Thursday, August 18, 2011

The Life You Save May Be Your Own by Paul Elie


So far the Thomas Merton material is the most interesting to me.

As a child, Flannery O'Connor wrote books which she saw "as too old for children and too young for grown-ups."

In 1949, when gravediggers in Queens went on strike for higher wages, Cardinal Spellman "ordered seminarians to dig the graves in their stead and refused to negotiate, calling the workers Communists in the press."

O'Connor on Catholic readers: "You can't shut them up before a thing comes out but you can look forward to a long mortified silence afterwards."

Merton: "There is greater comfort in the substance of silence than in the answer to a question."

What, then, was the Catholic Worker? "We are a group of people living together under one roof," she [Day] declared.

Whereas poverty in the Depression had brought people together in a great convergence of need and will, poverty in postwar America divided them from one another.

WP on JFK: The reason he was a great man was that his derisiveness kept pace with his brilliance and his beauty and his love of country. He is the only public man I have ever believed. This is because no man now is believable unless he is derisive.

WP on writer's block: "I am in low estate," Percy told Foote... "But it won't go, I am hung up, alas oh hopelessly hung up, sitting in front of my paper at 9:05 AM and growing sleepier by the minute. Fresh out of malice, piss, the love of God, hatred of things as they are, or whatever it takes, which I don't
have."

Merton: "He answers again with his own experience, which is that God is a being to be known, not a problem to be solved, "and we who live the contemplative life have learned by experience that one cannot know God as long as one seeks to solve 'the problem of God.' To seek to solve the problem of God is to seek to see one's own eyes."

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