Item description for Cold War Letters by Thomas Merton, Christine M. Bochen & William H. Shannon...
Overview A collection of 111 letters to friends, peace activists, artists, and intellectuals, written between October 1961 and October 1962 at the height of Cold War tensions.
Publishers Description Published in book form for the first time, Thomas Merton's
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Studio: Orbis Books
Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 8.28" Width: 5.36" Height: 0.52" Weight: 0.7 lbs.
Release Date Dec 1, 2007
Publisher Orbis Books
ISBN 1570756627 ISBN13 9781570756627
Availability 0 units.
More About Thomas Merton, Christine M. Bochen & William H. Shannon
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.
Reviews - What do customers think about Cold War Letters?
Like a truly prophetic Biblical voice, Father Merton calls us back to God more powerfully now than forty five years ago. Jan 31, 2007
Originally this was intended by Father Merton over forty five years ago to be a collection for private circulation only of his private letters written around the time of the Nuclear Missile Crisis and Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD) nuclear policy, gathered in one quarter this amount. At that time Father Merton was absurdly under orders from the Trappist office in Rome not to write about war and peace, as beneath the concerns of a monk, as his writings were incompetently read by a non-English speaking secretary to the Trappist primate. In the absence of that secretary a more competent reader was called in who declared Father Merton's submissions for review for publication "pure Gospel." Pacem in Terris was at that time still on the papal writing desk, inspired by Father Merton's own suppressed writing. I fully expect this my present review to be absurdly suppressed by uncomprehending yet vocal forces who hate peace and the Catholic Church. Read it while you may, and please buy this new book.
Now this once private collection blossoms in this recent public presentation by the blessed and courageously prophetic Catholic publisher Orbis Books to three times its original length which includes other letters of that time upon the same topic, and rings as loudly now a clarion cry in the barren war torn desert as it did then, as prophetically and true and essential for our human destiny as ever. If anything in this present militarized age we need to read it now more than ever, and remember our former ideals, morality, ethics and human right to peace. As we witness this current dynastic administration in Washington give itself the exclusive decision making power to warfare, and beat nuclear drums to engage North Korea and Iran, etc., we must remember the threat which is ever in our face, a threat which now more than ever threatens the existence of ourselves as a race, and indeed of all of God's Holy Creation.
This new collection courageously published last year by the great Catholic Publishing House Orbis Books begins with a new Foreword, a new Preface and a new introduction. Most invaluably, it prints the original private preface by Father Merton serving as apologia, humbling explaining himself and his strong expressions in these letters for peace, sanity and Christian ethics. Father Merton could be writing today the exact same thing, although even more urgently, had he not been killed in 1968 to prevent his further preaching for peace. Orbis closes the collection with brief bios of each of the letters' recipients, some very familiar to any American Catholic, such as our heroes of the faith Dorothy Day and Catherine De Hueck, or Ethel Kennedy, or Frank Sheed, or Gordon Zahn, while others may have been forgotten in the long passage of time since these letters were written. In particular consider the letter to Muslim mystic Abdul Aziz recommending Saint Basil and responding to al Hujswiri, within today's context.
In Father Merton's Preface, he found it necessary first to emphasize that "The author is not, never was and never will be a Communist" and "detests every type of totalitarian coercion (. . .)" He expresses his "contempt for those who use power to distort the truth or to silence it altogether." We cannot help but think of current administrative policy.
He further states: "The writer is a Catholic, devoted to his Church, to his faith, and to his vocation." Indeed, witnessing Merton's full commitment to the Cistercians, no one can question this axiom. Yet, Father Merton found it necessary to respond to those who found it blessed to urge the nuclear bombing of Moscow (and he foreshadows our great American Catholic Moral Theologian Father Charles Curran in humbling explaining his dissent from certain fallible statements of individual members of the then American hierarchy who called for killing commies for Christ) by basing his cry for peace upon the essence of Christianity right up to the then still recent statements of Popes Pius XXII and Pope John XXIII. He also quotes, to support his right to speak these words, a contemporary (1962) Lenten Pastoral appeal by Cardinal Meyer of Chicago: "If we adopt a policy of hatred, of liquidation of those who oppose us, of unrestrained use of total war, of a spirit of fear and panic, of exaggerated propaganda, of unconditional surrender, or pure nationalism, we have already been overcome by the evil." These words could be, should be, resounding today, as also the Pastoral Letter The Challenge of Peace, the Papal Encyclical Pacem in Terris, etc., etc.
Do you not hear as necessary in these our present times these halting words of Merton, explaining why he has written?
"In actual fact it would seem that during the Cold War, if not during World War II, this country has become frankly a warfare state built on affluence, a power structure in which the interests of big business, the obsessions of the military, and the phobias of political extremists both dominate and dictate our national policy. It also seems that the people of the country are by and large reduced to passivity, confusion, resentment, frustration, thoughtlessness, and ignorance so that they blindly follow any line that is unraveled by the mass media." He goes on to point out the present propaganda we hear that our cause is what is now called to "punish the wrongdoers" by showing how we divide the world into black and white to such a degree that we believe that "we have a divinely given mission to destroy this hellish monster and any steps we take to do so are innocent and even holy." This rings true today in our present warfare, and the fallacious nature of this is courageously revealed by Father Merton's call for peace and ethics.
Let me end with one final quote before you go on to purchase this useful and strong and ever more necessary book. Merton notes "It is a curious fact that those who insist that the only way to peace is the hard nosed and stiff necked way of missile rattling and nuclear threats are developing a mentality that is insensitive to the realities of nuclear war and indifferent to the missiles and menaces of the enemy. Indeed it is counted bravery and patriotism to ignore the realities of the situation or to shrug them off . . ."
Please purchase this substantial study for peace. Please awaken to all the possibilities for peace, and please work very hard in every way and in every place for peace. Thou shalt not kill. Love thy neighbor, and do good to those who harm thee. Do unto others what you want them to do for you! Love thy enemy and do good to those who harm you.