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The Silent Life

3.89 of 5 stars 3.89  ·  rating details  ·  70 ratings  ·  8 reviews
Thomas Merton wrote The Silent Life a decade after he took orders. In his Prologue, Merton describes the book as "a meditation on the monastic life by one who, without any merit of his own, is privileged to know that life on the inside . . . who seeks only to speak as the mouthpiece of a tradition centuries old." It is a remarkable work-one that combines a lucid and inform ...more
Paperback, 192 pages
Published November 29th 1999 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (first published 1957)
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Alex Stroshine
Well if you want to be a monk or are interested in the monastic tradition, this is a great resource and you would probably find this book being a 4-5/5. If, on the other hand, you read this book solely because you were drawn to the name of the writer, Thomas Merton, like I was, this might prove to be a disappointment.

Merton's early (and orthodox) work is insightful and illuminating and "The Silent Life" hails from this era. I thought, with a title like "The Silent Life", that this book would be
The Silent Life is rather academic and dry; a disappointment for one who loves Merton’s more personal and contemplative writings. I suppose this book would be useful for a person seeking to find out more detail about the various branches of monastic life; and for a lay person, Merton does an admirable job of explaining the contemporary relevance of monastic ideals in a world in which such a life appears to be obsolete. Merton’s devotion to Christianity is apparent, but the book carries an overal ...more
This is one of writings in his earlier years which has a different flavor than his later ones. It is one that most people can relate to even if not of the same religions thoughts. It is not really a religious book but something we all think about and don't know how to express. Merton had the ability to say things in this book that makes one sit back and shake his head that yeah that is just what I thought too. He helps us formulate those loose cannons running round in our spiritual thoughts.
Whoops, shouldn't have read this--only marginally interested in the who's who of monasticism. Definitely don't have the focus (or mental capacity) to remember all of this information. Furthermore, it seems that a deeper study of the orthodox church should be prerequisite to this. I'm an emotional protestant shawty and this doesn't compel me like Merton's contemplative side. More my fault than the book's, but ratings and criticism inherently require bias so there you have it.
This is not: a comparative analysis of modern monastic communities; a memoir of a monastic experience; theology. I don't know what the hell it is.

Die Große Stille is a better bet for an intimate portrait of monasticism — equally uncritical, but much more experiential.
Scott Hopkins
making my way though this book by Merton for the first time... other books by this man, I have read over and over.... the first chapter mesmerizes !
Nathaniel Hughes
This is a good book about monastic spirtuality. I have really nothing else to compare it to, but I think it's a fairly good introduction.
Got about halfway through before I gave up. I still look forward to reading some of Merton's other work, but The Silent Life is not for me.
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Thomas Merton was one of the most influential Catholic authors of the 20th century. A Trappist monk of the Abbey of Our Lady of Gethsemani, in the American state of Kentucky, Merton was an acclaimed Catholic spiritual writer, poet, author and social activist. Merton wrote over 60 books, scores of essays and reviews, and is the ongoing subject of many biographies. Merton was also a proponent of int ...more
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