cover image What I Am Living For: Lessons from the Life and Writings of Thomas Merton

What I Am Living For: Lessons from the Life and Writings of Thomas Merton

Edited by Jon M. Sweeney. Ave Maria, $17.95 trade paper (224p) ISBN 978-1-5947-1741-3

Timed to coincide with the 50th anniversary of Trappist monk Thomas Merton’s death, this compilation of essays edited by Sweeney (A Course on Christian Mysticism) provides a space for modern Christian writers to reflect on the ways Merton’s life and writings have influenced their spiritual thinking. Merton, a Catholic writer, poet, peace activist, and commentator on comparative religions, exhibited a diversity of interests that is reflected in the breadth of contributions here. Jesuit priest and bestselling author James Martin provides a piece on learning one’s true vocation and speaks eloquently on his transition from corporate manager to Jesuit novitiate. Novelist Sue Monk Kidd relates a visit to Merton’s hermitage near the Abbey of Gethsemani in Kentucky that helped shape her understanding of self. Many of the writers list Merton’s 1948 autobiography The Seven Storey Mountain as an influence when deciding to write about their spiritual inner life and discuss topics such as spiritual identity, sexual relationships, interfaith dialogue, and expansive (as opposed to constrictive) theology. A time line of Merton’s life and world events that happened during his life (1915–1968) is also helpfully included in Sweeney’s well-rounded collection. (Mar.)