867: our fall from innocence is a necessary part of the process of transformation
Day 867: Sunday, July 31, 2022
Leaving the Garden by Richard Rohr
our “fall from innocence” as a necessary part of the process of transformation:
The word “innocent” from its Latin root means “not wounded.” That’s how we all start life. We’re all innocent. It doesn’t have anything to do with morally right or wrong. It has to do with not yet being wounded. We start unwounded.
We start innocent, but the killing of our holy innocence (as in Herod’s command to kill the Holy Innocents [Matthew 2:16–18]) is an archetypal image of what eventually happens to all of us. Probably it has to happen for us to grow up. We have to leave the garden. This movement of leaving and returning, forward and back, is the process of transformation. It’s the way we increase the spaciousness of freedom in our lives, so that we have the capacity for true relatedness.
Jesus tells three parables about losing and finding: the lost sheep, the lost coin, and the lost son (Luke 15:4–32). In each case, we think we have it, we lose it, we rediscover it, and then we throw a party. The party only happens after the rediscovery because we don’t really “have it” until we’ve lost it and choose it consciously again.
That’s the human journey, the movement from first naiveté or false innocence to the chosen and conscious freedom that God is calling us toward.
The Christ child is the image of the unwounded one. Our inner Christ child is the part of us that is not wounded. In our own way, we each have to rediscover, honor, recognize, and own that inner Christ child. We may have lost the vision of innocence, but the Christ child is that part of us that has always said “yes” to God and always will.
Jesus said, “I will not leave you orphaned” (John 14:18). Faith is trusting that an intrinsic union exists between us and God. Contemplation is to experience this union. The path of fall and return is how we experience this union as pure grace and free gift.
There is a necessary movement between the two ends of the divine/human axis, between one’s core and the core of God. The only real sin is to doubt, deny, or fail to experience this basic foundational connection. If we don’t have some small mirrors (partners, friends, lovers) that tell us we are good, it’s very hard to believe in the Big Goodness.
We need at least an experiential glimpse of this True Self before we start talking about being rid of the “false” or separate self.
I think the only and single purpose of religion is to lead us to an experience of the True Self. Every sacrament, every Bible reading, every church service, every song, every bit of priesthood, ceremony, or liturgy, as far as I’m concerned, is to allow us to experience our True Self: who we are in God and who God is in us.
Richard Rohr begins this week’s meditations by reflecting on our “fall from innocence” as a necessary part of the process of transformation:
Please join us for the next Women Erased presentation with the esteemed Prof. Amy-Jill Levine on Women in 2nd Temple Judaism
Future Church: Women Erased series. Our next presentation is this Tuesday, August 2, 2022 at 8pm ET. We are thrilled to have the esteemed Prof. Amy-Jill Levine discuss women in Second Temple Judaism.
The popular perception that Jesus was a first-century feminist amid a Judaism that made the Taliban look progressive is compelling for many women who seek from Jesus a message of liberation from patriarchy. This perception is also both historically inaccurate and theologically toxic. How can better historical work help us reconstruct the lives of first-century Jewish women, and how can this reconstruction in turn provide good news to women today?
Tuesday, August 2, 2022 at 8pm ET Join Zoom Meeting with this link: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/89407763417?pwd=eDVYdkpWTEtwcy9rMUNTNDQ5ZU5Bdz09 Meeting ID: 894 0776 3417 Passcode: 708949
Amy-Jill Levine is Rabbi Stanley M. Kessler Distinguished Professor of New Testament and Jewish Studies at Hartford International University of Religion and Peace and University Professor of New Testament and Jewish Studies Emerita, Mary Jane Werthan Professor of Jewish Studies Emerita, and Professor of New Testament Studies Emerita at Vanderbilt.
Her publications include The Misunderstood Jew: The Church and the Scandal of the Jewish Jesus, Short Stories by Jesus: The Enigmatic Parables of a Controversial Rabbi; six children’s books (with Sandy Sasso); The Gospel of Luke (with Ben Witherington III, the first biblical commentary by a Jew and an Evangelical); The Jewish Annotated New Testament (co-edited with Marc Brettler), The Bible With and Without Jesus: How Jews and Christians Read the Same Stories Differently (with Marc Brettler), The Pharisees (co-edited with Joseph Sievers), and thirteen edited volumes of the Feminist Companions to the New Testament and Early Christian Literature. Along with Introduction to the Old Testament for the Teaching Company, her study guides include Sermon on the Mount: A Beginner’s Guide to the Kingdom of Heaven; Light of the World: A Beginner’s Guide to Advent, The Difficult Words of Jesus: A Beginner’s Guide to His Most Perplexing Teachings, and Witness at the Cross: A Beginner’s Guide to Holy Week. The first Jew to teach New Testament at Rome’s Pontifical Biblical Institute, and an elected member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, AJ describes herself as an unorthodox member of an Orthodox synagogue and a Yankee Jewish feminist who seeks to correct anti-Jewish, sexist, and other harmful interpretations of the Bible. Here are some useful articles to read as we gather.
https://jwa.org/encyclopedia/article/jewish-women-in-the-new-testament https://www.abc.net.au/religion/amy-jill-levine-women-at-the-cross-and-the-tomb/13843886 https://religionnews.com/2021/12/24/five-christmas-sermon-blunders-that-get-judaism-and-jesus-wrong/ We look forward to learning with you! Russ Petrus Deborah Rose Co-directors, FutureChurch futurechurch.org