healing or growth or inner spiritual development. “Why would I need healing?” I have heard men say outright. The word is even strange to many men; it sounds “soft” and “needy”—and this rejection is a surefire plan for having an absolutely huge shadow world and an unconscious agenda that largely calls the shots. Are ongoing political, Wall Street, and church scandals really a surprise?
By “shadow world,” I simply mean all of those aspects of our own memory and hurt that remain hidden in our unconscious, those things that we’re not prepared to deal with at the moment. They highly influence us, but we have no conscious control over such feelings, motivations, fears, and agendas, so they tend to do more bad than good. Spiritual healing is precisely about bringing those issues to consciousness, which is often quite painful and yet also deeply consoling.
In the male initiation rites we have been leading for almost 15 years (www.malespirituality.org), one of the most surprising but revealing discoveries was that much male anger is actually male sadness. Men often have no way to know this themselves, and many probably even think of themselves as “angry men.” They are often very sad men, but they have no differentiated feeling world, no vocabulary, no safe male friends, no inner space or outer setting in which to open up such a chasm of feeling—not even in their churches or with their partners…
I know I am walking on sacred ground here, but I am going to say it: The church often does not really encourage an inner life. It substitutes belief systems and belonging systems and moral systems for interior journeys toward God. As a result the outer behavior is pretty weak as well…”