Journalist Who Assisted Thomas Merton to Speak at Festival

By Smith, Peter | Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA), April 14, 2015 | Go to article overview

Journalist Who Assisted Thomas Merton to Speak at Festival


Smith, Peter, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)


In what may be the best compliment an editor can give one of his charges, Jim Forest said of the late monk Thomas Merton: "He was more or less incapable of writing a boring sentence."

In fact, that ability got Merton into trouble with his superiors.

When Merton, a Catholic monk, published writings against Christian complacency amid the "war madness" of the nuclear age, he was anything but boring.

In fact, some in his Trappist religious order found his writings too radical or unfit for a monk, and they silenced him for more than a year on such topics. But the ban was later lifted, and Merton's writings ultimately were echoed in other church documents of the time, said Mr. Forest, who was an editor at the Catholic Worker newspaper when it published Merton's works.

Mr. Forest, now based in the Netherlands, will be a keynote speaker during the April 16-26 festival sponsored by Pittsburgh's Thomas Merton Center and marking the 100th anniversary of the birth of Merton, a prolific author and pioneer in fields ranging from peace to prayer to interfaith relations.

Mr. Forest will speak Monday on "Thomas Merton's Advice to Peacemakers" at the Sheraton Pittsburgh Hotel at Station Square. Festival programs will include a new documentary on Merton's final days and talks on Merton's work on civil rights, environmentalism and interfaith relations. Details are at www.thomasmertoncenter.org.

Merton, who died in 1968 at age 53 in an accident while abroad, wrote dozens of books.

Mr. Forest was discharged from the U.S. Navy in 1961 as a conscientious objector and joined the Catholic Worker community in New York City, which was led by the legendary Dorothy Day and committed to peace and social justice. …

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