Oblate Program at Belmont Abbey, NC

Concerning popular religion…

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Popular religion has to a great extent betrayed man's inner spirit and turned him over, like Samson, with his hair cut off and his eyes dug out, to turn the mill of a self-frustrating and self-destroying culture. The cliches of popular religion have in many cases become every bit as hollow and as false as those of soap salesmen, and far more dangerously deceptive because one cannot so easily verify the claims made about the product. The sin of religiosity is that it has turned God, peace, happiness, salvation and all that man desires into products to be marketed in an especially attractive package deal. In this, I think, the fault lies not with the sincerity of preachers and religious writers, but with the worn-out presuppositions with which they fare content to operate. The religious mind today is seldom pertinently or prophetically critical. Oh, it is critical all right; but too often of wrong or irrelevant issues. There is still such a thing as raining at gnats and swallowing camels. But I wonder if we have got settled down too comfortably to accept passively the prevarica­tions that the Gospels or the Prophets would have us reject with all the strength of our being. I am afraid the common combination of organizational jollity, moral legalism and nuclear crusading will not pass muster as a serious religion. It certainly has little to do with "spiritual life."

Thomas Merton, OCSO
Faith and Violence, pp 116-17

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