Fr. Richard Rohr – Romantic vs Rational Religion

“Axial Consciousness” began between 800 and 200 B.C. when humans began conceptualizing and thinking abstractly, yet religion was still deeply connected to myth and story. You see both overlapping in the Greeks with their mathematics and philosophy, but they still have all their mythic gods too. There must be a balancing of the non‑rational and the rational and that is when history is most creative. Richard Tarnas, in his book The Passion of the Western Mind, says that all of history can be seen as a pendulum swinging between the romantic and the rational, and only now and then do they come together. When they do, we seem to have an explosion of genius.

When religion is merely romantic (read sentimental, based in emotional conditioning and fundamentalist and tribal thinking) it becomes idolatrous, self-congratulating, self-maintaining, and incapable of honest self criticism. When it is merely rational, it becomes cold legalism and doctrinal belief systems, with no warming God contact.

I have found that extended quiet time in the natural world somehow synthesizes the two—actual spiritual experience that is absorbed in a way that touches both head and heart simultaneously. (For some reason, church services swing to one side or the other, all dogma or all emotion.)

Adapted fromn Richard Rohr,  Soul Centering Through Nature: Becoming a True Human Adult

Starter Prayer: I am part of the whole.

Author: DanutM

Anglican theologian. Former Director for Faith and Development Middle East and Eastern Europe Region of World Vision International

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