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A Silent Action: Engagements with Thomas Merton [Paperback]

Rowan Williams
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
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Book Description

18 April 2013
Thomas Merton's life, especially once he had become a writer, was to a great extent one of dialogue with people who were distant, both geographically and historically. In these probing and perceptive studies, Rowan Williams looks closely at the key intellectual and spiritual relationships that emerge in Merton's writings, exploring the impact on him of thinkers as diverse as Hannah Arendt, Karl Barth, William Blake, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Olivier Clément, Fyodor Dostoevsky, Paul Evdokimov, Gerard Manley Hopkins, Vladimir Lossky, John Henry Newman, Boris Pasternak and St John of the Cross.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 96 pages
  • Publisher: SPCK Publishing (18 April 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0281070563
  • ISBN-13: 978-0281070565
  • Product Dimensions: 22.4 x 15 x 2.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 152,042 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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'Merton's voice emerges with extraordinary clarity, as does the pattern of his engagement with a series of influences and identities. . . Williams has the knack of not essentialising Merton s thought, but of crystallizing it in a given moment. . . Anyone with even a passing interest in Merton, or more broadly in the theory and praxis of contemplation, will profit from accepting the invitation to engage.' --The Tablet

'Engagements with Merton don't come more wonderingly than this. Surprising, illuminating, playful, and wry, Rowan Williams draws the Trappist into speech that helps us all think more deeply.' --Mark McIntosh, Van Mildert Professor of Divinity, Durham University

'Students of Merton will find insightful commentaries on the writings of the youthful as well as the more mature American Cistercian author . . . It deserves a wide readership.' --Patrick Hart, OCSO, a monk of Gethsemani Abbey, who was Merton s last secretary

About the Author

Rowan Williams was formerly the Archbishop of Canterbury and is now Master of Magdalen College, Cambridge. His most recent books include The Lion's World: A journey into the heart of Narnia (2012), Dostoyevsky: Language, Faith and Fiction (2011), Tokens of Trust: An Introduction to Christian Belief (2007), Grace and Necessity: Reflections on Art and Love (2006) and Silence and Honey Cakes: The Wisdom of the Desert (2004).

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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Skimming through the book, shows Lord Williams digging into the depths of Thomas Merton's writings and bringing an sharp mind to Merton's take on other theologians.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars inspiring 13 Sep 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Rowan Williams "a silent action is "difficult to put down you just want to keep on reading it over and over again
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Amazon.com: 4.0 out of 5 stars  2 reviews
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Seriously a Gem 14 May 2012
By Chris Pramuk - Published on Amazon.com
These five short essays or "engagements" with Merton go back almost 40 years, and represent some of the best thought on Merton anywhere to be found, uncovering a rich vein of ecumenical conversation in the latter half of the twentieth century. Like Merton himself, Archbishop Williams directs our attention to the sacramental nature of language - poetry, liturgy, theology - its capacity to interrupt, provoke, and awaken human consciousness to the presence of God in the world. (And likewise the terrible dangers of language, the profound need for its renewal in the public square.) Williams resists hagiography of Merton and directs our attention rather to topics that most engaged Merton in his turn to the world - not least Merton's interrogation of "old words for God, safe words for God, lazy words for God, useful words for God." He does so with refreshing, often brilliant poetic and theological insight. The concluding essay on Karl Barth and Merton - on "not being serious" - is alone worth volumes and hours of prayerful reflection. The Preface by Jim Forest and shimmering Afterword by Kallistos Ware highlight the spiritual/theological kinship joining Eastern Orthodoxy, Williams' Anglican tradition, and Merton's Catholic sensibilities. Great, inspiring, and (not-so) serious stuff here, inviting Merton studies to a new level.
9 of 20 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The Archbishop and the Monk 25 Oct 2011
By Alex Tang - Published on Amazon.com
What has the Archbishop of Canterbury, head of the Anglican tradition has in common with a Cistercian monk from America? There is much in common between these two men who has never met face to face. This 2011 book is a compilation of various engagements of the Anglican theologian and the writings of the religious catholic in a series of lectures and journal articles over a period of time which was written by the Archbishop. I believed that Thomas Merton will be bemused if he is aware of the interest the Archbishop has bestowed upon him.

There is much to reflect upon in this slim book which reveals the spiritualites of these two men and their journeys on the contemplative path. During their journeys, they involved and engaged many other theologians into their dialogue which includes Reformed theologian Karl Barth and Orthodox theologian Vladimir Lossky. Mostly they have interacted with each other. What stands out in the dialogue is their conviction of God as the ground of their being and their commitment to the contemplative path as the journey in the silence of the soul from the false self or what Thomas Merton refers to as the 'delusory self image' to the real self.

A good read for fans of Rowan Williams and Thomas Merton.
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