Richard Rohr is a Franciscan priest and founder of the Center for Action and Contemplation in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He has written many books including Adam's Return and Everything Belongs. He is featured on our site as a Living Spiritual Teacher and is renowned for his retreats. This book on men's spirituality and the journey of the male soul has been put together by Joe Durepos and Tom McGrath from Rohr's audio sets, books, talks, unpublished materials, and daily meditations from the Center for Action and Contemplation website. It presents a bold and wide-ranging mix of insights from the Christian path, psychology, mythology, and anthropology. The overall theme is the art of transforming pain and tragedy into gift and blessing. Although it is organized as a daily devotional guide, it is, as Durepos states, more of a confrontational probe that seeks to spur men into the difficult inner work required for wholeness and renewal.
In an introductory essay, Rohr points out that "males have been encouraged and rewarded for living an 'outer' life of performances, which are usually framed in terms of win or lose. Just listen to boys talk — they have already imbibed it, and usually with the encouragement of both dad and mom. The world of sports, contests, American Idol, video games, and proving oneself is most males' primary 'myth,' through which he frames all reality." Trying to be a winner in a world of constant competition can be exhausting and destructive. The result: many men are inwardly sad and lonely. In addition, there are no rituals similar to the ones established by primal peoples that enable young men to deal with silence, solitude, and their feelings. Worst of all, very few religious communities offer men the resources they need for the necessary inner work dealing with the shadow and the image of God within them. This immensely helpful book opens the door to all of these subjects and provides the inspiration to catapult readers into the adventure of male spirituality.
On the Threshold of Transformation: Daily Meditations for Men is divided into the following sections:
• The Male Journey — Nature, Mythology, and the Bigger Story
• The Male in Culture and Society — God, Power, and Shame
• Soul Work for Men — Anger, the Shadow, Initiation, and the Path of Descent
• The Paradox of Transformation — Change, Suffering, and Freedom
• Male Archetypes and the Integrated Man — Kind, Warrior, Magician, Lover
As usual, Rohr delivers a rich treasure trove of wisdom. Here is a selection of a few thought-piece quotations:
All Has Meaning
• "Everything on this journey is necessary and grace filled. . . . There are no dead ends, no wasted time, no useless characters or meaningless happenings. All has meaning, and God is in all things waiting to speak and to bless. Everything belongs once a man is on his real quest and asking the right questions."
Stirring Our Souls
• "According to legend, the Great Plains warriors would say to their sons first thing in the morning, 'It is a good day to do great things.' If we can't say something like this, we will not experience the quest. We need this kind of desire and expectation. . . . We need to allow our souls to be stirred by a magnificent ambition — something that makes us jump out of bed in the morning, that calls us to be some kind of hero in our own kind of story, even if we know we have more than one tragic flaw."
• "Enlightenment is not about knowing as much as it is about unknowing; it is not so much learning as unlearning. It is about surrendering and letting go rather than achieving and possessing. It's more about entering the mystery than arriving at a mental certitude."
"Enlightenment is all gratuitous grace, and the only reasonable response is a grateful heart and the acknowledgement that, always, there is more to the mystery."