Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Tradition and Revolution II

Continuing from yesterday, Merton goes on examining the popular concept of revolution as opposed to the revolutionary concept of Christian truth.
Tradition and Revolution (cont'd.)

A revolution is supposed to be a change that turns everything completely around. But the ideology of political revolution will never change anything except appearances. There will be violence, and power will pass from one party to another, but when the smoke clears and the bodies of all the dead men are underground, the situation will be essentially the same as it was before: there will be a minority of strong men in power exploiting all the others for their own ends. There will be the same greed and cruelty and lust and ambition and avarice and hypocrisy as before.

For the revolutions of men change nothing. The only influence that can really upset the injustice and iniquity of men is the power that breathes in Christian tradition, renewing our participation in the Life that is the Light of men.

To those who have no personal experience of this revolutionary aspect of Christian truth, but who see only the outer crust of dead, human conservatism that tends to form around the Church the way barnacles gather on the hull of a ship, all this talk of dynamism sounds foolish.

Each individual Christian and each new age of the Church has to make this rediscovery, this return to the source of Christian life.

It demands a fundamental act of renunciation that accepts the necessity of starting out on the way to God under the guidance of other men. This acceptance can be paid for only by sacrifice, and ultimately only a gift of God can teach us the difference between the dry outer crust of formality which the Church sometimes acquires from the human natures that compose it, and the living inner current of Divine Life which is the only real Catholic tradition.
In Part III Merton will move on to discussing Catholic dogma.

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