Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Merton on Self-Idolatry

"Where was my will? 'Where you treasure is, there will your heart be also,' and I had not laid up any treasures for myself in heaven. They were on earth. I wanted to be a writer, a poet, a critic, a professor. I wanted to enjoy all kinds of pleasures of the intellect and of the senses and in order to have these pleasures I did not hesitate to place myself in situations which I knew would end in spiritual disaster- although generally I was so blinded by my own appetites that I never clearly considered this fact until it was too late, and the damage was done.
Of course, as far as my ambitions went their objects were all right in themselves. There is nothing wrong in being a writer or a poet- at least I hope there is not: but the harm lies in wanting to be one for the gratification of one's own ambitions, and merely in order to bring oneself up to the level demanded by his own internal self-idolatry. Because I was writing for myself and for the world, the things I wrote were rank with the passions of selfishness and sin from which they sprang. An evil tree brings forth evil fruits, when it brings forth fruit at all."

-Thomas Merton, The Seven Storey Mountain (231)


Anonymous said...

Great quote. Sadly, I have yet to read Merton. It will happen though! I have only heard good things.

michael said...

This book is great. Occasionally we will start gushing for multiple pages about how much he loves the Mother of God and how it is only through her intercession we are saved... weird. But Merton is great, I want to check out the official library at Bellermine.

Anonymous said...

Well the Mary thing is part of the Catholic thing- I don't like it either, but the Catholic/Mystic tradition seems to offer a storehouse of spiritual formation help, which makes me think that Mariology and other weird issues within Catholicism really aren't that big of a deal.

Of course I am an Ecumenical; just ask Adam Holland.