Reflecting on Thomas Merton and the World

Reflecting on Thomas Merton and the World
I posted the following Merton quote on my Facebook page today:

"What do we have to offer the world that the world doesn't already have too much of?"

And then I asked for responses. I want to share some responses with first names only.

From Barry: "Good god, that's a pretty high standard to ask of anyone. That's like telling an aspiring singer, 'If you can't do better than Sam Cooke, we don't need you.' Ok, it'll keep a lot of bad singers out of circulations, but it'll discourage a lot of good ones too.

My response to Barry: That's the beauty of the question, Barry. Yes, a singer would have a high standard but the bottom line for that singer is that she must sing because she is the only one who can sing HER song. Sam Cooke can only sing Sam Cooke's song.

From Jeremy: Hope

My response to Jeremy: Good answer! We never have too much hope in the world.

Barry responds again: "I guess I have a different understanding of the role of religion in one's life. The precise thing that I object to - that religion must necessarily concern itself with things that are transcendent and not 'of this world' or rare in this world - is structural and it no doubt says much more about me than religion."

My response to Barry: Barry, I tend to agree with you wholeheartedly that structured religion leaves a lot to be desirec. But I do think as spiritual people we have way more to offer than 'just' the transcendent.

From Elisa: Ya gotta love Thomas Merton! My response to that would be ME! And I don't mean that in a conceited way. If there is no one else like me, then I've got plenty to offer in ways that no one else can.

My response to Elisa: Elisa, I think you're at the core of what Merton meant. At least what I think he meant.

From Erin: Community. It heals all ills of the heart and the world.

My response to Erin: Community is one of the highest items on my list, Erin. Yes, we can create community in many ways but spiritual communities nurture the soul as well as the body. AND, churches and synagogues aren't always the best sources of community! Some are; some aren't.

What would you say? Does religion offer only the transcendent? What do you think of the suggestions offered so far: community, hope, individual uniqueness?

updated: 7 years ago