Can You Trust Thomas Merton?

Can You Trust Thomas Merton?.

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8 thoughts on “Can You Trust Thomas Merton?

    • It was the one lesson in the Fr. Barron series Catholicism that made me uneasy. He coupled him with 2 great Doctors of the Church in a way that was almost unexplainable as to why, of all the saints available, he would choose a man who will never have that title and for good reason. I tried to read some of Merton’s work several times and my “inner voice” (which I now attribute to my Guardian Angel) made me feel uncomfortable in the reading. It is the same way I felt about Chardin.

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      • I’m the same way. I can’t touch the stuff. I could speculate as to why Fr Barron would include Fr Merton and put him at that level, but I won’t bother defending him on that one, nor do I think less of him for it. But I will say that Fr Barron is an intellectual (’nuff said). And he’s a holy priest as far as I can tell. I’m sure he puts that first.

        Regarding Chardin, I got an ear-load of that at Fordham, but not from the Jesuit priests who were there. Apparently in the book and movie “The Exorcist” (makes me sudder to think of that movie), the archeologist-priest at the beginning who finds the talisman was supposed to represent Teilhard de Chardin. I believe it.

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        • I agree about Fr. Barron and the rest of the series was really very good. I read the book and I imagine Peter Blatty did a lot of research with many Jesuits at Georgetown. I can certainly believe that he may well have based that opening scene on the life of Teilhard, though I had never heard that before. Very interesting thought though.

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  1. I encountered the name of Thomas Merton long before I became Catholic. Actually, I ran across him during a period of my life when I was an avowed atheist. During that time, I became greatly interested in Zen Buddhism, and it was in the process of learning about Zen that I encountered Merton.

    Later, after becoming Catholic, I would see Merton’s name pop up in various places, for instance a Catholic Book catalogue, or in some article somewhere that would mention him. It always surprised me, because my previous experience with Merton’s writings left me an impression of him that was by no means Catholic, let alone Christian.

    As a result, since becoming Catholic, I’ve shied away from reading any of his material. I’m not judging Merton, but at the same time, I do feel uneasy enough about reading his works that I avoid them. And it’s not like there’s a lack of good Catholic literature that not reading Merton leaves a hole that can’t be filled.

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    • Well stated. There is no reason in the world to read Merton’s thoughts – they will add nothing to your understanding of Catholicism and my, in fact, conflate your Catholicism with Buddhist thought.

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  2. Wow! I’m stunned. Reading the article told me more about Thomas Merton than I wanted to know, for I’ve always admired him. Apparently, I missed buying his Zen and Buddhist books, only his “Catholic” ones. It feels as if the world is crashing around me so I’ll have to give this more thought and read the article several more times. Wow!

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