This book is a brief discussion of the ethics of the Beatitudes as Rich Mullins introduced them to me. I wouldn’t blame you if you laughed to think of the Beatitudes as ethics in the rational sense of law and order. The order of the Beatitudes is the order of diminishment, of foolishness, of extremes, of passionate wild abandon to righteousness. No human government would dare enact laws like these. Yet they are able to produce profound shifts of internal attitude by allowing us each to see our human predicament through God’s eyes.
The Beatitudes Richard Mullins showed me went beyond a system of ethics; they were both a remedy to heal the broken soul and a blueprint to establish the Kingdom of Heaven on earth.
Richard and I became friends on our first day as freshmen at the Cincinnati Bible College in 1974. It is my intention here to write about Richard, not for him. I’ll never claim to be a perfect Christian, but it was because of my friendship with Richard that I fell in love with Jesus Christ. I would be surprised if readers found anything astonishingly new in this work. Richard loved to hear and tell the old story. My hope is simply to show readers Jesus as I saw him reflected in Richard’s eyes.
Richard had a restless energy, but an even larger and more expansive spirit. During many conversations through the years, I learned that Richard found the dichotomy between mind and spirit a fascinating puzzle--and sometimes a frustrating one. In the mid-seventies, his insistence on coming to terms with the body versus spirit dilemma set off a frenzied burst of reading outside his classroom assignments during the hours he worked at the payout booth of the parking garage, and well on into the night. Some claimed his insomnia was due to his habit of sleeping only on the carpeted concrete floor of his dorm room, and never in the comfort of his bed. The topic never came up and I never asked, so I still don't know whether this eccentric sleeping arrangement was an attempt to emulate his hero, St. Francis of Assisi.
But I had an opinion about his reading habits. I believed his constant reading was likely due to his highly active mind; and his effort to love God with all his mind, soul, heart and strength.