Sunday, January 7, 2007

apocalyptic leap

I am still ruminating over the writings of Boris Pasternak, and what Merton saw in them. In time, I hope to be able to articulate this (in less than 200 words). I believe that this vision reflects the ground from which all of Merton’s writings on war and nonviolent resistance emanate, as well as being at the core of contemplative awareness. For now, here are words of Pasternak and Merton:

“The reign of numbers was at an end. The duty, imposed by armed force to live unanimously as a people, a whole nation, was abolished. Leaders and nations were relegated to the past. They were replaced by the doctrine of individuality and freedom. Individual human life became the life story of God and its contents filled the vast expanses of the universe.” (“Dr. Zhivago”, Boris Pasternak, p. 413)

“… if Pasternak is ever fully studied, he is just as likely to be regarded as a dangerous writer in the West as he is in the East. He is saying that political and social structures as we understand them are things of the past, and that the crisis through which we are now passing is nothing but the full and inescapable manifestation of their falsity. For twenty centuries we have called ourselves Christians, without even beginning to understand one tenth of the Gospel. We have been taking Caesar for God and God for Caesar. Now that “charity is growing cold” and we stand facing the smoky dawn of an apocalyptic era, Pasternak reminds us that there is only one source of truth, but that it is not sufficient to know the source is there – we must go and drink from it, as he has done.” (“The Pasternak Affair”, Thomas Merton, p. 67)

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