The Gospel Truth

The Naked Moment | January 7, 2015

At a local restaurant before the end of the year we met a young server, a twenty-four year old woman who had spent the last few years living in New York City. She had gone there to write the great American novel.

She proceeded to tell us about her story, which was a love relationship between a woman of Hopi Indian decent and her husband, set in Montana. Unfortunately I don’t remember any of the manuscript’s details except that she did not have any title for it.

In early December as irony would have it, I was reading one of the two novels I had purchased during our summer trip to Martha’s Vineyard.   Local author Philip R. Craig had written both of them.

In his Vineyard Prey, he had a long paragraph about the Hopi Indians and their concept of time. Their language did not include any words or concepts for small segments of time, such as seconds, minutes and hours.

The language only had concepts that events were not happening any more, were still happening or may happen in the future. They also held that people are no longer here or are here or may be here in the future. Craig’s protagonist, J. W. Jackson opined it was a good language to hide in with perfect honesty.  I passed this all on to the aspiring young novelist, thinking she might be able to conjure a title out of it.

In discussing this whole idea with my younger son, he taught me about the difference between Chronos and Kairos.

Chronos means living by the clock that is always being manipulated by appointments, schedules etc while the second one measures not in seconds and minutes but in moments, which may be brief or last a long time.

In these pages I have already confessed that my life has been ruled by the arbitrary concept of time that we use to organize our lives.   My mother had me early for every date, appointment or event that I was scheduled to attend.  I wish I had some of those wasted moments back or at least had the foresight and understanding to have treasured them.

Now in the twilight of my life I regret having wasted so many magic moments in anxiety, fear and distrust.

This is not to say that living by Chronos is a bad thing.   For millions of adults it is a superior way to function in a fast-driven society that holds a premium on punctuality and good manners.   It is also the best way to stay gainfully employed.

However too much of even a necessary thing can lead to a rigor mortis of the soul where one never really enjoys his sojourn on this earth and quite frankly in my case enjoys events after they have happened.   That’s why my memories have become so important to me as I have entered my uncharted waters of growing old.

My son also mention the idea of living in the moment…not after it. I will admit that anticipation of a moment can be exhilaration…only if it is not accompanied by an anxiety about the moment failing to live up to its promise.

I started reading Véronique Vienne’s short book, In The Art of the Moment in which she explores ways to get the most from life, one moment at a time. Her signature essays—short and sweet, yet insightful—are invitations to appreciate the uniqueness of each moment.

She tells us to feel the excitement of being here right now!  She encourages her readers to savor the fullness of life in brief, joyful installments. Don’t wait for a second chance to get it right, she says. Each moment is both the last time and the first time because no two days are ever alike.

Each brief chapter in her book is a reminder that time is not running out. One does not have to rush to experience a sense of joy, wonder, and adventure. It is there for the taking, whenever one is ready for it. Anyone can claim the now while washing the car, taking a child to volleyball practice, buying a new pair of shoes, or daydreaming about opening a small bookstore across the street from the hardware store.

One of course cannot make a living in or for the moment.  Moving to Colorado and joined a community of Lotus Eaters would only turn the moment in a life of of neglect and debauchery.

Moderation must govern our affair our inclination to smelling the roses, relishing spontaneity, random adventures and off-the-cuff improvisation and sharing your vitality with random strangers, while experiencing wonder and the enormous pleasure of the BIG WOW.

One can even raise each moment to a higher plane than its Horacian imperative to seize the moment  and suck out the marrow of life as Robin Williams’ character in The Dead Poets Society professed.   As the Catholic prayer, The Morning Offering teaches one can sanctify one’s daily actions, thoughts and feelings and offer them to God in thanks of the precious gift of life.

A friend recently introduced me to some of the ideas of the highly controversial Franciscan monk, Richard Rohr. While some of his ideas on God as Universal Consciousness seem way off the Catholic radar, his consistent attempts to penetrate the mystical truths of the Catholic faith are an invitation to take one’s faith to a higher level.

His writings are deep and may even border on the mystical but for a novice without any historical, metaphysical or theological background, they can easily lead someone greviously astray.

But as Dante had his Aeneas to guide him through the nether world of eternal life, caution should accompany anyone making a conscientious journey through some of Father Rohr’s ideas.

One of Father Rohr’s ministries is working with men, beaten down by a society that seems to have marginalized them.  While this is laudatory, his advocacy of homosexual marriage seems to work at cross-purposes because the reason so many men become homosexuals is because of the breakdown of the family unit and I would add the feminist movement of the 1960s.Young boys need strong, caring fathers to teach them how to love and respect women.

These historical factors have confused me as to their true sexual identity causes many to be more comfortable with their own gender than the opposite sex.  That’s where he should be offering his insights in my opinion.

But this is not to deny that there is some apparent wisdom in his concept of seizing the moment, or as he calls it in his 2009 book, The Naked Moment. I see a lot of fascinating ideas that can easily be absorbed into my Catholic faith.

As Reviewer Rick Heffern put it in the liberal Catholic paper, The National Catholic Reporter, Rohr’s book, subtitled Learning to See as the Mystics See, extols the spiritual benefits of learning to live comfortably with paradox, with the process of conversion, with learning to change our minds as life comes at us with its messiness and disorder.

He claims that if your religious practice is nothing more than to remain sincerely open to the ongoing challenges of life and love, then you will find God — and also yourself.

It’s a bold claim, but Rohr offers sound reasoning to support it. Great people, he says, keep adjusting to what life offers and demands of them.

Rohr also rests his thinking on his belief that God’s love is so ingenious and victorious that I find God is willing to turn the world around to get me facing in the right direction. God seems to be totally into change. I know this every time I see how divine grace maneuvers around my sinfulness and human events, and how the entire universe itself is continually changing states from solids to liquids to gasses to seeming emptiness.

Rohr presents the Christian contemplative and mystical traditions as enduring examples of ways of living animated by non-dualistic thinking.  By that he means that we cannot always divide the world into them and us, black and white etc.  As St. Paul instructs us we see the world but through a glass darkly.  To me that is hardly 20-20 and does compel us to cut sinners…including ourselves some slack.

In a critical review of Rohr’s somewhat fuzzy Orthodoxy, The Oxford Review’s Bryce Andrew Sibley underscores that Rohr is fond of the theology of John Duns Scotus. It is fair to say that between Scotus and St. Thomas, and therefore between Scotists and Thomists, there exists a significant difference with regard for human reason.

In stark contrast to Thomists, Scotists manifest a marked distrust of the native intellectual powers of the soul. This leads them, in some cases, to a greater trust in the will and the emotions, not only in theological discourse but also in the spiritual life.   Romanticism can be traced back to this way of thinking.

While I applaud Father Rohr’s attempt to join the great mystics of the Church, mysticism is a dangerous road that is potholed with vanities, serious errors and despair. One can barely penetrate a mere scintillia of God’s divine essence or wind up babbling to himself in an empty parking lot.

It has been my experience that one must put everything, including Catholic Orthodoxy to the Test of Reason. A search for God has to be as of the mind as it is of the heart. Reason and Faith (Ratio et Fides) are God’s inseparable dancing partners.

Rohr has failed that test because he leads too much with his heart and not enough with his reason, thus exposing the historic weakness of a Christian liberalism that tries to unilaterally dance around the permanent things with clever movements and esoteric lexicology.


1 Comment »

  1. You may be interested in reading: The Thomas Mass by Stephanie Block which you can easily find on the internet. It is about Fr. Richard Rohr and Jim Wallis of Sojourners – a VERY liberal org.

    Mary F.

    Comment by M Fritz — January 12, 2015 @ 4:30 pm

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About author

After graduating from Holy Cross, Bill Borst earned an MA in Asian History from St. John's University and a Ph.D in American History from St. Louis University. (1972) A former New Yorker, he taught for many years in the St. Louis area, while also hosting a weekly radio show on WGNU from 1984-2006. He currently is a regular substitute for conservative Phyllis Schlafly on KSIV radio. (1320) He is the author of two books on social history, "Liberalism: Fatal Consequences," and "The Scorpion and the Frog: A Natural Conspiracy." He just retired as the Features editor of the Mindszenty Foundation Monthly Report. In his 11 years from 2003-2013 he wrote nearly 130 essays on Catholic culture and world affairs. Many in St. Louis also know him as the "Baseball Professor," because of a course that he offered at Maryville College from 1973-74. It was arguably the first fully-accredited baseball history course in the Midwest.The author of several short books on the old St. Louis Browns, he started the St. Louis Browns Historical Society in 1984. In 2009 his first two plays were produced on the local stage. "The Last Memory of an Ol' Brownie Fan," ran six performances at the Sound Stage in Crestwood and "A Perfect Choice" ran for two performances at the Rigali Center Theater in Shrewsberry. His third play, "A Moment of Grace," ran six performances at DeSmet High School in January of 2011with First Run Theater in January of 2011. He is currently working on a 4th play, "A Family Way," which is a comedy about a happy dysfunctional family. He can reached at







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