Keep Searching for God

Fr. John Burger

From the Director

By Fr. John Burger

I have been trying to track down the source of this quotation: “The first prerequisite for education is a willingness to sacrifice your prejudice on the altar of your spiritual growth.”

If I want to avoid prejudice, myself, maybe I should not concentrate on who said it, but on the thought content. It is an interesting quote in several ways. For one thing, whether it was written recently or decades ago, I think it is saying something important for our situation in contemporary American society. It seems that in many areas of our lives these days it is a rare person who has the willingness to sacrifice his or her prejudices on any “altar.”

Advertisers seek to influence young people’s choices so that they will form the habit of buying a particular brand, building a brand loyalty to Dial soap or whatever. This leads me to a wonderful quotation from Thomas Merton, “The greatest need of our time is to clean out the enormous mass of mental and emotional rubbish that clutters our minds.” How do people decide what to believe in?

Keep searching for the good, the true, the beautiful.

Years ago, when I was on mission in Japan, I remember one of our priests talking about the Japanese approach to truth. “It is what they feel,’ he said, “and that is what they will follow.”

I think the same is truer on this side of the Pacific than we might care to admit. Our feelings have more power over our decisions than the clearest, coldest logic.

November is the month for elections in this country. This year is what is called an “off year.” Nonetheless the campaigning for the election twelve months from now has already been in motion for some time. Much is being said. Is anyone really listening? Perhaps this is an area where sacrificing our prejudices for something truer could be a way to rethink our choices.

In the religious sphere, it is often the restless spirits, the seekers, the tortured souls, like St. Augustine or Thomas Merton, who are honestly searching and searching for answers to life’s mysteries and age-old religious questions.

St. Augustine certainly had such an inquiring mind that he could hardly understand people who took themselves for granted, “Men go abroad to wonder at the heights of mountains, at the huge waves of the sea, at the long courses of the rivers, at the vast compass of the ocean, at the circular motions of the stars, and they pass by themselves without wondering.”

Keep searching for the good, the true, the beautiful. Keep searching for God.