Our Supposed Christianity – 9 quotes from Thomas Merton’s book – Faith and Violence

by Mark Votava

download (12)1. The whole concept of nonviolence

“…the whole concept of nonviolence remains, as far as most Americans are concerned, on the level of pure myth.”

2. An inhuman way of life

“Man has gradually had the life of the spirit and the capacity for God crushed out of him by an inhuman way of life of which he is both the ‘product and slave.’ Instead of striving to change these conditions, and to build an order which man can gradually return to himself, regain his natural and supernatural health, and find room to grow and respond to God, we are rather busying ourselves with relatively insignificant details of ritual, organization, ecclesiastical bureaucracy, the niceties of law and ascetical psychology…”

3. Pay a great deal more attention

“It would seem that we ought to pay a great deal more attention than we do to the traditional spiritual and contemplative wisdoms which prescribe disciplines (in the deepest sense of ‘discipleships’) to help man transcend his empirical self and find his ‘true self’ in an emptiness that is completely ‘awake’ because completely free of useless reflection…”

4. Make real communication impossible

“…if we love our own ideology and our own opinion instead of loving our brother, we will seek only to glorify our ideas and our institutions and by that fact we will make real communication impossible.”

5. Our supposed Christianity

“It is certain that much in our supposed Christianity is in fact a deplorable cult of idols…”

6. We worship ourselves

“My thesis is now clear: in my opinion the root of our trouble is that our habits of thought and the drives that proceed from them are basically idolatrous and mythical. We are all the more inclined to idolatry because we imagine that we are of all generations the most enlightened, the most objective, the most scientific, the most progressive and the most humane. This, in fact, is an ‘image’ of ourselves – an image which is false and is also the object of a cult. We worship ourselves in this image…”

7. Evasion and complacency

“The mystic and spiritual man who in our day remain indifferent to the problems of their fellow men, who are not fully capable of facing those problems, will find themselves inevitably involved in the same ruin. They will suffer the same deceptions, be implicated in the same crimes. They will go down to ruin with the same blindness and the same insensitivity to the presence of evil. They will be deaf to the voice crying in the wilderness, for they will have listened to some other, more comforting voice, of their own making. This is the penalty of evasion and complacency.”

8. Impatience, willfulness, self-assertion and arrogance

“Impatience, willfulness, self-assertion and arrogance will not help us…”

9. To face one’s inner solitude

“Yet the ‘wilderness’ of man’s spirit is not yet totally hostile to all spiritual life. On the contrary, its silence is still a healing silence. He who tries to evade solitude and confrontation with the unknown God may eventually be destroyed in the meaningless chaotic atomized solitariness of mass society. But meanwhile it is still possible to face one’s inner solitude and to recover mysterious sources of hope and strength. This is still possible. But fewer and fewer men are aware of the possibility…”

Do you think our supposed Christianity has become a deplorable cult of idols?

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

“Our crowded, overly-consumed, hyper-active, digitally-addicted lifestyle is draining the life out of us. We are desperate to transcend the chaos and find a better way to live. We need a mystical imagination. Get ready to be transported into the depths of meaning as Votava breaks open the contemplative path and shows you how to live your life to the fullest.” Phileena Heuertz, author of Pilgrimage of a Soul: Contemplative Spirituality for the Active Life and founding partner, Gravity, a Center for Contemplative Activism

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