Thursday, December 11, 2008

Thomas Merton (1915-1968)

Thomas Merton was born in Prades France on January 31, 1915. Both his parents, Owen Merton a member of the Churh of England and his mother Ruth Jenkins, an American Quaker were artist. At his his fathers request Merton was baptized in the Church of England.

As a young man he struggled with a deep numbing void. An number of mystical experinces lead him to convert to Catholicism. He eventualy took orders as a Trappist monk at the Abbey of Gethsemani in Kentucky.

Merton engaed in open spiritual dialogue with other faiths. He developed deep freindships with the Dalai Lama, Thich Nhat Hanh and D. T. Suzuki. He was passionately involved in social justice issues, including the civil rights movement and the anti-proliferation of nuclear arms. Merton was also intensley committed to a position of non-violence during the race riots and Vietnam War of the 1960s.

He penned more than 60 books and authored dozens of articles and reviews, many touching on the subjects of contemplation and interior spirituality. He is the focus of several biographies.

Merton died in Bangkok on December 10, 1968 after touching a poorly grounded electric fan while stepping out of his bath. His body was flown back to Gethsemani where he is buried.

the Thomas Merton society of Canada
Merton Biography, bibliography and resource page

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