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Thursday, January 1, 2015

Reconciliation, the Third Way, and "Smug Avoidance"

Building blocks for better understanding
and community!
In the month of December, when many were attempting to focus on peace on earth and news of great joy to all people, I ended up doing a massive face palm when numerous folks decided the time was ripe for throwing rocks at beehives. I won't name names. There was plenty of disgraceful, anger generating nonsense spewed from many quarters. In response, I give you my resolution for 2015. I will try (not guaranteeing I will succeed) to avoid their provocation and be true to the methods espoused here by two theologians, Henri J.M. Nouwen and Richard Rohr.

In his devotional guide, Bread for the Journey, Nouwen writes of reconciliation:
Essential to the work of reconciliation is a nonjudgmental presence. We are not sent to the world to judge, to condemn, to evaluate, to classify, or to label. When we walk around as if we have to make up our minds about people and tell them what is wrong with them and how they should change, we only create more division. Jesus says it clearly, "Be compassionate just as your Father is compassionate. Do not judge, ... do not condemn ... forgive" (Luke 6:36-37). 
 In his message, The Third Way--Contemplation, Richard Rohr calls us to be wise and not smug:
The contemplative mind does not need to prove anything or disprove anything. It's what the Benedictines called a Lectio Divina, a reading of the Scripture that looks for wisdom instead of quick answers. It first says, "What does this text ask of me? How can I change because of this story?" And not, "How can I use this to prove that I am right and others are wrong or sinful?" The contemplative mind is willing to hear from a beginner's mind, yet also learn from Scripture, Tradition--and others. It has the humility to move toward yes/and thinking and not all-or-nothing thinking. It leads to a "Third Way," which is neither fight or flight, but standing in between--where I can hold what I do know together with what I don't know. Holding such a creative tension with humility and patience leads us to wisdom instead of easy answers which largely create opinionated and smug people instead of wise people. We surely need wise people now, who hold their truth humbly and patiently.
Seeing and hearing from the contentious voices, from the rock throwers and provocateurs, we could really use more people seeking both a nonjudgmental presence and a Third Way. I'll be working toward both, which will be a long, slow process in light of my own humanity ... but it will be a worthy effort for 2015.

For another useful approach in 2015, see: http://jsbrookspresents.blogspot.com/2015/01/avoid-inanity-in-2015-thomas-mertons.html

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