Wednesday, September 06, 2006

The Most Dangerous Man in the World

The most dangerous man in the world is the religious leader who is guided by nobody. He trusts his own visions. He obeys the attractions of an interior voice but will not listen to other men. He identifies the will of God with anything that makes him feel, within his own heart, a big, warm sweet interior glow. The sweeter and warmer the feeling is, the more he is convinced of his own infallibility. And if the sheer force of his own self-confidence communicates itself to other people and gives them the impression that he is really a saint, such a man can wreck a whole city or a religious order or even a nation. The world is covered with scars that have been left in its flesh by visionaries like these. (Thomas Merton, New Seeds of Contemplation [New York: New Directions Publishing Corporation, 1961] 194–195)