Hell as Hatred – 8 quotes from Thomas Merton’s book – New Seeds of Contemplation

by Mark Votava

download (9)1. No one has anything in common with anybody else

“Hell is where no one has anything in common with anybody else except the fact that they all hate one another and cannot get away from one another and from themselves.”

2. Those who love one another

“And yet the world, with all its wars, is not yet hell. And history, however terrible, has another and a deeper meaning. For it is not the evil of history that is its significance and it is not by the evil of our time that our time can be understood. In the furnace of war and hatred, the City of those who love one another is drawn and fused together in the heroism of charity under suffering, while the city of those who hate everything is scattered and dispersed and its citizens are cast out in every direction, like sparks, smoke and flame.”

3. Every created essence

“…the infinite unselfishness of God is the law of every created essence and is printed in everything… If, in men, they find selfishness, then they hate, fear and resist it – until they are tamed and reduced to passivity by it.”

4. Essentially boring

“Evil is not a positive entity but the absence of a perfection that ought to be there. Sin as such is essentially boring because it is the lack of something that could appeal to our wills and our minds.”

5. People who hate everything

“What attracts men to evil acts is not the evil in them but the good that is there, seen under a false aspect and with a distorted perspective. The good seen from that angle is only the bait in a trap. When you reach out to take it, the trap is sprung and you are left with disgust, boredom – and hatred. Sinners are people who hate everything, because their world is necessarily full of betrayal, full of illusion, full of deception. And the greatest sinners are the most boring people in the world because they are the most bored and the ones who find life most tedious.”

6. Noise, excitement and violence

“When they try to cover the tedium of life by noise, excitement and violence – the inevitable fruits of a life devoted to the love of values that do not exist – they become something more than boring: they are scourges of the world and of society. And being scourged is not merely something dull or tedious.”

7. Hitler, Stalin and Napoleon

“Yet when it is all over and they are dead, the record of their sins in history becomes exceedingly uninteresting and is inflicted on school children as a penance which is all the more bitter because even an eight-year-old can readily see the uselessness of learning about people like Hitler, Stalin and Napoleon.”

8. To be free of one another

“…each one tries to thrust the others away from him with a huge, impotent hatred. And the reason why they want to be free of one another is not so much that they hate what they see in others, as that they know others hate what they see in them: and all recognize in one another what they detest in themselves, selfishness and impotence, agony, terror and despair.”

Do you think that we create hell for ourselves when we insist on embodying hatred in life?

My new book The Mystical Imagination: Seeing the Sacredness of All of Life (2015) is finally done! It is available on kindle and paperback!

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My first book The Communal Imagination: Finding a Way to Share Life Together (2014) is available on kindle and paperback also!

“Inside everyone there is a longing for community, to love and be loved. We are made in the image of a communal God. But in our hyper-mobile, individualistic, cluttered world… community is an endangered thing. And community is like working out – it takes work, sweat, discipline…  without that our muscles atrophy. Everybody wants to be fit, but not too many people want to do the work to get there. Mark’s book is sort of a workout manual, helping you rediscover your communal muscles and start building them up slowly. It is an invitation to live deep in a shallow world.”  Shane Claiborne, author and activist