Monday, February 22, 2010

The absolute worst thing became the best thing

Peeking toward Easter: Richard Rohr speaking on the central symbol of the cross

"Most moral religions assume that there is an absolute dichotomy between good and evil. There is no faith required in the place where one may say, "I know I'm right, and I know you're wrong."

The cross undid forever the seemingly total dichotomy between good and evil.  Because what happened was, the absolute worst thing--the killing of God (inside of the Christian metaphor)--became the redemption of the world.  The absolute worst thing became the best thing. Now if that doesn't relativize  your absolutist intellectual thinking....
If God can use the absolute worst symbolically worst thing possible and make it the redemption of the world then be careful when you talk about things that are bad things and worse things.
And it's more complex:
Those who did it were supposedly the good people,  the leaders of church and state. And those who first of all allowed themselves to benefited from it were the seeming losers and outsiders, and those considered evil.  This says at a central level, be careful how you see, things are not what they seem.
The things that look like the worst became the best. The people who look like the holy ones become the bad ones. The people who look like the bad ones ended up being the ones most open to it.

This is not an attempt to lead us into relativistic moral thinking, but rather into discernment. Because discernment isn't choosing between a good and a bad, but choosing more often than not between two partial goods.   Holding seemingly opposing sides seriously...that is the space in which we go deep and you learn spiritual mystery.  It is not rushing to closure and judgement.  


  1. this is a really good post. Many times in our lives things that seem the worst at the time they are happening turn out to be the best things for us with the passage of time and perspective.

    Holding strongly to a belief like "I made a vow so I have to keep it" are mistakes if what we vowed to do no longer serves us the way God intended. So yes to discernment! :)

  2. I thought it was a really cool quote.
    This guy is part of a neat conference that I can't go to in April, but maybe you would be interested...and I could live vicariously through you!
    check it out and let me know

    Vows are tricky...but life changes so much, who we were when we made certain vows can change..and God can be calling us to new things. The important thing may be that we don't make important decisions in isolation, but seek God's leading through other people, as appropriate