Something BIG is about to happen with Thomas
It comes in the form of a book, Running to the Mountain, by Jon
Katz, the former executive producer for the CBS Morning News, a writer
of mystery novels, and self-proclaimed techno-geek, fights turning 50
by buying a cabin on a mountain side in New York, across from the Vermont
The Thomas Merton of age 50 is challenged by Jon Katz as he reaches
50. Like brothers, and one of them from a previous generation, Merton
and Katz fight a mortal battle on a mountain top in New York. Like Moses
on his mountaintop, and Jesus on his, Katz struggles for meaning in his
life with Thomas Merton as a guide.
With two dogs, Julius the contemplative representing Mary, and Stanley
the active one representing Martha, and with a stack of well read Merton
books, he struggles for self-assurance, a sense of faith, and a challenging
hope for the future.
At 50, Merton described his life this way: "When you are beginning to
be old, and I am beginning to be old, for I am fifty, both times and places
no longer take on the same meaning." At the same time, in an essay Day
of A Stranger, which he wrote for a friend from Buenos Aires, Miguel Grinbereg,
Merton continued with a description of the most important part of his
"I live in the woods out of necessity. I get out of bed in
the middle of the night because it is imperative that I hear the silence
of the night, alone, and, with my face on the floor, say psalms, alone
in the silence of the night."
The pivotal point for Katz was the death of the previous owner
of the cabin, a younger man than himself named Lenny. Lenny had built
the cabin with his own hands. He loved the his mountain retreat home.
And though Katz had only spoken to him on the telephone, his death was
Trying to bring meaning to Lenny's death, Katz made an excursion into
the religious world of Merton. He made a makeshift altar with a leftover
drink of Scotch and a candle and then by a flashlight in the gathering
darkness he reads from Merton's, A Search for Solitude, a prayer of Merton's
at the death of a close friend of Mertons.
I have cried to thee and Thou O God has heard me:
O incline Thine ear unto me and hear my words:
Keep me, O Lord, as the apple of Thine eye.
Protect me under the shadow of Thy wings.
Hear, O Lord, my justice -- attend to my supplication.
Then Katz says, "Then I blew out the candle. Afterward, I dismantled
the altar and sat for a while on the porch, watching the moon break out
of the clouds and then disapper." (Even sounds like Merton, doesn't he!)
The mysterious darkness of death has united the spirits of Katz and Merton.
Yes, Merton and Katz, "two spirits on the mountaintop, brushing against
each other," yields for us a journey of faith and change. Running to the
Mountain is a magical excursion on an isolated mountaintop. A book of
faith and hope. A challenge for the future.
Over 35,000 copies of Running to the Mountain are to be printed. Already
USA Today has written a lengthy and positive review. National Public Radio
is a sponsor. Major advertising will be in the New York Times and San
Francisco Chronicle. This will be a big book for Merton fans. To order
to the Mountain (with a 30% discount) - CLICK HERE!
Brother Dan Kenneth Phillips is the editor of THE MERTON SITE, an
internet web site dedicated to the works and ministry of Thomas Merton.
His URL is: http://edge.edge.net/~dphillip/Merton.html
Please e-mail comments and other book reviews of RUN TO THE MOUNTAIN
to Dan Kenneth Phillips.
This list includes everything by Thomas Merton
on Amazon. Most are highly discounted. A good way to stock up on Merton
IF YOU WISH TO HAVE BROTHER DAN PHILLIPS
LEAD A MERTON RETREAT IN YOUR AREA, PLEASE CHECK OUT HIS SPIRITUAL
DIRECTIONS PAGE FOR MORE INFORMATION.
Rev. Dan K. Phillips
109 Breckenridge Road
Franklin, TN 37067
e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org For
further information about Jon Katz and his e-mail correspondence with
Dan Phillips go to the February 20, 1999 entry
in the Solitude Journal.