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Contact Julie Long at (585) 389-2456
Nazareth College Professor of English Monica Weis, SSJ, is the author of a newly published book, The Environmental Vision of Thomas Merton which was released in May, 2011 (University Press of Kentucky). Throughout the book, Weis suggests that Merton’s interest in nature, which developed significantly during his years at the Abbey of Gethsemani, laid the foundation for his growing environmental consciousness. Tracing Merton’s awareness of the natural world from his childhood to the final years of his life, Weis explores his deepening sense of place and desire for solitude, his love and responsibility for all living things, and his evolving ecological awareness. Weis has a book signing at the Pittsford Barnes & Noble on Friday, June 24 at 7 pm (brief talk and reading followed by signing).
A monk and a prominent writer, Thomas Merton (1915-1968) became one of the most famous American Roman Catholics of the 20th century. As a young man Merton traveled with his artist parents in France and studied briefly at Cambridge University, England, before he went to the United States and earned a master's degree from Columbia University (1939). He gradually changed from an agnostic to a devout Roman Catholic, and chose to become a Trappist monk in 1941, an order known for its discipline of silence and solitude. Merton’s study of the natural world shaped his spirituality in profound ways, and he was one of the first writers to raise concern about ecological issues that have become critical in recent years.
"Readers of Thomas Merton's writings are certainly all too aware of his frequent and detailed reference to nature especially in his journal writings. " said Paul M. Pearson, Director and Archivist of the Thomas Merton Center at Bellarmine University. "This book is in the first scholarly study of Merton's writings on nature, and Weis does a masterful job of situating them within trends seen in other nature writers and poets, making connections across literary and theological boundaries and demonstrating Merton's evolving ecological consciousness at the very beginnings of the ecological movement. It is a groundbreaking book."
Weis has previously published Thomas Merton’s Gethsemani: Landscapes of Paradise, a nonfiction finalist in the 2005 Kentucky Literary Awards.
Nazareth College’s Lorette Wilmot Library holds an extensive collection of Merton’s writings made available through the sustained generosity of Monsignor William H. Shannon.