Today’s guest blog is written by Kim Shippey, an avid reader and devoted husband, father, and grandfather. He is a full-time writer and editor with the Christian Science Sentinel, a weekly print and online publication.
Apart from my daily prayer practice, which includes studying the Bible and Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy, no book I’ve read in recent weeks has given me a stronger sense of spiritual and physical well-being–of identity, belonging, direction, and purpose–than Richard Rohr’s Immortal Diamond: The Search for Our True Self (Jossey-Bass, 2013)
Spending time with this founding director of the Center for Action and Contemplation in Albuquerque, New Mexico, is a bit like–forgive me!– being invited by a new friend to settle in front of a Rohring fire and share stories.
Even after 40 years in the pulpit, working in many churches on many continents, Rohr doesn’t expect you to agree with all of his theological positions, but he welcomes you into the firelight–wherever you are on life’s journey, and whoever you are. With one gleaming statement after another, he captures your attention and excitedly shares his Bible-based insights, especially those on the search for one’s True Self:
- Your True Self is who you are, and always have been in God, and at its core, it is love itself (see I John 4:8).
- [Your] True Self cannot find or know God without bringing everybody else along for the same ride (see John 12:32).
Rohr sets out to explain in a way we cannot forget, how he views the selves that we are at our core. With that recognition, whatever we say or do will come from a good, deep, and spacious place.
He writes: “The True Self always has something good to say. The False Self babbles on, largely about itself.” He contrasts true “centering” with more common “ego centering.” He says that the healthy inner authority of the True Self can then be balanced by the more objective outer authority of Scripture and mature tradition.
The early Christian writers, he observes, made it clear that the discovery of our True Self is also at the same time a discovery of God. And he invites several more contemporary religion writers and poets to join us around the fire: among them, John Polkinghorne, Eckhart Tolle, Teilhard de Chardin, William Stafford, Meister Eckhart, and Thomas Merton.
Across 235 crisp, small pages, Rohr leaves us in no doubt that our true self can best be likened to a diamond buried under the intense pressure of our daily lives. We must search for it, separate it from the debris of ego that surrounds it, and, like Jesus, be resurrected–not just resuscitated, but transformed.
I’ve found that part of this transformation involves a readiness to renounce what is untrue about ourselves, as I’ve learned in my study of Christian Science. Consider, for example, this statement: “Self‐renunciation of all that constitutes a so-called material man, and the acknowledgment and achievement of his spiritual identity as the child of God, is Science that opens the very floodgates of heaven; whence good flows into every avenue of being, cleansing mortals of all uncleanness, destroying all suffering, and demonstrating the true image and likeness” (Mary Baker Eddy, Miscellaneous Writings 1883-1896, p. 184).
And this thought echoes meaningfully in Rohr’s own paraphrase of II Peter 1:3: “By his divine power, God has given us all the things we need for life and for true devotion that allow us to know God himself, who has called us by his own glory and goodness.”
Can you think of a better path to true health and happiness?