Bright Sadness & Male Spirituality

May 9, 2017

Our community group this year is listening to various podcasts and focusing on the meditation and reflection sparked by those podcasts.  If you’d like to follow along with us, you can check out my notes here on the blog each week.

We had an unexpected week off from Cgroup last week so we’re getting back into the swing of things this week.  The podcast we discussed last night was On Being with Krista Tippett.  She interviewed Fr. Richard Rohr a couple weeks ago and you know I wasn’t about to let the Cgroup year end without more from Rohr!


“I find I give these retreats, and I talk about prayer and healing and transformation, but it’s very hard to heal people in an unhealthy, unhealed culture. You send them back, and the incoherence of our system — sort of showing itself in our politics today — just undoes whatever moment of sanity, whatever moment of truth or freedom you might offer a person.”

“Not everyone becomes an elder.  Some people just get old.”

“When positive masculine energy 
is not modeled from father to son,
it creates a vacuum in the souls of men,
and into that vacuum demons pour.”

For discussion

Rohr spoke of what he calls a bright sadness — it’s how he refers to holding two things at once: deep contentment and deep sadness.   Sometimes the most wonderful times in our lives are also, at the very same time, the saddest.   They do not, as convention would have it, contradict one another, but rather complement and deepen one another.

A good portion of Rohr’s work over the years has centered on male spirituality.  Cultures around the world have initiations and rituals surrounding male-ness that we do not have in the United States.  Our men are taught, explicitly or implicitly, to strive for sex, prestige, power and titles even though we know those things to be straight jackets.  Rohr holds that men must be taken on a journey of powerlessness or they are bound to abuse power.   Rohr also shared about the 14 years he spent as a chaplain at the Albuquerque jail.  He saw very few, if any, men in jail who had a good relationship with their father and noticed that the rage that exists in a man who did not have a father, or had an alcoholic or abusive or absent father, is bottomless.  This is where we camped most of the night, discussing our various experiences around these topics.

Rohr also spoke on non-dualistic thinking.  The world, and the people in it, are not either/or, but rather both/and.  To live a life of contemplation is to stop the all or nothing thinking and allow each moment, event, person, idea to come toward you without labeling it.  Few of us are taught how to do this and, Rohr believes, this is a great failing of the Church.  Jesus was the first non-dualistic religious thinker in the West and it is only in non-dualistic thinking that one is able to actually love their enemy.  (the Sermon on the Mount is a great example of non-dualistic thinking if you’re looking for an example).

Centering Prayer

To close the evening, we ended with a centering prayer on love, put on by the Liturgists.  I’m, unfortunately, unable to share it here because it’s part of their Patreon page, which you have to pay for.  If you are here on this blog today because you resonate with these conversations (you know who you are :), being a “patron” of the Liturgists is probably the best $5 / month I’ve spent in a long while.  We’ve used their meditations / prayers / liturgies countless times in Cgroup this year and both Jason and I personally use them on a regular basis.







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