Demystifying mysticism by Richard Rohr

This is an excellent meditation sent to me today. It is by Richard Rohr, who is a Roman Catholic priest, and is adapted from his book Eager to Love: The Alternative Way of Francis of Assisi.

I like the way he promotes the need for an experience of God for the ordinary Christian, often feared by Protestants (Methodists were called, as an insult, “enthusiasts”) or seen as undermining the church hierarchy by the Church of Roman.


Trust Your Own Experience. Tuesday, October 28, 2014

The most unfortunate thing about the concept of mysticism is that the word itself has become mystified—and relegated to a “misty” and distant realm that implies it is only available to a very few. For me, the word simply means experiential knowledge of spiritual things, as opposed to book knowledge, second hand knowledge, or even church knowledge.

Most of organized religion, without meaning to, has actually discouraged us from taking the mystical path by telling us almost exclusively to trust outer authority, Scripture, tradition, or various kinds of experts (what I call the “containers”)—instead of telling us the value and importance of inner experience itself (which is the actual “content” the containers were made to hold). In fact, most of us were strongly warned against ever trusting ourselves. Roman Catholics were told to trust the church hierarchy first and last, while mainline Protestants were often warned that inner experience was dangerous, unscriptural, or even unnecessary.

Both were ways of discouraging actual experience of God and often created passive (and passive aggressive) people and, more sadly, a lot of people who concluded that there was no God to be experienced. We were taught to mistrust our own souls—and thus the Holy Spirit! Contrast that with Jesus’ common phrase, “Go in peace, your faith has made you whole!” He said this to people who had made no dogmatic affirmations, did not think he was “God,” did not pass any moral checklist, and often did not belong to the “correct” group! They were simply people who trustfully affirmed, with open hearts, the grace of their own hungry experience—in that moment—and that God could or would even care about it!

Of course I would place Francis of Assisi in the long line of pentecostal or charismatic Christians before either term was used.

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