Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Peace in the Post Christian Era

A few years ago, I bought this book (Peace in the Post Christian Era by Thomas Merton) at a used book sale. I think I got it for a buck. I have only recently gotten around to reading it.

The first several pages of the book explain how the book came to be. It was censored by his order (the Trappists), but, in lieu of "publishing" it, he sent mimeographed copies to a lot of his friends, and other influential people.

The book is about the Christian response to Nuclear War. Written in 1962, there would have been a real, palpable fear of nuclear war, and the real possibility that nuclear war might actually happen, and happen soon (Merton alludes several times in the book to the war happening possibly within 5 years)

We can look back on it now as more of an academic, historical exercise, and not have to worry as much about the stark terror of a nuclear war that could literally wipe out every man, woman and child on earth.

That is not to say that there are still not nuclear dangers, and dangers of other kinds in our world.

One interesting comment on the back of the book comes from Father John Dear:

"Substitute war on terrorism: for "war on communism," and his insights continue to challenge our culture of war and ourselves"

What I wanted to do was put some of the comments from the book, without comment from me (I invite those who read this to take these quotes and possibly apply them to recent events - what if anything do they say to YOU? What if anything do they mean to YOU?). Every Christian has to decide for themselves whether these actually still apply to the United States of America and her condition in 2009:

"Christians therefore have the obligation to treat every other man as Christ himself, respecting his neighbor's life as if it were the life of Christ, his rights as if they were the rights of Christ. Even if the other shows himself to be unjust, wicked and odious to us, we cannot take upon ourselves a final and definitive judgment in his case. We still have an obligation to be patient, and tho seek his higher spiritual interests"
The Christian as Peacemaker (Chapter 4)

"The exceptional violence is now the norm of our thinking, while charity has become exotic"
The Legacy of Machiavelli (Chapter 6)

"Christianity, in a word, is everywhere yielding to the hegemony of naked power"
Religious Problems of the Cold War (Chapter 8)

"If we adopt a policy of hatred, of liquidation of those who oppose us, of unrestrained use of total war, of a spirit of fear and panic, of exaggerated propaganda, of unconditional surrender, of pure nationalism, we have already been overcome by the evil"
Working for Peace (Chapter 10)

"Not only non-Christians but even Christians themselves tend to dismiss the Gospel ethic on non-violence and love as "sentimental". As a matter of fact, the mere suggestion that Christ counseled nonviolent resistance to evil is enough to invite scathing ridicule."
Beyond East and West (Chapter 11)

"It must be admitted therefore that if the gospel of peace is no longer convincing on the lips of Christians, it may well be because they have ceased to give a living example of peace, unity and love."
Christian Perspectives in World Crisis (Chapter 15)

"But the fact remains that a warring and warlike Christendom has never been able to preach the Gospel of charity and peace with full conviction, or full success."
Christian Perspectives in World Crisis (Chapter 15)

"We have to become aware of the poisonous effect of the mass media that keep violence, cruelty and sadism constantly present to the minds of unformed and irresponsible people"
The Christian Choice (Chapter 17)

That's probably enough for one night. There are more great quotes in the book I want to share, some of them quite lengthy. You can either get the book, or check back in a few days. I might put some more quotes on here, but I'm tired of typing now.

No comments: