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Grand Rapids, MI

Embarking Blog

...on the journey towards restoration of all things

Merton for the Soul


  A Year with Merton

A good friend gave me a book for Christmas called "A Year with Thomas Merton."  It's one of those daily reading books with collections from Merton's journals.  Below are some quotes from the past few weeks with a few comments:

The sane ones have been too passive, and they are beginning to be forced to react.  But perhaps it is too late.  Life is madder and madder, except that the woods and fields are always a relief. [December 21]

That was written in 1961 during all the political upheaval of the times.  This makes me wonder what it takes to get us off of our seats to enter into deep engagement with the powers of darkness working in our world.  Too often too many of us turn a blind eye to social or moral injustice, poverty, or the mere craziness which makes our world turn these days.  For so many people, the market insanities of the last year have "forced" us to react - only it may be too little to late.  Why didn't we react to this over-consumerism before we got to this place of collective dysfunction?  Probably because the sane ones have been too passive, or like times of old, the prophets weren't silent, but we didn't listen.  

Isn't that true in many of our churches today as well?  The church in the West has been in decline for decades, and yet only now do we begin to wonder about it and  decry the loss of the soul in our nations.  iMonk has an interesting post on the coming evangelical collapse that's worth reading, and it's funny, Tall Skinny Kiwi says, "Some of the same stuff I was saying a decade ago and the stuff that has caused us to change our methodology so drastically."  Who are the sane ones, and have they been speaking, and have we been listening?

Here are the seven reasons iMonk gives for the impending collapse.  Do you agree?

  1. Evangelicals have identified their movement with the culture war and with political conservatism. 
  2. Evangelicals have failed to pass on to our young people the evangelical Christian faith in an orthodox form that can take root and survive the secular onslaught.
  3. Evangelical churches have now passed into a three part chapter: 1) mega-churches that are consumer driven, 2) churches that are dying and 3) new churches that whose future is dependent on a large number of factors. 
  4. Despite some very successful developments in the last 25 years, Christian education has not produced a product that can hold the line in the rising tide of secularism. 
  5. The deterioration and collapse of the evangelical core will eventually weaken the missional-compassionate work of the evangelical movement. 
  6. Much of this collapse will come in areas of the country where evangelicals imagine themselves strong. 
  7. A major aspect of this collapse will happen because money will not be flowing towards evangelicalism in the same way as before. 

One of the reasons I decided to begin blogging and continue blogging was because I am passionate about the church, the missio Dei, and our place in it and because I have seen much of what iMonk is talking about and want to see some changes.  I'll just close this post with another line from the same day in the Merton reader:

I feel there is not much time left for one to be learning the most important things, and I will have to trust to God for all that I lack and will continue to lack.

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