A Search for Wisdom and Spirit: Thomas Merton's Theology of the Self

A Search for Wisdom and Spirit: Thomas Merton's Theology of the Self

A Search for Wisdom and Spirit: Thomas Merton's Theology of the Self

A Search for Wisdom and Spirit: Thomas Merton's Theology of the Self

Excerpt

Why another book about Thomas Merton? So much has already been written about this man. There have been biographies about his cosmopolitan early life and his dramatic conversion, studies of his work and writing as a monk, analyses of Merton as social critic, essayist, and poet, and as explorer of the world's religious traditions. All these in addition to Merton's own numerous works. Someone has remarked that Merton's books and books about him represent something of a "cottage industry" in our culture as new generations of students, Christian or not, young and old, women and men, newly discover his writing and become "hooked." They are attracted, perhaps, by Merton's spiritual writing or by his autobiographical reflections or his poetry. The sustained, even devoted, interest of so many suggests that this fascination is not just a fad that soon will wear itself out.

But how explain the continuing and compelling attraction to a person who, as a young man, walked away from involvement with the ghetto and its poor, marginalized ones for the beauty and peace of a contemplative monastery in the country? Certainly most religious people today are well aware of the Third World, its poverty and dependence, and acutely conscious too of the "underside" of our own nation. They are repeatedly reminded of their call to collective political, social, and economic action to attend to the needs of the world and to express overtly what Latin American theologians and, more recently, the United States Catholic Bishops have named "the preferential option for the poor. . . ."

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