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.
2018-2019 Reading Group Book Selections and Meeting Dates
Please Note: 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.
Chapter Members: Please join the Reading Group using the “Members Join Now” button above before you RSVP for specific “Meeting Dates” below.
THE INNER EXPERIENCE
In 1959, Merton started to revise an earlier work, “What Is Contemplation?” “The Inner Experience” is technically an unfinished work. Merton kept working and revising this book up until his leaving for Asia in 1968. We can only speculate that had he not died on that journey, he may have returned to it.
Also in the late summer of 1959, Merton wrote to the Lithuanian poet Czelaw Milocz and made these four points: “(1) ‘The Inner Experience’ is about contemplation; (2) it offers a ‘wider deeper view’ of the subject than [my] earlier writings; (3) it will enrich the topic by linking it with Eastern thought; (4) it will show how contemplation is connected with and unifies the totality of human life: nothing counts more and everything enters into it. The reader is advised to keep these four points in mind when reading “The Inner Experience.” (The Thomas Merton Encyclopedia, p.218.)
September 26 (RSVP)
October 17 (RSVP)
November 14 (RSVP)
This book covers a wide variety of articles by Merton written in 1959 and 1960. Merton suggests in his preface that one theme runs throughout the whole book: “It is a philosophical question: the relation of the person to the social organization. (TME, p113)
January 16 (RSVP)
February 13 (RSVP)
March 13 (RSVP)
ISHI MEANS MAN
Appropriately, the title of this book focuses attention on the story of Ishi, whose story is related in one of the essays. It was Merton’s reading in January 1967 of Theodora Kroeber’s “Ishi in Two Worlds: A Biography of the Last Wild Indian in North America” that prompted Merton to read and write about the injustices perpetrated upon First Nation peoples.
April 10 (RSVP)
May 8 (RSVP)