We often think of saints as rare individuals whose gifts far exceed our own, and St. Francis is no exception. But for Fr. Richard Rohr, a prolific author and renowned speaker, the life and teachings of this beloved figure offer an authentic spirituality we can all embody.
On the Art of Letting Go, Fr. Rohr gives us a six session learning course that explores: the surprising richness we discover by simplifying our lives - without taking a vow of poverty; liberation from our self-limiting biases and certitudes; contemplation and action, two key steps toward communing more deeply with the Divine, and more.
©2010 Sounds True (P)2010 Sounds True
Book blogger at Bookwi.se
Over the last couple months I have come to the conclusion that Evangelicals (of whom I am one) are good at sharing the gospel and keeping the importance of conversion squarely in their sights.
But I have also come to see that groups that assume the large scale Christianity of their communities (those that have been state churches) have done much more thinking about how to live as a Christian.
It is cliche (and I think at least partially true) that Evangelicals are interested in you up until your conversion. After that I think we fall into the Paul problem of continuing to feed one another spiritual milk. We are still trying to save one another. But I think those that theologically are more oriented toward infant baptism and Christendom have thought more about living as a Christian. (The negative for them is that they also now need to evangelize their own as Christendom has broken down.)
There is nothing wrong with keeping the gospel at the forefront of our Christianity. But that does not mean that we need to keep the basic gospel message as the main content of our Christian teaching.
So I have been seriously thinking about finding a Roman Catholic spiritual director particularly because I want to learn more about spiritual growth from a different perspective. (On the other hand I have had a couple Evangelicals recommended to me, if you think of it, this is something I am still praying through and I would welcome your prayer for me.)
Richard Rohr has been interesting to me since I first read his book Falling Foward. Later I listened to his lectures that were turned into a book Why Be Catholic. And I want to read more about his work in male initiation rites and spiritual development.
But as I was looking around for an audiobook the other day I picked up The Art of Letting Go. It is not a book that is narrated, but rather six talks that are packaged together as an audiobook. They sound like they were prepared for those that want to go on a spiritual retreat with Rohr, but can only listen to an audiobook or lecture instead.
Many Evangelicals will probably find multiple places strange and questionable. But on the whole these are much more like Eugene Peterson’s memoir The Pastor or Marilynne Robinson’s Gilead. These sound more like a personal conversation with a spiritual mentor about how to grow spiritually.
There are six different sections, each about an hour about an area that Rohr thinks we need to let go of in order to grow spiritually. There is so much content here (in just 6 hours) that I will not attempt to recount it but only give a few thoughts. St Francis is a reoccurring character, but not really the subject of the book. The main subject of the book is the paradox of Christianity that God often uses what we perceive as loss to help us grow.
So we experience pain and through that pain we realize that we are not in charge of our lives and we give up trying to control a particular area of life and then God is able to draw us in to a deeper spiritual connection with him.
One thing I thought is useful is that Rohr is careful to say that people that are not growing spiritually are still Christian. And I think that is part of the problem with Evangelical theology (mine included) that we mix up redemption and sanctification. From the point of Salvation we are saved. But that is just the start of our spiritual growth as a Christian. God desires more for us, but does not force it on us. There is a paradox of the reality that we cannot growth spiritually under our own power, but God gives us the power (through the Holy Spirit) to move forward spiritually. But it seems that not being obedient and not following God allows us to miss out on spiritual growth.
Spiritual growth is not a knowledge problem, it is an obedience problem. This has been a reoccurring theme of my reading lately. And it is one that is hard to get around.
This is a series of lectures that needs more than one sitting. I think I will put it on my calendar to listen to again in another year.
Narrative makes the world go round.
As a long time listener of Rohr audio (tapes dating back to 1976), I found the delivery in this sounded more "scripted" than his usual dynamic and enthusiastic spontaneous style. However, it condenses and updates his older audio "Spirituality of Subtraction" very nicely. This retreat is directed at a broader audience than his usual Christian, and that somehow broadens his presentation of Francis' radical critique of society even more.
Good to see a teacher like Rohr on Sounds True and Audible.
He is not a fad teacher and walks the talk (or the silence), and has been doing so for decades. His wisdom grows over the years and can benefit anyone interested in spirituality, no matter the variation.
I really love Richard Rohr, and was happy to see a bunch of his books on Audible. Sadly, most of them are read by an atrocious narrator, so I've stayed away. However, when I saw that some of the titles here are not audio books but rather, audio teaching, I was excited to try one out. This one was fairly enjoyable, and Rohr's voice is pleasant to hear on 1.5x or 2.0 (otherwise, it's painfully slow on this one as he's reading a script, unlike the others that feature live teaching). But the content--inspired by Francis of Assisi's life and teaching--isn't by far as profound as Rohr's brilliant book Eager to Love. I'd highly recommend buying this book instead (but not the audio book due to said atrocious narrator who sucks the life out of the content) if you're interested in this topic. It's profound and even life-changing, whereas a lot of this content is forgettable.
I really enjoyed listening to this program. It was as if I was on a spiritual retreat as I listened to Richard Rohr talk about the life of St. Francis and apply it to my life today. The insights offered transcended religion and dogma and addressed my real spiritual needs. For anyone trying to learn how to "Let go and let God," this is right on target.
On your spiritual journey seeking God, Fr Richard Rohr brings St Francis to life. He alows us to visualize with great clarity how St Francis was able to Let Go from things of this world. I found in The Art of Letting Go, as Pope John Paul II said on his death bead, "I have been searching for you all my life, and now you have found me" has a new meaning.
I have listened to it 3 times and get something new each time
Answered my question as to why I don't feel at home in this world...
Wonderful words of encouragement to live a life of letting go. Very inspiring and thought provoking. I plan to listen to it more than once.
I've been Christian then new thought then went through 12 step and started to circle back to Christianity who made me wonder what part did I have wrong. Rohr's 9 steps of spiritual development explained it all and made it all make sense. Now I know my broken heart and broken self is of use. And right on track.
The one most important act of love is to forgive...unconditional love is to forgive and Richard Rohr repeats this many times throughout his narration. I feel so fortunate to have been able to listen to The Art of Letting Go for $15.00!
Husband, father of 4, entrepreneur, software exec, striving to serve, make a positive contribution, and better myself.
The content was very profound but the narration was, unfortunately, quite dull. I still recommend it as it provides a good perspective on how to attain a state of contentment.
"Revolutionary Idea in a Materialistic World"
This is an excellent audio book. I have listened to this so many times I have lost count. So many ideas spoken in a non judgemental way, by someone that is obviously 'walking the walk'. I listened to his orignal tapes, way back when (he says of himself he was pushy in them) and the journey he has himself been on is evident. He does not expect you to accept anything he says, he is merely putting ideas and his own observations on the spiritual life.
I, like many people have accumulated many bits and pieces to supposedly help me on my journey and have found that although some may have helped, there is a point where letting thngs go is definitely the way forward. The author uses St Francis of Assissi as an example but having a Christial faith is not necessary to get the most out of this audio book. Letting go is not just about letting go of things it's also about letting go of the idea we have to travel upwards, improve ourselves by acts of will (and many more things) If we are to truly improve ourselves (yes heres a paradox) we have to travel inwards, travel downwards and let go.
My summary is of course no where near as elegant or as well said as in the audio book, I only hope that I have explained it well enough so that I don't put you off buying it as I would recommend this book to anyone wo is sincerely walking their own spiritual path, no matter what tradition the most heavily draw from.
Richard is just so down to earth His gentle delivery and relaxed style encourage you to really listen to the message based on the teachings of St Francis
I'm on my third time through this book and the message just gets stronger each time A wonderful counter to an ever more manic world
Rohr's gentle, conversational tone nonetheless contains wisdom that could change your life if you let it. If you want your life to be more centred and less frenetic then this is the book for you, no matter what faith group you belong to.
This is such a beautiful and profound book. I have listened to it many times already and I will listen to it again.
It is rich beyond measure.
Sincere thanks for this valuable gift Father Richard Rohr.
Read like a relaxed chat, which was soothing & full of important spiritual principals. Very nice.
This man has seen the light in himself and all of us. Listen, trust and practice if you can.
"A wonderful experience"
I found the whole idea of Letting Go was very clearly presented
Richard dealt with it very comprehensively. I do thing these ideas if practised would make a huge difference to our world. They were presented as possibilities for all of us
I think when I listen I can be more attentive to the ideas being presented
Thank you all for this experience.
"Reinforced what I always knew deep down that I knew."
Simply life changing, reinforced what I always knew I knew, but forgot as the world engulfed me..
"Very good from Rohr again."
The narration is excellent but the audio quality is a little sub-par. I would recommend anything from Richard Rohr. His explanation of the journey is very helpful and honest as always.
Highly recommended reading for anyone who is seeking the wisdom of Christ. Rather than lots about the story of st Francis it's more about the wisdom of him, and hopefully eventually us.
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