Friday, April 20, 2012

A Year With Thomas Merton - April 15

A Nation of Fetishes

The great sin, the source of all other sins, is idolatry. And never has it been greater, more prevalent, than now. It is almost completely unrecognized—precisely because it is so overwhelming, total. It takes in everything. There is nothing else left. Fetishism of power, machines, possessions, medicine, sports, clothes, etc., all kept going by greed for money and power. The Bomb is only one accidental aspect of the cult. Indeed, the Bomb is not the worst. We should be thankful for it as a sign, a revelation of what all the rest of our civilization points to: the self-immolation of man to his own greed and his own despair. And behind it all are the principalities and powers whom man serves in his idolatry. Christians are as deeply involved in this as everyone else.

This is clearly one of the most important and inescapable messages of the Bible: that
unless man turns from his idols to God, he will destroy himself, or rather this idolatry will prove itself to be his destruction. (The idolater is already self-destroyed.) The other thing: man as a whole will not change. He will destroy himself. The Bible sees no other end to the story. But Christ has come to save from this destruction all who seek to be saved. In and through them He will recreate the world. By no means are we to interpret this to mean that enlightened ethics and polite good intentions are going to make technological society safe for man, and that the new creation will be in fact the technological paradise (plus a renewed liturgy!).

April 17, 1965, V.230-31

1 comment:

  1. Psalm 115.4:

    Their idols are silver and gold,
    the work of human hands.