Richard Rohr Meditation: Protecting and Also Bridging Differences

humans need concrete and particular experiences to learn the ways of love. [1] We don’t learn to love through abstract philosophy or theology. That’s why Jesus came to show God in human form, revealing a face we could recognize and relate to.

..  it must begin with somehow seeing the divine (ultimate value) in the other. If we really see someone in their fullness, we cannot help but treat them with kindness and compassion.

.. The problem is that the ego likes to assign lesser and greater value based on differences. Until all people everywhere are treated with dignity and respect, we must continue calling attention to imbalances of privilege and power. Arbitrary, artificial hierarchies and discrimination are based on a variety of differences: for example,

  • gender,
  • sexuality,
  • class,
  • skin color,
  • education,
  • physical or mental ability,
  • attractiveness,
  • accent,
  • language,
  • religion,

and so on.

.. “Intersectionality” is a rather new concept for most of us to help explain how these attributes overlap. You can be privileged in some areas and not in others. A poor white man has more opportunities for advancement than a poor black man. [2] A transgender woman of color has an even higher risk of being assaulted than a white heterosexual woman. [3] Someone without a disability has an easier time finding a job than an equally qualified candidate who has a disability.

.. “admitting one’s privilege can be very difficult,” especially for those who consider themselves tolerant and prefer to not use labels, “calling themselves color-blind, for instance.”

.. When we finally recognize our unearned benefits—at the expense of others—we may feel ashamed and that may lead us to make excuses for ourselves or overly identify with a less privileged aspect of our identity (for example as Jewish or female).

.. We must work to dismantle systems of oppression while at the same time honoring our differences and celebrating our oneness!

This takes a great deal of spiritual maturity. Unity, in fact, is the reconciliation of differences, not the denial of them. 

Our differences must first be maintained—and then overcome by the power of love (exactly as in the three persons of the Trinity). We must distinguish and separate things before we can spiritually unite them, usually at cost to ourselves, especially if we are privileged (see Ephesians 2:14-16).

God is a mystery of relationship, and the truest relationship is love. Infinite Love preserves unique truths, protecting boundaries while simultaneously bridging them.

Cruella de Trump

It is a more sensitive matter for women because for centuries, they relied on their looks for economic security, and they continue to be judged more on physical traits and clothing choices.

.. When Trump called the House health care bill mean, he knows whereof he speaks. He’s the King of Mean. Pathetically, Trump mistakes cruelty for strength.

.. The 71-year-old president’s pathological inability to let go of slights; his strongman reflex to be the aggressor and bite back like a cornered animal, without regard for societal norms; his lack of self-awareness about the power he commands and the proportionality of his responses; his grotesque hunger for flattery and taste for Tony Soprano tactics;

his Pravda partnership with David Pecker, the head honcho at The National Enquirer, which has been giving Trump the Il Duce treatment while sliming his political opponents, the “Morning Joe” anchors and Megyn Kelly — these are all matters that should alarm men and women equally.

.. Trump is isolated in the White House, out of his milieu, unable to shape the story, forced to interact with people he doesn’t own.

.. Before he got to D.C., Trump was used to media that could be bought, sold and bartered with. He is not built for this hostile environment and it shows in his deteriorating psychological state.

.. Trump has always been obsessed with looks — his own, men’s and women’s. One of his favorite phrases is “Here’s the beauty of me.”

.. back in the ’90s Donald would hand out tubes of Rogaine to male executives and say the worst thing in the world is for a male executive to go bald.”

.. I gave Trump the benefit of the doubt after his comment on Megyn Kelly about “blood coming out of her wherever” when he claimed he meant her nose. But later, a longtime Trump associate told me that Trump had practiced that line before he said it on CNN and that it was meant to evoke an image of Kelly as hormonal.

.. you can never be sure of anything that comes out of this White House.

Except the cruelty.

Melania Trump on Her Rise, Her Family Secrets, and Her True Political Views: “Nobody Will Ever Know”

a shockingly Trump-like dad, and even some family secrets.

.. He in a tux; she in a $100,000 Dior dress that laborers’ hands had toiled upon for a legendary 550 hours, affixing 1,500 crystals—jewels fit for private citizens like them.

.. In this respect, she is just like her husband. She’s alluringly opaque. She makes meaningful eye contact and emphatically repeats affirmative, folksy banalities—she “has a thick skin,” she takes things “day by day,” she follows the news “from A to Z”—until the interviewer either is transported into a supra-verbal understanding or decides it’s pointless to press for specifics.

.. This image of a retiring homebody, of course, is not the one that Trump’s enemies present when they conjure her in the White House. Ahead of Utah’s primary, allies of Ted Cruz posted a photo from a shoot for a 2000 issue of British GQ in which a naked Melania is lying on her stomach on a white bearskin rug. “Meet Melania Trump. Your next First Lady,” read the ad, aimed at conservative Mormon voters. “Or, you could support Ted Cruz on Tuesday.”

 .. it was Laura Bush—a teacher who supported her husband’s turning from bottle to Bible—who seemed most suited to Middle America’s idea (or at least a man’s idea) of a First Lady.
.. Those who know Melania say the Jackie template isn’t a bad one for her to aspire to. “She’d be great at picking out the china patterns; she’d be a classic First Lady,”
.. Stern once asked Trump what he would do if Melania were in a terrible car accident, God forbid, and lost the use of her left arm, developed an oozing red splotch near her eye, and mangled her left foot. Would Donald stay with her?

“How do the breasts look?” Trump asked.

“The breasts are okay,” Stern replied. Then, yeah, of course Trump stays. “Because that’s important.”

.. “She’s smart for the things she’s interested in, like jewelry. She’s not stupid, she’s not a bimbo, but she’s not especially clever.”

The Beauty of Melania Trump

But Melania’s speech was distinct from the First Lady’s in a significant way. When she talked about her upbringing, she elevated the importance of beauty as a part of her personal narrative. It was one more way that she, and her husband, have used their position of power on the campaign trail to send a message that a woman’s worth can be measured by the way she looks.

.. It’s possible his campaign hopes Melania can help broaden that appeal. But it’s hard to see how the candidate’s wife herself would be all that relatable to women. A central part of Melania’s  life story as an aspirational narrative is the fact that her beauty has translated to success.