The Universal Christ by Richard Rohr
It is an often stated conviction expressed by a wide variety of individuals and groups that the Church, Organised Religion and (important for us here at Sarum College) Theology are in decline. The statistics certainly bears this assertion out. However this should not be our final word that may spread gloom and despondency as we human beings are often drawn into the inhabiting such negativity as life, places and institutions change.
We must look beyond the immediacy of some of these signs to understand and affirm the ever present cogency and power of the spiritual dimension of our living and longings. We know ourselves to be much more than physical beings. We have capacity to explore what living means for us. For many there is a deep sense of the spiritual integrity and reality of our human longing to flourish and see our communities cohere around building common good for all. It is into this space that a trusted guide can help us navigate the journey of our souls. We human beings have been engaged in the activity of living for many centuries and religion, at its best, has guided, deepened and transformed our sense of how best life might be lived in the light of the reality and truth of God.
Richard Rohr has captured our imagination as a teacher, a contemplative and an agitator a radical compassion especially for those who are socially marginalised. He is also a prolific writer but the quantity of his output has not diminished the quality of his books. Rohr has a wonderful attention to detail and a profound capacity to unfold what it means to see the reality of Christ in creation and in and through our human struggles. This is a remarkable book that will soon find a prominent place by your side. Rohr takes his reader carefully and steadily into a journey of deepening discovery and rediscovery of the gospel of Jesus Christ and the practical implications for each one of us as we live within the proclaiming of the Kingdom of God.
Deeply rooted in Scripture, history and spiritual practice we are offered here what it might mean to live with in the Christ shaped liberating and life giving expression and presence of God.
Be aware also that this is not an entirely comfortable read – Rohr offers to those who journey with him in this narrative some radical theological wisdom. I challenge those who attend closely to these seventeen chapters not to be shifted in their sense of the meaning purpose and practice religion.
This is tremendous value for money! SPCK have printed the book with skill and style. The challenge is how the reader puts this theology into practice. From this perspective engagement with Rohr might best be done in a small group over a period of time.
Reviewed by Canon James Woodward, Principal of Sarum College