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“The greatest need of our time is to clean out the enormous mass of mental and emotional rubbish that clutters our minds and makes of all political and social life a mass illness. Without this housecleaning we cannot begin to see. Unless we see, we cannot think.” – Thomas Merton, Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander.

Merton inspires me because he was that rare prophetic soul who connected our spiritual illness with our social sickness and did this in a meaningful and substantial way. As I work on writing my own spiritual memoir, I look for ways to make this connection. “Deconstruction must always be done in love,” says Jacques Derrida. Whatever manner in which we attempt to peel back the layers of social sin — greed disguised as “economics” or exploitation posing as the “free market” — the heart of the matter is always compassion, the longing to see true healing for the whole of the world. This healing is the purity and cleansing we all seek, the only true basis for a
housecleaning of our culture.

3 thoughts on “Housecleaning

  1. I could not agree more. I think it can be so tempting, when you’re smart, like intellectually smart, to use those smarts to outdo people, or to overcome them, or hold power over them in some way. At least it’s tempting for me sometimes. (I see you, Jon, as someone who doesn’t give into that temptation, if it even is a temptation for you.)

    This is why both Merton and Derrida are heroes of mine, people I look up to and aspire to emulate.

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