The Naked Now by Richard Rohr

Somewhat against my own tastes, I read about 30 pages of The Naked Now by Fr. Richard Rohr. I think I’ve read enough of it to know that it probably won’t do me any good. Which isn’t to say that it doesn’t do anyone good — it is basically Christian and contemplative, encouraging prayer and silence, after all. However, I can’t recommend this book. It seems to be one of those books that undermines its own existence by arguing against argumentation and distinguishing between dual and non-dual worldviews, then arriving on the side of non-duality. I think he would much rather people were off contemplating — pretty much anything, really, but especially God — but if they’re determined to read a book, it might as well be about how they’d much better be off contemplating. Also, he writes like this:

This brilliant word, nonduality (adcaita in Sanskrit), was used by many different traditions in the East to distinguish from total and perfect absorption and enmeshment. Facing some of the same challenges in modern-day ecology and quantum physics, they did not want to say that all things were metaphysically or physically identical, nor did they want to separate and disconnect everything. In effect, the contemplative mind in East or West withholds from labeling things or categorizing them too quickly, so it can see them in themselves, apart from the words or concepts that become their substitutes.

Humans tend to think that because they agree or disagree with the idea of a thing, they have realistically encountered the thing itself. Not at all true, says the contemplative…

I like to think that he’s hoping we’ll get so tired of reading it that we’ll go off and contemplate God, flowers, nondual quantum particles, or pretty much anything else that has actual substance and is not simply a haze of mystical generalizations.

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