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The Environmental Vision of Thomas Merton (Culture Of The Land) Hardcover – May 12, 2011

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Editorial Reviews

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"Readers of Thomas Merton's writings are certainly all too aware of his frequent and detailed reference to nature especially in his journal writings. This book is in the first scholarly study of Merton's writings on nature, and Weis does a masterful job of situating them within trends seen in other nature writers and poets, making connections across literary and theological boundaries and demonstrating Merton's evolving ecological consciousness at the very beginnings of the ecological movement. It is a groundbreaking book."―Dr. Paul M. Pearson, Director and Archivist, Thomas Merton Center, Bellarmine University"

"Thomas Merton saw the hidden praise of God in the world of nature but understood that to sense that presence required a contemplative and poetic eye. Merton had both the eye and the poetic vocabulary as Monica Weis shows in this sensitive and perceptive study."―Lawrence S. Cunningham, John A. O'Brien Professor of Theology, The University of Notre Dame"

"In this wise and luminous book, Monica Weis shares the fruits of her research in a comprehensive synthesis filled with vivid details from Merton's journals, poetry and other writings. In prose both lyrical and logical, Weis traces Merton's appreciation and affinity for nature from his early life in France through his final years in his hermitage. She shows that protecting the natural world was an integral part of Merton's social consciousness, and the challenge of his environmental vision is as powerful and as pertinent in today's world of ecological crisis as it was during Merton's own lifetime."―Patrick F. O'Connell, Editor: The Merton Seasonal"

"Making use of both primary and secondary sources, Monica Weis explores the amazing growth of Thomas Merton's ecological consciousness, especially during his 27 years as a monk of Gethsemani in Kentucky. This well-written survey of Merton's appreciation of the natural environment is a welcome addition to a more complete understanding of Thomas Merton's enormous legacy."―Br. Patrick Hart, OCSO, was Thomas Merton's last secretary, and since his death has edited many books by and about Merton"

"...a masterful book, sure to be a rock-solid point of departure for any further forays into this very important topic."―The Southern Register"

"The Environmental Vision of Thomas Merton. . . shows how the writings of one profound man continue to challenge us to see with new eyes."―Rochester Catholic Courier"

"Monica Weis's delightful The Environmental Vision of Thomas Merton is a superb guide to the ecological themes of Merton's life and writings."―Christian Century"

"'The Environmental Vision of Thomas Merton' explores the powerful influence of nature on Merton's spiritual development and ecological consciousness, specifically illuminating his journey from mere delight in nature to a committed responsibility for its welfare ― a movement that placed him ahead of his time on environmental issues and unique in his approach to our relationship with nature." ― Appalachian News-Express"

"With her special inroads into his life and his writings, for Merton was a writer long before he was a monk, [Weis] has produced this well researched book giving insight into Merton's love of nature and the natural world." ― Homestead.org"

"The Environmental Vision of Thomas Merton . . . draws masterfully upon . . . personal correspondence and private note keeping to show how Merton's enjoyment of nature grew into a deeply spiritual experience, eventually becoming inextricably part of his monastic prayer life and propelling him to unite his voice with those speaking out against abuse of the earth." ― The Southern Register"

"This book carefully chronicles his environmental development, sets it in the context of all his work, and will be a helpful aid for individuals."―Choice"

"A very welcome addition to the Merton library...Monica Weis deserves the accolades that come with making a meaningful contribution to the body of Merton scholarship."―The Merton Journal"

"Monica Weis, a Sister of St. Joseph, explains how Merton evolved from a nature enthusiast...to one of the world's most respected ecological stewards."―The Courier Journal"

"This well-written survey of Merton's appreciation of the natural environment is a welcome addition to the scholarship pursuing a more complete understanding of his enormous legacy."―Cistercian Studies Quarterly"

"Reminds all of us that authentic 'private' spiritual/religious convictions have profound public, social implications. Beautifully produced and illustrated, engagingly written, Weis's work makes an important contribution to the study of literature and the environment in the twenty-first century."―Isle"

"The idea at the center of Monica Weis's new book ― that Thomas Merton, who was ahead of his time on so many social issues, had become an environmentalist before he died in 1968 ― is definitely intriguing. [Weis] traces Merton's "evolving ecological consciousness" [...] through the last five years of his life [...] she produces convincing evidence that, at the time of his death, Merton was well on his way toward being the spiritual conscious of the environmental movement."―Michael McGregor, June 24, 2011

About the Author

Monica Weis, a Sister of St. Joseph, is professor of English at Nazareth College in Rochester, New York. She is the author of Thomas Merton's Gethsemani: Landscapes of Paradise, a nonfiction finalist in the 2005 Kentucky Literary Awards. She lives in Rochester, New York.

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Product Details

  • Series: Culture Of The Land
  • Hardcover: 216 pages
  • Publisher: University Press of Kentucky; 1st edition (May 12, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0813130042
  • ISBN-13: 978-0813130040
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,776,287 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Englewood Review of Books on September 10, 2011
Format: Hardcover
[ This review originally appeared in
THE ENGLEWOOD REVIEW OF BOOKS - 2 Sept 2011 ]

It might come as no surprise that Thomas Merton, the Trappist monk well-respected for his broad-reaching writing about social justice, contemplation and spiritual disciplines, peace, interfaith dialogues, etc., would also have something to say about another pressing issue of our day, ecological responsibility. Monica Weis's new book, The Environmental Vision of Thomas Merton, part of the University Press of Kentucky's Culture of the Land series, does, in fact, present Merton as a sensitive contributor to the nascent environmental movement, but does so in light of the rest of his monastic life: deeply incarnational; aware of the interconnectedness of all of creation; and firmly grounded in the particular landscape of his place, namely the woods and hills of northern Kentucky. Interestingly, Weis frames much of Merton's `environmental vision' around a letter he wrote to none other than Rachel Carson, after his reading of Silent Spring; this same book is often credited with propelling the modern-day environmental movement, as well as leading to the establishment of the EPA, so it's telling that Merton - already sensitized so as to be receptive to Carson's book - would recognize the significance of Silent Spring.

Beginning with Merton's childhood spent accompanying his painter father, Weis suggests early formational landscapes and geographies in France and Rome; these affinities come into their own, though, at Gethsemani, over the decades as Merton becomes more familiar and attuned to the knobs, trees, clouds, and light of the place.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By rosemary on August 11, 2011
Format: Hardcover
This readable investigation of the influence of nature on Merton's spirituality is a long-awaited text--important for Merton scholars and contemporary readers concerned about environmental responsibility and justice. Give it a read!
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Thomas Merton loved humanity and our planet. He was a person who was interested in mankind and our interaction with nature.

As our world careens out of control when it comes to climate change he was the pillar of the earth for his time.

Read about his awareness of climate and our interaction with our planet.

You got to love Thomas Merton. I want to adopt him and this book is filled with love and awareness of our life and his.
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