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Soul Searching: The Journey of Thomas Merton Paperback – October 1, 2008


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Editorial Reviews

Review

[Y]oung and old, who are looking for a spiritual guide [are encouraged] to read this book.
Pastoral Music


Soul Searching is an excellent introduction to Merton’s life and thinking. Its generous use of well-reproduced photographs, and chatty style, make it very accessible.
The Merton Journal


Merton speaks to each generation about prayer, social concern, interreligious dialogue, and the search for the true self. Soul Searching helps us meditate on this legacy, and may send many more people back to the books that Merton himself wrote.
Commonweal


Atkinson and Montaldo draw from Trappist Monk Merton’s journals, books, letters, poetry, and photos, offering readers fascinating glimpses into the man beneath his public image.
Episcopal Life


While the book would not fit into your back pocket it would grace any prayer stool, bedside locker, glove compartment, or student desk. It is a good introduction to Merton and whets the appetite for further reading.
The Furrow


Thomas Merton was a highly spiritual man who gave much comfort to many people, and Soul Searching is a read for those to who want to be inspired further.
Midwest Book Review


The book of reminiscences, like the documentary, will surely awaken interest in Merton as an outstanding cultural figure and spiritual pilgrim.
Midwest Book Review


Morgan Atkinson’s DVD Soul Searching: The Journey of Thomas Merton is just a preview of the more extensive interviews found in the book by the same title. As a companion to the DVD, this book engages us in perceptive and sometimes humorous insights into Merton’s life and the prophetic importance of his works for the world today. Selections from Atkinson’s interviews with twenty-four notable Merton scholars and friends are organized according to four phases of Merton’s life and spiritual journey in a way that augments all the Merton biographies and articulates his message in the context of his, and our, everyday lives.
Robert Toth, Merton Institute for Contemplative Living, Louisville, Kentucky

Review

"What an inspiration you were to the attendees at the joint monthly luncheon series of two Presbyterian churches! We were moved not only by the story of Thomas Merton, which you have so artfully assembled, but also by your devotion to assure that his transcendent spirit and beliefs live today. Through you, Merton has much to say to searching people of all faith traditions." --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 216 pages
  • Publisher: Liturgical Press (October 1, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0814618731
  • ISBN-13: 978-0814618738
  • Product Dimensions: 0.5 x 6 x 7.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 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: #669,860 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

I have been reading Thomas Merton since I was thirteen, now for over fifty-six years. I wrote a Masters Thesis in theology and literature at Emory University in 1974, a study of Merton's autobiography entitled "Toward the Only Read City in America: Paradise and Utopia in the Autobiography of Thomas Merton". As I look back, my life has been rich with different experiences: a Jesuit seminarian in the New Orleans Province; service in Vietnam and Italy in the Navy; teaching high school; working for the government; founding and growing a ten-store retail operation with two partners (still going); and then formal work with Thomas Merton's legacy since 1988 that included being the director of the Thomas Merton Center at Bellarmine University in Louisville, Kentucky; a term as President of the International Thomas Merton Society; and administering a small retreat house, Bethany Spring, one mile away from Merton's Abbey of Gethsemani in Trappist, Kentucky, where I presented retreats on many topics but most were based on the ten-booklet series for small-group dialogue that I created entitled "Bridges to Contemplative Living with Thomas Merton". My favorites among the many editions I produced of Merton's writing include "The Intimate Merton", "Dialogues with Silence", "A Year with Thomas Merton", and "Choosing to Love the World: Thomas Merton on Contemplation". "Bridges to Contemplative Living with Thomas Merton" is perhaps the best work that I've done to bring Merton's teachings on "contemplative living" to a wide audience. "Bridges" is perhaps my most useful contribution to Thomas Merton's legacy.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Henry Berry on December 9, 2008
Format: Paperback
Not as overtly popular as he was in the 1960s, Thomas Merton nonetheless practiced a type of spirituality that is perennially appealing and enriching. The book of reminiscences of Merton by over 20 persons in different walks of life who knew him to varying degrees demonstrates his continuing appeal. Some of these are individuals who themselves are well-known for their interest in religion and influence. Daniel Berrigan was a '60's anti-Vietnam War activist who was a Catholic priest. Martin Marty is a noted religious scholar from the University of Chicago. Coauthor Jonathan Montaldo is a director at a retreat and author of books on Merton. Main author Atkinson is a producer who has done a documentary on Merton shown on PBS. This work of collected reminiscences is a companion to the TV program containing material left unused for it.

Merton was a (Catholic) Trappist monk with a searching interest in other religions and spiritualities. His continually growing spirituality--which he wrote about in many books, most notably The Seven Story Mountain published in 1948--was tied in with his moves to different locations and his travels. At the end of his life, he was in Asia (where he died in an accident with electricity) to study Buddhism and Zen firsthand. The material collected by Atkinson as free-ranging conversations for possible use in his documentary is organized according to "four geographical centers of Merton's adult life as lenses through which to see him." These centers are New York City; the Abbey of Gethsemini in rural Kentucky (with which Merton is most identified as a monk and writer); Louisville, Kentucky; and "points west and east" including California and Asia. Atkinson's interest is as much, if not more, a biographical portrait as spiritual one.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Midwest Book Review on February 7, 2009
Format: Paperback
An inspiration to thousands throughout the twentieth century, Thomas Merton was a beatnik turned monk. "Soul Searching: The Journey of Thomas Merton" is designed as a companion volume to the video documentary covering the man's life, ranging from his start through his deep soul searching that eventually made him find God, to his travels as a monk. Thomas Merton was a highly spiritual man who gave much comfort to many people, and "Soul Searching" is a read for those to who want to be inspired further.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Patrick C. Fowler on April 11, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Excellent DVD that has priceless archival footage of Merton and the Abbey of Gesthemani along with interviews from many important figures who knew him. A good introductory source for anyone interested in the unique journey of Merton from being a cosmopolitan young man, worldly in so many respects, to his turn to a spiritual life as a monk and, of course, to his emergence as a public figure. The companion book is also a rich source and smartly complementary to the DVD.
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