Thursday, November 03, 2016

Don't Consent to the Illusion

Ann Arbor

Most people, especially in America, define themselves in terms of their material possessions, their personal appearance, and their accomplishments. These evaluations are all comparative. They function on the punishing honor/shame hierarchy. The hierarchy is brutal because it requires constant striving in the creation of one's false identity.

For such persons, this is all they are. They are nothing more or less than what they own, how they look to others, and what they have done. They create themselves in the image they think others will adore. They are a function of what other people think, puppets controlled by ever-changing public opinion.

Thomas Merton knew this and wrote:

"There are many respectable and even conventionally moral people for whom there is no other reality in life than their body and its relationship with “things.” They have reduced themselves to a life lived within the limits of their five senses. Their self is consequently an illusion based on sense experience and nothing else. For these the body becomes a source of falsity and deception: but that is not the body’s fault. It is the fault of the person himself, who consents to the illusion, who finds security in self-deception and will not answer the secret voice of God calling him to take a risk and venture by faith outside the reassuring and protective limits of his five senses."
Merton, Thomas. New Seeds of Contemplation (pp. 27-28)

My first book is published - Praying: Reflections on 40 Years of Solitary Conversations with God.

I'm in process of writing my second book, Leading the Presence-Driven Church.