Sunday, February 24, 2008

choosing to love the world - 2

If I had no choice about the age in which I was to live, I nevertheless have a choice about the attitude I take and about the way and the extent of my participation in [my age’s] living ongoing events. To choose the world is not then merely a pious admission that the world is acceptable because it comes from the hand of God. It is first of all an acceptance of a task and a vocation in the world, in history and in time. In my time, which is the present. To choose the world is to choose to do the work I am capable of doing, in collaboration with my brother and sister, to make the world better, more free, more just, more livable, more human. And it has now become transparently obvious that mere automatic “rejection of the world” and “contempt for the world” is in fact not a choice but an evasion of choice. The person, who pretends that he can turn his back on Auschwitz or Viet Nam and acts as if they were not there, is simply bluffing.

(Contemplation in a World of Action: pp. 164-165)


  1. By "bluffing" I guess he means pulling the wool over one's own eyes - or does he mean bluffing in the game of life?

    I posted something recently from a book - related to the russians back in the forties but I thought of now:

    WE are living in a time when half the world is plunged in the bellicose element and the normal
    life of mankind has imbibed war as its natural component, which like a fluid has filled it to its farthest boundaries, penetrating everywhere, bringing its hydraulic pressure on every member of the human community...

    A bit hyperboleic but - i think there is truth to the idea that the influence of wartime takes its toll on us....a liked the metaphor of hydraulic pressure....

    But what are we to do?

  2. I think that he means pretending that things are other than what they really are, Marc - hiding behind delusion.

    My sense is that war has been part of human consciousness and history for a long time (perhaps always), but it is now at a critical stage because of the magnitude of the weaponry ... like you say, there's some kind of building pressure that affects each of us and all of us, and things are getting very confusing.

    This is our time, and we are definitely called to respond in some kind of way. It feels like "wake up" time to me. Now or never.

    I'm not sure that we ever know exactly (or specifically) what we are supposed to do - but I do think that it is demanded that we *do* (or *respond*) - if that makes any sense. And I think that response must in some way involve saying NO to war in no uncertain terms. Just how long can we go on calling ourselves Christian while totally ignoring the central message of Jesus to LOVE YOUR ENEMIES?

    The days of salvation consisting of following certain rules and regimens are over.

    These days certainly feel more like "end times" to me than the days felt during my childhood or early adulthood, and I don't think it has to do with my getting older.

  3. Yes, that makes sense. Can I send you a .pdf of my magazine? As yet, not decided what to do with it, but I think you would appreciate aspects of some of the writing.

  4. Glad you are back in the swing of things again, Beth. I am benefitting from these readings. I do appreciate his realistically embedding this Christian vocation in our quotidian lives. Too often we are made to feel so helpless against the enormity of evil. The answer is not to avoid the evil, but to pitch and do good.

  5. thanks, Barbara. I'm sort of back in the swing of things, I guess.

    That's why I like these readings, Merton shows that we do not have to fight or flee the world, but rather we can accept it is and as our own.

    There is a wonderful Merton quote in the Kathleen Diegnan Book of Hours:

    "It becomes very important to remember that the quality of one's night depends on the thoughts of the day. Still, the quality of one's nights depends on the sanity of the day. I bring there the sins of the day into the lght and darkness of truth to be adored without disguises - then I want to fly back to the disguises."

    To choose to love the world, sins and all ... that's rather radical, in my opinion, yet it is what we do with each other.



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