“I am not one who believes that a man has to show his religious party card before one can speak to [God]. And I am well aware that there are plenty of people who shy away from religion and its institutional aspect precisely because of a certain abuse of this kind of thing. God asks of us, first of all, sincerity and truth. Conformity is not the first requisite, or the second, or the tenth. I do not know where it may stand on the list or whether it is on the list at all, since God has not shown me His list. But since He has made us for the truth, it stands to reason that we have to be true in order to know the truth.”
Excerpt from a letter from Thomas Merton (1915-1968) to Steve Eisner, dated February 1962, from Witness to Freedom: The Letters of Thomas Merton in Times of Crisis. Merton was an American Trappist monk who wore many hats: poet, writer, theologian, mystic, scholar of comparative religion, and social activist. He was a prolific author, having written more than 70 books. His best-known work is The Steven Storey Mountain (1948), an autobiography, considered one of the 100 best non-fiction books of the century by the National Review. He was a passionate advocate of interfaith dialogue, i.e., the positive interaction between individuals of different religious, spiritual, or humanistic beliefs at both the institutional and individual levels.
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