Posted by: Mark Nielsen | December 1, 2011

Richard Rohr Enters the Blogosphere Through Front Door

"A Man's Tacklebox for Initiation" - detail of mixed-media sculpture by Mark Nielsen, 2008 ... devotional art using materials from Rohr-hosted Men's Rites of Passage

I got notice this week that one of my mentors, Father Richard Rohr, OFM, has started a personal blog. It’s called Unpacking Paradoxes. I think he is also now tweeting and doing other kinds of outreach of a more immediate nature.

Big sigh of thanksgiving…

I’ve been hoping a long time now that he and the Center for Action and Contemplation people would more intentionally head in this direction. But in his commendable adherence to older traditions and patterns,  it apparently just took Richard awhile to agree to more directly give some of these new practices a try himself.

At age 68, Richard’s not as young or technically savvy as many of the high-tech “gurus” he’s been in conversation with the past few years. Nevertheless, he’s likely starting the blog partly because he can’t travel as much. From what I’ve heard recently he plans to settle down more in New Mexico starting soon — but still wants to spread the blessings around and keep these fruitful conversations going.

One fascinating thing I note among the commenters at his first blog post  is that — despite perceptions that blogs and tweets are a “young person’s” medium — many of the people who write him well-wishes say they also are in their 60s and 70s, and he’s now leading them to read and write in the blogosphere for the first time.

Good for you, gracious elders! Show us caffeinated hipsters how it’s done– how to balance a steady, calm pace with a quick, perceptive prayer and social life.

Here’s the note I wrote to Father Rohr, which I include mostly just because of the T.S. Eliot quote (Eliot’s a mutual favorite of his and mine):

As a 6+ year blogger and youngish Initiated Man, I’m so glad to see you (and your team) moving forward on this. You will be a natural at it, …though keeping up with the expanding community of commentors & responding (or not) will be challenging. It’s still a bit of a Wild West on the internet, so it’s good to have a gently challenging new sheriff circulating among us, teaching us how to treat each other, pointing out blessings and dangers in a more immediate way.
I thank God for this, and in so doing I hope I am thanking those who serve God’s unfolding plan. As usual, you model authenticity. You are thoughtfully, obediently, creatively, technically and experimentally pressing forward while still being rooted in the ancient and perfect wisdom of Yahweh. May your Beginner’s Mind serve you well, as your servant leadership (in pulling your many appreciators in this direction) blesses us more regularly, or at least differently than ever before. I fully expect the Naked Now to be more “now” than ever (online, or just in your own “reality”). You too will be blessed in this new venture. Watch for it.

You teach us about the Desert Fathers, but the deserts have expanded. As T.S. Eliot once wrote:

“The desert is not remote in southern tropics,\ The desert is not only around the corner, \ The desert is squeezed in the tube-train next to you, \ The desert is in the heart of your brother.”

And I for one will be gratefully quenching my thirst with your blog posts, and the reflections of the community that you have gathered.

In the Name,
Mark S. Nielsen, Chicago


Bonus Round

Blogger Carl Gregg posted the link below in a comment at Richard’s new blog. I’ve become curious about theologian Matthew Fox lately, and this article further fuels my curiosity about an inclusive theology that honors the gospel and Old Testament, but looks also at what some would call First Principles and/or scientific speculation. I also just found out a couple months ago that my pal Don M. in Evanston is an old classmate and friend of “Matt” Fox! So enjoy the blessing (or challenge) of these other voices as well:

(Carl Gregg, a Protestant contemplative/Progressive pastor, now in Maryland?)

The Old, Old Universe  (from one small man’s perspective)



  1. Mark, I’m a Rohr fan as well. Great post, and I really like your blog.

  2. […] Richard Rohr Enters the Blogosphere Through Front Door ( […]

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