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Center for Action and Contemplation

Bias from the Bottom: Week 2 Summary

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Bias from the Bottom: Week 2

Summary: Sunday, March 27-Friday, April 1, 2016

You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view, until you climb into his skin and walk around in it. —Harper Lee (Sunday)

Jesus’ basic justice agenda was simple living, humility, and love of neighbor. (Monday)

Only converted people, who are in union both with the pain of the world and the love of God, are prepared to read the Bible with the right pair of eyes and the appropriate bias, which is from the side of powerlessness and suffering instead of the side of power and control. (Tuesday)

One of the most transformative experiences is entering into some form of personal lifestyle solidarity with the powerless. (Wednesday)

Why does the Bible, and why does Jesus, tell us to care for the poor and the outsider? It’s not only to help them, but because we need to stand in that position for our own conversion. (Thursday)

May we grow tired of sleeping and ask for flesh that feels, weeps, and even bleeds for the immense suffering of our world today. (Friday)


Practice: Prayer of Quiet

I believe it’s especially important for those of us who are comfortable and privileged—whether we are white, financially secure, male, or have some other social “advantage”—to nurture a contemplative mind. Only through the eyes of the Divine Witness can we learn to see that to which we are mostly blind. Only when we are listening from the True Self, not the protective ego, can we hear the truth about ourselves and the unjust system in which we participate.

Christena Cleveland, one of our CONSPIRE speakers this July, wrote recently about how hopelessness is actually a privilege. [1] Those of us who are well off and at ease have the luxury of feeling despair. It’s easy to look around at our dysfunctional politics, endemic racism, the unbalanced distribution of wealth, and climate change and become overwhelmed . . . and then disengaged. But those who are oppressed or connected intimately with systemic suffering have the greatest capacity—and sense the most urgency—for hope and for compassion.

As a white, educated, American clergyman, I realize I’m privileged on so many counts. From my own experience, I know I need a contemplative practice to rewire my mind. Some form of the prayer of quiet is necessary to touch me at the unconscious level, the level where deep and lasting transformation occurs. From my place of prayer, I am able to understand more clearly what is mine to do and have the courage to do it.

Unitive consciousness—the awareness that we are all one in Love—lays a solid foundation for social critique and acts of justice. I hope you will let God show you how to think and live in new ways, ways that meet the very real needs of our time on this planet.

Gateway to Silence:
Open my eyes.

[1] See Christena Cleveland’s blog, “The Privilege of Hopelessness,” December 15, 2015,

Adapted from Richard Rohr, the Mendicant, Vol. 6, No. 2 (CAC: 2016), 7.

For Further Study:
Richard Rohr, CAC Foundation Set (CD, MP3 download)

Image Credit: Homes on the former Juarez dump, Juarez, Mexico 2006. CAC archives.
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