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This Friar is Changing the Way We Think of Faith

Meet Richard Rohr, a Franciscan friar who is changing the way we think of faith.

Earlier this year, The New Yorker did a profile on a 76-year-old Franciscan friar in Albuquerque. The piece is titled “Richard Rohr Reorders the Universe” — a striking though appropriate title as Rohr has certainly shifted the worldview of countless people who have been introduced to his work.

His latest book was named a New York Times bestseller. He’s held private retreats with Bono and Melinda Gates. His Jack Russell terrier is named Opie — as a nod to a personal friend of his, Oprah Winfrey. This modern-hermit, living out a vow of poverty, has had more brushes with fame than many would expect from a man devoted to a religious order.

This is all to say that people are paying attention to what Richard Rohr is saying — and finding enough truth in it to keep coming back for more. Not only that, but as he gains more followers, he continues to point them toward something that’s both present in ourselves and bigger than us. For him, it’s about leading people toward an understanding of religion that resonates with their own lives.

“They just don’t see a relevance,” Rohr states in the article, referring to the tendency of our generation to seek meaning in ways that don’t usually align with traditional religion. Rather than chalk it up to something wrong with millennials, Rohr recognizes the ways in which contemporary Christianity fails to fully engage with the modern world — while still affirming its core tenets.

He discusses the importance of topics such as mindfulness and contemplation, global social action, and radical inclusivity. The widespread and well-received responses he’s gotten speak to a deep spiritual hunger to see these elements applied to faith in a fresh way.

Rohr shares a transformative understanding of Christianity, and religion in general, that focuses on what binds and unites us all, rather than what separates us. His work has made religion relevant and real for many people, and through his holistic view of the universe and faith’s role in it, people are finding a spiritual message that speaks to them.

The full interview with Rohr in this feature article for The New Yorker is worth a read — we found it full of insight.

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