Saturday, February 23, 2008

choosing to love the world - 1

[Note: The next few entries are selected quotes that reflect Merton's world-engaging spirituality. Whereas an older school of monastic observance warned monks to abandon “the world” as decisively as one flees a sinking ship, Merton’s monastic life remained affiliated to the world he never left behind when he became a monk. Thanks to Jonathan Montaldo for directing me toward these quotes.]

That I should have been born in 1915, that I should be the contemporary of Auschwitz, Hiroshima, Viet Nam and the Watts riots, are things about which I was not first consulted. Yet they are also events in which, whether I like it or not, I am deeply and personally involved. The “world” is not just a physical space traversed by jet planes and full of people running in all directions. It is a complex of responsibilities and options made out of the love, the hates, the fears, the joys, the hopes, the greed, the cruelty, the kindness, the faith, the trust, the suspicion of all. In the last analysis, if there is war because nobody trusts anybody, this is in part because I myself am defensive, suspicious, untrusting, and intent on making other people conform themselves to my particular brand of death wish.

[Contemplation in a World of Action: 161]


  1. I see his point, yet I wonder how one can put such an attitude into practice in what is referred to as the "real world"? I sometimes feel like I would be happier as a kind of holy idiot, who would be able to maintain such an attitude.

  2. Interesting comment, marc. In the next few quote that I will post, Merton explores a bit more that idea of the "real world", suggesting that it is not something apart from who we are. Indeed, I think that IS the holy idiot who gets this.


The Merton Center

I don't know why it took me so long to get to The Merton Center in Louisville. I've been in and out of KY several times over the yea...