Tuesday, March 29, 2005


Pipe Dreams of a Plastic Culture

Grab life by the horns. Image is everything. Just a little nip here and a tuck there and you could be a superstar. Maybe even an American Idol. Be like Mike. Be Here Now. Enjoy the ride. Because you deserve it. I want my MTV. I want my Reality TV.

Love of celebrity, love of money, love of self... If this is The Real World, I'm in need of a permanent vacation. I'm not feeling the love here. I'm feeling alone in a prison of my own making. When do we say enough with the distractions?

You can have your stuff. I don't want it. You can have your money. It won't make me happy. You can take your petty, superficial concerns. Give me the real thing. I want to find meaning, significance, purpose. I want to really truly live and that means I must first die. Die to my own narrow desires and love of self.

Just tonight, I came across some words of wisdom from Thomas Merton (from Asian Journal in 1973) that are very applicable. It is ironic, and telling, that I should find solace in the words of a monk when trying to make sense of this largely fake and materialistic culture. In explaining the sense of relief that is felt when we decide to center our lives on God and not on ourselves, Merton states:

To live with the true consciousness of life centered on Another is to lose one's self-important seriousness and thus to live life as a "play" in union with a Cosmic Player.

It is He alone that one takes seriously. But to take Him seriously is to find joy and spontaneity in everything. For everything is gift and grace. In other words, to live selfishly is to bear life as an intolerable burden. To live selflessly is to live in joy.

Surrender now. Feel the weight of all the world lifting. Release. Just do it.

Merton's writings (as well as C. S. Lewis') have had great influence on me. His lack of asceticism (in the strictest sense of the term) is especially instructive. I think that sometimes asceticism, or gnosticism, is pursued mistakenly in an attempt to escape selfishness/worldliness.
That's a good point. I think that asceticism, in its extreme form of self-denial, is not a good model either. I think we should be contributing to and attempting to improve society through a Godly example, not removing ourselves from it entirely. Merton seemed to have found a reasonable balance.
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