As a “Hoosier” I was exploring the on-line libraries in the state. I Came across this site about Merton and Music.
I think we see how Jazz was the Christ speaking to Merton. Jazz a language with much religious tones and meaning. Jazz is not divorced from religion or the work-a-day world, especially in the eyes and heart of Thomas Merton.
When I taught, I would always open my first-day of class in comparative religions with the statement “Religion is never divorced from the work-a-day world.” All through the history of human beings, we see how ‘religion‘ is integrated into their daily lives. The religion I am referring to is not precisely the institution variety. But think of ‘religion‘ as the general divine dance we all do as beings in search of the Significant Other.
If we believe in the Universal Christ, we as humans are always in search of the “Significant Other“….and always will be, we just give that discovery of reality, different ‘myths’ –names—some “God, some Yahweh some Budha,” and so forth. Perhaps without fully recognizing it, we are often heading in the right direction most days of our lives as believers in “religion,’ and we are merely living our understanding of meeting the universal Christ as our reality.
Now think of the word ‘church“. “Church” is a community; it is where we share, learn, and give thanks together, to worship. When ‘church‘ becomes nothing more than a ‘legal society’ consisting of do’s and don’ts, canon laws, etc., then the search for meeting the Living God is significantly hampered in my opinion.
I worship in a community, a parish that thinks differently. On their website, it is written: “In our parish, we try to encourage you to think for yourselves, to be a bit intentional about what you consider for belief, and to believe that you and your life are a mystery, the same with all of us…We try to create ongoing conversations that discuss the religious education and faith formation of all of us, not just children. The most important work of our parish is the Liturgy for Sunday. It is a matter of the highest priority to make our weekend liturgies attractive human experiences for us; experiences that help us hear the Word that comes from the heart of God.”
Thomas Merton wrote in “Disputed Questions.”
“Each Christian must work out his salvation, as a member of Christ, and work it out in union with others. But the new circumstances of each age in the life of the Church confronts each new generation of Christians with problems and solutions for which the past offers no fully satisfactory example.”
I think about that statement often, maybe more so as I age and realize that I am an old baby boomer…and when we interact with others, we recognize people come from all situations of life, ages, and experiences. Many are reassessing the meaning of life, and what it means to meet the Living God, the Universal Christ.
We recognize we work out our ‘salvation’ as Merton says in union with each other. Young, and Old, all nationalities. We are a diverse community drawing from Rohr’s, Merton’s, Keating’s, the desert fathers, the patristics and the person next door experiences, insights, and wisdom to strengthen our commitment to spiritual growth and our path of contemplation.
We all realize, as Merton said: “work it out in union with others” through learning, conversation, and celebration – all of us, every one of us is always with a focus to deepen our understanding using our profound thought as a means to influence our journey and help others to meet the Significant Other we call the Universal Christ.