CONTEMPLATION IN A WORLD OF ACTION by Thomas Merton

CONTEMPLATION IN A WORLD OF ACTION

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KIRKUS REVIEW

This is not the official voice of Trappist silence, the monk with his hood up and his back to the camera. . . . This is simply the voice of a self-questioning human person who, like all his brothers, struggles to cope with turbulent, mysterious, demanding, exciting, frustrating, confused existence. . . ."" True enough, and a tone well remembered, though here it is directed to audiences with a specific interest in monastic renewal and especially those with some involvement in its administrative side. This is an assemblage of articles in defense of monastic solitude as ideally conceived, and in criticism of the institutional formalities that tend to discourage any but the ""accepted spirituality."" Fearing that the renewal movement would stop with legalist reforms, Merton returns to the roots of Christian affirmation -- the experience of God's immanence which each man must achieve by his own means, and in whose wholeness the sacred and the secular, obedience and freedom, contemplation and action are reconciled. The modern temper and the history of the Orders are brought in skillfully, often quite interestingly, in support of his positions, but the arguments themselves have little import for lay readers (for example, how to deal with the disillusionment of young monks). There is a great deal of belaboring and overlapping -- possibly because the community addressed is essentially conservative, possibly because Merton's death prevented proper editing of magazine material -- and the saintly patience gives evidence of strain; hut the basic generosity of spirit, and certainly the vision, shine through.

Pub Date: Feb. 26th, 1970
Publisher: Doubleday