#ThomasMerton May 1, 1961

I have been reading “Turning towards the World”, volume 4 of Thomas Merton’s journals. I always get much out of reading Merton, especially his journals. There is something very human about it all – the minor concerns and the major discussions all in a private context.

I read the above, from the entry for 1 May 1961, yesterday and was struck by the last sentence. I am exhausted from talking. And, yes, I have build an image of myself as someone who has something to say. But mostly I am exhausted because I want to talk to people about real things and not the weather or the latest specials at the supermarket. There is so much noise in the world that likes to parade as conversation but is really just space-fillers. So rather than talk for the sake of talking, I am silent. Maybe I am just rude?!

rethink?!

I have not written in a while. No reason! But I thought a change is as good as a holiday so …

I have changed the name of the blog to my mostly anxiety driven life – or my MAD life.

I have also set up a podcast with the same name – go and follow. I think I have learned enough from the podcasts via WordPress that I can now graduate to some real hosting.

I have returned to reading Merton’s journals. They always seem to connect with me on a very basic level. They are human! Like with Kierkegaard, I wish I could have met him and had a cup of tea and a chat.

And I am sick – I have an infection that has required antibiotics. I am not a good patient.

But the biggest change is that we have gone back to the Anglican Church. We have been to the local parish for the last three weeks. It is a complete change from everything in our past but somehow it fits. The Vicar is extremely kind and loving – she remembered all our children’s names after one week! The people are “Anglican” – diverse but human. To contrast that the senior pastor at the megachurch we were attending ones got the name of a person who was dying wrong during the announcements.

Not sure if that helps anything or anyone.

cult of one

I have been rethinking the podcast (which has not been going super hot or at all). So I am rebranding it to Cult of one.

Also, I watched this video that gives a good introduction (I think) into what a modern idea of cults is:

Alone and wrestle

I have been thinking about Jacob wrestling with God. I have been struck by two things:

  1. Jacob is alone (24). He leaves behind family, position, and possession. He is alone with God, alone before God.
  2. Jacob is changed by the wrestle. The stranger touches him and changes him – physically (with his “thigh”) and spiritually (by giving him a new name). Jacob does not stand far off and reflect – he engages and physically struggles with God – sweat and pain! “The Strange” is not an object but a person.

I think the story is a great example of what it means to be a Christian in a modern context. SO …

I need to be alone before God, wrestle with God, and that will change me.

TM on SK

Pragmatism and positivism are therefore interested in the question how.  Traditional metaphysics, whether scholastic (realist) or idealist, is interested in the question what (the essence).  Existentialism wants to know who.  It is interested in the authentic use of freedom by the concrete personal subject.

The Other Side Of Despair, by Thomas Merton

I would like to “wrestle” a little more with this article but just wanted to get things started.

on being a pharisee

I follow Keith Giles on Twitter (btw: follow me!!) and he shared this article that he wrote: I Am A Self-Righteous Pharisee. I identify with so many elements of his initial story. I was called a pharisee along with a barrage of expletives.

The “logic” is simple enough:

  • you are a pharisee because you disagree with me or my agenda,
  • Jesus hates pharisees,
  • therefore I can hate you, or worse, “it is my religious duty to hate you”, and I can behave in an unChristian manner towards you.

I was struck by this paragraph that nicely summaries it:

Knowing the truth isn’t the same as doing it. Being a Christian isn’t only about what you believe, it’s actually more about what you do with the things you say you believe.

The followers of Jesus are called to love without holding back. This love is so radical that even enemies, those that hate us, are objects of love. Loving faith in Jesus is actualised in compassion and empathy. And, yes, I do that so poorly!!!!

I need to reflect more on it all.

compassion

 For people are willing enough to practice compassion and self-denial, willing enough to seek after wisdom etc., but they want to determine the criterion themselves, that it shall be to a certain degree. They do not wish to do away with all these glorious virtues; on the contrary, they want – at a cheap price – to have as comfortably as possible the appearance of and the reputation for practicing them. Therefore as soon as the true divine compassion appears in the world it is unconditionally the sacrifice. It comes out of compassion for people, and it is people who trample it down.

Practice in Christianity, 60 (Hong)

Compassion on my terms? Is that compassion or self-validation? Compassion is love in action – love for neighbour actualised.

I am dreading the Easter sermon farmed in legal terms – Jesus took the punishment for my sin. An angry God that needs to be satisfied – a holy distant God that is offended at my sin and fallenness so He sacrifices His own Son. Not the Loving Father who cries with me and feels my pain – who has compassion on my weakness and wants a relationship with me in His Son. A relationship that is truely human!

Anyway!