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.
I have only a small flickering light to guide me in the darkness of a thick forest. Up comes a theologian and blows it out." So complained 18th-century French philosopher Denis Diderot. It is true that much that passes for theology fails to illumine the path, and it does not help to claim that nontheological reasoning is often equally opaque. Thankfully, a few lights shine brightly.
Conditions inside poultry processing plants are grim and dangerous, according to a study released by Oxfam America. Workers are denied bathroom breaks, forcing some to wear diapers as they keep up with processing about 45 birds per minute. The workplace conditions are especially challenging for menstruating and pregnant women. The environment is frigid to keep the chickens cool. Floors splattered with water, blood, and fat are slippery. Many of the workers interviewed complained about sexual and racial discrimination. Conditions in unionized plants are better, but only about one-third are unionized. Four industry giants—Tyson, Perdue, Pilgrim’s, and Sanderson Farms—control 60 percent of the market, employing 100,000 people (Washington Post, May 11).