The Kingsbury Manx: Ruins
52 Movies: Week 43 - Grandma

Pillars of the Church

Still reading The Seven Storey Mountain, and liking it a lot. This passage struck me. Merton is making a Holy Week retreat at Gethsemani, prior to entering the Trappist order. Observing the other guests, he notes these:

...and there were three or four pious men who turned out to be friends and benefactors of the monastery--quiet, rather solemn personages; they assumed a sort of command over the other guests. They had a right to. They practically lived here in this guest house. In fact, they had a kind of quasi-vocation all their own. They belonged to that special class of men raised up by God to support orphanages and convents and monasteries and build hospitals and feed the poor. On the whole it is a way to sanctity that is sometimes too much despised. It sometimes implies a more than ordinary humility in men who come to think that the monks and nuns they assist are creatures of another world. God will show us at the latter day that many of them were better men than the monks they supported!

My wife is the archivist for the local archdiocese, and has told me several stories of people like this she's come across in her researches: men and women who were prosperous in the world and who gave much or in a few cases all of their wealth to support orphanages, hospitals, and the like in the days before government agencies were the main providers of those services. It was interesting to me to see that it was a not-unusual pattern. 


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Saturday, I had about 2.5 acres of grass to cut, so I downloaded the audio version of Seven Storey Mountain. I had already read about the first 40% of the book. The audiobook ended much sooner than I thought it would, and come to find out it was an abridged version, so now I have to go back and read all the left out parts, which seem to have been numerous. They seem to left out some really nice passages. I just finished the part about the Buddhist monk, which was delightful. The above is not in the abridged version either.


That happened to me once with some novel or other that I had really been wanting to read/hear. Ever since then I've been careful to check that the book is unabridged. Yes, the part about the Buddhist is delightful.

Speaking of pillars of the Church. I met a woman once who told me her mother told her there were two kinds of people in the Church. There were the pillars of the Church and then there were the caterpillars.



I wish I could read Merton's thesis on Blake.


I can't say the same. I assume I would not get much out of it because I've never read Blake aside from a handful of anthology pieces, and I think he's extremely obscure.

Well, that's the thing. I was in a class that was exactly the kind of class that Merton was talking about in the quote I put on Facebook and it made me hate Blake because it was taught in that way. But now, I've been looking at Blake's illustrations of the Divine Comedy, and reading what Merton says about me and it has made me very curious.


There are probably some Intro to Blake sort of books that you could use to get started and that wouldn't ruin him for you. Don't know how you would go about finding a good one though. I figure Merton's thesis would assume a lot of knowledge. Although I don't think academics were as obscure then.

But what I'm interested in is the interplay of the thoughts of Merton, Maritan and Blake. I'm curious to see how Merton brought those two together and how they influenced him.

So, I'm out of luck. ;-)


The thesis might still exist. In principle colleges are supposed to keep those forever. Be hard to get hold of, I guess. Seems possible or even likely that a Merton biographer would have done it if it's possible.

Looks as if his thesis -- "Nature and art in William Blake: an essay in interpretation" -- is included as an appendix in this book: The Literary Essays of Thomas Merton. says that three libraries in New Zealand have it, so lots of U.S. libraries must own it.

Well, they have that at the college where my husband works. It occurred to me it was probably there, because they have a big Merton conference there every year.


Thanks, Marianne,


We'll expect a report. :-)

It occurs to me that I've really painted myself into a corner.


Take all the time you need.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Your Information

(Name is required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)