Monday, September 8, 2014

Sin Management or Healing?

When religion is not about healing, it really does not have much to offer people in this life.”  
--Richard Rohr

This statement in Rohr’s book Dancing Standing Still: Healing the World From a Place of Prayer has stirred my thoughts as I think of our world’s conflicts and woundedness. The turf wars in Iraq, in Nigeria, in Israel, are only a few we see daily in the media. These are, in part, about religion interpreted with a fundamental view taking extreme actions. In their minds, they believe themselves to be in the right.

Most religious persons today do not have a view to such extremes. On the other hand, I do wonder about how we who consider ourselves “religious” have taken more of a focus of sin management, and less on healing.

Focusing on sin seeks to define what is “right” and what is “wrong”. Who defines this right and wrong, good and bad, depends on those in power. This is not only in the extremism of Islam and Jewish states, it is found in Christianity, as well. We all have a tendency towards creating law above the love of the people and healing for the community and the world.

I see this especially as fear rises along with experiences of violence and aggression in our communities. We talk of gun control and putting extremists in their place. How do we speak of healing and education towards communication with each other in conflict, with teaching peace and compassion among our young people?

This healing of the world must begin with the healing of the self and with those we are with on a daily basis. In his book, Rohr states,

 “Only whole people can imagine or call forth a more whole world. Healing depends on relating with love and compassion. Official religion usually focuses on imputing and then forgiving guilt. This is much more about sin management than proclaiming a larger-than-life vision for humanity. Remember that the ego contracts around problems. The soul gathers and is drawn by meaning.” (p. 55)

What this calls me to ask myself includes:

“Am I focusing on the problem (and trying to manage that)?” or “Am I seeking to understand meaning with an openness to heal-myself and the world around me?”

Am I needing to “be right”, which means I am judging others as being wrong? Or am I seeking truth and meaning, which has the opportunity to invite others into the conversation? Am I about sin management or healing? Healing is not about the law, but the soul. This is about seeking healing out of compassion. It is open to a diverse community. From my Christian point of view, I think this is what it means to be a disciple of the One who sat with sinners and loved them.