Richard Rohr, a Franciscan who founded the New Jerusalem Community in Cincinnati, Ohio, and the Center for Action and Contemplation in Albuquerque, New Mexico, presents his lively meditations on twelve men in the Bible, using twelve impressive paintings by Louis Glanzman as the starting points. The author of Everything Belongs and Job and the Mystery of Suffering is fascinated with the ways in which these courageous individuals struggle with their faith and their callings.
Abraham becomes a model of surrender, trust, and letting go while Moses faces many challenges in the wilderness as he learns how to really see. Isaiah shows us what holiness is all about as he experiences the blessings and burdens of being a prophet. John the Baptist sees things very clearly yet does not get a big head over his role in "the great drama of salvation." Peter bungles along the way but is still found to be a loyal disciple, and Paul wrestles with the contradictions that are part and parcel of his ministry. John the Evangelizer is the archetype of the mystic lover who always has to be on guard against spiritual grandiosity. Rohr catches and vividly conveys the vulnerabilities of these men of faith. He makes the point that "Biblical holiness has to do with God's call, grace and faithfulness to us, and not the faithfulness of our response."
Rohr saves the best for last in his piece on Jesus, the Human One. Whereas many Christians still put a large emphasis upon creeds, rituals, and ethical standards, the author sees the human encounter as the heart of the good news. Here is his take on one Bible story:
"God comes to us disguised as our life, which seems to be the last place we want God to be. It is all too ordinary, mundane, fleshy, and unspiritual, It is just 'me' and just 'you' and just daily life. It is both the perfect hiding place and the perfect revelation place for the Holy One. 'What good can come from that place?' Nathaniel says. And Jesus replies, 'Come and see!' By allowing himself to be taken to 'the commonplace,' the ordinary, to 'Our Town,' he discovers his soul unveiled, through a moment of such intimacy that even we are not privy to it. It is merely a human disclosure and encounter 'under a fig tree' that brings Nathaniel to conversion. No mention of sanctuary, sacrament, or the sacred whatsoever. Until all life becomes sacramental, the signs in churches don't usually go very deep. There is no readiness to receive them. I can see why Dietrich Bonhoeffer used that shocking phrase in describing our religion in the future. He called it 'religionless Christianity.' "
Rohr, as always, is right on the mark with his prophetic revelations about the changes that must be made in the way we view the Bible.