The fourth volume of Thomas Merton's complete journals, one of his final literary legacies, springs from three hundred handwritten pages that capture - in candid, lively, deeply revealing passages - the growing unrest of the 1960s, which Merton witnessed within himself as plainly as in the changing culture around him.
In these decisive years, 1960-1963, Merton, now in his late forties and frequently working in a new hermitage at the Abbey of Gethsemani, finds himself struggling between his longing for a private, spiritual life and the irresistible pull of social concerns. Precisely when he longs for more solitude, and convinces himself he could not cut back on his writing, Merton begins asking complex questions about the contemporary culture ("the 'world' with its funny pants, of which I do not know the name, its sandals and sunglasses"), war, and the churches role in society.
Thus despite his resistance, he is drawn into the world where his celebrity and growing concerns for social issues fuel his writings on civil rights, nonviolence, and pacifism and lead him into conflict with those who urge him to leave the moral issues to bishops and theologians.
This pivotal volume in the Merton journals reveals a man at the height of a brilliant writing career, marking the fourteenth anniversary of his priesthood but yearning still for the key to true happiness and grace. Here, in his most private diaries, Merton is as intellectually curious, critical, and insightful as in his best-known public writings while he documents his movement from the cloister toward the world, from Novice Master to hermit, from ironic critic to joyous witness to the mystery of God's plan.
This remarkable collection includes the unpublished "Cold War Letters" (as well as a complete list of the series), with Merton's original preface, which confirms their continuing relevance in the cause of peace. There are letters to ecologist Rachel Carson; artist and type designer Victor Hammer; Merton's friend and agent Naomi Burton Stone; his teacher Mark Van Doren; the Canadian philosopher Leslie Dewart; the French Arabic scholar Louis Massignon; and other famous as well as unknown correspondents. There is a courageous open letter to the American hierarchy on the issue of war. Witness to Freedom shows Merton as a living witness against war, perhaps one of the greatest of our century.
Drawing on his extensive knowledge and experience of ecumenical cooperation, Roman Catholic lay brother and monk Wayne Teasdale offers a strong and prophetic voice for interfaith dialogue that brings traditions together without watering them down. He offers a blueprint for combining the strengths and perspectives of various faiths in order to address the crises of poverty, racism, environmental pollution and moral indifference.
Highly informative and compelling, this book is accessible to a wide audience, from the classroom to study groups and others who want to learn about conversing across traditions. Teasdale offers a valuable approach to teaching the Roman Catholic tradition in our pluralized, globalized world. At the same time, his spiritual insight and prophetic wisdom lead the reader into the frontier world of interfaith relations where confusion is always present, and faith, though not as secure as in isolation, is enriched by contact with the great world religions. This book is visionary, hopeful, and deeply inspiring as we walk into the uncharted future.
A chance encounter with a reproduction of Rembrandt's The Return of the Prodigal Son catapulted Henri Nouwen on a long spiritual adventure. Here he shares the deeply personal and resonant meditation that led him to discover the place within where God has chosen to dwell.
In seizing the inspiration that came to him through Rembrandt's depiction of the powerful Gospel story, Henri Nouwen probes the several movements of the parable: the younger son's return, the father's restoration of sonship, the elder son's vengefulness, and the father's compassion. In his reflection on Rembrandt in light of his own life journey, the author evokes a powerful drama of the parable in a rich, capativating way that is sure to reverberate in the hearts of readers. The themes of homecoming, affirmation, and reconciliation will be newly discovered by all who have known loneliness, dejection, jealousy, or anger. The challenge to love as the father and be loved as the son will be seen as the ultimate revelation of the parable known to Christians throughout time, and here represented with a vigor and power fresh for our times.
"The Return of the Prodigal Son is a beautiful book, as beautiful in the simple clarity of its wisdom as in the terrible beauty of the transformation to which it calls us." --New Oxford Review