Merton Reading Group
We invite members to participate in exploration of Merton’s thought by focusing on some of his individual writings together with other members. This may serve to help clarify his thought and deepen our understanding of his ideas, as well as to enhance our own spiritual development as Christian disciples and contemplatives in action. We will consider the spiritual, social and literary implications of his work and its potential impact on contemporary religious expression.
The group, open to members only, will be reading three books by Merton within our nine- month Chapter “season”. A single book will be read and discussed within a three-month period. Guided questions and supplementary reading will be provided to aid the participants in deepening their insights into Merton’s thought. The group will probe questions designed to provide a more personal exploration of the selected texts and will participate in discussions led by Bryon Gordon, long-time Chapter member, experienced spiritual director and teacher. Members are encouraged to enroll even if you cannot attend the discussion group meetings in order to receive the guiding questions and supplementary information. All book selections are available for purchase online; click on each of the book covers below to visit the publisher's page for that book.
Reading & Discussion Group Leader: Bryon Gordon
Bryon Gordon is a poet, spiritual director, and a retired educator of thirty years. He has been a member of Thomas Merton NYC for close to a decade. He lives in Manhattan with his beloved wife, Martia and his nimble ballerina daughter, Mara Estelle.
2017-2018 Reading Group Book Selections and Meeting Dates
NB: all meetings will be held at Corpus Christi Church Rectory, 529 West 121st Street, New York City from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30pm. Please join the Reading Group using the Join button above before RSVPing for Meetings below.
New Seeds of Contemplation
New Seeds of Contemplation, published in 1962 by New Directions, is often referred to as “a spiritual classic.” According to The Thomas Merton Encyclopedia, Donald Grayston, who has done a singularly valuable and exhaustive analysis, indicates that “it is comprehensive enough to be a spiritual handbook for the serious and intelligent Christian of today. It is wide-ranging, covering everything from creation to recreation, from sexuality to television, from war to solitude.” All through the book one finds the many ways in which Merton attempts to speak about the ineffable reality of God. It is a book that one can return to again and again as a help and encouragement to spiritual growth. (1)
(1)The Thomas Merton Encyclopedia, Orbis Books, 2002, by William H. Shannon, Christine M. Bochen, Patrick E. O’Connell.
Seeds of Destruction
Seeds of Destruction, published in 1964 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux, explores Merton’s concern with the growing crisis of racism and the civil rights movement in the 60s as well as the impact of war, violence and the need for peaceful reconciliation. Believing that Christianity must be concerned with human crisis, this collection of essays, selections and letters reinforces Merton’s belief in the dignity and respect of all persons and his sense of urgency. This book certainly provides a thought-provoking and timely message for the issues we face in America today.
The Nonviolent Alternative
The Nonviolent Alternative, published in 1980 as a Revised Edition of Thomas Merton on Peace by Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, is a series of essays/articles written by Merton in the 1960s on the issues of war and peace. It also includes notes from the peace activists retreat held at Gethsemani in 1964 as well as a tribute to Buddhist Nhat Hanh who visited Gethsemani in 1966. This book provides a perfect follow-up to Seeds of Destruction.