Richard Rohr on 12-Step Spirituality

I’ve been following Rohr’s work on 12-step spirituality and was also inspired by Dallas Willard’s high praise of spiritual transformation via 12-step groups.  Why is it intriguing to me?  What is the draw?  I’m sure I’m an addict in a few different ways.  And I’ve been experiencing pain and “bottoming out” in different areas of my life.  I guess I like the framework and hope it offers.  I no longer have to escape pain.  I can be aware of it and learn from it.

Here’s one quote that stood out to me, mainly because I was raised in a highly religious setting and God has been stripping me of my “use” of Him:  “The highly fortified religious ego is perhaps the most resistant to change of any, because “God” is used to maintain its own security and superiority.”  

Here’s the rest of his post.  If you don’t subscribe to his daily meditation, you might consider it.

source:  http://goo.gl/TS5m1C

The Twelve Step program gave meaning and effectiveness to transformation. “Salvation” is not just something you believe, but something you begin to experience. Both Jesus and Paul were change agents. They were hated by their own groups precisely because they were constantly talking about change. The first thing Jesus said when he started preaching was, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 4:17). The word usually translated as “repent” is the Greek word metanoia; this might be best translated as “turn around your mind” or change. But most of us won’t move toward any new way of thinking or actual change until we’re forced to, which usually means some form of suffering or some disturbance that upsets our habitual path.

Addicts–the majority of us–have an intense resistance to change. We like predictability. That’s one of the reasons addicts find it easier to have a relationship with a process or a substance rather than with people. People are unpredictable. But it feels like this glass of wine or going shopping (or whatever it might be) can change your superficial mood very quickly. Even though the mood shift doesn’t last, it makes you feel like you are in control for a while. You don’t have to change your thinking; you don’t have to change your way of relating to people. Basically, you stop growing at that point. They say you can usually tell when a drug addict began using, because he or she will reflect the emotional maturity of someone at that approximate age.

Cardinal Newman (1801-1890) said it so well: “To live is to change, and to be perfect is to have changed often.” The Twelve Step program understands you can’t change people by mere knowledge or willpower, whereas much of organized religion seems to think you can. For example, you don’t become more charitable by saying to yourself, “Be charitable!” You actually become more charitable by noticing when you are not being charitable and “weeping” over it. But none of us want to see our own faults; they usually have to be shoved in our face or we have to fall right into them. At least I do. And even then, many will just deny their mistakes more forcibly. Peter’s three denials come to mind here.

Transformative religion goes against our basic survival instinct which is to live. But darn it, the spiritual teacher is always telling us to die. You can see why the ego resists. The addict puts up a fortified wall against change, against death to self (the false self), and therefore against all real spiritual growth. A.A. understands that it usually takes a bottoming out experience to break that wall against change. The highly fortified religious ego is perhaps the most resistant to change of any, because “God” is used to maintain its own security and superiority.

This is the addictive pattern of thinking that characterizes so much of our religion and politics today. It creates very cognitively rigid, dualistic thinking in service to the ego. This thinking is largely impregnable to either love or logic. Could this be the deepest meaning of sin?

 

The 12 Steps: A Tutor for Spiritual Transformation

The 12 Steps (a revised version posted below for Christian Spiritual Transformation) has been something I’ve been interested in for the last 5 years or so.  Dallas Willard and Richard Rohr (along with others) have used this machination as a means to surrender our lives to King Jesus and be transformed by the power of the Spirit.  My hope and prayer is for constant transformation in my life.  I am addicted to many things, none the least which include popularity and being right.

Source:  http://www.wheretoreach.us/12-steps/

  1. We admit we are limited and mortal; that we need help.
  2. Come to believe that Jesus is the cornerstone of God’s plan of bringing fruitful and lasting life—starting right now—to anyone who will come.
  3. Make a decision to trust everything to the loving direction and power of Jesus, God’s Christ.
  4. Make a searching and fearless inventory of the ways we are selfish or harmful to others or ourselves, as well as the ways we’ve seen God do better, or offer to do better, through us.
  5. Admit to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the full content of our inventory.   
  6. Become entirely ready to act in the opposite spirit of our wrongs, and be transformed in Christ’s likeness.
  7. Humbly seek to empty ourselves of our selfish agendas as Christ did, and ask God to fill us with his Spirit.
  8. Make a list of all persons we have harmed, and become willing to make amends to them all.
  9. Make direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
  10. Continue to take personal inventory and, when we are wrong, promptly admit it.
  11. Seek through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with the Father through his Son and Spirit, praying as Jesus teaches us to pray, and as the Spirit helps us in our weakness. 
  12. Having found real life and love and hope in Jesus, we try to give grace to all, ready to give an answer for our hope, and try to practice his ways in all our affairs.