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The Wisdom of the Desert: Sayings from the Desert Fathers of the Fourth Century (Shambhala Library) Hardcover – Deluxe Edition, November 16, 2004
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"Thomas Merton does not so much introduce the Fathers of the desert; he stands in their midst, as one of them."—Daniel Berrigan, author of Uncommon Prayer: A Book of Psalms
About the Author
Thomas Merton (1915–1968) was a Trappist monk, spiritual director, political activist, social critic, and one of the most-read spiritual writers of the twentieth century. He is the author of many books, including The Seven Storey Mountain.
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The sayings Merton chooses express the inner-experience very well. These desert fathers were not men who looked outside of themselves for a savior, or for something from some other world. They looked inside of themselves for a savior, and understood it was something that can be discovered and realized in our world. It is so interesting to read these sayings, which were written prior to anything formal like the Council of Nicea. In our time, it is easy to forget that we have one, mainstream, version of Christianity, whether it be Catholic, Protestan, or even the more isolated sects like Mormonism. However, Christianity in its current state is a development. The sayings of these desert fathers proves that. They existed before modernity, but they exemplify what modern Christianity sees as an ideal. They lived it. These sayings are a primary source.
If you want to be inspired, tihs is a wonderful book. Merton does not offer his usual high brow analysis that is very difficult to fully grasp. This is a simple presentation by a remarkable monk who managed to live and inpsire many people, whether Christians or not. This book will enhance your Christian faith, and if you aren't a Christian, this book will reveal why Christianity is so remarkable. It's a win-win.
The short selection from the Sayings of the Desert Fathers gives great insight into their thinking, their prayer, their life, and their spirituality.
I recommend this book (only about 50 pages) for anyone who is looking to find a new perspective on life. I also recommend it as a multiple read book, i.e., a book you can read over and over again and get more out of it each time. I have read it more than once.
Merton wrote this book not as a history of the early Desert Fathers. What he provides are a selection of extracts from their writings that had proved useful for him in his contemplative life. The book is definitely worth reading. A book you will keep by your night stand.
If you are looking for a book that gives you a history of the Desert Fathers and a wide range of their writings, then this is the wrong book for you.
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