Any writer whose work has endured as a rallying point of ongoing study, meaning-making, devotion, or wisdom-seeking seems to inevitably cause their readers to fall into common temptations and tendencies of how they interpret what they have left behind. Among these, for instance, might be a tendency to read one’s own life back into the words of another so as to lift up the desired message regardless of original intent. Another, related to the first, might be to remove the writer from their original context and approach their work as if it had been written in a vacuum, devoid of the particular time and place in which it was produced.
Those who love, appreciate, and derive meaning from the writings of Thomas Merton are not immune from these sorts of actions. Arguably one of the most prolific spiritual writers in Christian history, his reflections on life, faith, devotion, prayer, contemplation, service, and justice are still held in such high esteem; his work kept close to the hearts of millions seeking to deepen their own journey with God. And thus the commentaries on his writing have been just as numerous, as others have sought to aid devotees in their reading.
Read the rest at The Englewood Review of Books.