It isn’t fair


posted on my door

Yesterday the Old Fool challenged those who passed his door to consider the contrast between the nations of this world and the Kingdom of God. The contrast I highlight is the method of governance. One rules by law, the other rules by love. That, I think, is the way it is, but then . . .

I struggle to grasp the approach presented by Richard Rohr which he defines as nondualistic thinking. (If you are not acquainted with Richard Rohr’s thinking click here to go to his youtube lectures.)  Can it be that what I see as two in my usual dualistic thinking is really one, as perceived in this newer style of nondualistic thinking?

If I were to think in the nondualistic style, could I not see that the love of God is infiltrating and overwhelming the nations and their laws: like light over powering darkness, like salt permeating to preserve, like leaven leavening the whole loaf, like love that never fails?  Is this Pollyanna or is it divine truth?    (I invite Raymond’s critique of my words.  He has grappled with this concept longer than I have.)

Infant deathLast morning the old fool was startled by two contrasting obituaries in the Elkhart Truth. Emily Ann died only minutes after her birth in the hospital.  In contrast, Elizabeth entered the hospital on about the same day that Emily Ann was born, and died.  She was 94 , yet she breathed for five more days before passing away.  That seems grossly unfair. How can it be that one person is given only a few minutes of life outside the womb while another is given an extraordinarily long life to enjoy, live, grow, gain knowledge and be wise?  Where is the Just One?  Who will account for this injustice?  Who made me the judge of the Judge who determines between fair and unfair?

elder deathIn conversation with God about the potential destruction of Lot and family with Sodom and Gomorrah, Abraham chided God, “Far be it from you to do such a thing, to put the righteous to death with the wicked, so that the righteous fare as the wicked! Far be that from you! Shall not the Judge of all the earth do what is just?” Yet God appears to my dualistic mind to permit many injustices to be done in our world.

thinking is one. Only one,

About Martin Lehman

I was born 92 years ago, the son of a Mennonite pastor and organic gardener in Franklin County, Pennsylvania. At age 10 I was baptized as a member of the Marion Mennonite Church. I own the "Old Fool" moniker because I want to walk the Jesus Way even though the world and much of the church takes me as a fool for doing so. In my life I have moved from being a young conservative to an elderly radical. I tell that story in My Faith Journey posted on my website.
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8 Responses to It isn’t fair

  1. Jep says:

    Keep up the good work old Owl.

  2. Raymond Martin says:

    Martin, you might understand nondual as well or better than I do. You use the words- but then…- which makes me say that. I’m sure I do not fully understand Richard so I use my own definition and hope to live by it. One thing from Richard I think I do understand is his discussion of ego. He uses Jung’s concept of the false self. This I understand in the image of the parent who asks the child to do something and the child asks “why” responds “because I said so.” One wonders if this ego has ever thought through the issue! One could also use the image of a would-be politician who can say “believe me” multiple times in a speech but never gives a hint about how the notion might be brought to fruition! One suspects its all inflated ego or false self.
    Hagel’s dialectic which describes- thesis, antithesis, synthesis- is as close to non-dual thinking as I can get.
    Yogi Berra said “when you get to the fork in the road “take it.” I couldn’t understand that till I applied Hagel’s dialectic. The right fork is thesis, the left is antithesis. All the ground in between remains for synthesis. I call it plowing the middle ground.
    It seems strange to say “Mennonites can’t plow”. Truth is we have stomped the ground between heterosexual and homosexual since 1978 and in 2015 we gave it up, rejected forbearance and split. I expect Richard would call that dualism. I would understand that. My problem is that non-dual sounds like I can’t say “no, I will not do this because I see an unintended outcome. Therefore that action is wrong for me”. So, I have not laid that on others. Am I non-dual in this instance? Somebody please help me!

    • I like your presentation of Hegel’s dialectic. The first booklet I wrote was “The Antithesis of Job.” I played with the idea that the Job of the Bible was tested by poverty, and the “Job” of my booklet was tested by wealth. That I think was dualistic thinking. Since then think I may have been plowing between the two theses. I have also heard Rohr admit that there are many dualistic statements in the NT.

  3. Carl Metzler says:

    Martin, I followed the link you provided to the short video of Rohr speaking. One thing he said struck me: “We say ‘do not judge’, perhaps we should say ‘do not label’ for when we label we are judging.”

    Like you, I am not sure what Rohr means by nondualistic thinking. The meaning of dualistic thinking seems to be clear; seeing everything as good/bad, or black/white. Any other thinking then would be nondualistic.

    It helps me to think of photography. We speak of black and white photographs, but there are very few true black and white photos, and except for some special effects they are not beautiful, having only stark black and white. Rather most photos that we call black and white are grey-scale, consisting of various shades of grey. It helps if you can think of black and white as the extreme shades of grey.

    As Raymond says, one area of dualistic thinking that has caused us trouble is sexual orientation. We have too often talked of sexual orientation as though it were extremes, while it is a continuum from total hetero to total homo. I leave it to the experts to say whether these extremes even exist.

    I don’t know if this helps in our understanding of nondualistic thinking.

    We could expand this further to consider that grey-scale is just a subset of full color, but I leave that for another time. Carl

    • This thread parks a memory. Amos Swiegart was a much loved pastor in Tampa who was instantly killed in an automobile accident. In our last conversation he told me this story:
      A young husband from Lancaster area was in the military and stationed in the McDill air force in Tampa. Being far from his wife he had an affair. Intimacy led this young man to tell the woman about the way of salvation, and they both made a commitment to Jesus. They became convicted of the wrongness of their relationship. He looked in the yellow pages and found a Mennonite pastor, Amos, to whom he turned for help.
      As I remember it, Amos was able to help the man reconnect with his wife. I ask, How did the man who knew the way of salvation get into the military and have an affair? How was God able to use this man to lead the person with whom he was sinning to faith in Christ? Does the God of all grace see the world through a non-dualistic lense?
      Should I leave these question to another time – eternity?

  4. Raymond Martin says:

    Martin,my answer to your question is NO. This is good stuff. I’m so glad you told the story from Amos. Carl’s wisdom enlightens that story. I’m willing to hold dual/non dual in a knowing/ not knowing place and letting it develop as I go. I just read Rohr’s Thursday 3/3 meditation. I love the theology there. He ends with something like ” I hope the top of your head just blew open.” Well, for me he put some things together in a very meaningful way.

  5. Raymond Martin says:

    Just now I read all this again. I long to hear Carl expand the grey-scale into full color. Some time has passed. Now is “another time”.

  6. Raymond Martin says:

    4/12/16 Today Rohr used a term that I knew I had heard from him previously; “unitive consciousness”. For me, who grew-up in a very black and white culture, dual/nondual comes to me in a very black and white way and it’s like not being able to say “I see value in this, I don’t see value in that. The word “unitive” gives me a process I can work with-using Hagel’s Dialectic. So, I understand or misunderstand everything I hear and read according to what I’ve heard,read, thought, and believed previously. Learning new things really requires a spirit of humility, doesn’t it?

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