Engage: What Do We Do with Evil? #12

Read: “Holding the Tensions”

In this chapter, Rohr expands on the Hegelian thesis-antithesis-synthesis dialectical methodology: a form of nondual thinking necessary if we are to overcome evil with good.

He uses the concept of “third-force thinking” developed by G.I. Gurdjieff (1866-1949) and advanced in our day by Cynthia Bourgeault in her writing, especially her book, ‘The Wisdom Way of Knowing.’

Two things stand out: first, this way of thinking produces Wisdom. And second, Wisdom not as a superior idea, but as a force that changes things for the better. It begins, as Rohr noted in the last chapter, as holding the opposites in tension until “something new, bigger, and better” emerges. (p. 91)

This way of living (thinking and acting) exacts a high price, bringing on us the ire of dualistic, either/or thinkers. In the face of nondual thinking, all these folks know to do is to call us “heretics, sinners, or just wrong and stupid.” (p. 92). But third-force thinking does not cower or quit in the face of these falsehoods and caricatures.

Instead, it moves ahead with what Guedjieff called holy affirming, holy denying, and holy reconciling. Rohr has developed the same three phases into what he calls the transformative process of order, disorder, and reorder. He develops this in his book, ‘The Wisdom Pattern.’

In short, this pattern gathers up everything Rohr has helped us to see in the previous chapters, turning principles into practices that take us from evil into goodness, darkness into light, and death into life.

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 45 books. He is also a retired Elder in The Florida Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church.
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