Engage: What Do We Do with Evil? #1

Read: Introduction

Today we begin our common reading of Richard Rohr’s book, ‘What Do We Do with Evil?’ I join with you in praying that our experience will be a means of grace. I have heard from a few of you who have gotten the book and already read it. It is that kind of book. I hope our slower pace will now give you an opportunity to read it again with benefit. If you are reading it for the first time, it will quickly seep into your soul.

I had no idea that our reading would be set against the backdrop of so much “in your face” evil. Beginning in our country, the thread of evil winds itself around the world in a suffocating grip. The need for this kind of book is greater than when Rohr wrote it, and greater than when I suggested that we read it together. Evil grows more aggressive and dangerous. But even though the challenges are increasingly formidable, we are not without guidance when it comes to recognizing and resisting it. Rohr’s book is one resource for doing this.

Each Monday, I will write a post related to what we will be reading that particular week. I have intentionally kept each week’s reading brief. Many of you who are on the journey have indicated that you are adding it to your already full life. The “chapter by chapter” approach will take us longer, but hopefully it will make our experience richer…and less frenetic.

In this week’s reading we get a big-picture overview which takes us beyond a personal-sin focus that can prevent us from seeing evil for what it is—a “dirty rotten system” (Dorothy Day) which masquerades as good and godly. But with “eyes to see” (Mark 8:18) evil for what it is, we also recognize God’s systemic salvation (Ephesians 1:9).

Moreover, we realize we are in this thing together, both in terms of our culpability and our call to be instruments of God’s peace in overcoming evil with good here and now.In the first thirteen pages of the book, we know we are in for a transforming experience.

I encourage you to keep a journal or make notes in the book itself (there is ample white space to do this), so that you can record your experience. Use the format most natural for you, but here some possible reflection questions,
(1) What’s the “big idea” I received?
(2) Why is it important for me to have right now?
(3) How can I practice it in my life?
(4) How can I use it for the good of others?

Finally, here are the dates for the four Zoom sessions we will have for our online holy conferencing. As per Zoom regulations, we will meet for 40 minutes. The sessions begin at Noon (Eastern Time, USA). I will include the meeting link in the “Engage” post the Monday before the Zoom session. The dates for the meetings are, June 17, July 15, August 5, and August 25. Note that the last meeting is on a Thursday; the other sessions are on Friday.

If you have questions, feel free to contact me using the Oboedire email: oboediresite@ gmail.com
Off we go!

About Steve Harper

Dr. Steve Harper is retired seminary professor, who taught for 32 years in the disciplines of Spiritual Formation and Wesley Studies. Author and co-author of 43 books. He is also a retired Elder in The Florida Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church.
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