Monday, February 25, 2008

choosing to love the world - 3

The world as pure object is something that is not there. It is not a reality outside us for which we exist. It is not a firm and absolute objective structure which has to be accepted on its own inexorable terms. The world has in fact no terms of its own. It dictates no terms to [us]. We and our world interpenetrate. If anything, the world exists for us, and we exist for ourselves. It is only in assuming full responsibility for our world, for our lives and for ourselves that we can be said to live really for God.

[CWA, 169]


  1. What I find perplexing, is that well-intentioned, sensitive, wise, people can differ so drastically on what "taking responsibility for the world" means.

  2. Well, I don't come from a particularly large family, but there are enough of us that I'm pretty familiar with "differences". I think that my sister and I are inverses of each other, we are so different. But underneath those differences we do, indeed, love and are responsible for each other.

    But I do understand what you are saying. I just think that if we sat down with each other, we might have a lot more in common than superficial differences indicate.

    Is this idealistic? Naive?

  3. I find that people aren't very tolerant of other people's political positions, especially regarding war. I've enraged others, and have myself been enraged, when in an excahnge with a friend or fellow parishioner, one of us makes a remark about war (even reduced them to tears!) The most idealistic and well-intentioned people I know, who perceive themselves as dedicated to pacifism, social justice, etc. look down on the people who do not share their world view or politics(in my experience). Even fewer will seriously look at the other side of coin. In the biography of the Berrigan brothers' "Disarmed and Dangerous" the authors remark a number of times on the inability for the Berrigan's to acknowledge any shades of gray. This is what prevents any real discourse that would be beneficial.
    Yes we're probably both idealistic and naive. Some of that got stomped out of me in the "real world".

  4. Thanks for your comments, Marc. I suspect that John Dear would also fall into that category of being perceived as not being able to acknowledge shades of grey when speaking of war. Maybe even me, too.

    I like Merton's advise that only by acknowledging that we are ALL more or less wrong, will be ever be able to forgive ourselves and get below the apparent "differences" to common ground.

  5. Good advice - kind of reminds me of Robert Anton Wilson's - "if you think you know what is going on, you're probably full of s***"

  6. I always take a lesson from Flannery O'Connor's short story Revelation which ends with this dramatic image:
    "A visionary light settled in her eyes. She saw the streak as a vast swinging bridge extending upward from the earth through a field of living fire. Upon it a vast horde of souls were rumbling toward heaven. There were whole companies of white-treash, clean for the first time in their lives, and bands of black niggers in white robes, and battalions of freaks and lunatics shouting and clapping and leaping like frogs. And bringing up the end of the procession was a tribe of people whom she recognized at once as those who, like herself and Claud, had always had a little of everything and the God-given wit to use it right. She leaned forward to observe them closer. They were marching behind the others with great dignity, accountable as they had always been for good order and common sense and respectable behavior. They alone were on key. Yet she could see by their shocked and altered faces that even their virtues were being burned away.


The Stuff of Contemplation (Joan Chittister)

Thomas Merton, Trappist, died December 10, 1968 Thomas Merton entered the Abbey of Gethsemane in Bardstown, Kentucky, at the age of twenty-s...