Friday, March 13, 2009

the power of life

If "freedom" means purely and simply an uncontrolled power to make money in every possible way, regardless of consequences, then freedom becomes synonymous with ruthless, mindless and absolute exploitation...

The psychological root of it is doubtless in the profound dehumanization and alienation of modern Western man, who has gradually come to mistake the artificial value of inert objects and abstractions (goods, money, property) for the power of life itself, and who is willing to place immediate profit above everything else. Money is more important, more alive than life, including the lfe and happiness of his closest and most intimate companions. This he can always justify by a legalistic ethic or a casuistical formula of some sort, but his formulas themselves betray him and eventually lose even the meaning which has been arbitrarily forced upon them.

~Thomas Merton, re-excerpted & edited from an article that appeared in the Catholic World, December 2008; excerpted originally in the CW, June 1968


  1. How prescient! The materialism of Western society is depressing in an almost physical way/weigh. We are weighed down by all the crap we accumulate, by all the crap we use as markers for achievement. Alas, it is a de-spiritualized world out there. Maybe it always was.

  2. I think, like you, Barbara, that there has always been a de-spiritualized world out there. What really jumps out at me in this Merton quote is: "the power of life itself" ... as if we are always distracting ourselves with things, afraid to look at and recieve the gift of life itself that is always before us. Money is more alive than life for us!!

  3. Beth, I just found your blog and am really loving every minute. I've read "The Seven Storey Mountain" several times and am finally exploring the rest of Merton's works.

  4. Thanks for commenting, Brian. I'm not so regular about updating this blog nowadays, but I do add things when they come my way. It has been a real joy to build "louie-louie" and I'm glad that you like it. I never tire of Merton.



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