Run to the Mountain: The Story of a Vocation: 1939-1941by Thomas Merton
When Thomas Merton died accidentally in Bangkok in 1968, the beloved Trappist monk's will specified that his personal diaries not be published for 25 years -- presumably because they contained his uncensored thoughts and feelings. Now, a quarter of a century has passed since Merton's death, and the journals are the last major piece of writing to appear by the 20th century's most important spiritual writer.
The first of seven volumes, Run to the Mountain offers an intimate glimpse at the inner life of a young, pre-monastic Merton. Here readers will witness the insatiably curious graduate student in New York's Greenwich Village give way to the tentative spiritual seeker and brilliant writer. Merton playfully lists everything from his favorite lines of poetry and songs to the things he most loves and hates.
Thomas Merton was an inveterate diarist; his journals offer a complete and candid look at the rich transformations of his adult life. As Brother Patrick Hart, general editor of the series notes, "Perhaps his best writing can be found in the journals, where he was expressing what was deepest in his heart with no thought of censorship. With their publication we will have as complete a picture of Thomas Merton as we can hope to have."
By 1960 Merton was an internationally renowned figure. His bestselling Seven-Storey Mountain (1948) had been ranked alongside St. Augustine's Confessions, and in a steady stream of books and articles he had explored monastic spirituality in a way that seemed fresh and relevant to a wide public. The themes in this volume of his journals show a definite shift away from his earlier otherworldliness. Kramer (English/Georgia State Univ.) has divided the manuscript chronologically into four parts. We see Merton at last obtaining the unusual permission from his abbott at Gethsemani to live in a hermitage, yet meeting a growing number of thinkers and representatives of other faiths in his retreat. Even before Vatican II begins, he is involved in the issues of liturgical reform, ecumenism, and especially the Church's attitude to the modern world. The Cuban missile crisis and the apparent inevitability of nuclear war loom large. Merton considers the need for Christians, including himself, to speak out against the Vietnam War and social segregation, while the writings of Hannah Arendt and the Eichmann case force him to think more deeply about the Catholic understanding of obedience. These pages are characterized more by breadth than depth. Although there is much personal questioning, spiritual musing, and notes from Merton's extensive reading and worldwide correspondence, most readers would do better to turn to Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander (1966), which contains the developed fruits of these jottings.
Strictly for Merton connoisseurs.
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