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Other titles in the Library of Religious Biography series:
Thomas Merton and the Monastic Visionby Lawrence Cunningham
Synopses & Reviews
Taking up where Merton's own Seven Storey Mountain ends, this penetrating biography by Lawrence Cunningham explores Merton's monastic life and his subsequent growth into a modern-day spiritual master. Though the basic story of Thomas Merton's life may be well known, the details of his spiritual development are less familiar. Cunningham shows that Merton's prolific writings and his continuing influence can only be understood against the background of his contemplative experience as a Trappist monk. "If one does not understand Merton as a monk," writes Cunningham, "one does not understand Merton at all." Merton emerges from this balanced and reliable account as an extraordinary Christian seeker and pioneer whose faith in the power of the contemplative life remains highly relevant today.
Though the outlines of Thomas Merton's life are generally known to his many readers, the details of his spiritual development are less familiar. This penetrating biography by Lawrence Cunningham explores Merton's monastic life and subsequent growth into a modern-day "spiritual master".
"If one does not understand Merton as monk", writes Cunningham, "one does not understand Merton at all".
The book follows the trajectory of Merton's life, starting from his entrance into Kentucky's Abbey of Gethsemani in 1941. Cunningham highlights the development of Merton's monastic life against the cultural background of the American experience and the vast upheavals in the Roman Catholic Church. Cunningham's unique approach clearly reveals the paradox of Merton's life. Here was a person deeply involved in the cultural struggles of his day despite having made a conscious decision to draw away from the world in silence and solitude. With both pen and voice, Merton continued to face the most seething issues of the century, including the antiwar and civil-rights movements. Equally intriguing was Merton's dialogue with Zen Buddhism, a figurative and literal journey that led to his death in Bangkok in 1968.
Merton emerges from this balanced and reliable account as an extraordinary Christian pioneer whose faith in the power of the contemplative life remains highly relevant today.
Includes bibliographical references (p. 211-225) and index.
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