Monday, April 23, 2012

A Year With Thomas Merton - April 16

Death in the Newspapers

There is so much death in the newspapers that no one dies in them anymore and no one lives in them.  There are neither lives nor deaths in our press, only a stream of words passing over the living and the dead without ever touching them.

In the monastery, or at any rate in choir, I have been forgetting how to think--and only in the past few days have I woken up to the fact that this is very dangerous!  I mean the constant, habitual passivity we get into.  No matter how honest the surroundings and how clean the doctrine believed in them, no man can afford to be passive and to restrict his thinking to a new rehearsal, in his own mind, of what is being repeated all around him.

But we are not as honest as we think, and our doctrine is not as pure as we hope it is.  I least of all can afford to be passive in this place.

One must constantly be asking himself--"What do I mean by this?  Am I saying what I mean?  Have I understood what this implies?  Have I some notion of the consequences of what I am saying?"  I am particularly bad on the last question because usually I think on paper, that is, I often do not really know what I think until it is set out before me in black and white: then I can agree or disagree.

April 30 and May 2, 1958, III.198-99

1 comment:

  1. Three things:

    1) If he was feeling information overload in 1958, I can only imagine (and perhaps shudder with him) his horror at Facebook, Twitter, 24-hour news stations;

    2) It is good to self-examine. I do wonder, though, if Fr. Merton doesn't tend to scrupulosity at times.

    3) I agree with him about not knowing what I think until I put it down on paper!