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The New Man Paperback – November 29, 1999

4.8 out of 5 stars 16 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“To those who shrink from the usual sort of 'spiritual reading,' Thomas Merton's book may be recommended. They will be confronted by a vigorous, questioning mind that again and again anticipates an objection, a doubt, even a disgust.” ―The Times Literary Supplement

About the Author

Thomas Merton (1915-1968) is one of the foremost spiritual thinkers of the twentieth century. Though he lived a mostly solitary existence as a Trappist monk, he had a dynamic impact on world affairs through his writing. An outspoken proponent of the antiwar and civil rights movements, he was both hailed as a prophet and castigated for his social criticism. He was also unique among religious leaders in his embrace of Eastern mysticism, positing it as complementary to the Western sacred tradition. Merton is the author of over forty books of poetry, essays, and religious writing, including Mystics and Zen Masters, and The Seven Story Mountain, for which he is best known. His work continues to be widely read to this day.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux; Reissue edition (November 29, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0374514445
  • ISBN-13: 978-0374514440
  • Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 0.8 x 8.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #445,981 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Thomas Merton (1915-1968) is arguably the most influential American Catholic author of the twentieth century. His autobiography, The Seven Storey Mountain, has millions of copies and has been translated into over fifteen languages. He wrote over sixty other books and hundreds of poems and articles on topics ranging from monastic spirituality to civil rights, nonviolence, and the nuclear arms race.

After a rambunctious youth and adolescence, Merton converted to Roman Catholicism and entered the Abbey of Gethsemani, a community of monks belonging to the Order of Cistercians of the Strict Observance (Trappists), the most ascetic Roman Catholic monastic order.

The twenty-seven years he spent in Gethsemani brought about profound changes in his self-understanding. This ongoing conversion impelled him into the political arena, where he became, according to Daniel Berrigan, the conscience of the peace movement of the 1960's. Referring to race and peace as the two most urgent issues of our time, Merton was a strong supporter of the nonviolent civil rights movement, which he called "certainly the greatest example of Christian faith in action in the social history of the United States." For his social activism Merton endured severe criticism, from Catholics and non-Catholics alike, who assailed his political writings as unbecoming of a monk.

During his last years, he became deeply interested in Asian religions, particularly Zen Buddhism, and in promoting East-West dialogue. After several meetings with Merton during the American monk's trip to the Far East in 1968, the Dali Lama praised him as having a more profound understanding of Buddhism than any other Christian he had known. It was during this trip to a conference on East-West monastic dialogue that Merton died, in Bangkok on December 10, 1968, the victim of an accidental electrocution. The date marked the twenty-seventh anniversary of his entrance to Gethsemani.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
In this treatise, Cistercian monk Fr. Thomas Merton attempts to show, in clear and concise language, why Jesus Christ is the New Adam, the New Man; in turn, he exhorts the reader to find the element of the New Man in her/himself. This lucid and direct theological work is not one his most popular, yet brings forward the orthodox doctrine of Original Sin and the redemptive force of the Incarnation. Merton's direct approach and literary background serve him well here. This is one of my favorite books.
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This book might truly change your view of life because it leads you to examine the deepest parts of your soul. In plain language that's very easy to follow, Merton describes how we can abandon our self-absorbed lives and then discover again our true selves in Jesus Christ. It is a book about the transforming power of God, and although it is deeply spiritual in tone and theme, it is highly logical and straightforward in style and structure. Merton hopes to lead us to transformation and salvation not through fear or blind hope, but by persuasion.
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First I read Merton's "Mystics and Zen Masters" just out of curiosity--How does this Christian monk see the monastic tradition of Zen Buddhism? I found his writing on this subject so compelling that I wanted to find out more about the author himself and read "The Seven Storey Mountain". Then I was so moved by this guy's long and arduous spiritual journey that I just had to see what he had to say about his own tradition, Christianity...and so I read this book, "The New Man", and wasn't dissappointed.

In one way this book is an extended meditation on Saint Paul's idea of Christ being the New Adam, and of what this idea really means for us. Merton has an uncanny ability to take old, familiar passages from the Bible--passages that have become dull and opaque in their very familiarity--and breath new spiritual life into them; they come alive with a significance and relevance you never really thought about before, but that seem natural and unforced after the fact. And he does all of this in ways that communicate eloquently with modern, educated people in today's world without strain or condescension.

In another way this book is an extended meditation on the significance of the sacrament Baptism, and again Merton is able to take what some might see as an old, tired, silly ritual and tease out its deeper spiritual significance in compelling, convincing ways. For any adult preparing for this sacrament I would highly recommend this book for that reason alone. And in general I would highly recommend this book for anyone who wants to see the Christian tradition at its best.
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Thomas Merton begins with man without God and ends with man in union with God. This book provides the existential basis for man's need for a relationship of faith and love with God, our Creator. The reader finishes this book with a unique understanding, perhaps for the first time, of the purpose for which each of us was created and the destiny which can be ours if only we connect with both the God within us and with the infinitely transcendent God of the universe. This book is challenging reading, but the rewards are worth the struggle.
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By A Customer on August 8, 2000
Format: Paperback
This is without question the best account of the Fall that I have ever read. Merton drops the reality of faith and the believing Christian's responsibility right in our laps. It's a sobering and challenging read.
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The New Man:
This is Merton's Patristic theology debut, he approached a theological exposition of the monastic tradition and thought, so fundamentally important although it did not get the attention it deserves. The New Man shows Thomas Merton at the ripe of his spiritual powers and has as its theme the question of spiritual identity. Merton's meditative interpretation of the Bible can be met throughout his essay on the history of fall and theology of redemption. Reading such experience of the mystical transformation in which we will be perfectly conformed to the likeness of Christ, involves the kenosis / theosis way of the desert fathers. We will become 'the New Man' who is the Christ, the new Adam. Salvation, rightly understood and genuinely experienced, is to realize that we are shaped in God's image and created for fellowship with the Living and Loving Creator. This process promises not only self-discovery but also self-realization. To reach one's 'real self' one must, in fact, be delivered by grace from the illusionary and falsely created self, corrupted by our selfish habits and self deceit.

Life, death, and identity:
What must we do to recover possession of our true selves?
Merton discusses how we became strangers to our inner selves by our dependence on outward recognition and material success. Life and death are at war within us. As soon as we are born, we begin at the same time to live and die. Even though we may not be even slightly aware of it, this battle of life and death goes on in us inexorably and without mercy......, instructed by the Spirit Who alone can tell us the secret of our individual destiny, man begins to know God as he knows his own self.
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