Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Richard Rohr and Oswald Chambers-Strange Bedfellows

I’ve had a copy of Oswald Chambers’ devotional My Utmost for His Highest around since I was first ordained as a Presbyterian elder, around 1991 or so. While I’ve started many years with it since then, and finished up a few as well, I’ve never managed to read it through in one year. Chambers’ focus on relationship to Jesus, things like ‘coming to the end of yourself’ and ‘giving up my right to myself’ may have been nice catch phrases which I could use intelligently in sentences, but they had no real meaning for me personally. I was speaking of things about which I had no real knowledge, understanding or experience. It was all very frustrating. Rather than producing the inner transformation Chambers had in mind, all I ever experienced was guilt. Or worse, spiritual hubris. I simply did not know what I was talking about. 
This began to change with several more or less simultaneous events.  I began reading Richard Rohr, which led to Living Buddha, Living Christ by Thich Nhat Hanh, where I discovered many striking similarities between Buddhism and Christianity (and no, I did not become a Buddhist). Then there was The Book of Joy (His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Douglas Abrams)), Holy Envy Finding God in the Faith of Others (Barbara Brown Taylor) and Pernnial Wisdom for the Spiritually Independent (Rami Shapiro-I haven’t finished this yet) and finally back to Just This, a wonderful little book by Richard Rohr. What those books have in common is the insistence of common truths running through all the worlds great religions. Which brings me back around to Oswald Chambers. 
I have discovered Chambers’ My Utmost and Rohr’s Just This often say much the same thing in different words. This is true of so much of religion-it’s a sort of religious language barrier. Understanding Rohr has helped me understand Chambers as well. This year I have begun to jot down my thoughts as I read through these two books. I hope to share them here. Some of you-maybe most of you-may already know this stuff. That’s ok. It never hurts to hear it again. Feel free to share your thoughts as well. Others may be hearing this for the first time. Welcome. I hope you will discover, along with me, what this connected life-what Richard Foster (there’s another one, by the way) calls the With God Life-is all about. 

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