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The Intimate Merton: His Life from His Journals

4.27  ·  Rating details ·  310 ratings  ·  27 reviews
In this diary-like memoir, composed of his most poignant and insightful journal entries, The Intimate Merton lays bare the steep ways of Thomas Merton's spiritual path. Culled from the seven volumes of his personal journals, this twenty nine year chronicle deepens and extends the story Thomas Merton recounted and made famous in The Seven Storey Mountain. This book is the s ...more
Paperback, 375 pages
Published February 20th 2001 by HarperOne (first published 1999)
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Lynne King
We live in a society whose whole policy is to excite every nerve in the human body and keep it at the highest pitch of artificial tension, to strain every human desire to the limit and to create as many new desires and synthetic passions as possible, in order to cater to them with the products of our factories and printing presses and movie studios and all the rest.― Thomas Merton, The Seven Storey Mountain.

Life is indeed odd. I have had this book for fifteen years and have never read it. If
...more
K.M. Weiland
Jan 31, 2019 rated it really liked it
A quiet, mundane, reflective, thought-provoking journey that came to me at exactly the right time in my life.
booklady
As a huge fan of Thomas Merton I really enjoyed and highly recommend this audio book, especially if—like me—you’re not at a place where you can read all seven volumes of his journals.

Overall, Intimate Merton gave me a greater appreciation for Thomas Merton as a man, monk, writer and Christian. His books on contemplative prayer sometimes bewildered, or left me with the impression he had all the answers, even if I didn't. His journals, however reveal his humanity through all the private struggles
...more
Keegan
Jan 05, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: religion
Hey, whaddya know. Merton isn't a robot. Since the journal entries are a heavily trimmed down set, this reads like a series of epiphanies on the same topic over and over, which sort of makes me want to set it on fire. Still, I am very much enjoying it the rest of the time.

I'm glad he flipped out and started sneaking around and being sexy with his hospital ladyfriend.

He legitimizes any and all mental insanity I find myself going through here at the monastery, and for that I'm grateful. Also, I ca
...more
Anthony
Feb 02, 2015 rated it it was amazing
A review by Anthony T. Riggio of the book The Intimate Merton ( His Life from His Journals) compiled by Patrick Hart and Jonathon Montaldo.

Thomas Merton was a prodigious writer and he reflected his spiritual life in every work he accomplished. He was a journal writer and left behind after his untimely death in his early fifties, volumes documenting his experiences in great details. He produced volumes of his journals from the time he entered into Gethsemane Monastery in Kentucky, just outside of
...more
David Lafferty
Jun 02, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I love Merton's journals. Although Seven Storey Mountain is a desert Island book for me, I couldn't leave his journals behind. To label them "journals" almost does these work a disservice. These are meditations, stories, minutia, observations, profound revelations from a man on his journey to God. As with Seven Storey Mountain, we see Merton the human being with all his flaws, however we also see Merton the contemplative mystic vying for a place in the pantheon of John of the Cross or Teresa of ...more
Robert
Aug 17, 2011 rated it it was amazing
One's most deeply held convictions, most ardently pursued dreams, firmly protected ideologies, open-book spirits are best known through one's journals, not diatribes. Here, we must live with our pants down and with the ever present risk that our finely constructed personal castles can be easily dismantled in light of our own self-disclosure. If this is good enough for monastic-mystic-philosopher-poet-artist-lover, Thomas Merton, it must be good enough for me!

"The point is that it does not much m
...more
Renée
Apr 02, 2020 rated it liked it
I don’t know if disciples choose their teachers or if it’s more the other way around.

For better or for worse, Merton feels in many ways to me like my guide to finding God in twenty-first century America. He is a somewhat shaky guide, as this distillation of his journals attests. Sometimes his lack of self-awareness is just endearing and humanizing and sometimes it’s wildly damaging and just appalling. His inner thoughts—like anyone’s!—are gorgeous and rich and sometimes annoying (See entire sec
...more
Scott Rushing
Jul 14, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: thomas-merton
The Intimate Merton is an edited collection of Merton’s private journals, dating from 1939 (just before he entered the Abbey of Gethsemani) to his death in 1968.

Here are some of my observations:

- Merton was restless, and often considered the possibility of leaving Gethsemani for another location, and even put in formal requests to relocate. (He was denied, having taken a vow to remain there.)
- I found his later years the most interesting, especially once he moves into the hermitage in the 1960s
...more
J. Robin Whitley
Aug 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
At first I was disappointed in the book. Then it was beautiful to see how Merton grew in thought and practice through his journals. This took me a while to read because I wanted to take my time with it and not rush through. Makes a great bedtime read because it's powerful, thoughtful, and peaceful.
Jeremy
May 20, 2018 rated it liked it
"Therefore, if I don't pretend, like other people, to understand the war, I do know this much: that the knowledge of what is going on only makes it seem desperately important to be voluntarily poor, to get rid of all possessions this instant. I am scared, sometimes, to own anything, even a name, let alone a coin or shares in oil, the munitions, the aeroplane factories. I am scared to take a proprietary interest in anything for fear that my love of what I own may be killing somebody somewhere." p ...more
Joe Vess
Jan 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
A fascinating insight into Merton's life, and turned me onto a number of his writings I hadn't explored before.
Craig Bergland
Jul 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A simply outstanding sampling of Merton's journals, a great place to start studying them or as a refresher for those who already have!
Lacey Louwagie
WOW this book took me a long time to read. I guess it's not easy to just breeze through someone's entire life. When I read the introduction to the book and learned that, although the book consisted of excerpts from all of Thomas Merton's journals, they were just that -- excerpts. In other words, the book was abridged, and I usually avoid abridged books. But then I decided I'd go ahead with it, to get a "taste" of Thomas Merton and decide if I wanted to read more. And I have to say, if I had a bo ...more
Benjamin
Nov 25, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: spirituality
Initial Question:
How does Merton volley and shift in his life, "spiritual" or not?

Merton does volley, just like a "normal person" - and i think that's what he was after all along.

I resonated most with Merton's desire to reduce life to its most simple state - pursuing contentment rather than duplicity. This would happen when Merton would write bout disappearing into the countryside in solitude, describing the landscape in his journal, describing the peace he felt being alone. Yet: he was also dr
...more
Kasey Jueds
Aug 07, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: journal, spirituality
I have been reading this book since August, and just finished a couple of days ago. I loved savoring it--so much to think about and to let sink into me--I didn't want to fly through it. It's made me want to read more of Merton's journals, though I so much appreciated this edited version, which--even though it's a tiny fraction of the total journals--manages to create such a rich and moving and complicated picture of Merton. Sometimes I wished for more in the way of notes: I didn't always underst ...more
Erica
Apr 02, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: religion
Lately, I've been talking about Buddhism with my Catholic friends. And they keep bringing up Merton. So here I am.

This is an account of the kinds of things you think about, the kind of wisdom you acquire, if you devote your life to solitude. While it's unclear how the editor selected these particular journal entries, I found the "Reader's Digest" winnowing starkly revealed Merton's transformation over time. As he aged, his belief system got more spare, more (I hesitate to say it) "Zen". Always p
...more
James Mcgowen
Jul 20, 2015 rated it it was amazing
An excellent overview of the life of this great 20th century religious figure, illustrating the changes in his spiritual life, from his early Catholicism to his "maturity"as a Catholic writer, his "affair" with a nurse when he was ill, and his pilgrimage to Asia where he met his death. Truly, a worthwhile book to go through during the year.
Mark Courneyea
Jul 20, 2009 is currently reading it
The more he seems to be descending (or ascending) into the contemplative life of the monk, the more he seems to be present, reminding me of the requirement of Strasberg's method acting to constantly "be in the moment", the more he seems to be less opinionated, less concerned about opinions of his personal past or future, the less judgemental - and the more interesting to me.
Duc
I came to know Merton's writing through photography. I was a night course at PNCA. Smith, my teacher showed us the work of Eugen Meatyard. Meatyard spent sometime with Merton in his monastery in Kentucky photographing him.
It was years ago when I bought this book. Recently, I read 'Miracle of Mindfullness'. The author, I later learn had a great influence on Merton.
Andrew
May 27, 2016 rated it liked it
"What was fragile has become powerful. I loved what was most frail. I looked upon what was nothing. I touched what was without substance, and within what was not, I am." (from 'The Voice of God is heard in Paradise', July 4, 1952, The Fire Watch, 'The Intimate Merton' p102)
Claire
Jan 26, 2015 rated it it was amazing
What a difficult and unique thing to "meet" someone, get to know them over 29 years of their life, and then realize that the entire experience was just you spying on the house of his love, a glimpse through a one-way mirror.
Kenny
Apr 05, 2007 rated it liked it
I can relate with the worry in his writing... a bad quality.
Maria Lancaster
This was the first book I read by Merton and it had such a tremendous impact on me. The work is lyrical, yet concise and to the point.
Christine
Aug 05, 2008 rated it really liked it
Occasionally meandering and a little hard to follow-- they are journals after all-- but with beautiful little gems of insight that inspire my own reflection on what it means to love God.
Martin
May 09, 2012 rated it it was amazing
A great compendium of Merton's journals, arranged in chronological order. Gives a good insight into the inner workings of Merton as a man in search of God, solitude, serenity, and inner awareness.
Kay Jones
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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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