[The] fire Prometheus steals from the gods is his own incommunicable reality, his own spirit. It is the affirmation and vindication of his own being. Yet this being is a gift of God, and it does not have to be stolen. It can only be had by a free gift - the very hope of gaining it by theft is pure illusion.
Not knowing that the fire was his for the asking, not knowing that fire was something that God did not need, something that God had created expressly for man, Prometheus felt he had to steal it. But why? Because he knew no god that would be willing to give it to him for nothing. He knew no god that was not an enemy, because the only gods he knew were a little stronger than himself. He had to steal the fire from gods that were weak. If he had known the strong God, everything would have been quite different.
Thomas Merton, The New Man, p. 16
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