Priest offers spiritual survival guide for recession
A priest and author says religious leaders aren't paying attention to older people hit by recession.
September 17th, 2011
10:00 PM ET

Priest offers spiritual survival guide for recession

By John Blake, CNN

(CNN) - Sooner or later, it happens to each of us, Richard Rohr says.

“There always will be at least one situation in our lives that we cannot fix, control, explain, change or even understand,” the Franciscan priest said.

Maybe you’ve been laid off from a job you held for years. Perhaps you’ve experienced a nasty divorce. Or maybe the crisis is more subtle: You suddenly realized that you’ll never have the life you dreamed of living.

Any life-changing moment can knock a person down. But it can also open doors if, as Rohr puts it, a person learns how to “fall upward.”

Rohr, a 68-year-old Roman Catholic author and internationally known speaker, says older Americans face a problem: Religious leaders aren’t paying much attention to them.

Much of contemporary religion is geared toward teaching people how to navigate the first half of their lives, when they’re building careers and families. Rohr calls it a “goal-oriented” spirituality.

Yet there’s less help for people dealing with the challenges of aging: the loss of health, the death of friends, and coming to terms with mistakes that cannot be undone, he says.

Rohr’s new book, “Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life,” is his attempt to fill that void. It also functions as a spiritual survival guide for hard times as millions of Americans young and old struggle to cope with “falling”: losing their homes, careers and status.

Rohr says he coined the phrase “falling upward” to describe a paradox. Nearly everyone will fall in life because they'll confront some type of loss, he says. Yet failure can lead to growth if a person makes the right decisions.

“I’ve met people who because of the loss of things and security have been able to find grace, freedom and new horizons,” he said.

If you’re falling in any area of your life, Rohr says, one of the first skills to learn is accepting surprises.

He says it’s easy for people to turn bitter when things don’t go as planned. He sees such people all the time, whether throwing tantrums at the airport because of long lines or flocking to angry rallies in opposition to some form of social change.

“You start attacking anybody else who is not like you,” Rohr said. “If you don’t know how to deal with exceptions, surprise and spontaneity by the time you’re my age, you become a predictable series of responses of paranoia, blame and defensiveness.”

Why suffering is necessary

Rohr’s book may address contemporary issues, but the wisdom is old. He extracts insights from sources as varied as Greek mythology, Catholic mysticism and fairy tales like Cinderella.

Such stories often teach similar lessons about hard times: Suffering is necessary, the “false self” must be abandoned, and “everything belongs, even the sad, absurd and futile parts.” Rohr, who has also written “Quest for the Grail,” a book on mythology, says people have learned these hard lessons for centuries through myth.

The heroes in mythological stories follow the same pattern. They must first experience humiliation, loss and suffering before finding enlightenment. They are often forced on their journey by a crisis.

No contemporary American is going to be asked to fight a monster, but an event like the evaporation of a retirement fund or the death of a spouse can force you to summon strength you didn’t know you had, Rohr says.

The key is not resisting the crisis.

“You have to allow the circumstances of God and life to break you out of your egocentric responses to everything,” he said. “If you allow ‘the other’ - other people, other events, other religions - to influence you, you just keep growing.”

That growth, though, is accompanied by death - the death of the “false self,” Rohr said. The false self is the part of your self tied to your achievements and possessions.

When your false self dies, you start learning how to base your happiness on more eternal sources, he says.

“You start drawing from your life within,” Rohr said. “You learn to distinguish from the essential self and the self that’s window dressing.”

Those who break through the crisis and lose their false selves become different people: less judgmental, more generous and better able to ignore “evil or stupid things,” he says.

It may sound esoteric, Rohr says, but many of us have met older people like this. They possess a “bright sadness”: they’ve suffered but they still smile and give.

“I’ve seen that in the wonderful older people in my life,” Rohr says. “There’s a kind of gravitas they have. … There’s an easy smile on their faces. These are the people who laugh, who heal, who build bridges, who don’t turn bitter.”

Rohr says this bright sadness isn’t confined to older people.

“I've met 11-year-old children in cancer wards who are in the second half of life,” he said in a recent interview with Amazon.com, “and I have met 68-year-old men like me who are still in the first half of life.”

Learning the ‘grace of failure’

Rohr’s book has found some fans in high places who were touched by his insights.

Father Gerry Blaszczak, a chaplain at Fairfield University in Connecticut, says Rohr’s book challenges the notion that success is a natural result of being religious.

“Our culture is prone to imagine that growth takes place in a sort of constant, upward movement,” he says. “Even our religious culture tends to focus on success and stability as ideals for religious growth.”

Rohr’s book reminds people about the “grace of failure,” Blaszczak says.

“In the Christian tradition, loss, collapse and failure have always been seen as not only unavoidable, but even necessary on the path to wisdom, freedom and personal maturity,” Blaszczak said.

He says he knows older people who struggled to rebuild their identities after they poured much of their earlier lives’ energies into professional and personal success.

“It is not that these professional or personal ideas were necessarily bad in themselves,” he said. “It is more that they proved inadequate. We invested way too much in them. We thought our identities could be formed by them.”

Jim Finley, a retreat leader and Catholic scholar, says Rohr is reminding people about the value of elders.

“Our culture tends to be youth-oriented, and a lot of spirituality is youth oriented,” says Finley, author “The Contemplative Heart.” “But our elders are the embodiment of the wisdom that life matters at a much deeper level than what we can achieve and produce.”

Brian McLaren, author of “The Naked Spirituality,” says Rohr’s book touches on an important paradox that you probably won’t hear in a Sunday morning sermon: “Imperfect people” are sometimes more equipped than “perfect people” to help those who are struggling.

“The person who never makes a mistake and always manages to obey the rules is often a compassionless person, because he sees people for whom the wheels have fallen off and he wonders what’s wrong with them,” he said. “But the person who feels that he has ruined his life often has more capacity for humility and compassion.”

McLaren says Rohr’s book helped reveal to him how much of his youthful spiritual energy was driven by narrow concerns.

“I’m embarrassed as I’m getting older about how much of my energy and vitality as a younger man was driven by ego and a win-lose mentality.”

Today Rohr seems driven by something else: The need for rest.

For years, his life has been a whirlwind. He’s traveled the globe speaking at retreats on everything from men’s spirituality to Catholic mysticism.

He also founded the Center for Action and Contemplation in Albuquerque, New Mexico, an organization that encourages acts of justice rooted in prayer and respect for other religious traditions.

Yet after almost seven decades of living, Rohr said,  “I am still a mystery to myself.”

Rohr plans on solving some of that mystery. He says he’s going to retire in two years to spend more time at his home in New Mexico. He says he needs more time for contemplation.

“The first half of life, you write the text,” he said. “The second half of your life is when you write the commentary. You have to process what it all meant.”

As Rohr withdraws from speaking and writing, he will be challenged to follow his own advice. He’ll spend less energy on his “false self” as his old identity dissolves.

He says he’s ready, though, to fall upward. If he lost his position as a priest, author and respected speaker, he says he would still feel secure.

“Most of us don’t learn this until it is taken away, like losing the security of your 401(k). Then the learning either starts or you circle the wagons,” he said. “I know who I am beyond my roles.”

- CNN Writer

Filed under: Belief • Books • Catholic Church • Christianity • Church • Economy

soundoff (1,015 Responses)
  1. Mathilda

    Dear Americans, it's really good not to have everything at once whenever and wherever we want. Let's be thankful we are alive today and rebuild lives. We can lose weight when we go through hardships.

    September 18, 2011 at 7:08 am |
    • jim

      You're an idiot!

      September 18, 2011 at 7:42 am |
    • AGuest9

      Jim, I second that motion.

      September 18, 2011 at 9:56 am |
    • TruthPrevails

      no need to say it...Jim said it perfectly

      September 18, 2011 at 10:24 am |
  2. Mathilda

    Americans, don't complain since none of you are starving to death. Don't try to get an aid; try not to be a burden on your federal or local government. That's the way to live. Governments don't have money to feed you, since they need to build roads and bridges. Get some dignity and feel shame to get aid from others.

    September 18, 2011 at 7:04 am |
    • herbert juarez

      No usable news networks in your own country?God bless

      September 18, 2011 at 7:07 am |
    • Mathilda

      My countries only report on their countries and USA and China. Sometimes on Libya lately. Hardly ever on Kazakhstan. I love CNN though they are liberal activists.

      September 18, 2011 at 7:17 am |
    • amigay

      Gosh Mathilda, I sure wish I had YOUR lock on self-righteousness. Could you be any more pompous and sanctimonious?

      September 18, 2011 at 9:15 am |
  3. Mathilda

    A quick socio-science for Americans:
    Facts: * All atheistic regimes in the world have been tyrannical
    * Americans don't read Russian literature or study history
    * Atheistic Americans are immoral
    Most Likely Probability : American atheists once in power will oppress everyone, imposing their immorality.
    Recommended Action: Ban atheism in USA now.

    September 18, 2011 at 6:57 am |
    • Mathilda

      PS: The above recommendation is completely in line with the American atheists' daily opinions against the religious people in USA.

      September 18, 2011 at 7:00 am |
    • captain america

      I like the cut of your jib ! In God we trust !

      September 18, 2011 at 7:09 am |
    • xmxm

      By definition, an atheist regime would have to be a dictatorship since democracies provide freedom of religion. Religious dictatorships are tyrannical too. The tyranny comes from dictatorship and not atheism. Here are some religious tyrannical regimes: Hitler's regime, Saddam Hussein's regime, etc. Was anyone more tyrannical than Hitler?

      September 18, 2011 at 9:42 am |
    • AGuest9

      You people are a laugh, and obviously forgot the influence of Franklin, Jefferson and Paine on the formation of America.

      September 18, 2011 at 9:58 am |
    • AGuest9

      >All atheistic regimes in the world have been tyrannical
      Henry the Eighth, when he was not awarded a stay to divorce his wife, had her killed, instead.

      * Americans don't read Russian literature or study history
      Dostoyevsky's "The Idiot" was about a man (representing Christ) who was locked away in an insane asylum in Switzerland.
      Those who don't study history are doomed to repeat it. But, then again, you are the one claiming that the Founding Fathers were christian, and that America is a theocracy. You couldn't be more wrong.

      >* Atheistic Americans are immoral
      >Most Likely Probability : American atheists once in power will oppress everyone, imposing their immorality.

      You have no proof of any of the remaining statement, other than your sad imagination. Just like you have no proof of your god. BTW, do the Crusades ring a bell? How many hundreds of thousands were killed during them? How about the Aztecs? The entire race was wiped out by Catholics. Columbo's men rap.ed and murdered when he landed in the New World, claiming it for Spain and god.

      My suggestion? Go take your meds!

      September 18, 2011 at 11:00 am |
    • Shepherd

      You take someone else's thoughts earlier in this thread, copy and paste it and then call it your own? Worse, you don't even realize the source of these ideas. You are just another sheep, unable to formulate your own ideas...doing as you are directed.

      September 18, 2011 at 1:14 pm |
    • AGuest9

      If that was directed at me, Shepherd, that is called "a rebuttal".

      September 18, 2011 at 1:53 pm |
    • Shepherd

      No AGuest9, it was a reply to the original poster Mathilda.

      September 18, 2011 at 2:42 pm |
    • tallulah13

      Matilda goes by many names, among them Adelina, Fredrika, Justina, Beatrice and some names that sound like descriptions of landscapes so inane that they are hard to remember. She visited the United Stated once, a long time ago and that has given her all the insight see needs to form opinions about every nuance of American life. She isn't interested in reality or history or truth. She is only interested in her own form of christianity, which apparently is whatever she says it is.

      September 18, 2011 at 8:03 pm |
    • Hasa Diga Eebowai

      In "The New Criminology," Max D. Schlapp and Edward E. Smith say that two generations of statisticians found that the ratio of convicts without religious training is about 1/10th of 1%

      September 19, 2011 at 3:35 pm |
  4. Drew

    The biggest NEW PROBLEM old people have today, is that less and less have corporate pensions. And if one doesn't have a government pension (paid for by deficit dollars), the modern Govt. Policy is to ROB RETIREES / old people / savers of a good portion of their retirement savings TO SUBSIDIZE BANKS AND STRATEGIC MORTGAGE DEFAULTERS. How does this Washington Policy engineered by the Fed Reserve work? ZIRP: Zero Interest Rate Policy, gives savers / retirees about 0 – 1% on their savings at banks. This is not capitalism, not the natural economy, but "manipulated socialist policy" designed to subsidize the banks with artificially low cost of funds (pay nothing to savers) to cover losses on Mortgage Defaults. At least half the mortgage defaults are not by people who truly can't pay their mortgages, rather they are by 'strategic defaulters' who don't WANT to pay their mortgages because the value of what they borrowed against their home, went down. RATHER THAN THE GOVERNMENT PROSECUTE THESE FRAUDSTERS (Strategic Defaulters who are gaming and gaining off the System, and damaging the Economy by their thefts, and I know a woman doing this on her 3 homes, not paying any mortgages while she hides her money), OUR GOVERNMENT HAS RIGGED A SYSTEM TO COVER THE BANKS' LOSSES BY PAYING NO INTEREST ON RETIREES' SAVINGS.

    September 18, 2011 at 6:50 am |
    • Republicans Are The American Taliban

      Wow...such a totally off topic diatribe. To try to bend it back on topic; if God didn't want it to be so....wouldn't he just miracle it to stop?

      September 18, 2011 at 7:02 am |
  5. Larz

    Three steps to finally understanding all of it:
    1. Google Joseph Campbell
    2. Study him and his works
    3. Relax and enjoy life and allow all others to do the same

    September 18, 2011 at 6:48 am |
  6. Telengard

    Christians are terrorists.

    September 18, 2011 at 5:06 am |
    • bruce

      Christians?? Try Muslims.... or are you dumb, deaf and blind?...

      September 18, 2011 at 5:16 am |
    • Tcat

      Atheism has its own symbol, evangelical tactics, charity fundraisers, and trolls like you who say things like "our way is the only way, all other faiths/ideologies are incompatible and must be destroyed." from where I sit its all the same old BS from all sides.

      September 18, 2011 at 6:25 am |
    • amigay

      Hey Bruce, I think the commonality here is religious fundamentalism. Not in any short supply these days either.

      September 18, 2011 at 9:13 am |
    • Hasa Diga Eebowai

      Tcat please give me an example of a atheist terrorist... not a terrorist who happens to be an atheist (if there is one there is a difference).

      September 19, 2011 at 3:37 pm |
  7. BellaTerra

    In worldly life, he's been a success: he founded The Center, written a number of books that have sold well, given retreats and conferences/seminars that have been fairly successful. He's been a priest all of his adult life and never has had to worry about being out on the streets in the winter snow and being hungry. The Church has always provided his shelter, food and clothing. In another two years he's looking forward to 'contemplation' in his nice home, where he lives alone and where everything he needs will be provided for him until he dies. What can he possibly know about what he has written about in this book of his?

    September 18, 2011 at 4:56 am |
    • Jeff

      Your very right on your points.. but he does see life's high's and lows and maybe his youth gave him some different looks as well. I know that I had a very rough first 18 years that culminated in homelessness until I joined the military. That's when my life turned around for the better. So until you really know from where a person comes from, you can't make blanket statements about a person or from where their views are coming from unless you know the total person..

      September 18, 2011 at 6:07 am |
    • Christabel Sarotte

      Brava, Bellaterra. Also, he's writing from such a male perspective. I'm good friends with an Episcopalian priest who tells me she has spent most of her life living in the cracks of the lives of others. You can't tell me her spiritual 'retirement' is going to look anything like this guy ...

      September 18, 2011 at 6:57 am |
  8. Mathilda

    Americans should stop shopping on Sunday and go to church. Godless nation = no blessing

    September 18, 2011 at 4:54 am |
    • xmxm

      Speak for yourself. Oh, may be you should read a book (a non religious one) instead of going to the church. May I suggest "The Selfish Gene" ?

      September 18, 2011 at 9:46 am |
    • AGuest9

      I agree with the first part. The second part made me laugh.

      September 18, 2011 at 10:07 am |
    • TruthPrevails

      better things to do with my Sunday then waste it sitting amongst the likes of you...plus in case you were too oblivious to understand this-most places do not open until NOON in order to give the religious the time to attend their delusion classes

      September 18, 2011 at 10:29 am |
    • AGuest9

      Spend a day with family, and not supporting China!

      September 18, 2011 at 10:30 am |
    • tallulah13

      For many working Americans, especially the ones with families, the weekend is the only time they get a chance to get things like shopping done. I guess because you don't work, you don't understand that.

      September 18, 2011 at 8:05 pm |
  9. jon

    thanks Fr. Rohr your words are so uplifting in this trying times...you are blessing to us...

    September 18, 2011 at 4:38 am |
    • Jesus

      Dickie Rohr??? I met you in a bath house in San Francisco years ago. Are you now into the religion biz? Do they still allow you to diddle there? Keep in touch!

      September 18, 2011 at 7:48 pm |
  10. s kel

    Look if you belive in God, fine if you dont...... Thats on you. Its as simple as that.

    September 18, 2011 at 4:26 am |
  11. s kel

    Yawwwnnn ooh boy, I fell asleep reading the God haters drawn out garbage on here.

    September 18, 2011 at 4:24 am |
    • Atheist

      After you get some rest, you might recognize that atheists don't hate any of the gods.

      September 18, 2011 at 8:27 am |
    • AGuest9

      Actually, it's delusional to hate something that doesn't exist.

      September 18, 2011 at 10:32 am |
  12. clearfog

    Rule 1. Quit giving away your money to the church.

    September 18, 2011 at 4:07 am |
  13. Unknown User

    Have you ever wondered why people just don't care? Always have somebody making excuses for them, don't they.

    September 18, 2011 at 4:03 am |
  14. Mathilda

    Americans, please don't be sad. Your forefathers and non-Americans suffered/are suffering much more. Just grow veggies in your yard and save some money. You don't really need a lot to survive. Let the lack of money this time make you stay fit. If you are not losing weight because of hunger, you are not suffering. Not at all.

    September 18, 2011 at 3:29 am |
    • bruce

      Wow, that's delusional...

      September 18, 2011 at 5:14 am |
    • ufadoof

      I like beer, kung fu and me Mum. Not necessarily in that order. This strange Mathilda....not so much.

      September 18, 2011 at 6:31 am |
    • colonelingus

      Mathilda, just curious. What is the color of the sky in your world?

      September 18, 2011 at 1:11 pm |
    • Hasa Diga Eebowai

      Our forefathers were deists

      September 19, 2011 at 3:39 pm |
  15. crazy cajun

    Wow, I see a lot of hate for things spiritual. I see also a lot of claims that most of the Old Testament is one big fat lie. Then I was wondering how it can be explained that ancient Egyptian text supports Joseph's time as the leader under Pharaoh or pictures have been taken of chariot wheels at the bottom of the Red Sea or even how recently the location of Sodom has been found. If you are going to use facts for your arguments you should research all the facts that exist before making an argument that is lopsided. Finally I have to ask how do you explain the repatriation of the Jewish nation in its original home land after a 2000 year dispersal with a people who are pretty much genetically intact. No other people in the world can make such a claim. Oh thats right it was all written after the fact according you your facts. So I ask one thing, prove it beyond a reasonable doubt with actual historical text and archeological evidence. Oh never mind, all I will here is a bunch of the very hype you claim exist of the Bible because you will never truly do the research but you will uh break the commandment "thou shalt not lie." Yes I know this will happen because I have been through these arguments time and time again and when I pull out my Bible that people claim to have read and match it to the scientific evidence that points very clearly to the validity and truth of the Bible they shut up and don't want to hear it. So my question to you even before it gets to that point is the same as I have given to others, first why do you hate God so much and second what are you afraid of by switching your faith and it is by faith that you believe there is no God to a belief that God does exist he sent his Son Jesus to the world to redeem you from your evil and hateful ways? Again on second thought save it for when you stand face to face with Jesus and he judges you for your life. Just remember that even two of the 20th century's greatest scientist Werner Von Braun and Albert Einstein both attributed to the existence of the world and life to intelligent design and trusted science to search out the evidence to back it up. You might even want to look that up as well. Oh yeah you won't have the time because you will be to busy watching the likes of the alphabet news fill you with who in Hollywood is shacking up with who or which team is winning their sport's grand prize for the year. When and if you get old and feeble just remember you can't call on God to take you because you don't want to believe in him or can you. He will give you till your last breath to humble yourself before him and ask him to give you eternal life. Now that is a God of love and long suffering. He will give you probably 60, 70, maybe even 80 years to come to your senses. Will you. Would you wait that long for someone you loved? I doubt it but then that is what hope is all about. So I hope for your sake you do wise up before you give up your last breath.

    September 18, 2011 at 1:12 am |
    • tallulah13

      That thing you say about Einstein? It's wrong. Einstein used god as a metaphor, christians ignored the metaphor and have been lying about Einstein ever since. At best, he was an agnostic.

      As for chariot wheels at the bottom of the Red Sea, have you ever considered that Egypt had a navy? Have you ever considered that if a ship is taking on water, things like chariot wheels that you are hauling to an outpost might be the most expendable thing on the ship, so overboard they go! Why immediately jump to a supernatural conclustion when there are many other, more practical reasons?

      You have no proof that the bible is anything but a book of bronze age fables. You have no proof that Jesus ever existed. You have no proof of life after death. You have no proof of heaven or hell or god. Men have worshiped many gods. What makes you think that yours is more real than Zeus or Thor?

      Why is it that the christian god is geographically challenged? Why did the christian god have to wait until man made boats and refined navigation techniques enough to make it to the New World, 1500 years after Christ supposedly lived? Either your god is lazy, or he doesn't travel well, or he doesn't exist, because the fact is, christianity never went anywhere that it wasn't taken by humans.

      What awaits us after we die is most likely death. Don't be afraid. It's absolutely natural, and when your life ends, it won't matter to you anymore, anyway.

      September 18, 2011 at 1:57 am |
    • Republicans Are The American Taliban

      How can you explain David Copperfield making the Statue Of Liberty disappear? How can you explain ALWAYS choosing the wrong card when betting on Three Card Monte? These are miracles with no explanation, admit it!!

      September 18, 2011 at 6:34 am |
  16. You Can

    Do what the church does. Declare yourself holy and beg.

    September 18, 2011 at 1:01 am |
    • Mathilda

      The Church always helped and gave away. This is a good time for everyone to go on a diet. So many Americans are suffering from obesity, right? Let them stay fit and beat the Chinese and Arabs.

      September 18, 2011 at 3:32 am |
  17. sybaris

    Another "Life for Dummies" book.

    Save your money. Use common sense and personal accountability. You'll do fine.

    September 18, 2011 at 12:51 am |
  18. tallulah13

    If you need a priest to help you with a recession, the recession isn't your only problem.

    September 18, 2011 at 12:51 am |
    • bruce

      How very sad that you are so delusional....I hope that soon, for your sake, you come to your senses.

      September 18, 2011 at 5:18 am |
    • AGuest9

      Yes, Bruce, the truth is sometimes sad.

      September 18, 2011 at 10:03 am |
    • tallulah13

      Gee, Bruce. I'm sorry that you can't man-up and take care of your own difficulties. I'm sorry that you need an invisible friend to get you through the hard times.

      September 18, 2011 at 3:59 pm |
    • Larry

      tallulah13 – You seem like a rational individual but it is real obvious that you do not know what the word of God is and that you do not read the Bible. I know you won't do it but I suggest you read the book of Revelation, study it in depth, and really make an effort to understand what you are reading. This will be the proof you keep saying doesn't exist and will also prove without any doubt that everything you say is false, that you just like to ramble on about whatever you happen to think about, and that you yourself have no proof or evidence of anything you say about Jesus or God. You do have the choice to believe whatever you want to and that's just it; it's a choice. Do not believe men, but do believe God. The word of God tells us all men are liars but God is true. The word of God also tells us to choose life that we might live. You would do well to wise up and quit chasing the wind.

      September 19, 2011 at 2:05 am |
  19. Awkward Situations

    Okie dokie. Here goes. Piece by piece.

    – Opening –
    Pretty much stating that people have unfortunate events that happen in life. No big surprise here. It had a suspi'cious tone I've heard many times from the bible people who come to the front door: "Having a shi'tty life? It's because you haven't found Jesus and you're a sinner."

    "Fall upward". I'll withhold my laughter for the moment. These types of phrases don't make any sense. They are transparent in the sense they are entirely void and meaningless while attempting to come across (to the gullible) as something profound and insightful. The fact that the article mentions Rohr as a "priest, author and respected speaker" without mentioning that he's most likely a speaker of the "motivational" type is telling. Look I can make silly catch phrases too: Spiraling straight. Lifting downwards. Ascending inwards. Propelling backwards. "Rohr says he coined the phrase “falling upward” to describe a paradox." Capital LOL. What is paradoxical about making the right decisions after failure? Isn't that the most logical thing a person would do to get themselves out of the mess they're in?

    Rohr does point out something which I thought was interesting. Religion is very good a telling people what to do but when things go wrong it is utterly impotent. I'll add that religion then puts the blame on the person for not being devout enough to avoid the unfortunate circ'umstances they have found themselves in. Sound familiar? Pray hard. Have faith. Let the LORD into your life. All statements implying that the person in distress is not doing their religious duties as they should.

    I don't understand the ending of this section of the article. He goes from examples of actual distressing events in people's lives (loss of health, death, losing home) to essentially inconsequential events (angry at the airport, going to rallies FOR SOCIAL CHANGE). What? Correlation does not mean causation.

    – Why suffering is necessary –
    Wow, shocking – coming from a 68-year-old Roman Catholic. In his book he "extracts insights" from mythology, mysticism and fairy tales to explain to the reader that hard times come to all of us. Thank you Captain Obvious. Anyone entering into this world and expecting lollipops and rainbows year-round usually ends up in the psych wards.

    For a moment I thought the author was going to say something worthwhile when he says, "The key is not resisting the crisis." Which I interpreted to be – avoidance behavior in a distressing situation is not good. Then of course, comes mention of the most popular mythological creature of all, god (lowercase, to annoy all you religious folks, cheers!).

    There is mention of egocentric responses, achievements and possessions as if they are naughty things to be avoided. Without any explanation whatsoever as to why these things are negative. I have a sneaking suspi'cion though that these notions are sponsored by the bible. Death of the "false self" in order to achieve growth. Again, what? This all seems to be tied into the accusatory nature of this religion – that pride and materialism is bad and that a person who values them does not have a deeper and humble appreciation for life.

    Oh, and another mention of a stupid catch phrase, "bright sadness". Do people really take this verbal v'omit seriously?

    – Learning the ‘grace of failure’ –
    Sorry, but maybe someone else wants to tackle this last part. I couldn't get over the giggles induced by the last name of "Father Gerry Blaszczak". 😉

    I'm guessing his book can be found in the "self-help" section of bookstores. Yes, help yourself to a bunch of bullsh'it, smile, and have a nice day. 🙂

    September 17, 2011 at 11:45 pm |
    • Skep

      Awesome analysis!
      I was skimming over the article and shaking my head at where it wasn't going, and then read your post. You nailed it.

      September 18, 2011 at 12:13 am |
    • *frank*

      Yeah, I took it as Marcus Aurelius interpreted by Martha Stewart....

      September 18, 2011 at 12:46 am |
  20. AGuest9

    The old saw about suffering being necessary. How about cutting out ti.thing?

    September 17, 2011 at 10:08 pm |
    • AGuest9

      It's funny how that god that created humans because he loved them wants them to suffer.

      September 17, 2011 at 10:09 pm |
    • Mathilda

      No, humans are having the life they don't deserve. Complaining Americans should immigrate to North Korea to find out what it means to suffer and hand over the continent to China.

      September 18, 2011 at 3:25 am |
    • AGuest9

      Go ahead and emigrate, Mathilda. It sounds to be your kind of place.

      September 18, 2011 at 10:36 am |
    • tallulah13

      Hey, Matilda? You are not now, nor will you ever likely be, an American citizen. How about you worry about the problems in your own corner of the world before you try to make ones up here?

      September 18, 2011 at 8:09 pm |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.