Thomas Merton was a monk, a poet, a contemplative, a peace activist, a nurturer of interreligious dialogue—and much more. Countless books have been written exploring most of these facets of Merton's life and work in the years since his tragic death in 1968.
Dramatic conversion stories are the exception, not the rule,
in the life of faith. Coming to faith usually involves a gradual adjustment of
one's vision and habits, rather than the kind of dramatic turnaround described
in those oft-sung words of "Amazing Grace": "I once was lost, but now am found,
was blind but now I see." Life is rarely so black and white.
The dream of a ladder linking earth to heaven is surely
among the most familiar images of biblical literature. From "We are Climbing
Jacob's Ladder" to "Stairway to Heaven," the idea has been deeply embedded in
our collective consciousness.
In this wonderfully titled memoir, Mark Vonnegut writes of his college years in the late 1960s: "At Swarthmore I majored in religion with the idea of going to divinity school and then maybe the Unitarian ministry, where I would be a comforter of the sick and disadvantaged but mostly a really good professional arguer who argued against the war and materialism."
When you register for a driver’s license in the United States you are asked if you’d like to be an organ donor. It’s an “opt-in” question, and only about 40 percent of people choose that option. In Spain, Portugal, and Austria, you’re considered an organ donor unless you opt out. In those countries about 99 percent of the people are registered as organ donors, and there are a higher number of transplants as a result (ProPublica, July 27).