Richard Rohr, who turned 66 today, gave a great talk on the contemplative mind and its nemesis, dual thinking. He suggested that our vocabulary needs a new word phrase: non-dual thinking.
The incarnation. Jesus was both fully god and fully human. At the same time. The embracing, understanding, and knowing of this truth (rather than merely assent to it) requires non-dual thinking.
The same with the trinity. Dual thinking minds have struggled with the understanding that Jesus is God. The Spirit is God. The Father is God. And God is one. Dual thinking, the kind that requires either/or answers, cannot accept the trinity. Instead, for 500 years we have assented to it and shelved it.
What's more, perhaps Richard's most profound statement of the evening was this:
"Almost all of the doctrines of the church, I do not believe. I know them."
His point? That dual thinking rests in belonging systems and belief systems. What is true? What is false? Who is in? Who is out? In contrast, the contemplative mind comes to a deeper understanding and a knowing of these truths through direct personal experience.
This direct experience is what has been lost over the centuries. But it is being rediscovered. The desert fathers, the franciscans, the benedictines, Richard of St. Victor, John of the Cross... the contemplative tradition runs long and deep in christendom. There is much we can learn from it. Jesus came to declare this inner experience, this union with God. We have seen the father, because we have seen Him. And we know the father because we know him. We too can be called sons of God. Adopted. Heirs.
Jesus did not come to change God's mind about humanity. Jesus came to change humanity's mind about God.
I led some contemplative prayer time during a recent worship gathering (just a few weeks ago). It was a first for our church. I think it was received well. At least I heard no complaints. But as Richard described, it is hard for protestant evangelicals to understand the contemplative tradition. They become afraid of it and call it New Age or "eastern" spirituality. When really this fear among evangelicals comes from their relative ignorance of the first 1500 years of church history. I hope, as Richard hopes, that we can reclaim these valuable and transforming practices for future generations.
Can't wait for tomorrow!
Minister of Music & Adult Ministry
Our Place Christian Church
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