Tuesday, May 17, 2011

On Television: Exegeted Again by Thomas Merton

On my personal Top Ten Books Ever Read is Thomas Merton's New Seeds of Contemplation. My old paperback copy is ragged from reading and re-reading. In addition to the book's meditative and contemplative depth is the matter of timing. I was ready to read this book; this book was ready to exegete me.

The initial Seeds of Contemplation was written in 1949. New Seeds was a re-working of Seeds, and puiblished in 1972. In 1949 I was but a seed in my mother's womb, waiitng for Merton to plant God-seeds in me which have formed deep neural pathways of life.

This morning I read Merton, on television, from the year 1949. The prophetic voice writes...

"I am certainly no judge of television, since I have never watched it. All I know is that there is a sufficiently general agreement, among men whose judgment I respect, that commercial television is degraded, meretricious and absurd. Certainly it would seem that TV could become a kind of unnatural surrogate for contemplation: a completely inert subjection to vulgar images, a descent to a sub-natural passivity rather than an ascent to a supremely active passivity in understanding and love. It would seem that television should be used with extreme care and discrimination by anyone who might hope to take interior life seriously." (86)

Television erodes the interior life. We enter into the shallows and de-morph into the hollow people. Television works like "Round Up" on seeds.
Want an excellent book of collected, seminal Merton-teachings? Get Seeds.