Simplicity and Sincerity

Some friends and I were discussing the heated discussions that tend to happen on the Catholic blogosphere (how do you spell that??), and today I came across this reading, which I thought worth noting.

“False sencerity has much to say, because it is afraid.  True candor can afford to be silent.  It does not need to face an anticipated attack.  Anything it may have to defend can be defended with perfect simplicity.

“The arguments of religious men are so often insincere, and their insincerity is proportionate to their anger.  Why do we get angry about what we believe?  Because we do not really believe it.  Or else what we pretend to be defending as the “truth” is really our own self-esteem.  A man of sincerity is less interested in defending the truth than in stating it clearly, for he thinks that if the truth be clearly seen it can very well take care of itself. …

“In the end, the problem of sincerity is a problem of love.  A sincere man is not so much one who sees the truth and manifests it as he sees it, but one who loves the truth with a pure love.  But truth is more than an abstraction.  It lives and is embodied in men and things that are real. And  the secret of sincerity is, therefore, not to be sought in a philosophical love for abstract truth but in a love for real people and real things – a love for God apprehended in the reality around us.

“The saint must see the truth as something to serve, not as something to own and manipulate according to his own good pleasure.  The selfishness of an age that has devoted itself to the mere cult of pleasure has tainted the whole human race with an error that makes all our acts more or less lies against God.  An age like ours cannot be sincere.”

-Thomas Merton, No Man is an Island, excerpted in A Thomas Merton Reader, pp. 123-125

Wow, that is harsh.  And hard.  Merton does not mince words.  I have certainly found much in his writing (thus far) that is inspiring, and even more that is challenging.