“In reality, all men are solitary. Only most of them are so averse to being alone, or to feeling alone, that they do everything they can to forget their solitude. How? Perhaps in large measure by what Pascal called ‘divertisement’–diversion, systematic distraction. By those occupations and recreations, so mercifully provided by society, which enable a man to avoid his own company for twenty-four hours a day. …the function of diversion is simply to anesthetize the individual as individual, and to plunge him in the warm, apathetic stupor of a collectivity which, like himself, wishes to remain amused. …Absurdity [is] the anguish of realizing that underneath the apparently logical pattern of a more or less ‘well organized’ and rational life, there lies an abyss of irrationality, confusion, pointlessness, and indeed of apparent chaos. This is what immediately impresses itself upon the man who has renounced diversion. It cannot be otherwise: for in renouncing diversion, he renounces the seemingly harmless pleasure of building a tight, self-contained illusion about himself and about his little world. He accepts the difficulty of facing the million things in his life which are incomprehensible, instead of simply ignoring them. Incidentally it is only when the apparent absurdity of life is faced in all truth that faith really becomes possible. Otherwise, faith tends to be a kind of diversion, a spiritual amusement, in which one gathers up accepted, conventional formulas and arranges them in the approved mental patterns, without bothering to investigate their meaning, or asking if they have any practical consequences in one’s life.” Thomas Merton
“Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture
that you fit into it without even thinking.”
Romans 12:1 (The Message)
Moving From the Head to the Heart
- Are you on the move from the moment you wake until your head hits the pillow at night?
- Are you afraid to be still? …to be quiet? …to be alone? If so, what does this say about you?
- How much do you watch T.V., browse the internet or play video games in an average week? Do those practices put you into an apathetic stupor, where nothing holds your attention or makes you think about what is real–what really matters?
- Is your religion a kind of “spiritual amusement” which allows you to create a safe, controlled mental world, but doesn’t really ask anything difficult of you? Is it an escape from harsh realities?
Abba, deliver me from systematic distraction.
For more: Disputed Questions by Thomas Merton
These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek after God and he seeks after you. I hope you’ll follow my blog, and share it. I appreciate your interest! Please leave a comment or question. – Bill (Psalm 90:14)
“I practice daily what I believe; everything else is religious talk.”
This Thomas Merton quote is absolutely brilliant. It is strangely comforting to find that somebody has put into words exactly what you’ve found to be true, when at the time, you felt utterly alone in seeing things in a radically different light than everybody else around you. Thank you so much for sharing this.