Vancouver School of Theology

Forming thoughtful, engaged and generous Christian leaders for the church in the 21st century


IPS/SP5/711 – “…with Christian mantras and a great sense of destiny…”: Thomas Merton’s Travels in Eastern Religions

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July 3-7, 2017: 9am-12pm

After introducing Merton’s life and thought, we shall survey the chronology and extent of his interest in Eastern religions. We will touch on Hinduism and Taoism, but our focus will be Buddhism, exploring what Merton did and did not know about its traditions and how it influenced his aesthetics, his prayer practice, and his poetry. We conclude with Merton’s principles of inter-religious dialogue and their relevance to own conversations with those who believe differently.

Students with no prior knowledge of Merton are advised to read Thomas Merton: Essential Writings (Christine M. Bochen, ed., Orbis Press, 2000) before the course. Those having no acquaintance with Buddhism might read Walpola Rahula’s What the Buddha Taught.

Bonnie Thurston’s Ph.D. is from the University of Virginia. Hers was an early doctoral dissertation on Thomas Merton. A university or seminary professor for many years, she has written or edited nineteen theological books. A founding member of the International Thomas Merton Society, she served as its third president, and received a “Louie” award for service to the Society. She has published extensively and given retreats and lectures on Merton in the U.S., Canada, the U.K. and Europe. She edited Merton And Buddhism, Hidden in the Same Mystery: Thomas Merton & Loretto (both with Fons Vitae) and Thomas Merton on Eastern Meditation (New Directions).

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