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Center for Action and Contemplation
Authentic Transformation
Authentic Transformation

Authentic Experience and Transformation 

Monday, July 8, 2024

Father Richard names transformation as the fruit of an authentic spiritual path:  

For much of my life, I’ve been trying to facilitate transformation—conversion, change of consciousness, change of mind. The transformed mind lets us see how we process reality. It allows us to step back from our own personal processor so we can be more honest about what is really happening. Transformation isn’t merely a change of morals, group affiliation, or belief system—although it might lead to that—but a change at the very heart of the way we receive and pass on each moment. Do we use the moment to strengthen our own ego position, or do we use the moment to enter into a much broader seeing and connecting? 

Authentic God experience always leads toward service, toward the depths, the margins, toward people suffering or considered outsiders. Little by little we allow our politics, economics, classism, sexism, racism, homophobia, and all superiority games to lose their former rationale. Our motivation foundationally changes from security, status, and control to generosity, humility, and cooperation. [1] 

Activist Jonathon Wilson-Hartgrove tells how his transformed Christian faith led him to work for racial justice:  

Twenty years ago, Jesus interrupted my racial blindness….  

I was both born into an economy built on race-based slavery and baptized in a church that broke fellowship with sisters and brothers who said God was opposed to slavery. White supremacy isn’t something I chose, but I have to own it. It is my inheritance. In this, I am not alone.…  

By God’s grace, I was invited into a [Black] church that offers a real alternative to the patterns and practices of this death-dealing system. My life in that beloved community has ushered me into a moral movement that not only offers the possibility of a better politic but also connects me to beloved community beyond my own faith tradition—a confluence of streams that make up that great river Revelation [22:1–2] images as the chief corridor in the polis [city] that is to come, right here on earth as it is in heaven…. 

The only gospel that can be good news to me is the one that has the power to touch me down on the inside and heal the hidden wound that rends my soul. Reconstructing the gospel can never only be about the individual. This is why so many noble efforts at reconciliation fail. They pretend that broken people with the best of motives can simply opt out of hundreds of years of history through individual choices and relationships. Such relationships are necessarily dishonest, both because they ignore the real material conditions that weigh on people’s lives and because they offer a false sense of relief from white guilt, which keeps people like me from facing the hidden wound of our whiteness.…  

For white people who have learned to think of themselves as naturally in control, the rare experience of vulnerability introduces the possibility of the essential soul work that might lead to conversion. [2] 

[1] Adapted from Richard Rohr, Authentic Transformation (Albuquerque, NM: Center for Action and Contemplation, 2016), CD. No longer available. 

[2] Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove, Reconstructing the Gospel: Finding Freedom from Slaveholder Religion (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Books, 2018), 155–156, 158.   

Image credit and inspiration: Jenna Keiper, web of water (detail), 2020, photo, Washington. Click here to enlarge image. Like this spider’s web, a ray of light can illuminate and transform us

Story from Our Community:  

I have walked several spiritual paths over the years: Sunday school, Anglican boarding school, rejecting religion, becoming a Catholic, and finally moving to the edge and honoring my deep authentic self. Nature has been my church for many years, and I try to honor Divine Love in everyone and everywhere. Thank you, CAC, for your companionship on the journey. 
—Janie D. 

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