Thomas Merton: Before We Can Become Gods We Must Be Men

Today I would like to share with you a quote from Thomas Merton, in which he laments the rise of a modern, technology-based society.  This quote is taken from Seasons of Celebration.

I totally feel him here.  I believe that we have lost an awful lot in making the choice, as a society at large, to place ourselves almost entirely at the mercy of technology.  Many of the technological advances which have made our lives significantly easier over the last few centuries have, I believe, had the unintended effect of making us less human.  When you can hop a plane and travel from one side of the country to the other in only a few hours, you lose touch with the reality of the tremendous distance between here and there.  When you have a large SUV with an excellent air-conditioning or heating system to take you wherever you want to go, you lose awareness of the world outside except as you can see it through your windshield.  Is this the way we were created to live?  Somehow I am not convinced of it.

Specifically, Merton laments the loss of awareness of the seasonal pattern of our world.  Humanity’s life no longer ebbs and flows in seasonal cycles; instead it is “a linear flight into nothingness”.

At any rate, here is Merton:

The modern pagan, the child of technology or the “mass man,” does not even enjoy the anguish of dualism or the comfort of myth. His anxieties are no longer born of eternal aspiration, though they are certainly rooted in a consciousness of death. “Mass man” is something more than fallen. He lives not only below the level of grace, but below the level of nature—below his own humanity. No longer in contact with the created world or with himself, out of touch with the reality of nature, he lives in the world of collective obsessions, the world of systems and fictions with which modern man has surrounded himself. In such a world, man’s life is no longer even a seasonal cycle. It’s a linear flight into nothingness, a flight from reality and from God, without purpose and without objective, except to keep moving, to keep from having to face reality….

To live in Christ we must first break away from this linear flight into nothingness and recover the rhythm and order of man’s real nature. Before we can become gods we must first be men. For man in Christ, the cycle of the seasons is something entirely new. It has become a cycle of salvation. The year is not just another year, it is the year of the Lord—a year in which the passage of time itself brings us not only the natural renewal of spring and the fruitfulness of an earthly summer, but also the spiritual and interior fruitfulness of grace. The life of the flesh which ebbs and flows like the seasons and tends always to its last decline is elevated and supplanted by a life of the spirit which knows no decrease, which always grows in those who live with Christ in the liturgical year. “For though the outward man is corrupted, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. . . . For we know if our earthly house of this habitation be dissolved that we have a building of God, a house not made with hands, eternal in heaven.” (II Cor. 4:16; 5:1)



Pat Robertson: Is Mac and Cheese a “Black Thing”?

Honestly, people.  I couldn’t make this stuff up even if I wanted to.

Pat Robertson is no stranger to the realm of “He didn’t just say that, did he?  Oh snap, he did”.  Earlier this year he famously opined that a man whose wife was suffering from Alzheimer’s should divorce her.  Well, he’s at it again.  His latest on-air bloviation came when he was interviewing Condolezza Rice.  During the course of the interview, he opined that macaroni and cheese is “a black thing”.

No further comment is necessary.

Closing Thoughts from Aloysius on the Year 2011 in Sports

Aloysius, our Executive Director of Sports Information here at Everyone's Entitled to Joe's Opinion, goes into hibernation during college football recruiting season.

Aloysius, our Executive Director of Sports Information here at Everyone’s Entitled to Joe’s Opinion, usually hibernates when the college football recruiting season starts up.  He is a little (make that a lot–Aloysius just glared at me threateningly) weirded out by the whole idea of grown adults obsessing over where some 18-year-old kid is going to spend the next four years of his life, and he prefers to just sleep through the whole thing.  If I didn’t have to work for a living, I’d be right there with him.  (Not that I’m complaining about having a job.  Especially in this economy.)  He usually comes out of hibernation when spring practice starts up.

Before he goes into hibernation, Aloysius would like to offer these thoughts on college football and the sporting world at large:

–I’m not sure who I hate more, Lane Kiffin or Jim Mora.  Lane Kiffin is an ignorant, loudmouthed doofus who thinks he’s a rock star and the whole college football world owes him a living just because his daddy can coach.  Jim Mora wanted the Washington job so bad, he mouthed off about it on talk radio while his Atlanta Falcons were in the middle of a playoff chase.  The Cons didn’t make it and he got fired.  Served him right.  So he went to the Seattle Seahawks and lasted all of about two years there.  Now he’s at UCLA.  Put it like this:  Both of them would taste really good right about now.

–Jerry Sandusky belongs in my tummy.  So does anyone up at Penn State who enabled him to do the things he did, or who supports those who enabled him.  What’s up with everybody up there speaking out in support of Joe Paterno?  Those people have their priorities all out of whack.  Just let me loose up there, and I’ll teach some people a lesson.

–LSU is going to beat Alabama next week, and it isn’t going to be close.  At least not as close as everyone thinks.  For starters, it’s in the Superdome, which is a home game for LSU.  Do you think Alabama has a chance there?  LSU is a very fast team.  Alabama relies very heavily on size and strength.  This game is on artificial turf, which favors speed.  LSU hasn’t lost on artificial turf since the 2005 SEC championship in the Georgia Dome, when they ran into a very fast Georgia team.  I don’t think they’re going to lose this time.  And if I’m wrong about this one, well, I’ll be in hibernation by the time the game rolls around so you’ll just have to deal.

–Mark Richt is totally living right.  He caught a huge break when the new SEC schedule came out for next year and featured Missouri instead of Alabama.  This means he has a team just as good as this year’s, with a schedule just as easy as this year’s, if not easier.  Of course I expect the SEC to compensate in 2013 by scheduling Georgia in road games at LSU, Alabama, and the Green Bay Packers.

–Speaking of Georgia, they have issues this year and possibly next.  Apart from their special teams, which were atrocious and cost them at least two games this season, they have an even bigger issue:  Are they really that good?  Not that anyone thinks they aren’t any good; it’s just that–we just don’t know.  And that’s why the Michigan State loss hurts so badly:  win that one and you remove all doubt.  All they had to do was hold on to a 16 point lead or make a field goal in overtime.  But they didn’t, and all doubts remain fully intact.  And with no Alabama, LSU, or Boise State on the schedule next year, it is entirely possible for Georgia to win the SEC East and us still have no earthly idea how good they really are.

–Georgia Tech has issues too.  For them, the issue is talent–or the lack thereof.  Chan Gailey couldn’t coach worth a lick, but he sure could recruit.  With Paul Johnson they have the opposite problem.  He can coach, but he can’t–and doesn’t–recruit.  If they’re ever going to get any better, they need to get some better players into their program.  But I’m not too much concerned about this; the whole recruiting thing weirds me out.  Wake me up when spring practice starts up.

–And what’s this I hear about Harvey Updyke (the suspected Auburn tree poisoner) selling T-shirts on Facebook?  Seriously?  SERIOUSLY???  This idiot TOTALLY belongs in my tummy.  That’s all I’ve got to say.

Why Are You Coming to Passion 2012? (UPDATED With Photos)

I see that a lot of you have come through here wanting to know who the community group leaders are going to be at Passion 2012, so let me deal with that up front.  I know exactly the same as you about this, which is absolutely zilch.

Now then.  Allow me to ask a question.

Why have you come to Passion 2012?

Evangelicalism is notorious for putting all its stock in big events.  As a result, many of us are all about the next big thing.  They go from event to event, conference to conference, looking for the next big spiritual fix.  Some of you may fall into that category.

Some of you are not looking for a big spiritual sugar rush.  But you are seeking something from God nonetheless.  You are hoping that God will meet you here in a new and fresh way.  You are seeking vision and direction from God for your life.  You are desperately in need of a touch from God to strengthen you for whatever challenges you face in your life.  Whatever the case may be, the bottom line is that you are here out of a place of emptiness and yearning for God to fill you up, hungry and needing to be fed, and hoping and praying that that will happen in the next few days.

I know all about that because I’ve been there.  I have been to several of these things over the years where I have been hoping and praying that God would rock my world with a call and vision for ministry or missions.  So many students have gone through Passion over the years and had their lives turned upside down with a fresh vision of what God wants to do through their lives.  They have felt a call to missions so strong that they were unable to resist, try as they might.  I had hoped and prayed that that would happen to me at one of these things.

Sometimes I have come to these things empty and broken, worn out and beaten down from the struggles I faced, crushed by the doubts that I carry with me on this journey through life, desperately yearning for a touch from God to transform and renew me.  Just to hear from God and know that He is there and that He is with me.  Or even just to hear from God at all.

That is not where I am now.

Of course I am always in need.  There is not a single moment in life when I am not in need of the Father’s grace, the Son’s advocacy, and the Spirit’s refreshing.  The same goes for you, whether you are willing to admit it or not.  The next few days are an excellent place for you to receive all these things and more.  Open wide your mouth; it will be filled.

There are plenty of opportunities out there for a Christian to engage in advancing the cause of Christ in this world.  The Do Something Now campaign will be highlighting the issue of human trafficking, one of the greatest crises of our generation.  You will have ample opportunity to learn and to engage, to be part of the remedy for this grievous evil.

There will be plenty of fine teaching to help you move forward in your Christian life.  There will be plenty of top-notch worship music that will give you glimpses of God’s presence.  You will learn.  You will be refreshed.  You will be challenged.  You will experience glimpses and snatches of God’s presence.  You may even have your life turned upside down as a result of what God shows you during these days.  Passion is all about providing space for these things to happen, but none of these things is the point.

I want to be done with coming to Passion empty and hoping that God would fill me up or lay a fresh vision of what He wants me to do in life.  I want to be in a place where I am empty of ideas and desires for what I hope to get out of Passion.  I want to come without motive or agenda, and just lay myself open before God in these days.  I want to find space and solitude, a quiet place just to be before God.  This will be a challenge; the music will be loud and the crowds will be large and the pace will be hectic–but it can be done.

I want to just be here, before God, in these coming days.  Nothing more.  Nothing else.

How about you?