"The central doctrine of Christianity, then, is not that God is a bastard. It is, in the words of the late Dominican theologian Herbert McCabe, that if you don’t love you’re dead, and if you do, they’ll kill you."--Terry Eagleton

"...doesn't philosophy amount to the sum of all thinkable and unthinkable errors, ceaselessly repeated?"--Jean-Luc Marion

“The opposite of poverty is not wealth; the opposite of poverty is justice."--Bryan Stevenson

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

December 10: Thomas Merton

The sermon I gave [at the conference on monasticism on the morning after Merton's death) was a moment of talking about Merton's search for God. When a monk enters a monastery, what is asked of him is "Are you truly seeking God?" The question isn't "Have you found God?" The question is "Is he seeking God? Is his motivation highly involved in that search of who and what God is in relation-ship to us?" It's not philosophical-it's existential. And Merton, to me, was a great searcher. He was constantly unhappy, as all great searchers are. He was constantly ill at ease, he was constantly restless, as all searchers are-because that's part of the search. And in that sense he was the perfect monk. Contemplation isn't satisfaction-it's search.

Rembert Weakland, from Merton: By Those Who Knew Him Best, Paul Wilkes, ed. Harper & Row, 1984.

I visited Abbey Gethsemani once.  It seemed a remarkably peaceful place, a fine place for searching and dissatisfaction.  I used to think of staying there, in an alternate life.  My dissatisfaction, it turns out, is not based in contemplation.  I admire those people for whom it is, just as I admire it in people for whom ministry is a true possibility and profession.


Blogger The Thought Criminal said...

I used to be totally convinced that mysticism was the thing, looking for an experience. I don't know exactly what it was that convinced me that it was far from adequate, I think, oddly reading about the "scandal" as it was presented that in her diary Mother Teresa talked about her long years of spiritual emptiness - atheists rejoiced that she hadn't found what wasn't there - I was more impressed with how she kept doing what she was doing even as she expressed such doubts. I'm not sold on the Mother Teresa of myth, as created by Malcolm Muggeridge, that pudding head. I'm more impressed with the woman who washed dying street peoples' rotting bodies and giving them food. For all her faults, I don't remember anyone talking about Christopher Hitchens doing anything like that.

3:03 PM  

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