Saturday, August 11, 2007

a book of hours

A friend stopped by the other day and handed me this book.
This book is amazing; I love this book.

Listen to Stanley Hadsell, of Market Block Books speaking on the Northeast Public Radio book show with a review of A Book of Hours.

The following is from one of Kathleen Deignan's many fine essays introducing the "Hours".

“As Merton’s life of psalmody deepened it awakened the psalmist within him as well. He began inscribing new psalms in the poetic prose and countless poems that seemed to flow from the inexhaustible wellsprings of his silence, the original reservoir of authentic human language from which all praise arises and to which it returns. In a cascade of literary eloquence he soon became the unique voice of a contemporary contemplative reawakening, inspiring in his readers a similar hunger for the experience of God. For Merton, poetry was near the horizon of this encounter, because like music and art it attuned the soul to God, inducing contact with the Creator of a universe resplendent with traces of divinity…

“As Merton’s prose progressively became raids on the unspeakable brutality and violence of our age, his mystical poems were raids on the ineffable. In rich, outrageous, lush and lavish language he spelled out a vision of existence stunning to the impoverished religious imagination of postmodern Christianity. To the blood soaked soul of the twentieth century languishing in the eclipse of spirit deadening skepticism and self-consciousness, Merton dared to speak with the innocence of faith: the primordial intuition of original wholeness, meaning, and mercy at the heart of reality. While the “master narrative” of Christianity progressively suffered distortion, discontinuity, and fragmentation throughout his life, Merton was indefatigable in reweaving the threads of the sacred story on the loom of his inspired religious imagination, unapologetic for spinning a yarn to clothe his existential nakedness, a vestment to wear for his everyday liturgies of praise.” pp. 28-29


  1. It's going on my list.
    Right now! :)

  2. You won't be sorry,nwc. It truly is a remarkable book. I'm amazed at the way she has been able to pull together Merton's writings into this astoundingly powerful "prayer". I use it in addition to praying the psalms. Saturday's readings just blew me away (but they all do).

  3. Thank you, Beth. I'd very much like to get this too. I see from your picture that the Foreword is by James Finley, whom I like very much. Have heard some clips of his audio tapes, but don't have anything by him yet.

  4. I'm a big fan of Finley. I've read his first book, Palace to Nowhere, so many times that the book has fallen apart - so now I just pick up parts of it to read again. There's a lot from Finley quoted on this blog.


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