RSC – 0723

Thomas Merton from (Merton 69, p34-37) 

I asked everyone to answer the following three questions: 

What in the reading today do you disagree or dislike particularly? 

What does the answer to the above question say about you? 

What does what is happening around us; such as the summer festivity like the Beaches Jazz Festival and the Lantern Exhibition as well as the Chinese immigrant who committed suicide and the conflict is
Lebanon has to do with what we are reading?  

We did not have a guided discussion but there were many fruitful conversations. Let me start by giving my brief answers to the above Qs, the rest are what I have been able to recall: 

I do not particularly disagree much with what Merton had to say, consider the fact I liked a lot of things he wrote. However, I did find his “no method” pronouncement disturbing. Professionally speaking (as a software consultant), I live and breathe methods. Had there been no method, software would be a black and we would ascend to the status of Guru or Priest. So to transpose from my professional mentality to a non-control environment takes some getting use to. I think this does show how our professional life affects out faith. The necessary shift in paradigm from one realm to another makes the integration of faith with profession a difficult one. Not all profession requires the shift. As a physician I can see the same “healing” principles can be transposing to faith but I can also see that may not always be the case. Maybe that is why there is the semantic difference between profession and vocation. Being a physician does not automatically mean you have a vocation in healing. 

I suppose that also answer the third question. The fact is we are not an isolated self in this world. As the effects of the Global Village shrink ever faster, what is happening in another locality does have an influence in how we live our lives. To ignore the impact is ignoring the fact that our God is a Global God and limiting him to our private world which is pretty small and petty.  

There was a discussion around why good intention is not enough? It seems good intention is the only thing we can count on. It seems so sad that good intention is not enough. What else do we need? I was reminded by a conversation I had with a couple of pastors a long time ago. The discussion was started by what is non-negotiable about our faith. Of course, well-intention was brought up and was quenched quite quickly. Then experiences and scriptures were brought into the picture. Eventually, not a lot of conclusion can be drawn except for the fact that the Christ event is as non-negotiable as it comes. I remembered thinking over this and the sentiment I had was that our faith seemed so fragile yet in so many people I can see there is a non-negotiable persistence to struggle. May be the only non-negotiable is the faith given to us as a gift that we will no stop until our dying day to live out and pass on this faith in a generous variety of form and content.  

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