Merton — a man of his times?

Discussion in 'Comparative Studies' started by Thomas, Jul 30, 2019.

  1. It is more what I experience, what I have said a few times now, that as I see it, we are "saved" more in spite of our choices/beliefs than because of them. That we are not entirely captains of our own ship.
     
  2. A transfer of Merton's words on the nature of Reality, from another thread. Relevant here:-

    This from "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.
     
  3. muhammad_isa

    muhammad_isa Active Member

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    Neither is it "to be purchased" by ignoring what is moral and what is not.
    Faith is not complete without both hope.in G-d's mercy, and fear in His wrath.

    Yin and yang :)
    A well-balanced person acknowledges the seriousness of sin, but does not despair of mercy due to their human weakness.
     

  4. It is not to be purchased at all. Free gift. Grace. Given, not earned. Realised, not attained. There are no conditions set. Genuine ethics, spontaneous, flow selflessly, from the realisation of Grace.

    The possible paths to such realisation, such a state of "being", are in my opinion, infinite.

    "
    They do Him wrong who know God is just one Way. They have the Way rather than God" (Meister Eckhart)




     
  5. Thomas

    Thomas Well-Known Member

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    Oh well, each to his own.

    This was certainly how the Council was perceived in certain quarters. The conservatives went to the barricades, the liberals went all out in the opposite direction.

    Any effective council will be conceived in terms of 'before and after', else it's just 'more of the same'.

    Well, that's patently not the case as the Magisterium still rules. But he is right in as much as there was a recall to the spirit and not the letter, and prior to Vatican II the church was very much a church of the latter.

    Yes, there will always be extremists.

    Oooh, that says a lot!
     
  6. Thomas

    Thomas Well-Known Member

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    I mean it as a criticism when the term is used as a subjective reference, almost entirely divorced from any ontological source or sustenance.

    Until the 17th century the term was synonymous with 'religion'. In the Eastern Orthodox traditions the two are interchangeable, where there is one there is the other, where one is absent there is neither.
     
  7. Thomas

    Thomas Well-Known Member

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    I'm sorry you see it that way, it wasn't intended to murder Merton or his reputation.
     
    Last edited: Aug 1, 2019
  8. Maybe I was over sensitive. I have received so much from him.

    No harm done

    :)
     
  9. I wasn't sure if you were relating it to what you said somewhere else, that religion today must needs relate more to this world.

    Whatever, I do not distinguish between "heavenly" and "earthly" joy. And "joy" - as I see it - is only a by-product of wisdom, true seeing and knowing. To seek it for itself (like happiness) is to miss it entirely, putting it out of reach.
     
  10. Thomas

    Thomas Well-Known Member

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    In that instance I was thinking of the shops selling spiritual baubles, dream-catchers, crystals, tarot cards ...

    Nor do I, in the sense that both are ecstatic states.
     
  11. muhammad_isa

    muhammad_isa Active Member

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    Of course not. That's why I put inverted commas around "to be purchased".
    How can mercy be bought? It can't .. I agree with you.

    However, can an evil-liver obtain mercy without repentance? I would say not.
    "Reality-as-is", as you are fond of saying, shows us that the consequences of our deeds are not always good.
    What happened to mercy there then?
    Painting "reality-as-is" as some sort of cotton-wool-world is dishonest, imo.

    Again .. yin and yang .. hot and cold .. good and bad .. heaven and hell.
     
  12. How can anyone with eyes and a heart see our world as a "cotton wool world"? But you are mixing apples and oranges. I am speaking of "salvation", it's source and of Who (or What) to thank.

    John Donne:- "Grace, if thou repent, thou shalt not lack; yet who shall give ye that grace to begin?"

    Seeing this, all judgement of others dries on the lips.

    EDIT:- also Unno, a Pure Land writer:- "it is a necessary step on the path that what we first understood as self power, was in fact the working of Other Power."
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 1, 2019
  13. muhammad_isa

    muhammad_isa Active Member

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    [quote='CobblersApprentice]But you are mixing apples and oranges. I am speaking of "salvation", it's source and of Who (or What) to thank..[/quote]

    We seem to be going round in circles :)

    No doubt. We can't attain salvation through our own works alone.
    ..yet neither can we attain salvation without our beliefs and acting upon them.
    .
    Atheists have beliefs as well :)
    We all do.
    eg. you believe that "your way" is superior to mine etc.
     
  14. I have in fact said that there are "infinite ways."

    (All this involves the endless conundrum of free will v determinism, pre-destination etc etc etc, never to be resolved. Thus Sutta 63 (or suffa....:)) of rejecting speculation as not conducive to the Holy Life)
     
  15. muhammad_isa

    muhammad_isa Active Member

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    @CobblersApprentice sorry
    I can no longer post here, atm
    My account is grinding to a halt. I have to load pages several times, and they often crash.
    Nevermind .. I think that I have already given my opinion in any case ;)
     
  16. I almost tapped the "like" button, then thought, "hey, muhammad might think I like his silence!"

    Thank you.
     
  17. muhammad_isa

    muhammad_isa Active Member

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    Of course..
    It's the devil's job to distract and divide us.
    The problem with the world today is that it's going out of balance due to love of wealth.
    ..and consequently so are humans .. mass-shootings, suicide bombers, climate-change etc. :(
     

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