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A Silent Action: Engagements with Thomas Merton Hardcover – September 1, 2011

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 112 pages
  • Publisher: Fons Vitae (September 1, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1891785788
  • ISBN-13: 978-1891785788
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.2 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,006,262 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"Following a brief Author's Foreword by the Archbishop of Canterbury in which he acknowledges his indebtedness to Merton over the years 'studying for my doctorate with Merton's friend, A.M. Allchin, proved a doorway into still more of his mind and spirit. A few years later The Asian Journal gave me my first sense that inter-religious dialogue could be (and had to be) a matter of spiritual encounter, and still more doors opened.' Rowan Williams arranged these 'engagements' into five chapters, beginning with a paradoxical tribute to Thomas Merton in 'a person that nobody knows.' He concludes this short chapter with words of wisdom: 'The great Christian is the man or woman who can make me more interested in God than in him or her. A paradoxical tribute, but the highest that can be paid.'" —Patrick Hart, Louisville Courier-Journal (October 15, 2011)

About the Author

Rowan Williams is the 104th Archbishop of Canterbury as well as a celebrated writer, acclaimed theologian, and pastor. He has published poetry and is the author of Honest to God, Where God Happens, and The Wound of Knowledge, among others.

More About the Author

Rowan Douglas Williams was born in Swansea, south Wales on 14 June 1950, into a Welsh-speaking family, and was educated at Dynevor School in Swansea and Christ's College Cambridge where he studied theology. He studied for his doctorate - in the theology of Vladimir Lossky, a leading figure in Russian twentieth-century religious thought - at Wadham College Oxford, taking his DPhil in 1975. After two years as a lecturer at the College of the Resurrection, near Leeds, he was ordained deacon in Ely Cathedral before returning to Cambridge.

From 1977, he spent nine years in academic and parish work in Cambridge: first at Westcott House, being ordained priest in 1978, and from 1980 as curate at St George's, Chesterton. In 1983 he was appointed as a lecturer in Divinity in the university, and the following year became dean and chaplain of Clare College. 1986 saw a return to Oxford now as Lady Margaret Professor of Divinity and Canon of Christ Church; he was awarded the degree of Doctor of Divinity in 1989, and became a fellow of the British Academy in 1990. He is also an accomplished poet and translator.

In 1991 Professor Williams accepted election and consecration as bishop of Monmouth, a diocese on the Welsh borders, and in 1999 on the retirement of Archbishop Alwyn Rice Jones he was elected Archbishop of Wales, one of the 38 primates of the Anglican Communion. Thus it was that, in July 2002, with eleven years experience as a diocesan bishop and three as a leading primate in the Communion, Archbishop Williams was confirmed on 2 December 2002 as the 104th bishop of the See of Canterbury: the first Welsh successor to St Augustine of Canterbury and the first since the mid-thirteenth century to be appointed from beyond the English Church.

Dr Williams is acknowledged internationally as an outstanding theological writer, scholar and teacher. He has been involved in many theological, ecumenical and educational commissions. He has written extensively across a very wide range of related fields of professional study - philosophy, theology (especially early and patristic Christianity), spirituality and religious aesthetics - as evidenced by his bibliography. He has also written throughout his career on moral, ethical and social topics and, since becoming archbishop, has turned his attention increasingly on contemporary cultural and interfaith issues.

As Archbishop of Canterbury his principal responsibilities are however pastoral - leading the life and witness of the Church of England in general and his own diocese in particular by his teaching and oversight, and promoting and guiding the communion of the world-wide Anglican Church by the globally recognized ministry of unity that attaches to the office of bishop of the see of Canterbury.

His interests include music, fiction and languages.

In 1981 Dr Williams married Jane Paul, a lecturer in theology, whom he met while living and working in Cambridge. They have a daughter and a son.

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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Chris Pramuk on May 14, 2012
Format: Hardcover
These five short essays or "engagements" with Merton go back almost 40 years, and represent some of the best thought on Merton anywhere to be found, uncovering a rich vein of ecumenical conversation in the latter half of the twentieth century. Like Merton himself, Archbishop Williams directs our attention to the sacramental nature of language - poetry, liturgy, theology - its capacity to interrupt, provoke, and awaken human consciousness to the presence of God in the world. (And likewise the terrible dangers of language, the profound need for its renewal in the public square.) Williams resists hagiography of Merton and directs our attention rather to topics that most engaged Merton in his turn to the world - not least Merton's interrogation of "old words for God, safe words for God, lazy words for God, useful words for God." He does so with refreshing, often brilliant poetic and theological insight. The concluding essay on Karl Barth and Merton - on "not being serious" - is alone worth volumes and hours of prayerful reflection. The Preface by Jim Forest and shimmering Afterword by Kallistos Ware highlight the spiritual/theological kinship joining Eastern Orthodoxy, Williams' Anglican tradition, and Merton's Catholic sensibilities. Great, inspiring, and (not-so) serious stuff here, inviting Merton studies to a new level.
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By Ben Cunningham on July 4, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Excellent and unusual
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9 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Alex Tang on October 25, 2011
Format: Hardcover
What has the Archbishop of Canterbury, head of the Anglican tradition has in common with a Cistercian monk from America? There is much in common between these two men who has never met face to face. This 2011 book is a compilation of various engagements of the Anglican theologian and the writings of the religious catholic in a series of lectures and journal articles over a period of time which was written by the Archbishop. I believed that Thomas Merton will be bemused if he is aware of the interest the Archbishop has bestowed upon him.

There is much to reflect upon in this slim book which reveals the spiritualites of these two men and their journeys on the contemplative path. During their journeys, they involved and engaged many other theologians into their dialogue which includes Reformed theologian Karl Barth and Orthodox theologian Vladimir Lossky. Mostly they have interacted with each other. What stands out in the dialogue is their conviction of God as the ground of their being and their commitment to the contemplative path as the journey in the silence of the soul from the false self or what Thomas Merton refers to as the 'delusory self image' to the real self.

A good read for fans of Rowan Williams and Thomas Merton.
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