Sunday, September 21, 2014

Richard Rodriguez on Identity and the Future

I am listening to Richard Rodriguez talk to Krista Tippett on the NPR show On Being.  What fascinating ideas.  He talks about ideas of separateness and identity and brownness as a metaphor for it all. 

We live in a threshold time, I think, where we're not quite sure where we're headed.  The mixing makes some people very nervous and some hopeful and some of us are both.

The interview is worth a listen (or a read--the transcript is available); go here for those options.  Here are some quotes to whet your appetite:

"I’m telling you — I’m telling you there are things going on religiously in America that our religious institutions are bewildered by, people who belong to more — more than one faith or Catholics who call themselves Zen Sufis. I mean, uh, it’s within the complexity of that, is the brownness that may envelop us. Now I warn you also that there are purifying movements in the world. Look at what’s going on in Iraq right now, where the nation divides over separations — ancient separations that we thought we had gotten over."

"It is in some places, there are deserts in Saudi Arabia that are as lunar as anything I expect to encounter in my life. This is a holy landscape. It is also a landscape that drives us crazy. Somehow the — in this landscape, we got the idea that there is a God who is as lonely for us as we are for Him. And there is in this landscape, also, a necessity for tribe. Not for — you do not live as an individual on the desert. You live in tribes. And that tribal allegiance, that tribal impulse, leads on the one hand, to great consolation, but also to the kind of havoc we are seeing now. "

"The three great ecologies of these religions are mountaintop. And finally, finally, and most profoundly, the cave. You have to acknowledge when you wander the desert, how bright and blinding is light. And how consoling is twilight and darkness. In these religions, oftentimes shade and darkness come as consolations, or gifts, so that Mohammed has his revelation in a cave, in the darkness. In Judaism, God puts Moses in the mouth of a cave so that he will not be blinded by the brightness of God. And in Christianity, the two most holy events of the — of Christ’s life, the birth of Christ, which happens in a cave, and the death of God — the death of Christ. And also the resurrection happened in a cave. We sometimes forget it because we are consumed by a kind of a Hellenistic dream of coming out of the cave with Plato, and into the sunlight, that we are people of dark."

"And she [Mother Theresa] — it was the most remarkable afternoon I’ve — I can remember, religiously. Uh, she was — there was a group of thugs and she was supposed to meet these guys from death row and they were all like schoolboys. And this tiny little woman, you know, four foot tall or something in her sari. And then listen to this. She tells them in that little tiny voice, she tells them, if you want to see the face of God, look at the prisoner standing next to you. These tattoos coming up over their necks, look at the man next to you. This man who has murdered and raped. That’s the face of God and I think, oh, I didn’t know that. I didn’t know. I’d been looking at the holy picture all this time when I should look more closely at the face of the sinner to find the face of God."

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