Posted by: DCox | March 2, 2009

A Taste for Higher Things

“The deepest moral issue is always what we, in our heart of hearts, believe about God. And nothing reveals this belief as clearly as what we do with our desire.” [John Eldredge] If we don’t really believe that God is good, and that the deepest, true, desires of our heart are good, then our religion will require that we suppress our desires to be the kind of man or woman we think God is demanding us to be.

sailingRichard Rohr, in Adam’s Return, talks about the need to integrate love, beauty, and pleasure into a man’s life.

“In short, if religion does not integrate and validate the sensual, pleasure-loving, erotic part of a man, it takes devious and destructive directions. If you do not bless it and bow to it, it turns on you and controls you. If you bless it, it also shows its limited value and longs for something higher. The most loving men I have met, the most generous to society and to life, are usually men who also have a lusty sense of life, beauty, pleasure, and sex – but they have very realistic expectations of them. The smaller pleasures have become a stairway and an invitation to higher ones, almost by revealing simultaneously their wonderful and yet limited character. They offer a first taste but then create a taste for something more and something higher. This is the necessary training of the lover archetype…

The man who took me recently to a four-star restaurant with his elegant wife, while speaking excitedly of the food making love to him, is the same man who talks passionately about refugees, injustice, and Third World issues, and he has passed these passionate concerns on to his children.

Rohr paints a picture of a man that engages in the pleasures of life, yet isn’t controlled by them because he understands their limits and how they call him to greater things, eternal things. He’s freed from the extremes of legalistic obedience or hedonistic abandon.

By being alive to our passions, we are alive to God and alive to loving others well. God calls us to walk with Him in our joy and our suffering.


  1. Richard would also say that not only do we need to pay attention to our desires, but also to our darkside. The Examen is one way of constantly being in discernment of the spirits that are present in our life. There is a balance, our passions are guides towards god’s desire, but if not held in discernment they can control and become part of our darkside.

  2. However, I think that the deepest and truest desires are placed there by God. We settle for the lesser (and darker) in part because we don’t know how to be present to the intensity of our desires – they can be frightening.


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