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The Unbearable Heaviness of Being

My quest for the eternal lightness

merton.jpgA theology of love cannot afford to be sentimental. It cannot afford to preach edifying generalities about charity, while identifying “peace” with mere established power and legalized violence against the oppressed. A theology of love cannot be allowed merely to serve the interests of the rich and powerful, justifying their wars, their violence, and their bombs, while exhorting the poor and underprivileged to practice patience, meekness, longsuffering, and to solve their problems—if at all, nonviolently.

The theology of love must seek to deal realistically with the evil and injustice in the world, and not merely to compromise with them. Such a theology will have to take note of the ambiguous realities of politics, without embracing the specious myth of a “realism” that merely justifies force in the service of established power. Theology does not exist merely to appease the already too untroubled conscience of the powerful and the established. A theology of love may also conceivably turn out to be a theology of revolution. In any case, it is a theology of resistance, a refusal of the evil that reduces a brother to homicidal desperation.

(from Faith and Violence, Thomas Merton)


This is a powerful way in which Thomas Merton can speak to our theology today. Surely, it does not do all the thinking for us, but it does teach us to think – it is when our untroubled conscience jolted, when thoughts stimulate the mind, the heart and the hands that contemplation truly begins.   


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