Professor Secretly Trashes Merton Book

Thomas Merton, the great Roman Catholic writer, spent his entire religious career, from his acceptance into the Cistercian Order in December of 1941 until his tragic death in Thailand at the age of 53 in December of 1968, as a monk at the Our Lady of Gethsemani Abbey near Bardstown, Kentucky.  If for Merton’s legions of admirers, the Gethsemani Abbey is “Mecca,” then the independent Catholic university, Bellarmine, some 40 miles to the north in Louisville is “Medina.”  In 1967, Merton bequeathed his voluminous papers to Bellarmine, which had been founded by the local diocese as Bellarmine College in 1950.  Since his death it has become the home of the Thomas Merton Center at Bellarmine University and the headquarters of the International Thomas Merton Society.  There are a number of other Thomas Merton Centers,…

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Befuddled Juror in Thomas Merton Book Verdict

Befuddled Juror in Thomas Merton Book Verdict My copy of the quarterly Merton Seasonal, published jointly by the International Thomas Merton Society and the Thomas Merton Center of Bellarmine University, has arrived, and I see that they have finally stopped ignoring The Martyrdom of Thomas Merton: An Investigation, written by Hugh Turley and yours truly and published in March of 2018. The Winter 2018 edition upon the 50th anniversary of Merton’s untimely and mysterious death in Thailand on December 10, 1968, is on the general theme of Merton’s demise. On the cover is a photograph of Merton’s grave marker at his home Gethsemani Abbey near Bardstown, Kentucky. The modest black and white magazine, 43 pages in length, contains six articles and two…

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What We Know about Thomas Merton’s Death

Paper by David Martin and Hugh Turley presented to Thomas Merton Symposium, Pontifical Antheneum, Rome, Italy, June 13, 2018 The state of knowledge of Thomas Merton’s death can best be described as highly unsatisfactory.  Michael Mott’s 1984 authorized biography, The Seven Mountains of Thomas Merton, has been taken as the last word on the subject. Everyone who has written about Merton’s death since then—and there are many—has apparently accepted his explanation of how Merton was electrocuted by a defective fan, departing from his description on occasion only with their own embellishments, based solely upon imagination rather than new research. This is unfortunate, because Mott leaves a lot of loose ends.  First, he quotes directly from the just-then-revealed conclusion of the Thai police report, a document that only a…

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