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A Silent Action
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The life of Thomas Merton was, to a great extent, one of dialogue with people who were either distant or dead. While forging just such a relationship with him, the Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams explores the mind and influence of Thomas Merton through essays on such topics as the connection Merton had with Paul Evdokimov, the Orthodox theologian, and Karl Barth, the Reformed theologian. Rowan also takes note of the impact of books on Merton's thought, spanning from Fyodor Dostoevsky and Dietrich Bonhoeffer to St. John of the Cross. Through his essays, Williams shows that he and Merton share the regard that Christian life without a contemplative dimension is incomplete and, furthermore, that a contemplative life is accessible not only to those living in monasteries but to anyone who seeks an "interiorized" monasticism. The mystery of friendship--an enduring relationship held together not only by affinity, shared questions, and common interests but also by the awareness that each can help the other in pilgrimage--is worthy of inclusion in the long list of additions to the Orthodox sacraments. As the bond between Rowan Williams and Thomas Merton bears witness, not all friendships depend on being of the same generation.
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About the Author

Rowan Williams is the 104th Archbishop of Canterbury as well as a celebrated writer, acclaimed theologian, and pastor. He has published poetry and is the author of Honest to God, Where God Happens, and The Wound of Knowledge, among others.

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"Following a brief Author's Foreword by the Archbishop of Canterbury in which he acknowledges his indebtedness to Merton over the years 'studying for my doctorate with Merton's friend, A.M. Allchin, proved a doorway into still more of his mind and spirit. A few years later The Asian Journal gave me my first sense that inter-religious dialogue could be (and had to be) a matter of spiritual encounter, and still more doors opened.' Rowan Williams arranged these 'engagements' into five chapters, beginning with a paradoxical tribute to Thomas Merton in 'a person that nobody knows.' He concludes this short chapter with words of wisdom: 'The great Christian is the man or woman who can make me more interested in God than in him or her. A paradoxical tribute, but the highest that can be paid.'" --Patrick Hart, Louisville Courier-Journal (October 15, 2011)

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