Possibly, one of the greatest westerns ever made was “The Outlaw Josie Wales, a classic and one of the classic lines in the movie was ‘Dyin’ ain’t much of a livin’ boy!”.
What really has to die according to Fr Richard Rohr is our false self created by our own mind, ego, and culture. It is a pretense, a bogus identity, a passing fad, a psychological construct that gets in the way of who we are and always were—in God.
Now, I’ve heard the old Dying to self monolog for many years and I’ve just assumed (there you go with that word, again) it was either my personal desires that had to go down to Sheol; or, it was my old nature that governed me prior to my conversion. The former of course, is a long process in the doing; and the latter, well, the once saved always saved paradigm pretty much answered that question. Problem being, we are all too aware of what you get in the “all-in-one” package, less substance than the individual parts are worth. As an example, the burger-fries-drink meal deals; you can buy the burger and fries themselves cheaper and drink water, which isn’t better but is certainly far more healthier. Not a great example, the whole healthier dogma is overrated, but the point is made. Better example, you go to your local gas station-and-everything else corner store, you buy the hotdog in the cellophane wrapper over at the cold section, drop it in the nuke, cook it, what do you get. A soggy bun and dog that will turn your tongue into an Aloe Vera commercial. You buy the dog on the hot rolling grill and the semi-fresh bun from the opened package on the shelf and you get – lunch without the blisters. Again, point made, the all in one paradigm just doesn’t cut it. When Paul said: “Each man must work out his own salvation with fear and trembling”, it’s hard to imagine he was also telling the folks that once your saved your good to go? Maybe that’s not what others are pushing either; it’s just that it sounds like another “value meal” advertisement.
Rohr may be on to something. St Francis of Assisi never really said the following: “Preach the gospel at all times and if necessary use words”, but the saying is attributed to him. A lot of folks struggle with this, especially those who preach because it seems to discount their place in the argument. However, St Francis did say this: “We are to go throughout the world, encouraging everyone, more by deed than by word”. he added: “The life lived is proof that the gospel has changed you”. Maybe for a life to change there must be some things that have to “Die Off”, the butterfly effect if you will. Maybe that’s this image that you’ve built up in what you present, where you work, you know, “how you roll”, the exterior stuff. Somewhere down deep inside where all your passions and dreams exist is a man that God created and God knows. How does that guy ever get out of the cocoon unless the caterpillar dies?
In the movie aforementioned, this famous line is spoken to a bounty hunter, and as the words proceed from Josie Wales, he realizes, yes, this is a bad pursuit and I should just leave and change my life. You know what happens, his pride gets the better of him and he comes back to face the famed outlaw; and, Wales shoots him dead. You could say Wales preached the gospel to him and the man just didn’t listen, so he had to use the words he new best. A life lived in pursuit of God, a passionate pursuit, completely reconciled to knowing Him in such a way that when one weeps the other tastes salt, only happens when foolish pride is put aside. Pride of course is usually spent on the things we feel we must cling to, those things that define us. Our deepest passions and dreams, our personality and talents, these are not our prideful things, it is simply that we are the bounty hunter and the image of “being that” is what we cling to – pridefully. So, when it is challenged, we must come back; like that bounty hunter in the movie, when he walks back in to face Wales, what does he say, “I had to come back”. Of course he did, his pride made him come back and look what happened to him. Like Josie Wales said, the mans pursuit just wasn’t much of a living, Ain’t it so.