Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Great Discussion About Thomas Merton

Over on the First Things blog, George Weigel has an excellent post on Thomas Merton - the trappist monk whose autobiography Seven Storey Mountain has continued to be a hit thirty years after his death.

Merton was a prolific writer who took up residence as a monk in Gethsemane, Kentucky. His story of his conversion to the Church was integral to my own "re-conversion" as I like to call it.

I have always struggled with Merton, though, because in his later years he gets a little to into eastern religions for my taste (although I believe Buddhism and its cousins have a lot to say to us today that is of great value). As with anyone else, when a person seems to stray from the path a bit, it forces us to call into question our preference for their work pre-departure (i.e. - John Corapi)

George Weigel (who else?) has a post talking about whether or not Merton is/would have become as "progressive" a Catholic as many people assume today. His excellent post can be read here. If you've ever read any Merton at all, I think you'll find Weigel's post most instructive.


  1. Father,
    My sister lives in The Netherlands and is married to a Buddhist. He wanted her to check out what he believed and she did-Of course, she said that she is Catholic and would not become Buddhist, thankyouverymuch, but she did say that there were many good things that they are taught that are very similar to Catholicism, such as peace, love, open hearts and meditations.
    I will have to send her a link to this-I'm sure she would like it quite a bit!

  2. For me in college - and I think for most from our culture who are attracted to eastern religions/philosophies such as Buddhism - the main attraction is their whole teaching on the denial of self and transcendence. Most people hear that and they think "Yeah, this world is crappy - I ought to just transcend it and deny myself because my self leads me astray." JP II really helped me understand Buddhism when he basically said "Buddhism offers much that is very similar to our Faith - the idea that we must transcend and deny ourselves and so forth - but they just take it to far. This world is not completely evil - nor is it completely a show (i.e. the Matrix) and so I ought not flee it entirely. My self does lead me astray at times - but not always - and so I ought to deny myself but also admit that there is a lot of true info that I can take in through my senses and my self."

  3. I read a Thomas Merton Liturgy of the Hours book that I got from the book cart at Nativity a couple years ago. I enjoyed it immensely but did feel that it was a little east of Rome. Thank you for sharing this :)