History and the Passion of Christ, 1965-2013

The bombing goes on in Vietnam.  The whole thinking of this country is awry on war:  basic conviction that force is the only thing that is effective.  That doubtless it is in many ways not “nice” but one must be realistic and use it, with moral justification so as not to be just gangsters as “they” are (the enemy).  Thus there is determination to settle everything by force and to make sure one’s force is verbally justified.

It is not altogether easy to make an act of faith that all of history is in God’s hands.  But history is in the hands of God, and the decisions of men lead infallibly to the full expression of what is hidden in them and in their society.  The actions of the U. S. in Asia are God’s judgment on the U. S.  We have decided that we will police the world — by the same tactics used by the police in Alabama:  beating “colored people” over the head because we believe they are “inferior.”  In the end, an accounting will be demanded.

We have to see history as a book that is sealed and opened by the Passion of Christ.  But we still read it from the viewpoint of the Beast.  Passion of Christ = the passion of the poor, the underprivileged, etc.  Viewpoint of the Beast:  self-righteousness and cruelty of power.  Hubris of human might and technological efficiency.  But the same cruelty is bred by this hubris in the weak, who grow strong by resisting it and overcoming it — to be proud in their turn.  Christ remains in agony until the end of time, and in His agony Christ triumphs over all power.

— Thomas Merton
Journals, 22 May 1965, V.249-250


Also available in Kindle format: A Year with Thomas Merton

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