Thursday, July 11, 2013

Merton, the Movie

Coming in 2015.  The Divine Comedy of Thomas Merton - The Movie.

I have mixed feelings about this.

The movie is getting some good endorsements:

Jim Forest says of the screenplay: "I found it very gripping - read it in one bite."

Richard Rohr says: "Thomas Merton is serving history as a 'Prime Attractor'.  He excites, challenges, and educates the hardest of hearts and most rigid of minds from so many different spheres of life.  He seduces people into a future where there is room and compassion for so much more.  You can jump into that future through this fully entertaining but profoundly true account of his life."

Cathleen Falsani (Orange County Register Religion columnist) says: "'The Divine Comedy captures the delicious dichotomy of Thomas Merton - a thoroughly modern mystic who toiled in realms both profane and sacred."

What disturbs me is the hype.  Thomas Merton, the man who wanted to disappear, is now a movie star.

And then there is the lead in to their Facebook page:

In 1966, world famous monk Thomas Merton falls in love with a nursing student half his age, plunging him into the most agonizing predicament of his life. 
In the summer of 1966, world famous monk and peace activist Thomas Merton falls in love with a nursing student half his age, plunging him into the most agonizing predicament of his life. As he endeavors to prevent his secret romance from being discovered by his abbot, James Fox, Merton is brought to the brink of despair, realizing he must finally choose between serving himself or serving the world.
Oy.  Typical sensationalism a bit like tabloid journalism.  This worries me.

Granted, the movie is directed to a younger audience, those who do not know Merton.  It just might invite them to look deeper into a life that seeks a different way of knowing and being in the world.

There are contemplative monks and nunks alive today, hidden in their communities but every bit as holy and radical as Thomas Merton.  They don't have movies dedicated to them - or blogs for that matter.

Is this a matter of staying focused on the moon, rather than the finger pointing to it?  Or is it just one more example of the absurdity of taking our lives so seriously?

Maybe I'm just a grump today.


  1. 2cents ______________________________________

    i dont know if you are grumpy today or knot !
    i think the Romans wood bee very unhappy with this
    flick being that Merton was thrown out of
    the National Catechism for Adults, as being unorthodox
    and probably condemn this movie, after all Tom has been a bad boy problem to the upper church managers
    and still is -

    Blessings __________________________________


    1. I'm probably just over reacting because of that movie about the gameshow (about 20 years ago) where the depiction of Merton was just awful. It seems to me that people (in America at least) don't have the least idea of what monasticism is all about. There have been some good movies made - The Silence, and the one about the Trappists in Algeria who were martyred. I hope that this movie can follow in those footsteps.

      All that being said, there is an underground Catholic Church going on out here that thrives in spite of upper church managers. I think that Pope Francis is a secret member.

    2. I think you're right about Pope Francis...
      Viva il Papa!!!

  2. A good friend writes:

    To know Merton is to read him, and his inspired journals. Anyone who hasn't, and succumbs to this movie for the sake of yet another tale of a heart divided between divine vows and human desires as being the momentous definition of the monk Louis may also miss wisdom when it is given to them...but that's just me talking...



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