Posted by: HAT | December 2, 2014

“Beggars before God and the Universe”

image of a woman kneeling in prayer in a public place surrounded by other petitioning figures

Beggars, or begged from – which is preferable?

Hi, Gang!

I have been pondering something I read in Richard Rohr’s Breathing Under Water recently, about the nature of truth, and its implications. Here is the extended quotation:

The longer I live the more I believe that truth is not an abstraction or an idea that can be put into formulas or mere words. Our real truth has to do with how we situate ourselves in this world. Josef Pieper, a German Catholic philosopher, said many years ago that ‘the natural habitat for truth is in interpersonal relationships,’ whereas we have made truth an idea on paper. There are ways of living and relating that are honest and sustainable and fair, and there are utterly dishonest ways of living and relating to life. This is our real, de facto, and operative ‘truth,’ no matter whose theories or theologies we believe. Our life situation and our style of relating to others is ‘the truth’ that we actually take with us to the grave. It is who we are, more than our theories about this or that. Jesus says as much in his parable of the two sons. (See Matthew 21:28-32.)

Prayers of intercession or petition are one way of situating your life with total honesty and structural truth. It is no accident that both the early Franciscans and many Buddhist monks were official mendicants or beggars. Francis and Buddha did not want us to lose this central message, which is now almost entirely lost in our self-made, can-do, and climbing culture. What has been lost is honest relationship with the earth and with one another, and a basic humility too. How you do life is your real and final truth, not what ideas you believe. We are all and forever beggars before God and the universe.[1 (emphasis added)]

I feel, more than understand, that I need to agree with this. I am not ready to abandon the idea of propositional truth. But the idea that “how you do life is your real and final truth, not what ideas you believe” – a proposition, note – sounds (scarily) accurate.

[1] Richard Rohr, Breathing Under Water:Spirituality and the Twelve Steps (Cincinnati: St. Anthony Messenger Press, 2011) 56 Nook edition.


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