How a dead Trappist monk keeps dropping truth bombs on us today
Matt, I keep your writing of April 7, 2022 in my "Important" file and read it at least once a month - it often settles me down after reading the latest morning craziness. Thank you for introducing us to Thomas Merton and his honesty. I ordered Merton's daily meditations and cherish them. And thank you for your newsletters, whenever they appear in my Inbox, I know I'm going to read something important, sometimes hard and always delightful.
Having been raised neither a Catholic nor a Baptist, I wondered why Merton was a familiar name and then realized it was the NY and anitwar involvement back in the treacherous 60's. And the connection to Joan Baez.....your music choice was superb and flawless and I can't imagine not being a fan of someone who's music choice is so close to mine......there must be more that you and the former President have in common if you search...perhaps.
Again, grateful for the opportunity you give me to inform my brain of things unknown and the humility to acknowledge how much is left to learn and simple joy I get from the sublime music you choose to share and your dogeared books.
As always Matt, you are pithy, yet degenerate enough to keep it real, that’s what l love about your writing! Reminds me how I need to keep my focus on Prayer, people and place . So if you are interested ; here is a YouTube of some beautiful, spiritual Orthodox music for the Pascha ( Easter) Troparion, Christ Has Risen… https://youtu.be/KiZAIS4zw9I
So if you weren’t a fan of Obama, what president were you a fan of in the last 50 years or so?
Here’s something else that you might like https://www.wsj.com/articles/headwaters-book-review-dylan-tomine-fly-fishing-as-a-way-of-life-11649427689. BTW Merton certainly was a wise man; liked seeing some if his words again. He reminds me that the fashion of the day changes, but what makes us human, for good or for bad, doesn’t. Just a new wrapping.
Everyone has there personal strategy for coping with the issues identified in this wonderful piece. Many of these comments communicate some successful approaches. For me, I simply manage my information/communication diet very closely. I do not use twitter, facebook, etc. as I find more noise than signal in those channels. I also severely limit my intake of "opinion" outlets to those that do not appear to be rage pornographers. I rarely post comments, on-line, as most of these "communities" serve as outlets for the embittered and illogical. I see very little value added. I spend almost no time in the "virtual" world. I share this information in the spirit of one who has learned from each of you and Matt. I also want to assert that it is possible to find happiness, as some others of you have. Maybe, one of you might find something of value in what I have posted. Or not. I could be the biblical banging gong. I am happy either way.
Absolutely delightful! You send my heart and thoughts along interesting highways.
Thanks. That was a nice topical choice- worth the subscription.
Well, Matt, it's been a while since I've read Merton or seen his name mentioned. Not all that sure I'm happy to be reminded, since when reading this man's words, if paying attention, one sometimes finds a mirror projecting a withering reflection instead of a book in one's hands.
We're all indeed tainted by the same poison, and far too few ever take the antidote and swallow a sufficient dose of humility to stave off the majority of its effects for any appreciable amount of time. I've had a bolus or two forced down my throat over the years, and after the bitter taste dissipated, the effect was actually salutary, but short lived. Soon a mere fleeting glance in the mirror was all that was needed to once again confirm that I'm just so damned good because all those other people out there are just so damned bad. Righteousness is quite relative, don't ya' know.
Perhaps I'd do better if I remembered more often that what few virtues I do have are not important because they are my own. Because they are not my own. They are, in fact, my Maker's. (No, I'm not talkin' about Daddy's Medicine, though that has, on occasion, caused me to feel quite virtuous indeed.) I'm only borrowing them for a while. He no doubt has a few more he would lend me, if I weren't too proud to ask for the loan. Pretty low interest rate, too.
So, I guess I should say thanks for the reminder to do that. Got a couple of Merton's old books buried in a box, buried by other boxes somewhere in the basement. Perhaps it's time for a little housecleaning, as it were. If nothing else, seeing those lying around in the light of day might be a pretty good reminder as well.
Merton makes a very brief appearance as a character in a terrific scene in a terrific movie, “Quiz Show.” It’s a birthday celebration for Mark Van Doren, the Columbia professor who is the father of Charles Van Doren, the cheating 1050s quiz show star. If I remember correctly, Merton makes a derisive comment about the television that was presented to the professor as a birthday present. Matt’s noting that Merton hated television made me think of that scene. Anyway, if you all haven’t seen the movie, it is one of my favorites and is a wonderful time capsule. Paul Scofield delivers a devastating performance as a proud, then broken, father.
Well dammit, just lost my maundering commentary. . . long winded bullshit any way. Will get 7 st. mtn. Have avoided it as too dark. Dont ask.
Much reminded of Campbell/Moyers celebrating Merton and kicking around JCs funeral plan. Hawaii, maybe. JC made amusing reflection on his Catholicism. Parenthetically the Lester bio is well worth reading. Post mortem and debunks much of the BS. Mysogynist , sure. Sarah Lawrence for decades.
I worked at one Catholic bookstore for a few years, and then owned my own. The sixth volume of his diary was out of print for years, and that was the portion that included his affair with a nurse while recovering from an illness. About once a week, I’d get a jittery, sexually repressed Catholic or Episcopalian ask me to special order them a copy, and I’d have to tell them it was out of print. Always made me chuckle. You could tell who it was going to be when they walked in the store.
I can heartily agree that, as a general rule, the less I listen to what people have to say the more affection I have for them. Amen to that!
I really wish you would unlock this Matt.
You could use a dash of that humility, Matt, as could we all.
I'm a papist. Full-throated. I went, several years ago to a talk in DC on the mysticism of Thomas Merton. I decided, then and there, that I was a Thomist. Mysticism is beyond me. I suspect that that that's the difference between me and Matt. Anyone who finds solace and pleasure standing in a stream or pond contemplating nature and wishing a fish is a mystic. My father was the chief electrician in a series of factories in NH. He drank beer. I drink beer. After graduating from college with a BA in history, there was a recession (a long time ago). He arranged for me to work as a sweeper in the shoe shop (A great learning experience for the 'educated'.). I find solace in the hustle and bustle of watching working men work. I like the grime and grit. I could easily sit outside a microbrew drinking beer (Though I've been found with a Miller Light, I'm cultured. I drink the good stuff. It's pricey, too!) watching honest laborers toil. Angst does not beguile the working guy.