A God of Allowing

One of the books I’m currently reading is Richard Rohr’s Immortal Diamond: The Search for Our True Self (although, given various distractions, he’ll have his next book out before I’m finished reading this one).

In his book, Rohr calls God “the Great Allower.” God allows us to make mistakes and God allows acts of great evil to take place. And this is not something anyone likes. Rohr writes

God’s total allowing of everything has in fact become humanity’s major complaint. Conservatives so want God to smite sinners that they find every natural disaster to be a proof of just that, and then they invent some of their own smiting besides. Liberals reject God because God allows holocausts and tortures and does not fit inside their seeming logic.

Rohr goes on to suggests that if we were being honest, we would admit that “God is both a scandal and a supreme disappointment to most of us.” Despite our professed love and desire for autonomy, “we would prefer a God of domination and control to a God of allowing.”

This was something I struggled with in the first weeks of my prayer when I did the Spiritual Exercises of St. ignatius. I couldn’t see why God couldn’t just “force” me into doing the right thing, rather than risking that I would blow it. It took me quite some time to accept that allowing us our freedom was a great gift.

Rohr speaks of “allowing the Great Allower to allow us, even at our worst.” If we do, he suggests, we learn, as I did during the Exericises, “to share in the divine freedom” and to “forgive God for being too generous.”

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