Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Merton on sin

      There is nothing interesting about sin, or about evil as evil.
      And this evil is not a positive entity but the absence of a perfection that ought to be there. Sin as such is essentially boring because it is the lack of something that could appeal to our wills and our minds.
      What attracts men to evil acts is not the evil in them but the good that is there, seen under a false aspect and with a distorted perspective. And the good seen from that angle is only the bait in a trap. When you reach out to take it, the trap is sprung and you are left with disgust and boredom - and hatred. Sinners are people who hate everything, because their world is necessarily full of betrayal, full of illusion, full of deception. And the greatest sinners are the most boring people in the world because they are also the most bored and ones who find life most tedious.

- Thomas Merton, Seeds of Contemplation, 76.


Matthew Moffitt said...

Hey Byron.

Who is Merton?

(Sorry for uneducated question)

byron smith said...

Thomas Merton was a Catholic monk and mystic writing around WWII in the States. A friend from college loaned me Seeds of Contemplation recently because we were talking about Christian mysticism, a movement I feel I don't really understand or appreciate. He is a populariser within the movement, and his writings (or at least the one I'm reading) are collections of thoughts that range from 3 to 10 pages on a theme, though don't usually build into a sequential argument. While I've been frustrated by his more specifically mystical sections, there have been some real gems as I've been slowly reading through. This little book is very rich. Oh, for more on Merton, try here.

Mack Ramer said...

For a great intro to Merton, check out The Seven-Storey Mountain, his autobiography which ends with his joining the Trappist monastery in Bardstown, Kentucky ( TSSM is a really easy read, with a lot of great insights; and personally I count it as one of the best books I've ever read.

Anonymous said...

Ah hah! Thank you. That third paragraph makes all the difference ...