A friend of mine suggested I read this book by Ronald Rolheiser. Rolheiser is a priest, lecturer, and prolific author. I’m not Catholic, but have some great memories of worshiping in their midst during the “Catholic Charismatic Renewal” of the 70’s. So I began with anticipation. I ended with some wonderful insights and a bit perplexed.
I encountered some wonderful interpretations of Scripture. For example, the idea of being separate from the world (consecration) was given greater depth by Rolheiser’s idea that consecration means “set aside from the norm”. It means not doing certain things, but just as importantly, it means doing things the “normal” person would not do. A consecrated person is required to act when they see a need for action whether it is from natural disaster, injustice, ignorance, etc.
Some of Rolheiser’s ideas seemed to have good conclusions but took questionable pathways to get there. For example, he interprets Jesus’ mention of eating his flesh and drinking his blood as the exhortation “You cannot be with me (the perfect) if you can’t be with my Body (the imperfect).” I like the conclusion, but I think the parallel is a stretch.
And Rolheiser’s ideas on the soul (all living things have souls), salvation (the love of a Church member toward me guarantees salvation of my soul regardless of my personal desires, conduct, or attitude), and sexuality (sexuality lies at the center of spiritual life) made me a bit afraid. I was afraid for how these ideas could misdirect a readers path. And, to be honest, I had to skip sections because they troubled me so much.
I am truly glad I read this book. I will hold on to some of Rolheiser’s concepts, but I must reject some of his proposals. I guess it’s like most of what we hear and read, a mix of good and bad.
My notes on this book can be downloaded in MS Word format from the blue “FILES box” in the left side-bar of this blog.