Richard Rohr – Discerning Structural Evil

If you cannot recognize evil on the level of what I call the world—then the flesh and the devil are the inevitable consequences. They will soon be out of control, and everything is just trying to put out brush fires on already parched fields. The world or “the system” is the most hidden, the most disguised, and the most denied—but foundational—level of evil. It’s the way cultures, groups, institutions, and nations organize themselves to survive.

It is not “wrong” to survive, but for some reason group egocentricity is never seen as evil when you have only concentrated on individual egocentricity (“the flesh”). That is how our attention has been diverted from the whole spiral of violence. The “devil” then stands for all of the ways we legitimize, enforce, and justify our group egocentricity (most wars; idolization of wealth, power, and show; tyrannical governments; many penal systems; etc.) while not calling it egocentricity! Continue reading “Richard Rohr – Discerning Structural Evil”

Richard Rohr – Simplicity, the Way Out of the ‘Dirty Rotten System’

We are all complicit in and benefitting from what Dorothy Day called “the dirty rotten system.” That’s not condemning anybody; it’s condemning everybody because we are all complicit and enjoying the fruits of domination and injustice. (Where were your shirts and underwear made?) Usually the only way to be really non-complicit in the system is to choose to live a very simple life. That’s the only way out of the system!
Thus most of the great wisdom teachers like Gandhi, Saints Francis and Clare, Simone Weil, Dorothy Day, Jesus and Buddha—lived voluntarily simple lives. That’s almost the only way to stop bending the knee before the system. This is a truly transfigured life in cultures which are always based on climbing, consumption, and competition (1 John 2:15-17). Continue reading “Richard Rohr – Simplicity, the Way Out of the ‘Dirty Rotten System’”

Fr. Richard Rohr – Discerning Our Complicity

In recent elections one would have thought that homosexuality and abortion were the new litmus tests of Christianity. Where did this come from? They never were the criteria of proper membership for the first 2000 years, but reflect very recent culture wars instead—and largely from people who think of themselves as “traditionalists”! The fundamentals were already resolved in the early Apostles’ Creed and Nicene Creed. Note that none of the core beliefs are about morality at all. The Creeds are more mystical, cosmological, and about aligning our lives inside of a huge sacred story. When you lose the mystical level, you always become moralistic as a cheap substitute. Continue reading “Fr. Richard Rohr – Discerning Our Complicity”

Richard Rohr – Personal Sin – Structural Evil

Up to now, we have almost entirely emphasized personal sin, with little notion of what John Paul II rightly called “structural sin” or “institutional evil.” There has been little recognition of the deep connection between the structures that people uncritically accept and the personal evil things they also do.

The individual has usually gotten all the blame, while what Paul called the powers, the sovereignties, and the principalities (Romans 8:38, Colossians 2:15, Ephesians 3:10, 6:12) have gotten off scot-free for most of Christian history. These institutions have an absolute life (and death!) of their own that is usually above normal understanding and eludes any honest critique. In fact, we tend to worship them as mighty and strong, and therefore always good. “Too big to fail,” we now say. Continue reading “Richard Rohr – Personal Sin – Structural Evil”