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Seeds of Destruction

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Thomas Merton (1915-1968) is one of the foremost spiritual thinkers of the twentieth century. Though he lived a mostly solitary existence as a Trappist monk, he had a dynamic impact on world affairs through his writing. An outspoken proponent of the antiwar and civil rights movements, he was both hailed as a prophet and castigated for his social criticism. He was also unique among religious leaders in his embrace of Eastern mysticism, positing it as complementary to the Western sacred tradition. Merton is the author of over forty books of poetry, essays, and religious writing, including Mystics and Zen Masters, and The Seven Story Mountain, for which he is best known. His work continues to be widely read to this day.


First published January 1, 1961

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Thomas Merton

670 books1,602 followers
Thomas Merton (1915-1968) 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 inter-religious dialogue, engaging in spiritual dialogues with the Dalai Lama XIV, Thich Nhat Hanh, D. T. Suzuki and poet Robert Lax. His life and career were suddenly cut short at age 53, when he was electrocuted stepping out of his bath.

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Displaying 1 - 9 of 9 reviews
Profile Image for Brian Tucker.
Author 8 books48 followers
November 30, 2021
Read in November. It carries the weight of the world on its shoulders and brings a smile to its audience of one.
Profile Image for Mary Jane.
12 reviews
January 30, 2021
Wanting to learn more of Thomas Merton‘s action and writing on social justice, I picked up this book and struggled through it. His writing is very wordy and not in a style that I care for o find easy to digest. But the one section that I highly recommend for anyone working for a greater social justice in any time and place is Chapter III of part two, A Tribute to Gandhi. In this chapter it is obvious that Merton greatly admired Gandhi and felt him a very important person of his time.
Profile Image for Josh.
175 reviews3 followers
November 30, 2020
"One of our most important tasks today is to clear the atmosphere so that [people] can understand their plight without hatred, without fury, without desperations, and with the minimum of good will. A humble and objective seriousness is necessary for the long task of restoring mutual confidence and preparing the way for the necessary work of collaboration in building world peace. This restoration of a climate of relative sanity is perhaps more important than specific decisions regarding the morality of this or that strategy, this or that pragmatic policy." p. 100

This collection of essays and personal letters addresses the religious, political and civil unrest of the early 1960's. What's most striking is to see how little has changed in sixty years with regard to the issues Merton raises in the book. In fact, we seem to have moved in the direction he tried to steer us away from, becoming more divided, more extreme, less informed and less compassionate than we were two generations ago. Our world is teeming with hatred, fury, desperation, and ill will toward one another--toward our fellow countrymen and women even. It's disheartening to watch as those issues most deserving of humble and objective seriousness (I'm thinking of racial injustice, public health crises, climate change, and democratic elections, just off the top of my head) being addressed, instead, with arrogant and fanatical insanity.
The good news is that the remedy for our disease is the same now as it was then, and still readily available to us. Again and again in this book Merton prescribes an openness of heart, a reasonableness of mind, a generosity of spirit, and an engagement of our bodies in the struggle for peace. These aren't the words of a capricious idler or an impractical dreamer, as teachers of such ideas will often be accused of being. These are the seeds of hope that can save us from destroying ourselves, if we'll commit to nurturing them and bringing them to fruition.
Profile Image for Yvonne Flint.
236 reviews2 followers
December 19, 2019
Sober, prophetic, inspiring words written in address of Vietnam, civil rights, the Cold War and the place of the Christian in a secular world. All still timely issues ... we have advanced not at all.
Profile Image for -kevin-.
322 reviews2 followers
May 15, 2023
I found this content relative and insight today.
While his other works may be more timeless, this is clearly written in the early 1960s, but it speaks poignantly to issues relevant to today. He points at a way of life that few chose and or even desire, including myself.
Profile Image for Tommy.
93 reviews10 followers
February 7, 2011
Half way through...this is great stuff...totally inpolitically correct. Merton was a religious Anarchist!
Displaying 1 - 9 of 9 reviews

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