On free will and spontaneity:
Free will is not given to us merely as a firework to be shot off into the air. There are some men who seem to think their acts are freer in proportion as they are without purpose, as if a rational purpose imposed some kind of limitation upon us. That is like saying that one is richer if he throws money out the window than if he spends it.
This is seen in icky postmodern art where careful design is scorned. Meaningless paint flung on the canvas gives rationalism the finger, and moralism while it’s at it.
At first I was going to write that this idea plays a part in the elevation of spontaneity as well: that something is more valueable if it is done with very little forethought – that a flower picked suddenly on the walk home is better than the one picked in a very premeditated fashion at the florist. Or that praying outloud and making it up as you went along was more spiritual/powerful/whatever than writing something down earlier and reading it. But I think this is different than what Merton is talking about here. That is rationalism and systematic reasoning versus intuition and spontanaity. Not free will fireworks versus motivated purpose.