Turning Toward the World: The Pivotal Years; The Journals of Thomas Merton, Volume 4: 1960-1963: 1960-63 - Turning Towards the World: The Pivotal Years v. 4

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9780060654801: Turning Toward the World: The Pivotal Years; The Journals of Thomas Merton, Volume 4: 1960-1963: 1960-63 - Turning Towards the World: The Pivotal Years v. 4

This is the fourth volume of Thomas Merton’s complete journals. It is one of his final literary legacies and springs from three hundred handwritten pages that capture the growing unrest of the 1960’s and Merton’s search for peace amidst shifting values.

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 should cut back on his writing, Merton begins asking complex questions about contemporary culture (“the ‘world’ with its funny pants, of which I do not know the name, its sandals and sunglasses”), war, and the Church’s role in society .

Thus, despite his resistance, he is drawn into the world where his celebrity and growing concern for social issues fuel his writings on civil rights, nonviolence, and pacifism and lead him into conflict with those who urge him to leave moral issues to bishops and theologians.

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Review:

“A unique insight into the mind and heart of the most important spiritual writer of the twentieth century.”
Henri Nouwen

From the Back Cover:

The fifth volume of the acclaimed Journals of Thomas Merton documents the most turbulent period of the sixties and concludes with Merton’s momentous move to his own hermitage.

The sixties were a time of restlessness, inner turmoil, and exuberance for Merton during which he closely followed the careering development of political and social activism – Martin Luther King Jr. and the march on Selma, the Catholic Worker Movement, the Vietnam war, and the assassination of John F. Kennedy. Volume 5 chronicles the approach of Merton’s fiftieth birthday and marks his move to Mount Olivet, his hermitage at the Abbey of Gethsemani, where he was finally able to fully embrace the joys and challenges of solitary life.

‘In the hermitage, one must pray or go to seed. The pretence of prayer will not suffice. Just sitting will not suffice… Solitude puts you with you back to the wall (or your face to it!), and this is good.’ (13 October, 1964)

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