To Participate In Creation – 7 quotes from Thomas Merton’s book – Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander

by Mark Votava

thomasmerton1. Thank God that I am like other men

“This sense of liberation from an illusory difference was such a relief and such a joy to me that I almost laughed out loud. And I suppose my happiness could have taken form in the words: ‘Thank God, thank God that I am like other men, that I am only a man among others’…”

2. Finding ourselves

“If we are going to be personally free and productive human beings we need to recover some kind of interest in the possibility of attaining a relatively human and civilized condition, in which we ourselves can find ourselves and help others do the same. And that we might even be able to communicate something of what it means to attain these goals.”

3. No real access to the truth

“In the long run, no one can show another the error that is within him, unless the other is convinced that his critic first sees and loves the good that is within him. So while we are perfectly willing to tell our adversary he is wrong, we will never be able to do so effectively until we can ourselves appreciate where he is right. And we can never accept his judgment on our errors until he gives evidence that he really appreciates our own peculiar truth. Love, only love, love of our deluded fellow man as he actually is, in his delusion and in his sin: this alone can open the door to truth. As long as we do not have this love, as long as this love is not active and effective in our lives (for words and good wishes will never suffice) we have no real access to the truth…”

4. A failure of love

“Only he who loves can be sure that he is still in contact with the truth, which is in fact too absolute to be grasped by his mind. Hence, he who holds to the gospel truth is afraid that he may lose the truth by a failure of love, not by a failure of knowledge. In that case he is humble, and therefore he is wise…”

5. We are part of nature

“We are part of nature and our knowledge of nature is nothing if not knowledge of nature as known by us, who are parts of it.”

6. To participate in creation

“…to refrain from destruction is to participate in creation…”

7. Cooperation in violence

“The rush and pressure of modern life are a form, perhaps the most common form, of its innate violence. To allow oneself to be carried away by a multitude of conflicting concerns, to surrender to too many demands, to commit oneself to too many projects, to want to help everyone in everything is to succumb to violence. More than that, it is cooperation in violence…”

Do you participate in creation with your life?

Purchase Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander