Confidence in the divine image

On June 11, 1963, Thomas Merton wrote a letter to Jacque Maritain:

…we live in an atmosphere in which the very real concept of negotiation cannot possibly be taken seriously. But one of the real messages of Pacem in Terris is that to be a Christian today one must be able to have enough confidence in the divine image in human nature to believe that there can be some vestige of truthfulness in man and to act accordingly. For the first step is going to have to be a serious indication that we are willing to trust an enemy, even in an issue that may involve our own survival. Inability to do this means the end of our civilization. That is the problem in a nutshell.

Consider now the intransigence of Zionism and Christian Zionism with Rabbi Yisroel Weiss’ view:


  1. As I’ve thought about this, and these things, it seems to me that it’s one thing for me to trust an enemy, but quite another for a Prime Minister or a President to trust an enemy on behalf of the people who elected her or him. Such a leader often becomes unelected in one or another of the many ways peoples have of unelecting their leaders. In any case, does loving my enemy mean trusting him?

  2. I just read the post about the rally. I ask the following question out of a deep conviction that the echo of the image of God is audible somehow in everyone. How might we hear it in the members of Hamas?

  3. Thanks Sam, Regarding whether loving enemies entails trusting them: I think love has to carry some trust. You know this bit of script better then me…it’s a huge love that, “bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” If we can’t muster the tall order, can we at least carry our suspicion benignly?

    Your conviction that the divine image can be glimpsed in everyone obviously must include members of Hamas. What you’re asking then is not about it’s presence, but about how, say, Khaled from Hamas, can see a human image of himself reflected in our eyes to the degree where civil engagement and discourse is rendered possible. Our recognition is the beginning. And here we’re left to experiment communicating our recognition of “them” as part of the human family. Hard work. But there are attempts on both sides at bridging distrust between Israeli’s and Palestinian’s–Hamas included–such as the movement OneVoice.

  4. A fascinating rabbi speaking of a spiritual Israel safe among the nations of the world. I really don’t know if that is true but his dedication to a spiritual homeland is admiral and very close to the Christian ideal of a people whose home is heaven and not this earth.

    I wish I could believe as strongly in the Kingdom of God as this man does.

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