I found it very interesting when Thomas Merton, the famous Benedictine monk, applied to become a hermit and it was met with resistance for years. Merton felt the Abbot was resisting Merton’s request for personal reasons. That battle is quite a read!
The resistance to Merton’s request wasn’t without merit. Even Merton knew the dangers of living out one’s spirituality in isolation. That’s what I’m up against. I no longer am a part of a local church community. Neither are many of you! In a way, we are like Merton who are living as kind of hermits out in the world, many of us in isolation from other Christians and church communities…
Every person of appropriate age remembers where they were on the morning of September 11, 2001, after having learned of the transpiring events of that day. Each individual experienced a reaction of sorts. Such reactions include feelings of anger, resentment, sadness, and shock. Our nation as a whole responded as well, though not all have agreed on the executive response that was made shortly after in an attempt to rectify the damage caused on 9/11. Namely, the decision to go to war.
In Peace Be With You: Monastic Wisdom for a Terror-Filled World, David Carlson attempts to ask a different question, one not often considered in such times of crisis. Specifically, how could we have better responded? In answering this question, Carlson conducts a variety of interviews with monks and nuns of the monastic order in hopes to reveal what we missed in the event of 9/11. It’s quite obvious that something was missed in that there is still no peace. It seems we’re even farther from experiencing peace now than ever before.
Each interview provided a new thought to be considered. Each, I would suggest, was enlightening and helped in answering the aforementioned question. These interviews are finally stitched into a coherent whole within the last chapter, with the conclusion being that we could have responded differently by truly acting as Jesus would have. Which, in turn, would have eliminated the possibility of war.
It is also worth noting that Carlson, as well as those interviewed, offer substantial information on the monastic life. In reading, one will gain a better understanding of those who have chosen monasticism as a way of life and will hopefully conclude with a deeper respect for those involved. That being said, I highly recommend reading Peace Be With You by David Carlson. While it’s not normally a book I would have chosen for myself, it proved to be a book worth reading indeed.
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