Saturday, July 13, 2013

The Honesty of Thomas Merton

I like this article over on The Internet Monk a lot.  Just goes to show how honesty cuts through all sorts of things that we think divide us.

The Monk Who Wouldn't Go Away by Michael Spencer 
One of the joys of having a hero is sharing him/her with someone else. If you know me very long, you'll hear about my hero, Thomas Merton: monk, writer, poet, activist, Christian, enigma, good looking bald man. Merton (1915-1968) is one of the most significant religious writers of the twentieth century and a lasting influence on untold numbers of Christians (and non-Christians) from every tradition and culture. For those of us in the Bluegrass state, he also holds the distinction of being perhaps the most significant religious figure to reside in Kentucky, being a monk at Our Lady of Gesthemeni monastery near Bardstown for twenty-seven years. He is buried there today.  
Merton is a strange kind of hero for me. I am a conservative Reformed Protestant. He was a liberal Roman Catholic who could easily have become a Buddhist. Merton was a former communist sympathizer turned Democrat who found Gene McCarthy too tame. I am a libertarian-Republican who wishes Pat Buchanan's brain could be surgically altered and put in George W's body. Merton befriended and praised the sixtie's liberal pantheon; wrote poems about them, wrote letters for them. I think those people- Baez, Berrigan, etc- were alternately amusing and frightening. Merton hated systematic theology and loved modern literature. I hate modern literature and love systematic theology. Merton choose monasticism over marriage. I think that was a crying shame. Merton thought a good time was walking barefoot in a cornfield reading Muslim mystics. I'd prefer a Dave Mathews show. He loved jazz. I love bluegrass and rock. Merton died by touching a faulty electrical fan after taking a shower, thus becoming the patron saint of all clumsy people. I haven't yet decided how I'm going to go, but it could possible involve all the White Castles I can eat. 

Read the rest HERE.


  1. Hilarious Beth, although I don't know some of the characters you describe, but I can look them up. What's a white castle ?

  2. Oh Phil, you must come to the southern parts of the USA and have white castles. I only remember getting them in KY as a child, but I think that they are still around at least the Southern U.S. States. THey are little square hamburgers with a little onion on them that are steamed so that they are soft. You don't eat just one, but 5 or 6. You buy them by the BAG(s)! because you eat a lot of these little hamburgers.

    Actually, I haven't seen a white castle store for years and years, but I think that they are still around. I'll be in KY next month and look for them. If I see one, I'll take pictures!

  3. 2Cents ________________________________________

    The Monk Who Wouldn't Go Away -
    is a good read it is my very best wish that Michael
    upon his demise goes to White Castle heaven
    and alas becomes St.Burger the First , A-men

    Blessings _______________________________________

    1. You know, bob, I sent Michael an email to tell him how much I liked his article and I found out that Michael has already become St. Burger the First. He died in 2010 of cancer. I figure the email made it to White Castle heaven, though.

  4. 2Cents ___________________________________

    O NO -- Beth that’s not good
    its interesting- there are White Castle around
    it would be fitting that Michael be remembered
    upon seeing a W.C. - is this stupid or what -
    how nice that his article could remain on the web
    and be appreciated,its a internet blessing
    O.T." a good word is more precious than
    golden apples on a silver platter "
    see see we can make saints too you know the
    old saying do as the Romans do !
    should we distribute coupons ???

    Blessings ________________________________

    1. I will certainly remember Michael when I see a White Castle!l We just never know where our words will end up. Important to speak honestly the best we can.

      I'm looking through some of the comments made in reaction to the ruling in the Zimmerman trial. So much hatred and confusion out there. I'm not sure why these people commit their self hatred to comment boxes. Maybe that is the only way they know to get it out of themselves.

  5. 2Cents __________________________________

    Most have lost there Centre -
    they are fearful of the tomorrow
    the glue of materialism is fracturing
    this society is falling apart perhaps the world with it
    its a Humptee-Dumptee self destructive thing
    when Corporations become people - people become things
    mindless and ignorant and spirituality becomes a item to
    be sold on the stock exchange this is this society sick condition
    i not surprised at the Zimmerman thing i think he will
    die in a reprisal killing perhaps his entire family -
    our society is killing its self with hate - hate is first born
    by learning to hate ones-self and fuelled by gilt -
    it would require a complete psychological shift in society
    to change the consequence this society is embarking on
    if not we, will all become dust in the wind !

    Blessings ________________________________________

    1. yep. things do seem dire.
      The one redeeming grace that I see is the profound dignity of the Martin family. Just a little bit of light in all this darkness. I believe that their nonviolent response will carry the day, and all of us.

  6. a-men to that !

    i will be off the puter for a few days i am taking a bus
    an going to Michigan to see my 1956 hi school girl friend
    and hang out we like to go to the Casinos and play the
    penny machines its a real people education and talk
    to all the old farts -funny



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