Apprenticeship in Pacifism Or What to Do with Practical Advice?

JVF Conference Papers

As was passed on by a twentieth century monk named Thomas Merton, himself living a secluded life in the Abby of Gethsemane in Kentucky, we have this saying, which is only one of many sayings that came out of the deserts of Egypt, Palestine, Arabia and Persia during the fourth century: “Another brother asked the same elder, Abbot Theodore, and began to inquire about things which he had never yet put into practice himself. The elder said to him: As yet you have not found a ship, and have not put your baggage aboard, and you have not started to cross the sea: can you talk as if you had arrived in that city to which you planned to go?

When you have put into practice the thing you are talking about, then speak from knowledge of the thing itself!” The ironic challenge given by the elder is to speak only from experience, as if experience itself produces knowledge as such.

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