Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Merton

"[I]t is true that religion on a superficial level, religion that is untrue to itself and God, easily comes to serve as the 'opium of the people.' And this takes place whenever religion and prayer invoke the name of God for reasons and ends that have nothing to do with Him.
When religion becomes a mere artificial fa├žade to justify a social or economic system — when religion hands over its rites and language completely to the political propagandist, and when prayer becomes the vehicle for a purely secular ideological program, then religion does tend to become an opiate. It deadens the spirit enough to permit the substitution of a superficial fiction and mythology for the truth of life. And this brings about the alienation of the believer, so that his religious zeal becomes political fanaticism. His faith in God, while preserving its traditional formulas, becomes in fact faith in his own nation, class or race. His ethic ceases to be the law of God and love, and becomes the law of might-makes-right: established privilege justifies everything. God is the status quo," - the great American Catholic, Thomas Merton, from his book, "Contemplative Prayer."

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