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Great Merton anecdote: “Over Labor Day [in 1938, the year before he was received into the Catholic Church], Merton and Joe Roberts went to Philadelphia, arguing over mysticism and the Catholic Church, drinking so much that it took several days to recover.” Mott, The Seven Mountains of Thomas Merton, 118-119.

That happened to me once. I was probably in my early thirties. I drank copious amounts of beer and started talking to other people (some of them sober) about mysticism. The next day, I was sick as a dog and felt pretty stupid. In retrospect, I realize now that my sickness was, in part, triggered by the gastritis that plagues me to this day, but the odd juxtaposition–intense drunkenness and a desire to talk about mysticism–did occur, just as it apparently did with Merton.

Drink and mysticism go together like love and sex. Excessive drink is the desire to attain mysticism illegitimately, just as fornication is the desire to attain eros illegitimately. I think it’s a metaphysically-natural occurrence. It’s not right, but it is natural.