In this trenchant work of cultural criticism, Franciscan Richard Rohr notes: "It is much easier to look for someone to blame, sue, expel or expose when there is no coherent meaning or divine purpose in the world. Someone has to be at fault for my unhappy life! As long as we keep trying to deal with the mystery of evil in some way other than forgiveness and healing, we will continue to create negative ideologies like fundamentalism and nihilism in all their endless forms. One demands perfect order; the other denies that it is even possible. Jesus does neither, but lives on the horns of the human dilemma."
In times of confusion and continuing change, people and institutions look for scapegoats someone to blame for all our troubles. Rohr, founder of the Center for Action and Contemplation in Albuquerque, New Mexico, looks to the Christian tradition for mentors of a different way. He considers Francis of Assisi to be a heroic saint. Living in voluntary poverty, he viewed things from the bottom. His life is one long lesson in rebuilding. The motto of St. Francis was: "Let us begin again for up to now we have done nothing." Not a bad motto for twenty-first century Christians; it is a direct challenge to those who persist in dividing the world into good and bad guys, sinners and righteous ones.
Rohr sees Jesus as "our living icon of transformation," one who holds together in himself the tensions of the opposites. I'm very impressed and deeply moved by the author's passionate vision: " 'Resurrected' people prayerfully bear witness against injustice and evil but also agree compassionately to hold their own complicity in that same evil. It is not over there, it is here. It is our problem, not theirs. The Risen Christ, not accidentally, still carries the wounds in his hands and side."
Rohr can always be counted upon for substantive cultural criticism informed by his unique and fervent understanding of Jesus. Here again, he offers much to ponder.