Thomas Merton, the Trappist monk who famously documented his conversion and entrance into the monastery in the Seven Storey Mountain, also wrote about race during the 1960s. Those writings now seem especially relevant given the racial tensions the United States experienced in 2020. Although it may seem odd that a largely cloistered white monk would have much useful to say about race, Merton scholar Gregory Hillis thinks it was precisely his monasticism that gave him a clear view of institutional racism in the United States:

“Merton, because he was isolated from the world, was able to look at the world with the kind of clarity others wouldn’t have,” said Hillis. He compared Merton’s role as that of a good marriage counselor, able to clarify issues because he remained in many ways apart from them.

Read more at the National Catholic Reporter.

Photo: Merton’s hermitage, from Wikipedia Commons (CC BY 2.0,