From Belief to Action

The following is an excerpt from a meditation by Richard Rohr. He quotes Dr. Sally McFague.

The fourfold process from belief to action contains the following steps.

Experiences of “voluntary poverty” to shock middle-class people out of the conventional model of self-fulfillment through possessions and prestige, and into a model of self-emptying, as a pathway for personal and planetary well-being. It can become a form of “wild space” [what I would call liminal space], a space where one is available for deep change from the conventional model of living to another one.

The focus of one’s attention to the needs of others, especially their most physical, basic needs, such as food. This attention changes one’s vision from seeing all others as objects for supporting one’s own ego to seeing them as subjects in their own right who deserve the basic necessities for flourishing. We see everything in the world as interdependent.

The gradual development of a “universal self,” as the line constituting one’s concern (compassion or empathy) moves from its narrow focus on the ego (and one’s nearest and dearest) to reach out further and further until there is no line left: even a caterpillar counts. This journey, rather than diminishing the self, increases its delight, but at the cost of one’s old, egoistic model.

The new model of the universal self operates at both the personal and public levels, for instance in the planetary house rules: (1) take only your share; (2) clean up after yourself; (3) keep the house in good repair for those who will use it after you.

Sallie McFague, Blessed Are the Consumers: Climate Change and the Practice of Restraint (Fortress Press: 2013), xii-xiv.

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