Monday, August 27, 2012

Thomas Merton

Just watched a documentary on Netflix about Thomas Merton.  (In the USA, not sure if Netflix is around the world.)  He seems like a very interesting spiritual person, who didn't necessarily conform, and followed his conscience.  He was open to eastern insights and was impressed by any tradition's spiritual depth.  

I glossed his Wikipedia entry.  He had a tragic death. Wikipedia (today): "On December 10, 1968, Merton had gone to attend an interfaith conference between Catholic and non-Christian monks in suburban Bangkok, Thailand. While stepping out of his bath, he reached out to adjust an electric fan and apparently touched an exposed wire and was accidentally electrocuted. He died 27 years to the day after his entrance into theAbbey of Gethsemani in 1941. His body was flown back to the United States and he is buried at Gethsemani Abbey."

(Also interestingly he fathered a child, who has not been identified, before his conversion.)

One of my therapists, who died while I was in treatment with him, said the beginning of The Seven Storey Mountain is difficult, but I got a used copy recently, so I'm going to give it a try. I read 50 pages into it and it's pretty interesting.  He's a good writer, I can see why this was a surprise best-seller.  He lived in Flushing for a while, where I live.  His father was a painter, who took him all over the world.

I haven't been able to find any free audio or videos of him, but the Netflix movie has some good footage of him, and other people.  It's not too long.  Britannica has an entry on him.  They only let you read the first page.


Unknown said...

Dear Stephen,
You can learn more about Merton at, the website of the International Thomas Merton Society, which has chapters throughout the U.S. and indeed the world. Many have been inspired and energized by Merton's insights and beautiful, often prophetic writing. Life keeps going out from him. I wish you luck with Seven Storey Mountain and you may find his book on his Asian Journey of special interest. All the best, Mike Brennan

Stephen Bell said...

Thank you Mr. Brennan. I'm on p216 now, and I'm blown away about his spiritual journey. I'm not a Christian, but I see lots of interesting overlap, and parallels, and just plain good spiritual insights. I enjoyr a spiritual memoir no matter what faith. And I think he is an awesome writer. I will have to look into his Asian Journal.