Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Merton on Doubt & Faith, Forever Linked

Thumbing through Thomas Merton's New Seeds of Contemplation (first published in 1961, but still fresh today), I stumbled across this observation in the quasi-essay called "Sentences."
You cannot be a man of faith unless you know how to doubt.  You cannot believe in God unless you are capable of questioning the authority of prejudice, even though that prejudice may seem to be religious.  Faith is not blind conformity to a prejudice--a "pre-judgment."  It is a decision, a judgment that is fully and deliberately taken in the light of a truth that cannot be proven.  It is not merely the acceptance of a decision that has been made by somebody else.
Faith can be hard to summon up -- some days more than others.  Doubt comes easily.  Doubt is vital if I want to develop a deeper faith than I already have.  Doubt might even be a doorway to faith?  I hear Merton hinting at that.  Doubt, though unsettling, is healthy.  Faith may be what sustains us, but doubt is the chewing we do to get that food into our systems.  Or something like that, maybe?  Merton is so much more eloquent.  He always is.  (Which is one reason he's Thomas Merton and I am not!)

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