Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Diabolical Faith (Thomas Merton)

This year I've been reading a lot of Merton. Many of the meditations in this collection have faith, and the life of faith, as subjects. One of the biggest benefits to immersing yourself in Merton is a deeper understanding of faith: both what it is and what it is not. This is huge, because faith must be a subject of profound interest to any seeker of the one true God. As the scriptures tell us:

And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. Hebrews 11:6 (ESV)

In an essay titled "The Theology of the Devil" Merton describes a counterfeit version of faith that ends up drawing us away from God. See if you recognize it.

The theology of the devil is really not theology but magic. "Faith" in this theology is really not the acceptance of a God Who reveals Himself as mercy. It is a psychological, subjective "force" which applies a kind of violence to reality in order to change it according to one's own whims. Faith is a kind of supereffective wishing: a mastery that comes from a special, mysteriously dynamic will power that is generated by "profound convictions." By virtue of this wonderful energy one can exert a persuasive force even on God Himself and bend His will to one's own will. By this astounding new dynamic soul force of faith (which any quack can develop in you for an appropriate remuneration) you can turn God into a means to your own ends. We become civilized medicine men, and God becomes our servant. Though He is terrible in His own right, He respects our sorcery, He allows Himself to be tamed by it. He will appreciate our dynamism, and will reward it with success in everything we attempt. We will become popular because we have "faith." We will be rich because we have "faith." All our national enemies will come and lay down their arms at our feet because we have "faith." Business will boom all over the world, and we will be able to make money out of everything and everyone under the sun because of the charmed life we lead. We have faith.
But there is a subtle dialectic in all this, too.
We hear that faith does everything. So we close our eyes and strain a bit, to generate some "soul force." We believe. We believe.
Nothing happens.
We close our eyes again, and generate some more soul force. The devil likes us to generate soul force. He helps us to generate plenty of it. We are just gushing with soul force.
But nothing happens.
So we go on with this until we become disgusted with the whole business. We get tired of "generating soul force." We get tired of this "faith" that does not do anything to change reality. It does not take away our anxieties, our conflicts, it leaves us a prey to uncertainty. It does not lift all responsibilities off our shoulders. Its magic is not so effective after all. It does not thoroughly convince us that God is satisfied with us, or even that we are satisfied with ourselves (though in this, it is true, some people's faith is often quite effective).
Having become disgusted with faith, and therefore with God, we are now ready for the Totalitarian Mass Movement that will pick us up on the rebound and make us happy with war, with the persecution of "inferior races" or of enemy classes, or generally speaking, with actively punishing someone who is different from ourselves. . .



 

Monday, August 15, 2016

Plain talk from Dallas Willard


Here's another foundational statement from Renovation of the Heart:

We must clearly understand that there is a rigorous consistency in the human self and its actions. This is one of the things we are most inclined to deceive ourselves about. If I do evil, I am the kind of person who does evil; if I do good, I am the kind of person who does good (1 John 3:7-10). Actions are not impositions on who we are, but are expressions of who we are. They come out of our heart and the inner realities it supervises and interacts with.

Today one of the most common rationalizations of sin or folly is, "Oh, I just blew it." While there is some point to such a remark, it is not the one those who use it hope for. It does not exonerate them. While it may be true that there are other circumstances in which I would not have done the foolish or sinful thing I did, and while what I did may not represent me fully, "blowing it" does represent me fully. I am the kind of person who "blows it." "Blowing it" shows who I am as a person. I am, through and through, in my deepest self, the kind of person who "blows it"—hardly a lovely and promising thing to be.

Whatever my action is comes out of my whole person...

There you go again, Dallas Willard. Not sugar-coating it. Not letting us off the hook. Good intentions are not enough. The will is not strong enough. Because I am sinful, I sin. A bad tree produces bad fruit. But the good news is that my intentions and will—indeed my heart— can be aligned with God and his kingdom (which Willard defines as "the range of God's effective will, where what God wants done is done"). I can be formed into a good tree that bears good fruit. That's the radical-sounding message of this book.

More to come...


Quote from Chapter 2 "The Heart in the System of Human Life"

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

A reason to vote for Trump

My favorite moment of the presidential campaign happened back in February when Donald Trump stood before a crowd of Republican establishment types in South Carolina and declared that the "war in Iraq was a big fat mistake." He continued by pointing out that the trillions of dollars spent and thousands of lives lost got us nothing and that the reason given for invading Iraq (the supposed presence of WMD's) was false.  As you can hear if you watch the clip, all this was met with a chorus of boos by the pro-Bush crowd.

Of course, Trump went on to win the South Carolina primary and the rest is history. If I was going to vote for the Donald (I'm not) it would be for this reason: that he rightly pointed out that the GOP foreign policy establishment emperors have no clothes.

Fast forward six months and many of the same people who engineered the Iraq debacle have signed an open letter saying Trump isn't fit to be president, and would put our national security at risk. They may be right, but it's hard to take seriously those who have already done so much to make the world a more dangerous and unstable place by their hubristic blundering.

There's a terrific piece by David Goldman that you should read. A link to the full article is below, but here's an excerpt.

The Republican Establishment believed with fervor in the Arab Spring. Weekly Standard founder Bill Kristol went as far as to compare the abortive rebellions fo the American founding. It backed the overthrow and assassination of Libya’s dictator Muamar Qaddafi, which turned a nasty but stable country into a Petri dish for terrorism. It believed that majority rule in Iraq would lead to a stable, pro-American government in that Frankenstein monster of a country patched together with body parts taken from the corpse of the American empire. Instead, it got a sectarian Shi’ite regime aligned to Iran and a Sunni rebellion stretching from Mesopotamia to the Lebanon led by ISIS and al-Qaeda.
Trump is vulgar, ill-informed and poorly spoken. He has no foreign policy credentials and a disturbing inclination to give credit to Russia’s Vladimir Putin where it isn’t due. But he has one thing that the fifty former officials lack, and that is healthy common sense. That is what propelled him to the Republican nomination. The American people took note that the “experiment” of which Gen. Hayden spoke so admiringly was tough not only on the ordinary Egyptian, but on the ordinary American as well. Americans are willing to fight and die for their country, but revolt against sacrifices on behalf of social experiments devised by a self-appointed elite. That is why the only two candidates in the Republican primaries who made it past the starting gate repudiated the Bush administration’s foreign policy.

Read the whole thing. I've said it once and I'll say it again: Trump is the nominee the intellectually bankrupt Republican establishment deserves. I say that as one who dutifully drank the "conservative" Kool-Aid for years. No more.


Monday, August 8, 2016

A legendary trio: Ford, Wayne and Fonda

John Ford's two favorite actors were John Wayne and Henry Fonda. Essential to being a Ford favorite on screen, was being a Ford favorite off screen as well. Fonda once quipped that the director cast actors based on their card-playing ability! There were practical as well as personal reasons for this. A John Ford film set was a small community, so naturally Ford cast people he would enjoy hanging out with when the cameras weren't rolling. When Ford's stock company headed out to Monument Valley to shoot a picture, away from meddling producers and the bright lights of Hollywood, in many respects they lived a romanticized version of the frontier lifestyle they were bringing to life on screen.

All this is recounted in local author Scott Eyman's indispensable Ford bio Print the Legend. Both Wayne and Fonda fit easily into the director's macho inner circle: a membership that required an appetite for lots of "boys will be boys" carousing, and most importantly, letting Ford win at cards. Below is a poor quality shot of Ford flanked by Wayne and Fonda, with another regular member of the Ford entourage Ward Bond at far right.
 



Being a friend of Ford's off the set was a mixed blessing, though, since one had to endure Ford's incessant ribbing which often crossed a line into outright cruelty. Duke Wayne was a regular target of the deeply insecure Ford's mania for control over those around him. Perhaps this stemmed from the fact that it was Ford who fashioned Wayne into a movie star...and he was never going to let Duke forget it. Fonda, on the other hand, was already an established star when Ford cast him as Abe Lincoln in 1939, and the relationship between these two men was more like that of one between equals. Young Mr. Lincoln began a run of three films in which Ford and Fonda collaborated -- the other two being Drums Along the Mohawk and The Grapes of Wrath -- a trio that went a long way toward raising John Ford to the pinnacle of American filmmaking.

After the war the Ford/Fonda relationship continued to be fruitful in films like My Darling Clementine and Fort Apache. Fonda and Wayne both brought a natural ease to the screen, but the characters they played for Ford were quite different. Eyman explains:

Ford would use Fonda in a very different way than he would John Wayne. Wayne's characters were earthy and warm, brawlers by temperament, capable of love and rage. Fonda's characters burned with a cold fire—they displayed strength, but a removed, abstracted, rather asexual strength, tempered by the actor's instinctive austerity.


This contrast is set in stark relief in Fort Apache (1948): the first installment of Ford's great Cavalry Trilogy. Fonda's Colonel Thursday and Wayne's Captain York display contrasting qualities that Ford admired -- the "by the book" mentality of Thursday that would rather charge headlong into an Apache massacre than admit weakness, and the easy intuitive intelligence of York who is willing to meet the Indians as equals to avoid bloodshed. Ford had room for both kinds of men in his American mythology. He once described Custer as "great" and "stupid"...just like Thursday in Fort Apache.

Eyman writes: "Ford's work embraces deliberate contradictions. . . . Ford is a realist as well as a romantic poet." One could spend hours arguing the relative merits of Wayne and Fonda's performances for John Ford. Recently, I've been immersed in My Darling Clementine (1946). Along with Young Mr. Lincoln and The Grapes of Wrath it forms a foundational trilogy of American self-understanding, both real and imagined. Based on his legend and myth-making turns as Honest Abe, Tom Joad and Wyatt Earp, I give Henry Fonda the slight edge over John Wayne. But it doesn't matter. All that needs to be said is that their complementary talents were the perfect tools for an American master to create some of the greatest motion pictures of all time.


Quotes from pp. 211 & 341 of Print the Legend: The Life and Times of John Ford (Johns Hopkins University Press, 1999)

Monday, August 1, 2016

What Trump could have said to Mr. and Mrs. Khan

I don't have the bandwidth to follow every twist and turn of the Trump craziness, but Rod Dreher does, and he imagines what Trump could have said in response to Khizr Khan's speech at the Democratic National Convention. Could have said, that is, if Trump "had the instincts of a normal human being."

"I cannot imagine the pain of what Mr. and Mrs. Khan have been going through since losing their son. I honor their patriotism, and regret that they have allowed the Clinton campaign to exploit their heroic son’s death and their own grief. What I would tell them is this: as Commander in Chief, Donald Trump will not send any more sons and daughters of America to fight and die in unnecessary wars."

That would have been an effective and wise response. Instead, we have the spectacle of a Republican presidential candidate crassly attacking a Gold Star father and mother who could be poster children for the best of American ideals. Truly remarkable.

As I wrote in this space previously: virtue has left the building.


Thursday, July 28, 2016

Dallas Willard - spiritual formation is not optional

Here's a foundational statement from Chapter 1 of Renovation of the Heart: Putting on the Character of Christ: a book every disciple of Jesus—regardless of your tradition or denomination—would benefit from. I'll be sharing more from this revolutionary book. I have to give a shout out to Team Carlson (you know who you are) for giving me the nudge to read DW for myself.

Dallas Willard:

[...] Spiritual formation, without regard to any specifically religious context or tradition, is the process by which the human spirit or will is given a definite "form" or character. It is a process that happens to everyone. The most despicable as well as the most admirable of persons have had a spiritual formation. Terrorists as well as saints are the outcome of spiritual formation. Their spirits or hearts have been formed. Period.

We each become a certain kind of person in the depths of our being, gaining a specific type of character. And that is the outcome of a process of spiritual formation as understood in general human terms that apply to everyone, whether they want it or not. Fortunate or blessed are those who are able to find or are given a path of life that will form their spirit and inner world in a way that is truly strong and good and directed Godward.

The shaping and reshaping of the inner life is, accordingly, a problem that has been around as long as humanity itself; and the earliest records of human thought bear eloquent witness to the human struggle to solve it—but with very limited success, one would have to say.

True, some points in human history have shown more success in the elevation of the human spirit than others. But the low points far exceed the high points, and the average is discouragingly low. Societies the world around are currently in desperate straits trying to produce people who are merely capable of coping with their life on earth in a nondestructive manner. This is as true of North America and Europe as it is of the rest of the world, though the struggle takes superficially different forms in various areas. In spiritual matters there really is no "Third World." It's all Third World.


Wednesday, July 27, 2016

NBA hypocrisy

I don't know anything about North Carolina Congressman Robert Pittenger, but I salute him for lowering the boom on the rank hypocrisy and smug moral posturing of the NBA. Don't hold your breath expecting an answer.



Friday, July 22, 2016

Fear and loathing in Cleveland

I resisted turning on the Republican National Convention for three nights, but last night I settled in shortly after 8pm to see the show. And what a fascinating spectacle it was. Even though you knew it was coming, witnessing Donald Trump accept the nomination was surreal and Saturday Night Live-ish.

But before that there were the speakers leading up to the big moment. First, openly gay tech billionaire Peter Thiel (the founder of PayPal) gave a rather awkward low-key endorsement. What he said about stagnant wages and the vast inequality between his Silicon Valley enclave and places such as Oakland resonated with me. Indeed much of his speech, including ripping our Middle East adventurism, could have been delivered by Bernie Sanders. Then of course there was the requisite "I'm proud to be gay" line. Last night was a decisive rebuke for any who still hoped that the GOP was a congenial home for those who still believe and practice the sexual ethic taught by Scripture and tradition.

After an avuncular address by Trump business associate Tom Barrack -- which seemed more like a wedding toast than political endorsement -- daughter Ivanka took the stage to introduce her father. I couldn't help but wonder if mother Ivana was watching somewhere in a mansion on Palm Beach. If so, she must have been proud. Perhaps the best things about Donald Trump are his children. Like Thiel's I found the specifics of Ivanka's speech appealing, especially the part about making policies favorable to working mothers, the lack of which my wife and I are wrestling with even now as she prepares to go back to work under unjust circumstances having just given birth to our third child. All in all this portion of the evening must have struck many in the conventional hall a bit odd. "Where's the red meat?" you could almost hear the hard-cores in the crowd thinking. They would soon get it.

My theory is that Trump's beliefs, and the way he lives in real life, is more like the picture painted by the three speakers preceding him, but the speech he gave was/is his strategy for winning the ultimate validation to his insecure narcissistic ego -- becoming President of the United States. (Read McKay Coppins truly amazing BuzzFeed article for more on Trump's motivation.) Trump is representative of the Manhattan, Las Vegas and Palm Beach circles he runs in -- vaguely liberal on social issues, somewhat fiscally conservative (when it suits his interests) and sort of reflexively pro-law enforcement and pro-military. And there's the whole power and machismo thing too. Rudy Giuliani embodies this sort of Rockefeller Republicanism 2.0. And by the way, how sad to see someone who was a genuine national hero after 9/11 morph into the worst sort of political opportunist hack.

In short, I don't believe Donald Trump personally is a bigot, or even that bothered about illegal immigration. However, he's cynically appealing to the worst instincts of white and working-class voters who have legitimate fears about immigration, globalism and the changing face of America. Thus we has the strange spectacle last night of a candidate pledging to be the great protector of LGBTQ people, while in the next breath stoking the latent fear and loathing of "the other" when that other has a brown or black face.  Any thought that he was going to pivot, or moderate his strongman rhetoric, was dispelled by last night's speech.  

I haven't the slightest clue what a Trump Administration would actually look like. But win or lose his campaign has unleashed demons into the body politic that will be hard to exorcise. Trump is the nominee the GOP establishment deserved, but whether his destruction of the Republican Party of Bush, Romney and Conservatism, Inc. paves the way for something better remains to be seen.

Will the Republic survive a Trump presidency? Probably. Will it survive another Clinton in the White House? Probably. Still, with the choice before us it's hard not to conclude that our national politics is broken beyond repair. Virtue (defined as "thinking and acting in the right way") has left the room. As a husband and father my urgent priority is to embed my family within communities in which virtue can flourish. How to do that is a daunting challenge, but as followers of Christ it's our only option.



 

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Republocrat: Chapter 3 "Not-So-Fantastic Mr. Fox"

The scandal and turmoil engulfing Fox News Channel reminded me of this post from 2010. It was part of a series I did on a book by Carl Trueman called Republocrat: Confessions of a Liberal Conservative.



Shortly after moving here from England; Republocrat author Carl Trueman was told by a well-meaning Christian friend that he should watch Fox News because -- "that's the unbiased news channel." Upon investigation it turned out that FNC wasn't that historical rarity: a truly unbiased source of reportage, instead, it was a source of around-the-clock conservative commentary and spin. Lest you're thinking this assesment of Fox News is a case of British snobbery, the venerable BBC comes in for some harsh criticism too: "Visiting home recently, I was shocked to see that, in my nearly nine-year absence, the BBC seems to have been taken over by a bunch of New Labour groupies. . ." (p. 41)

The point is -- the BBC has a left of center bias, as do most of the mainstream media institutions in the United States (e.g. CNN, MSNBC, New York Times). It's fine and good that Fox News wants to provide an alternative viewpoint to the left-wing MSM, but don't say with a straight face that Fox is unbiased. As Trueman points out -- we all have our biases. In his history class he makes an important distinction between objectivity and neutrality.

I like to argue in class that in the writing of history, no one can be neutral, but historians can be objective. (p. 42)

Some historians are more objective than others, and so are some news channels. On the rare occasions when I watch cable news I usually turn to CNN because (in my opinion) they do a better job of giving a full picture and more objective viewpoint than the outliers on the right and left (see, I have a centrist bias). The fact, though, that CNN's ratings have been in decline relative to their main competitors is an indication of what the public wants.

What the public increasingly wants, it seems, is news and commentary that confirms what they already believe -- and the more outrageous and shrill the better. Instead of exposing ourselves to a variety of voices we gravitate to those that validate our prejudices and stoke our fears. If you're a worried conservative who believes in your gut that they (liberals, Europeans, George Soros, etc.) are out to get us, then the fevered monologues and talking points of Beck and O'Reilly will strike a chord. This in itself isn't all that remarkable. What is remarkable are the legions of conservative Christians who've reacted to the bias of the "liberal media" by annointing Rupert Murdoch's channel as defender of traditional values and purveyor of all that's true, right and good.

How well does this reputation stack up with reality? After a devastatingly funny deconstruction of a couple of representative quotes from the aforementioned stars of the Fox firmament (see pp. 44-49) the author turns to Murdoch and his media empire. I have to say that Trueman really has it out for Mr. Murdoch. In fact he admits a Beckian conspiratorial bent in his fixation on the Aussie mogul.

To start with -- Murdoch personally is no paragon of family values. He's on his third marriage to the young vice president of one of his many media properties (Star TV) who he married mere days after his second divorce. That behavior in itself isn't necessarily a reason not to watch his channels or read his newspapers. I've written in this space about my admiration for the movies of Woody Allen -- this despite his tawdry personal life. However, while conservative Christians are quick to condemn the private peccadillos of a liberal like Woody Allen, "the Christian Right. . . is often very forgiving of the private failings of its heroes, as in the case of Rush Limbaugh with his various marriages and his well-publicized drug addiction." (pp. 51-2)

Beyond Murdoch's personal life there's his ownership of The Sun -- "a tabloid known for setting the bar as low as it gets when it comes to journalism" and it's "daily diet of beautiful, topless women. Indeed, prior to the advent of the World Wide Web, it is possible that Murdoch was responsible for putting more soft pornography into more houses than anybody else in history." (p. 52) Trueman wonders aloud how Christian fathers would feel if they opened up the newspaper and saw their daughter posing naked for the leering masses. Also, it's easy to forget the Fox part of Fox News -- that network whose stock-in-trade is raunchy sitcoms that mock the values cherished by conservative Christians and encourage us to laugh at family dysfunction.

The take-home message from this chapter is that Christians should be more "eclectic" in what they read, watch and listen to. Don't get all your news from the same source. Realize that all news channels have their biases. Be intentional in exposing yourself to voices that challenge your view of the world. If we take into account the wide-ranging impact of sin on people and institutions then we'll approach any media outlet with a degree of skepticism. Trueman encourages his readers to emulate the Greek apologists of the early church by taking seriously our responsibility to be the most thoughtful and informed citizens we can be, as opposed to those who traffic in "clich├ęs, slander, and lunatic conspiracy theories." (p. 59)

In short, the primary aim of this chapter isn't to convince Christians that they shouldn't turn on Fox News. It's to convince them that they shouldn't turn on Fox News with their God-given critical faculties turned off.

Next: the uneasy marriage of Christianity and capitalism.


Quotes from Republocrat: Confessions of a Liberal Conservative (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 2010)

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Merton for a fearful age


Thomas Merton has been a source of great comfort and inspiration throughout the past few angry and blood-soaked months, angry and blood-soaked months for the world and for our nation. Here in America we're living through a dark period when—as I heard someone say recently—the flags seem to be permanently at half staff. Overseas the atrocities mount up faster than we can keep up. News of bombings, uprisings, and mass murders by ever more horrifying means crawl across our TV screens. Spend any time at all watching the news or social media, and it's hard to resist the grip of fear. In this fearful political season we would do well to listen to this quiet man of peace Thomas Merton. His writings are full of penetrating spiritual and psychological insight.

I've been slowly reading and re-reading the collection of essays published as New Seeds of Contemplation. The morning after the murder of the police officers in Dallas I opened up to "The Root of War Is Fear." By war Merton means more than armies meeting on a battlefield. He could just as easily titled this one: the root of violence is fear. Merton begins with a thesis:

At the root of all war is fear: not so much the fear men have of one another as the fear they have of everything.

This fear leads to distrust (of one another and ourselves) and ultimately hatred (of one another and ourselves) and violence. We see the very real evil all around us. But rather than acknowledging that we are complicit, and looking with repentant eyes into our own hearts, we look for something or someone to punish. We pass our burden of guilt onto someone else. This lets us off the hook and allows us to lazily ignore the complexity of issues surrounding race and justice and politics.

When we see crime in others, we try to correct it by destroying them or at least putting them out of sight. It is easy to identify the sin with the sinner when he is someone other than our own self. In ourselves, it is the other way round; we see the sin, but we have great difficulty in shouldering responsibility for it. We find it very hard to identify our sin with our own will and our own malice. On the contrary, we naturally tend to interpret our immoral act as an involuntary mistake, or as the malice of a spirit in us that is other than ourself. Yet at the same we are fully aware that others do not make this convenient distinction for us. The acts that have been done by us are, in their eyes, "our" acts and they hold us fully responsible.
[...] In all these ways we build up such an obsession with evil, both in ourselves and in others, that we waste all our mental energy trying to account for this evil, to punish it, to exorcise it, or to get rid of it in any way we can. We drive ourselves mad with our preoccupation and in the end there is no outlet left but violence. We have to destroy something or someone. By that time we have created for ourselves a suitable enemy, a scapegoat in whom we have invested all the evil in the world. He is the cause of every wrong. He is the fomentor of all conflict. If he can only be destroyed, conflict will cease, evil will be done with, there will be no more war.

This simplistic binary thinking is a dangerous delusion, but it forms the foundation of our contemporary national life and political discourse.

[...] Thus we never see the one truth that would help us begin to solve our ethical and political problems: that we are all more or less wrong, that we are all at fault, all limited and obstructed by our mixed motives, our self-deception, our greed, our self-righteousness and our tendency to aggressivity and hypocrisy. 

So if we're all wrong, does that mean we're wrong in everything? If we're all acting out of mixed motives should we even try to act on the basis of believing ourselves to be in the right? If as Merton writes: "politics is an inextricable tangle of good and evil motives" what hope is there for creating a more just and peaceful society? He answers these questions by directing us to the mercy of God, who condescends to work with, and through, contingent and flawed men and women.

It would be sentimental folly to expect men to trust one another when they obviously cannot be trusted. But at least they can learn to trust God. They can bring themselves to see that the mysterious power of God can, quite independently of human malice and error, protect men unaccountably against themselves, and that He can always turn evil into good, though perhaps not always in a sense that would be understood by the preachers of sunshine and uplift. [I absolutely love that line!] If they can trust and love God, Who is infinitely wise and Who rules the lives of men permitting them to use their freedom even to the point of almost incredible abuse, they can love men who are evil. They can learn to love them even in their sin, as God has loved them. If we can love the men we cannot trust (without trusting them foolishly) and if we can to some extent share the burden of their sin by identifying ourselves with them, then perhaps there is some hope of a kind of peace on earth, based not on the wisdom and the manipulations of men but on the inscrutable mercy of God.
For only love—which means humility—can exorcise the fear which is at the root of all war...

God, grant us a love that's stronger than our fear. Give us the grace to hate the disorder in our own hearts more than we hate it in others. Thank-you for your servant Thomas Merton, whose life and writings teach us how to be people of peace. Amen.