Doing Without In A Culture of More or, A Mashup of Sacks, Micheli, Kriz, and Rohr

We train our children early how to expect more. Later we prod them to temper their appetites and do with less. Unlearning what it feels like to have more poses more of a difficulty than we realize. The same is true when after establishing habits of more we hear Jesus’ call for less.

The Season of Lent grow more popular with low-church, free church congregations. So much has it grown that it now serves as a nexus for polemics. Posts about why you should not observe Lent are countered with others touting the benefits. One would think people were made for Lent rather than Lent for people.

Sure, you will read your history as to the roots of Lent. But, as with any practice, it morphs in the hands of pragmatists who realize how to take the good of a practice and infuse it with a sense of means rather than end. At least we can hope.

Snow Hill will begin a new series for Sundays in Lent titled, “Doing Without.” Our underlying question will be what does it mean to do without as we explore the related Texts for each Sunday. It is likely that we will discover that giving up chocolate is much easier than letting go of our participation in systems that actually work against our communal and personal formation in the Way of Jesus.

In this week’s podcast we begin with some introductory thoughts about Oliver Sacks, Jason Micheli, Tony Kriz, and Father Richard Rohr. They combine to form a thought provoking concoction, at least I think so, intended to stir our thinking about the theme, “Doing Without.” Here are some links that went into this cauldron you might find stirring in their own rights.

My Own Life by Oliver Sacks

Tamed Cynic (Jason Micheli – pay attention to his posts that chronicle his discovery of cancer. If you missed my post on Wednesday about Jason, you may find it here.)

Tony Kriz – post by Frank Schaeffer

Father Rohr – quoted by Tom VanGallen

“By definition, the prophet has to be on the edge of the inside of institutional religion. It’s a hard position to hold, and it must be held both structurally and personally, with wisdom and grace. There are many times it would be easier to leave the system or to play the company man/woman and just go along with the game. Jesus understood this. He loved and respected his Jewish religion, yet he pushed the envelope wide open. He often healed people on the Sabbath, which was a deliberate statement against making a practice into a dogma that was higher than human need (Matthew 12:1-8). Yet he honored the same Jewish establishment by telling some he had healed to ‘go show yourselves to the priests’ (Luke 17:14). Jesus walked the thin line of a true prophet, or what Ken Wilber so wisely names as the central principle, ‘transcend and include.’

Being a prophet demands two seemingly opposites: radical traditionalism and shocking iconoclasm at the same time. If people see just one of those first, they’ll presume you’re only that. ‘Oh, he’s just a pious little Christian boy’ or ‘She’s an angry woman!’ They cannot imagine that those two can really coexist, tame, and educate one another. Holding the tension of opposites is the necessary education of the prophet, and the Church has given little energy to it. Frankly, it takes non-dual thinking to pull this off, and we have pretty much trained people in the simplistic choosing of one idealized alternative while denigrating the other.

To put together these two immense opposites demands a good deal of human maturity, groundedness, spiritual intelligence, and readiness to *not* be liked – even by good people whom you really respect. You must be willing to believe that God is calling you to do this, that God is using you, and that you are an instrument. But don’t believe anyone who is wearing the loud badge of a prophet; it is never anything anyone should or would want to do, it seems to me. It is a calling, and often for only one single issue or time.

Ironically, a prophet must be educated inside the system in order to have the freedom to critique that very system. You have to know the rules of any tradition, and you have to respect those rules enough to know why they do exist – and thus *how to break them properly, for the sake of a larger and more essential value.* This is what Martin Luther King Jr. taught America and what Gandhi taught the British. Here is the key: you can only unlock systems from the inside. A prophet critiques a system by quoting its own documents, constitutions, heroes, and Scriptures against its present practice. That’s why they eventually win, but at a huge price to themselves.”

– Fr. Richard Rohr, adapted from “Way of the Prophet” (no longer available); and “Prophets Then, Prophets Now” (CD, MP3 download); and “Scripture as Liberation” (MP3 download)

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About the Author
Husband to Patty. Daddy to Kimberly and Tommie. Grandpa Doc to Cohen, Max, Fox, and Marlee. Pastor to Snow Hill Baptist Church. Graduate of Oklahoma Baptist University and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Reading. Photography. Golf. Colorado. Jeeping. Friend. The views and opinions expressed here are my own and should not be construed as representing the corporate views of the church I pastor.

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