Thomas Merton - Evil and Why We Suffer: From Purified Soul Theodicy to Zen

Thomas Merton - Evil and Why We Suffer: From Purified Soul Theodicy to Zen

by David E. Orberson

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Overview

Thomas Merton is one of the most important spiritual voices of the last century. He has never been more relevant as new generations look to him for guidance in addressing some of life's biggest questions: how can we find God, how should we engage with other faiths, and how can we oppose violence and injustice? Looking carefully, one can find, tucked away in Merton's prodigious writings, his response to another timeless question: Why do we suffer? Why does an all-powerful and all loving God permit evil and suffering? By carefully examining all of Merton's work, we find that he repeatedly confronted this question throughout most of his adult life. Intriguingly, Merton's approach to this question changed dramatically a few years before he died in 1968. An examination of all aspects of his life yields evidence that Merton's immersion in Zen during this time contributed most to that change.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781532638992
Publisher: Wipf & Stock Publishers
Publication date: 06/18/2018
Pages: 142
Sales rank: 830,957
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.28(d)

About the Author

David E. Orberson earned a Master of Theological Studies from Saint Meinrad School of Theology and a PhD from the University of Louisville's Comparative Humanities program. He has taught theology part time at Bellarmine University in Louisville since 2007 and has been working in the insurance and risk management industry for nearly three decades.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix

Preface xi

1 The Life of Thomas Merton 1

2 Theodicy Survey 30

3 Thomas Merton's Theodicy (1938-1963) 52

4 Thomas Merton's Theodicy, 1964 through 1968, and His Changing Approach to the Problem of Evil 78

Conclusion 115

Bibliography 119

Name Subject Index 125

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

“This is an intelligent study of Merton’s thinking on a question that exempts no thoughtful person of faith: how to reconcile the God of love and mercy with the hard fact of unjust and senseless human suffering. David Orberson deftly charts the influence of Zen on Merton’s life and theology in ways that are persuasive and often provocative, in the best sense, stirring new questions in the reader. A welcome contribution to a neglected aspect of Merton studies.”


— Christopher Pramuk, University Chair, Regis University, Denver, Colorado





“To the frequently-posed question whether there is anything truly new to be said about Thomas Merton’s work a half-century after his death, David Orberson’s Thomas Merton: Evil and Why We Suffer provides a resoundingly affirmative response. In this clearly organized and lucidly developed discussion, Orberson examines Merton’s ongoing engagement with the problem of theodicy, the tension between traditional belief in an all-powerful, all-good God and the reality of evil and human suffering, and boldly proposes the importance of Merton’s immersion in Zen in the final years of his life as having a profound influence on Merton’s evolving response to this crucial issue. This is a challenging and rewarding presentation of a significant but previously little-studied aspect of Merton’s spiritual and theological vision.”


—Patrick F. O’Connell, Editor, The Merton Seasonal





“In Thomas Merton: Evil and Why We Suffer, David Orberson carefully traces and delineates Merton’s writings on evil across his entire literary career, tracing developments in his thought against the background of the major theological approaches to evil and suffering. As Merton deeply pondered the immense evils of his own day, so Orberson provides us with similar tools to help us make sense of the evil and suffering in our world today.”


—Paul M. Pearson, Director, Thomas Merton Center, Bellarmine University

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