Richard ROHR, Dancing Standing Still: Healing the World from a Place of Prayer, New York: Paulist Press, 2014. pp. 105.$14.95. ISBN 978-0-8091-4867-7.Reviewed by Patricia SHARBAUGH, St. Vincent College, Latrobe, PA 15650


          Richard Rohr’s book Dancing Standing Still: Healing the World from a Place of Prayer is a new edition of his earlier book A Lever and a Place to Stand. This book explores the integrative dance of action and contemplation as a great art form. Drawing upon the wisdom of the Greek philosopher Archimedes who writes, “Give me a lever and a place to stand and I will move the world,” Rohr describes the steadiness of spiritual practice, a life of contemplative prayer, as a fixed place to stand and then insists that Christians must use the stability provided by contemplative prayer to engage and transform the world. He writes, “God offers us quiet, contemplative eyes, but God also calls us to prophetic and critical involvement in the pain and sufferings of the world – both at the same time (7).” He points out that the vision of Francis of Assisi and Thomas Merton continues to impact people in the world because through their lives of contemplative prayer they were able to articulate a vision of the world that was critical of the consumer culture but also in love with the world. Their vision sprang from their practice of contemplative prayer and engagement in the world. Rohr argues that contemplative awareness is not the property of people in monasteries but is accessible to all. Furthermore, true contemplative awareness engages the world and crosses boundaries. A practice of contemplation that is open to engagement with the world is the necessary practice for the transformative power of the gospel.

Dancing Standing Still and No Peace without Prayer express similar messages. The world is full of discord, violence, and materialism and religions sometimes contribute to these problems instead of healing and transforming them. Both books express the hope that a steady practice of contemplative prayer will open the space for people to receive the experience of God’s love and through this experience be transformed to see and engage the world in a new and transformative way.