Thomas Merton on Being an Intellectual, and a Message to the Poets

Jeremy D. Johnson

Thomas Merton was born today, January 31st in 1915. A January baby, like me. MertonMerton was a Christian monastic, whose tremendously popular autobiographic The Seven Story Mountain (1948) made him a well known and well read American intellectual of the 1950s and 60s. He wrote prolifically in his lifetime – around 70 books – before tragically passing away on a trip to Bangkok in 1968. He was attending a meeting of Asian Benedictines and Cistercians. It is well known that Merton was a critic of our technologically obsessed world and a vocal advocate for the role of the artist and intellectual in society:

Is the artist necessarily committed to this or that political ideology? No. But he does live in a world where politics are decisive and where political power can destroy his art as well as his life. Hence he is indirectly committed to seek some political solution to problems that…

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