Daily Riches: A Confusion of Images and Myths (Thomas Merton)

“Paul’s view of the ‘elements’ and the ‘powers of the air’ was couched in the language of the cosmology of his day. Translated into the language of our own time, I would say these mysterious realities are to be sought where we least expect them, not in what is remote and mysterious, but in what is most familiar, what is near at hand, what is at our elbow all day long – what speaks or sings in our ear, and practically does our thinking for us. The ‘powers’ and ‘elements’ are precisely what stand between the world and Christ. It is they who stand in the way of reconciliation. It is they who, by influencing all our thinking and behavior in so many unsuspected ways, dispose us to decide for the world as against Christ, thus making reconciliation impossible. Clearly the ‘powers’ and the ‘elements,’ which in Paul’s day dominated men’s minds through pagan religion or through religious legalism, today dominate us in the confusion and the ambiguity of the Babel of tongues that we call mass-society. Certainly I do not condemn everything in the mass-media. But how does one stop to separate the truth from the half-truth, the event from the pseudo-event, reality from the manufactured image? It is in this confusion of images and myths, superstitions and ideologies that the ‘powers of the air’ govern our thinking – even our thinking about religion! Where there is no critical perspective, no detached observation, no time to ask the pertinent questions, how can one avoid being deluded and confused?” Thomas Merton

“…a mighty windstorm hit the mountain.
It was such a terrible blast that the rocks were torn loose,
but the Lord was not in the wind.”
1 Kings 19:11

 Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Are you so immersed in media that it “practically does your thinking for you?”
  • Do you often ask yourself whether something is a truth or half-truth, an event or a “pseudo-event” – whether what you see is reality or a “manufactured image?”
  • Do you have a regular set of practices that help you avoid being “deluded and confused” by today’s Babel of tongues?

Abba, with your help I will refuse to be hurried and pressed, I will stay my soul on you. May nothing keep me from clearness of spirit which is life and peace. (adapted from Amy Carmichael)

For More: Faith and Violence by Thomas Merton


“Daily Riches” is for your encouragement as you seek God and he seeks you. I hope you’ll follow and share my blog. My goal is to share something of unique value with you daily in 400 words or less. I appreciate your interest! – Bill (Psalm 90:14)

“I practice daily what I believe; everything else is religious talk.”


Daily Riches: Freed From the Need to Impress (Henri Nouwen)

“‘Truth’ in our culture has become so largely determined by statistics that is is easy for us to truly believe that the number of people who listen, watch, or attend is a measure of the quality of that which is presented. It is difficult for us to believe that salvation came from the remnant of Israel. …that something very good came from an unknown place. …that our God is a God who came in the unspectacular form of a servant, who entered Jerusalem on an ass, and who was killed as a common criminal. And it is even more difficult to believe that a few unsophisticated fishermen brought God’s good news to the world. We act as if visibility and notoriety were the main criteria of the value of what we are doing. It is not easy to act otherwise. …How do we overcome this all-pervading temptation? is it important to realize that our hunger for the spectacular – like our desire to be relevant – has very much to do with our search for selfhood. …Who am I when nobody pays attention, says thanks, or recognizes my work? The more insecure, doubtful, and lonely we are, the greater our need for popularity and praise. Sadly… the more praise we receive, the more we desire. The hunger for human acceptance is like a bottomless barrel. … Jesus responded to the tempter, ‘You must not put the Lord you God to the test.’ Indeed, the search for spectacular glitter is an expression of doubt in God’s complete and unconditional acceptance of us. It is indeed putting God to the test. It is saying: ‘I am not sure that you really care, that you really love me, that you really consider me worthwhile. I will give you chance to show it by soothing my inner fears with human praise and by alleviating my sense of worthlessness by human applause. …The basis of all ministry is the experience of God’s unlimited and unlimiting acceptance of us as beloved children…. This experience of God’s acceptance frees us from our needy self and thus creates new space where we can pay selfless attention to others. This new freedom in Christ allows us to move in the world uninhibited by our compulsions….” Henri Nouwen

“whoever takes the lowly position of this child
is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”
Matthew 18:4

 Moving From Head to Heart

  • Have you fallen for the “numbers” trap?
  • Are you trying to “soothe your inner fears” with applause? to receive from people what God must give?
  • Can you sit quietly before God and just let him love you?

Abba, deliver us from illusion.

For More: The Selfless Way of Christ by Henri Nouwen


Thanks for reading and sharing “Daily Riches.” –  Bill