Vow of Conversation

Vow of Conversation

4.31 (16 ratings by Goodreads)
  • Hardback
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Product details

  • Hardback | 208 pages
  • 136 x 216 x 26mm | 379.99g
  • HarperCollins Publishers
  • Marshall Pickering
  • London, United Kingdom
  • 0551018224
  • 9780551018228

Review Text

Long-awaited journal by Merton - this one covering the two years leading up to his retirement into a hermitage at the Trappist monastery of Our Lady of Gethsemane in Bardstown, Ken. As with Merton's earlier journals, most notably The Sign of Jonas, this offers a melange of jottings on daily monastic life interspersed with spiritual and philosophical ruminations. The rush of wind in pine branches, the stillness of sunrise prayer, passages from Church Fathers fill the pages; here, as elsewhere, Merton emerges as a man with an eye for nuance and an ear for harmonies in the pitched battles of everyday life. These battles flare up everywhere. Merton wars with his abbot, who denies him permission to travel to Japan; with Cistercian life in general, for its lack of quiet and solitude; with Catholic censors over his anti-nuclear war writings; with the US government over Vietnam; with his own pride and agitation. Meanwhile, he fervently studies Zen Buddhism (one highlight is a secret visit to D.T. Suzuki in N.Y.C.), greet Czeslaw Milosz and other luminaries at the monastery, and prays and pushes with all his being for permission to become a full-time hermit. As the journal ends, permission arrives: "I feel as if my whole being were an act of thankfulness," he concludes. What we see here is the raw pain and polished reason of a brilliant, complicated mind muck-deep in the spiritual trenches. Some of Merton's interests seem dated now - Albert Camus and Barry Goldwater scarcely rank as front-burner figures these days. And this kind man's ability to be his own worst enemy is clearer than ever. But his chief concern - how to be authentically himself in the din of daily life - rings clearly across two decades. (Kirkus Reviews)show more

Rating details

16 ratings
4.31 out of 5 stars
5 50% (8)
4 38% (6)
3 6% (1)
2 6% (1)
1 0% (0)
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