This evening, I will be reading and listening to poetry…If you are within striking distance of the Roundhay area of Leeds, please come and listen too.
We will be at St Edmonds Church, Lidgett Park Road, Roundhay, Leeds, from 7.00 this evening, as part of the fantastic ‘World Upside Down’ exhibition, which is an artistic response to The Beatitudes in a time of Trump and austerity Britain.
Facebook details here.
Instagram preview here.
The ‘world upside down’ that the title refers to is perhaps well summed up like this;
Franciscan Father Richard Rohr talks a lot about the Beatitudes. Partly this is because the founder of his Order, St Francis, really tried to live them out. They became the bedrock for the Franciscan way of being.
Rohr is also concerned with a spirituality that is life long. We start as one thing, and unless we are dead to experience, life is a process of becoming. Sometimes we are damaged and broken, sometimes we are ascendant, but always we are changed. He contrasts two pivotal Biblical ‘lists’- firstly, the Ten Commandments and then the Beatitudes.
For Rohr, the Ten Commandments are useful to bring order and containment. They allow us to be right. They allow us to stand on our sense of correctness. For him, they are an important stage to encounter in early life. The problem only comes if we stay there and fail to grasp the lessons of the Beatitudes. Or as Rohr puts it;
In the Franciscan reading of the Gospel, there is no reason to be religious or to “serve” God except “to love greatly the One who has loved us greatly,” as Saint Francis said. Religion is not about heroic will power or winning or being right. This has been a counterfeit for holiness in much of Christian history. True growth in holiness is a growth in willingness to love and be loved and a surrendering of willfulness, even holy willfulness (which is still “all about me”).
(Excerpt taken from here.)
What Rohr is saying is that the ‘rightness’ of the ten commandments is a good thing. It is a good thing for our social collectives and for our families, but it is not enough. It is not a final destination. One of the problems is that it gifts us with a spirituality of the ego, in which ‘I’ can be right and ‘you’ are wrong.
Contrast this then, with the chaos of the Beatitudes. The rules are replaced with a world of grace and abundance. They are a call to transcend the limitations of law and move forward instead towards a second half of life encounter with something much wilder, much more freeing, called love.
And make no mistake, love is indeed chaotic. It pitches you into dangerous places. It disconnects us with our own rightness and reminds us that other things are more important.
It will not be contained, it leads us on.