The Thomas Merton Center at Bellarmine University

Tuesdays With Merton

A webinar series presented by the International Thomas Merton Society, and cosponsored by the Bernardin Center at Catholic Theological Union, on the second Tuesday of each month. Free and open to the public. Registration required.

Recordings of the webinars will be available on the Tuesdays with Merton YouTube Channel within a few days of their broadcast: Tuesdays with Merton YouTube Channel. Audio-only versions also will be available later via podcast.

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Upcoming Tuesdays with Merton


SOPHFRONIA SCOTT

Courageous Conversations on Death with Thomas Merton.

March 12, 2024, 8 PM. EST

REGISTER HERE


Thomas Merton’s death in 1968 at the age of just 53 was tragic and sudden, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that he was unprepared for the end. What does it mean to be prepared? Sophfronia will examine Merton’s writings to see how he can take us beyond society’s “having one’s affairs in order” way of thinking about death to a way of living as a full expression of the life in abundance that Christ offers in the New Testament.

Sophfronia Scott is a novelist, essayist, and contemplative thinker whose book The Seeker and the Monk: Everyday Conversations with Thomas Merton won the 2021 Thomas Merton “Louie” Award from the International Thomas Merton Society. She holds a BA in English from Harvard and an MFA in writing from Vermont College of Fine Arts. Sophfronia is the founding director of Alma College’s MFA in Creative Writing, a low-residency graduate program based in Alma, Michigan.


ROBERT ELLSBERG

'It's the Direction that Matters': How Sister Wendy Beckett Changed Her Mind about Merton.

April 9, 2024, 8 PM. EST


During the last three years of her life, Sr. Wendy Becket, an English hermit and art historian, shared an intimate, daily correspondence, largely about holiness and the life of faith. Throughout, the figure of Thomas Merton loomed large. Sr. Wendy held ambivalent feelings on the subject of Merton. Yet in the course of our correspondence she came to a startling reassessment, comparable in some ways to Merton’s own “awakening from a dream of separateness.”

Robert Ellsberg is the long-time publisher of Orbis books. He is the author of many books on saints and holiness, including All Saints; Daily Reflections on Saints, Prophets, and Witnesses for Our Time, and A Living Gospel: Reading God’s Story in Holy Lives. He contributes the daily entry, “Blessed Among Us” in Give Us This Day. His presentation is based on Dearest Sister Wendy: A Surprising Story of Faith and Friendship.


DAVID M. ODORISIO

Lessons from the Lost Coast: Exploring Thomas Merton in California.

May 14, 2024, 8 PM. EST


In 1968, Thomas Merton offered several conferences at Our Lady of the Redwoods Abbey, a Cistercian women’s community in Northern California. The material presented in these talks reveals Merton’s wide-ranging intellectual and spiritual pursuits in the final year of his life. This accessible presentation explores Merton’s pilgrimage to California’s remote and rugged “Lost Coast” and unpacks this treasure trove of previously unpublished material. Covering a variety of topics including approaches to modern consciousness, yoga, Sufism, and inter-religious dialogue, Thomas Merton in California fills a long-standing lacuna around Merton's visits to Redwoods Monastery and forms an essential bridge to the Asian journey that was to come.

David M. Odorisio, PhD, is Co-Chair and Associate Core Faculty at Pacifica Graduate Institute, Santa Barbara, CA. David received his MA in the History of Christian Spirituality from Saint John's University, School of Theology-Seminary (Collegeville, MN), and his PhD in East-West Psychology from the California Institute of Integral Studies (San Francisco, CA).  David is editor of Thomas Merton in California: The Redwoods Conferences and Letters (Liturgical Press, 2024), and Merton & Hinduism: The Yoga of the Heart (Fons Vitae, 2021) and has published in The Merton Seasonal and The Merton Annual.


JULIE LEININGER PYCIOR

Despite Everything and Because Everything Is at Stake: Bearing Witness with the Help of Thomas Merton and Dorothy Day.

September 10, 2024, 8 PM. EST


Thomas Merton and Dorothy Day championed social justice witness informed by deep contemplative practice. Their powerful example amid the crises of the 1960s can provide us with insights as we seek to respond with integrity to today’s seemingly unprecedented crises. Julie Leininger Pycior will invite your reflections on these themes as revealed in her prize-winning book Dorothy Day, Thomas Merton, and the Greatest Commandment: Radical Love in Times of Crisis. She also will share how research for this book was instrumental in Pope Francis choosing Merton and Day as the two spiritual figures to spotlight in his historic address to Congress.

Julie Leininger Pycior, Professor of History Emeritus, Manhattan College, is the author of four books and has published articles in a number of journals, including The Merton Annual. She lectures widely and is regularly quoted in the media. Her PhD is from the University of Notre Dame and she is a longtime member of the Corpus Christi/New York City chapter of the International Thomas Merton Society.


GRAY MATTHEWS

Contemplative Mayhem.

October 8, 2024, 8 PM. EST


This Presentation is a thought experiment in deep responsiveness. The question of contemplation—in a world of action that is deteriorating into a frantic order of hyper-activity, brutal re-activism, and paralyzed strategies of inaction—begs for a pause to deliberately rethink and reimagine the nature of not only the practice of contemplation, but the contemplative nature of life itself.  Given a diet of crises, catastrophes, and collapses, there is a tradition of self-deadening retreat from the maddening order of noise in order to seek rest in the privileged shelter of false tranquility. Instead of an orderly evasion of grief, I think our suffering world is calling for contemplative mayhem in responsive depth .

Gray Matthews, assistant professor of Communication at the University of Memphis, Memphis TN, has served the International Thomas Merton Society as a member of the Board, co-editor of The Merton Annual, coordinator of the 2007 ITMS conference, as well as coordinator of the Memphis ITMS Chapter since 2001. Gray has been a frequent presenter at ITMS conferences and recently authored an exploratory essay on Merton and decolonial issues of contemplative concern.


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