This semester I am taking a class on Thomas Merton. I knew embarrassingly little about Merton before entering the classroom on Wednesday. What I discovered intrigued me. It indicted me, actually.
Thomas Merton lived several decades ago. He was a mildly rambunctious dude who liked to party and (story goes) knocked up some lady. When his benefactor yanked him out of his “devious” European escapades and brought him to the U.S., Merton realized his vocation to monastic life. He entered a monastery and continued to write, as he had for most of his life, and he gained notoriety for his work. As Thomas Merton became more prophetic in his writing, and drifted away from popular catholic opinion, he reached a level of such dislike that some people wanted him removed from the monastery. But Merton, like many of the biblical prophets, was compelled to write. He could not be silent.
Writing in spite of dislike is the bit I find indicting.
For some time I have been aware that the frequency of my blogs—or lack of frequency—has less to do with having enough time, and more to do with being afraid. I am afraid because I have found myself too conservative for my present community and now potentially too liberal for my past community. I have been suppressing my soul’s urge to write for fear of being judged for what I think. That is wrong of me. It is understandable, but it is not authentic.
I can’t tell you I don’t like the idea of being a prophetic writer, or influencing lots of people with what I may write someday. That just wouldn’t be honest. However, I don’t think I am a Merton and I don’t necessarily think I am prophetic. About the only things I think I can say with any accuracy is that I am compelled to write and what I may write may or may not be liked by my Berkeley community or my Phoenix community. That effectively scares the hell out of me, but I cannot be silent.
So, in the words of a dear pastor friend of mine, ONWARD!