Monday, July 13, 2009

Everything belongs...

There is NO sacred and secular - clean and unclean - insiders and outsiders in my understanding of radical Christian hospitality. Yes, this is a minority report in Christianity - what continues to pass for orthodoxy clearly embraces a worldview of those who have "entered by the narrow gate" and those who are still in bondage to sin - and I suspect this is true for most of our spiritual traditions. But I sense that this is a false and destructive spiritual dichotomy that has wounded many in the name of love and locked countless hearts out of God's grace.

Richard Rohr once wrote: When the crucifixion of Jesus is dramatized in the Gospels, we have this very interesting image of the tearing of the temple veil from top to bottom. Now the word for temple is fanum. Everything outside the temple was pro fanum. (Hence we get our word “profane.”) There was “the holy” and it was distinguished from “the unholy.”

The tearing of the temple veil from top to bottom is saying that division of life is over. Everything is now potentially the fanum, the holy, the temple. There is nothing that is not spiritual. There is nothing to which God is not available and given, which is the core meaning of the Incarnation. Matter and Spirit are forever shown to be united in Jesus.

Which doesn't mean that everything is equal: there is still wrong and right - healthy and destructive - right? What's more, there are polarities and paradox and creative syntheses that help us move from one level of compassion and awareness to a much deeper way of living and uniting with the holy. I think Rohr is right when he concludes:

As Thomas Merton said, “the gate of heaven is everywhere!" After 2,000 years of Christianity, most of Christianity still hasn’t gotten that point. We still live with purity codes, debt codes, worthiness systems, and exclusionary policies to protect ourselves from the “profane.” The bottom line meaning of the “forgiveness of sin” is that God even uses evil, failure, and sin to bring us to God.

Bob Franke puts it like this in one of the most sacred songs I know: "For Real." I will be using it in worship in two weeks as we consider how the "fleshy grace" of Christ is often revealed better in the so-called secular songs of our age. Not that the great hymnody of tradition has no place, but it is incomplete. Time, it seems, for those who trust that the Word has become flesh to... get real.

(CREDITS: "Living to Give" @ - "Time Heals Everything" Gato -


Luke said...


we are the minority... but we're growing. and soon... coming to a church near you ;-)

Black Pete said...

Hmm. I took Latin throughout high school (actually got to drop math to do it! ), and remember the prefix "pro" as connoting "on behalf of" or "toward".

So, literally rendering the phrase "pro fanum" comes up with, "toward the curtain", perhaps connoting a longing on our collective part to see beyond what we can, to know the unknowable.

Another thought occurs, and that is my experience of needing a separation (not as extreme as sacred and profane) between everyday and holy, even though everyday is most certainly holy! A holiness of different geography, if you will, to grow still, be refreshed, hear the Whisper.

Those of us on this side of the curtain who yearn for what is not known to us may need such a separation between everyday and an island of peace from time to time.

RJ said...

both great thoughts... and while I don't dwell in the "insider/outsider" camp, I, too, look for something deeper than what is obvious. What's more, I need quiet and private time along with my public life... while always affirming they are connected. Hmmmm... is right.

anthony josephs said...

Hey found this very insightful. have read Rohrs book and agree the church has created divisions that Jesus came to break down. We need a cosmic picture of christ rather than just a church community context.

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