Subscribing To What Other People Think – 6 quotes from Thomas Merton’s writings – The Hidden Ground of Love: Letters on Religious Experience and Social Concerns
by Mark Votava
1. Criminally irresponsible
“…the war economy of the United States at the present moment is in itself criminally irresponsible.”
2. Subscribing to what other people think
“What you say about the fact that you (and all of us) are unbelieving and that it is God in you who believes, is quite true. We do not realize how little faith we have, and the more people talk about ‘my’ faith, the more I wonder if they have it. It can easily be simply a matter of subscribing to what other people, like oneself, think is proper to believe. But as to you being a heretic, I suppose in some theoretic sense you may be so to one on my side of the fence, but personally I have long since given up attaching importance to that sort of thing, because I have no idea what you may be in the eyes of God, and that is what counts. I do think, though, that you and I are one in Christ, and hence the presence of some material heresy (according to my side of the fence) does not make that much difference. Certainly truth is important but there are all sorts of circumstances one must consider, and as far as I am concerned you are what you should be, and what you can be, and thank God for it…”
3. Our acceptance of vulnerability
“The violent man is, by our standards, weak and sick. Though to us at times he is powerful and menacing in an extreme degree. In our acceptance of vulnerability, however, we play on his guilt. There is no finer torment. This is one of the enormous problems of the time, and the place. It is the overwhelming problem of America: all this guilt and nothing to do about it except finally to explode and blow it all out in hatreds, race hatreds, political hatreds, war hatreds…”
4. A peaceful world
“The real job is to lay the groundwork for a deep change of heart on the part of the whole nation so that one day it can really go through the metanoia we need for a peaceful world.”
5. An almost infinite tolerance and compassion
“I think what I need to learn is an almost infinite tolerance and compassion… I am beginning to think that in our time we will correct almost nothing, and get almost nowhere: but if we can just prepare a compassionate and receptive soil for the future, we will have done a great work. I feel at least that this is the turn my own life ought to take.”
6. Free from the domination of causes
“The great thing after all is to live, not to pour out your life in the service of a myth: and we turn the best things into myths. If you can get free from the domination of causes and just serve Christ’s truth, you will be able to do more and will be less crushed by the inevitable disappointments. Because I see nothing whatever in sight but much disappointment, frustration, and confusion…”
Do you often subscribe to what other people think and rarely stand on your own voice and experience?
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