Sunday, July 16, 2006

Merton, Sin and Organizational Sickness

I am busy writing the first of series of articles on the nature and remedy of organizational sin. I hope to use the nine prime sins of the Greek Desert Fathers and Mothers as a foundation for my exploration. One of the most peculiar practices amongst Christian leaders is the pervasive habit of discrediting another brother, minister of family in order to somehow establish personal or even organizational credibility. Thomas Merton, the American trappist and hermit, reflects on this:

"It has been marked that the more totalitarian a society is, for example, that of Russia or of Hitler's Germany, the less its members feel any sense of sin. They can commit any evil without remorse as long as they feel they are acting as members of their collectivity. The only evil they fear is to be cut off from the community that takes their sin upon itself and 'destroys' them. This the worst of disasters, and the slighest indication of disunion with the group is the cause of anxiety and guilt."

When we loose the "sense of sin", we loose the possibility of sanctification. May we learn the wisdom of Jesus that calls for a open heart and a non-judgmental attitude towards others (Matthew 7:1). May we follow in the footsteps of the Apostles and do nothing out of selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind esteem others as better than ourselves (compare Philippians 2:1-2).

Merton, T 2003. The Inner Experience. New York: HarperColins. Page 120.