Monday, August 31, 2009

Replace Facebook with Soulbook

(Thinking, in Sioux Falls)
Thomas Merton wrote that the inmost secret of our being need not become manifest or public to all. (Seasons of Celebration) Indeed, most people are far from being in touch with the deep waters of their own hearts (Proverbs 20:5). Which means, I think, that multitudes open their mouths and out comes thoughts from the surfaces of their hearts. Hence, the barrage of Internet trivialities and rumors and sophomorisms that now prevail.

The human heart is a deep thing. It is a slow cooker, not a microwave. Getting in touch with mysteries that lie within requires time, and this time must be spent in a certain way. Merton writes: "We are most truly Christian persons when our inmost secret remains a mystery shared by ourselves and God, and communicated to others in a way that is at the same time secret and public." We are not "to root out the inner secret of the individual in order to put it on display in a spiritual beauty contest."

Merton calls this way of thinking "Christian personalism." (Merton's personalism has similarities to the philosophy of Personalism.) For Merton Christian personalism "is the sacramental sharing of the inner secret of personality in the mystery of love... [It is] the discovery of one's inmost self, and of the inmost self of one's neighbor, in the mystery of Christ." This is "a discovery that respects the hiddenness and incommunicability of each one's personal secret." (Ibid.)

In America today too much is on display. And that which is on display is not essential, but superficial and mostly trivial. What is needed is not more "information" but wisdom, and wisdom is slow-cultivated in the deep waters of the human heart and authentic community where such things can be discovered. Instead of "Facebook" we need "Soulbook."