Hi again, relevant to all this are some words - quite a lot of words actually - once again from Thomas Merton in his book of essays, "Raids on the Unspeakable"...... ......the deeper question is the nature of reality itself. Inexorable consistency. Is reality the same as consistency? The "reality" of the world of many is of consistency, but the reality of the real world is not consistent. The world of consistency is the world of justice, but justice is not the final word. There is, above the consistent and logical world of justice, an inconsistent illogical world where nothing "hangs together," where justice no longer damns each to their own darkness. This inconsistent world is the realm of mercy. The world can only be "consistent" without God. His freedom will always threaten it with inconsistency - with unexpected gifts. A god who is fitted into our world scheme in order to make it serious and consistent is not God. Such a world is not to be taken seriously, such a god is not to be taken seriously. If such a god is "absent" then doubtless the absence is a blessing. To take him seriously is to submit to obsession, to doubt, to magic, and then to escape these, or try to escape them, by willfulness, by the determination to stake all on an arbitrary selection of "things to be taken seriously" because they "save," because they are "his affairs." (Note that even atheism takes seriously this god of consistency) But mercy breaks into the world of magic and justice and overturns its apparent consistency. Mercy is inconsistent. It is therefore comic. It liberates us from the tragic seriousness of the obsessive world which we have "made up" for ourselves by yielding to our obsessions. Only mercy can liberate us from the madness of our determination to be consistent - from the awful pattern of lusts, greeds, angers and hatreds which mix us up altogether like a mass of dough and thrusts us all together into the oven. Mercy cannot be contained in the web of obsessions. Nor is it something one determines to think about - that one resolves to "take seriously," in the sense of becoming obsessed with it. You cannot become obsessed with mercy! This is the inner secret of mercy. It is totally incompatible with obsession, with compulsion. It liberates from all the rigid and deterministic structures which magic strives to impose on reality (or which science, the child of magic, tries to impose) Mercy is not to be purchased by a set way of acting, by a formal determination to be consistent. Law is consistent. Grace is "inconsistent." The Cross is the sign of contradiction - destroying the seriousness of the Law, of the Empire, of the armies, of blood sacrifice, and of obsession. But the magicians keep turning the Cross to their own purpose. Yes, it is for them too a sign of contradiction: the awful blasphemy of the religious magician who makes the Cross contradict mercy. This of course is the ultimate temptation of Christianity. To say that Christ has locked all doors, has given one answer, settled everything and departed, leaving all life enclosed in the frightful consistency of a system outside of which there is seriousness and damnation, inside of which there is the intolerable flippancy of the saved - while nowhere is there any place left for the mystery of the freedom of divine mercy which alone is truly serious, and worthy of being taken seriously.