Which is probably why I ordered Beggars for Heaven, a biography of Jacques and Raissa Maritain. Jacques Maritain was the French Catholic philosopher whose writings were instrumental in the conversion of Merton and John Howard Griffin. Both men considered him their spiritual mentor. Raissa, a Russian-born and Jewish poet rooted in Hasidic mysticism, married Jacques and together they discovered and explored the deeper meanings of Catholicism. Merton translated many of her poems from French into English.
The Maritain marriage was special, drawing many lives into their passion for truth. T.S. Eliot, Marc Chagall, Merton and Griffin are just a few of the people who were drawn into the enchanted circle.
“Too liberal for conservatives, too conservative for liberals” is how one reviewer describes the Maritain way. I relate to that and remember a Catholic Church that used to also be that way (or so I perceived it).