Richard Rohr: Antidote To ‘The Dirty Rotten System’?

Police flank Dorothy Day, seated at a farm workers picket line in Lamont, California, in 1973.

“We are all complicit in and benefitting from what Dorothy Day called ‘the dirty rotten system.’ That’s not condemning anybody; it’s condemning everybody because we are all complicit and enjoying the fruits of domination and injustice. (Where were your shirts and underwear made?) Usually the only way to be really non-complicit in the system is to choose to live a very simple life. That’s the only way out of the system!

Thus most of the great wisdom teachers like Gandhi, Saints Francis and Clare, Simone Weil, Dorothy Day, Jesus and Buddha—lived voluntarily simple lives. That’s almost the only way to stop bending the knee before the system. This is a truly transfigured life in cultures which are always based on climbing, consumption, and competition (1 John 2:15-17).

Once we idealize social climbing, domination of others, status symbols, power, prestige and possessions, we are part of a never ending game that is almost impossible to escape. It has its own inner logic that is self-maintaining, self-perpetuating, and self-congratulating as well as elitist and exclusionary. It will never create a just or happy world, yet most Christians never call it into question. Jesus came to free us from this lie which will never make us happy anyway, because it’s never enough, and we never completely win.”–Richard Rohr, ofm

Adapted from Spiral of Violence by Richard Rohr

George Herbert: ‘Love bade me welcome’

In the middle of the night, I was reading the notes in Adrienne Rich’s new poetry collection Tonight No Poetry Will Serve. Rich quotes from Simone Weil’s The Iliad or The Poems of Force. The reference pushed me off to look up collections of Weil’s writings. While reading an article on Weil’s experience reciting the “Pater Noster” in Greek, I came across a reference to her favorite poem: “Love” by George Herbert (1593-1632). I leave it here for you, as an offering of gratitude.

Love
by George Herbert

Love bade me welcome; yet my soul drew back,
Guiltie of dust and sin.
But quick-ey’d Love, observing me grow slack
From my first entrance in,
Drew nearer to me, sweetly questioning
If I lack’d anything.

‘A guest,’ I answer’d, ‘worthy to be here.’
Love said, ‘You shall be he.’
‘I, the unkinde, ungrateful? Ah, my deare,
I cannot look on thee.’

Love took my hand and smiling did reply:
‘Who made the eyes but I?’
‘Truth, Lord; but I have marr’d them; let my shame
Go where it doth deserve.’
‘And know you not,’ says Love; ‘who bore the blame?’
‘My deare, then I will serve.’
‘You must sit down,’ says Love, ‘and taste my meat.’
So I did sit and eat.