Saturday, July 8, 2017

resisting error

Associated Press Photo, North Korea, 2017
"We are living under a tyranny of untruth which confirms itself in power and establishes a more and more total control over men in proportion as they convince themselves they are resisting error.

"Our submission to plausible and useful lies involves us in greater and more obvious contradictions, and to hide these from ourselves we need greater and ever less plausible lies.

"The basic falsehood is the lie that we are totally dedicated to the truth, and that we can remain dedicated to truth in a manner that is at the same time honest and exclusive: that we have the monopoly of all truth, just as our adversary of the moment has the monopoly of all error.

"We then convince ourselves that we cannot preserve our purity of vision and our inner sincerity if we enter into dialogue with the enemy, for he will corrupt us with his error. We believe, finally, that truth cannot be preserved except by the destruction of the enemy -- for, since we have identified him with error, to destroy him is to destroy error. The adversary, of course, has exactly the same thoughts about us and exactly the same basic policy by which he defends the "truth." He has identified us with dishonesty, insincerity, and untruth. He believes that, if we are destroyed, nothing will be left but the truth."

-- Thomas Merton, "Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander", p. 68

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Dorothy Day, feminist, pacifist

The transiency of the Church & The World

My photo from the dome of St. Peter's, 2014
If one is conservative, then the Kingdom of God on earth is the Church as a sociological entity, an established institution with a divine mandate to guide the destinies of culture, science, politics, etc., as well as religion.

If one is liberal or radical, then one admits that the progressives and revolutionaries of "the world" have unconsciously hit upon the right answers and are building the Kingdom of God where the Church has failed to do so. Hence, the Christian must throw in his lot with revolution -- and thus guarantee that Christianity will sruvive and rediscover itself in a transformed society.

Before we can properly estimate our place in the world, we have to get back to the fundamental Christian respect for the transiency of the world and the institutional structure of the Church.

True contempus mundi is rather a compassion for the transient world and a humility which refuses arrogantly to set up the Church as an "eternal" institution in the world. But if we despise the transient world of secularism in terms which suggest an ecclesiastical world that is not itself transient, there is no way to avoid disaster and absurdity.

--Thomas Merton, "Conjectures", p. 53

I can't read this without remembering Merton's last talk before he died, when he asked what happens when the institution collapses.


Apocalyptic times

Charlottesville VA, August 2017 "There is no need to insist that in a world where another Hitler is very possible the mere existenc...