I read many contemporary books on Christian growth, often as part of the publisher's promotion or launch efforts. This year I decided to read some older books to see how the contemporary ones compare.
This book came out in 1955 and in it Merton shared his thoughts on a variety of topics dealing with man and his relationships to others. He emphasized man's interior life, his spiritual life, as the life of the real man. I was surprised by his concept of iniquity. It is inequality, he wrote, seeking more for myself than my rights allow and giving others less than they should receive. He encouraged us to see possessions for what they really are, a means to love God. I have freedom only when serving the will of God. “True happiness is not found in any other reward than that of being united with God.”
A thought provoking discussion of his was distinguishing right intention from simple intention. Simple intention means seeking God alone. Right intention means seeking right action. Right intention yields God's acceptance. Simple intention results in God's acceptance as well as His pleasure. That really made me think about my motives for my actions.
While I don't agree with everything Merton wrote, his thoughts on a number of topics, like suffering, prayer, and sacrifice, are worth reading and thinking about. This book reminded me that the depth of spiritual life encouraged by writers a generation ago is much deeper than that of today's writers.
My rating: 4/5 stars.
Thomas Merton was born in France in 1915. Despite choosing a life of contemplation and prayer, he continued to communicate with some of the most famous activists, artists, politicians, and theologians of his day, and wrote many books, articles, and essays. He died during a visit to Thailand in 1968.
Harcourt, 288 pages.
(My star ratings: 5-I love it, 4-I like it, 3-It's OK, 2-I don't like it, 1-I hate it.)