Merton, Thomas 
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Time Period
1/31/1915  - 12/10/1968
Description
Thomas Merton converted to Catholicism in 1938 and decided to join a Trappist (Cistercian) monastery near Louisville, Kentucky in 1941. There, he became a prolific and renowned writer beginning with his autobiography The Seven Storey Mountain (1948), which detailed his conversion from a "worldly" lifestyle. Although his superiors were suspicious of his devotion to writing, Merton continued his literary pursuits, producing more than 50 books and hundreds of articles. In the early 1960s, his writings emphasized social concerns for racial equality, economic justice, and pacifism. He was a strong supporter of Martin Luther King, Jr. and his nonviolent methods. Merton’s work also began to incorporate mysticism and Eastern philosophy, which opened up interfaith dialogue with Asian spiritual leaders like the Dalai Lama. This also aroused suspicion that he was veering too close to universalism.

Today, Merton’s work continues to impact those interested in spirituality and social justice, even among non-Catholics.

Interactive Timeline(s)
Prominent Religious Events and People in American History
Catholic Religious Events and People in American History
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Religious Groups
Catholicism (Western Liturgical Family): Other ARDA Links

Photographs

Thomas Merton- Photograph of Thomas Merton by Sibylle Akers. Used with permission of the Merton Legacy Trust and the Thomas Merton Center at Bellarmine University.png

Thomas Merton- Flickr- painting by duckmarx (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Thomas Merton hermitage- Flickr- photo by Brian Sherwood (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)
Book/Journal Source(s)
Queen, Edward, Stephen Prothero and Gardiner Shattuck, 1996. The Encyclopedia of American Religious History. New York: Facts on File.
Reid, Daniel, Robert Linder, Bruce Shelley, and Harry Stout, 1990. Dictionary of Christianity in America. Downers Grove, IL.
Web Source(s)
http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/376458/Thomas-Merton
Thomas Merton's Encyclopedia Britannica Biography
Web Page Contributor
Benjamin T. Gurrentz
Affliated with: Pennsylvania State University, Ph.D. in Sociology

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