Merton and Thich Nhat Hanh met briefly at the Gethsemani Trappist monastery in Kentucky in 1966, and though they admired each other, they had no further significant contact. King (emeritus, philosophy and religion, Millsaps Coll.) is interested in exploring the convergence of their viewpoints, which he sees as having caused a significant impact on current thinking regarding spirituality and social action. For those unfamiliar with the life histories of Merton or Thich Nhat Hanh, this book offers a reasonable and succinct outline. Similarly, those unfamiliar with the ideas these men expressed, particularly during the tumultuous era of the Vietnam War and the Cold War, will find an accessible summary here. King's somewhat thin presentation, however, suffers from a certain amount of repetition and lack of focus, and the full import of his intriguing premise is never fully realized. Both Merton's and Thich Nhat Hanh's ideas are better conveyed through their own voluminous writings. King's contribution to the current interest in interfaith dialog and spiritually centered social action makes up somewhat for these deficiencies, but only collections with a demonstrated interest in these two men will have a clear need for this title. Mark Woodhouse, Elmira Coll. Lib, NY
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.
"This is the story, told with enthusiasm and vision, of the deep spiritual kinship between Thomas Merton, a Trappist monk from the West, and Thich Nhat Hanh, a Buddhist monk from the East. Threading its way through this story is yet another: the moving account of how Robert King, brought up in the Social Gospel tradition of American Protestantism, finds in the writings of these two monks the spiritual roots of his activist quest for the kingdom of God on earth. What makes the story so compelling is King's dawning realization that he has discovered something he had been looking for all his life without knowing it. More than that, King sees in these two monks a rich paradigm for the kind of interreligious dialogue so desperately needed in a globalized world."-William H. Shannon
"King sees in Merton and Thich Nhat Hanh 'a new kind of spirituality that I believe may be the best hope for religious renewal in our day.' With great enthusiasm the author summarizes the unique aspects of their writings. We affirm the author's salute to Merton and Thich Nhat Hanh as global heroes who have bequeathed to us the lineaments of a slowly burgeoning engaged spirituality and interfaith dialogue movement."
—Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat, Spirituality and Health, December 2001
"A timely in-depth look at how Merton and Hahn succesfully integrated their spiritual and political lives. King uses his considerable analytical and research abilities to create a work that is comprehensive and insightful as well as personal and global in its conclusions. King is a good storyteller but more importantly he deeply understands the historical significance of both Merton and Nahn."
—Springs Magazine, January 2002
"Not a dry, academic thesis, this book is something of a conversion story. This book is the fruit of King's spiritual journey."
—Ecumenism, December 2001
"King writes well and his personal approach is evident throughout the book."—Bonnie Thurston, The Merton Seasonal, Winter 2001
"King's books serves as a fine introduction to the life and thought of these well-known monks. More important, however, it should be read for its central thesis, a thesis that must be taken seriously and may be crucial for the continued relevancy of religion in today's world. Contemplation must not remain the preserve of a few marginal monastics! I liked much about this book."—Richard J. Hauser, America, May 20, 2002
"Recommended for general readers and lower- and upper-division undergraduate and graduate students."
—W C. Buchanan, Choice, June 2002
"The special merit [of the book] is that these two persons represent a new expression … that reflects our age. Each has become emblematic of the ecumenical breadth of this quest for engaged contemplation."
—Catholic Library World, December 2002
"Robert King, a retired professor of philosophy and religion, uses the meeting of these two contemplatives as a pretext to chronicle their two paths and use them as exemplars of how much contemplative insight has to offer to the world outside the monastery walls." -Barry Boyce