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Paperback The Seven Storey Mountain Book

ISBN: 0156010860

ISBN13: 9780156010863

The Seven Storey Mountain

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Book Overview

One of the most famous books ever written about a man's search for faith and peace.

The Seven Storey Mountain tells of the growing restlessness of a brilliant and passionate young man, who at the age of twenty-six, takes vows in one of the most demanding Catholic orders--the Trappist monks. At the Abbey of Gethsemani, "the four walls of my new freedom," Thomas Merton struggles to withdraw from the world, but only after he has...

Customer Reviews

5 ratings

After "The Confessions," maybe the best-ever 'autobiography of Faith'

Today I delivered a gift copy of this book to a widow, "Grace" whose husband had been my late father's closest childhood friend. A week earlier, Grace had asked: "Have you ever read Thomas Merton's SEVEN STOREY MOUNTAIN? I read it in 1953; and found it very moving. I'd love to find a copy and read it again." When I presented her with a new copy of this edition, I asked if I could read aloud my favorite passage (early in the book) concerning Thomas Merton's `little brother' John Paul (five years younger) who, like his older brother was a French-born, American citizen. Late in the book Thomas Merton tells us how John Paul was compelled early in WWII to join the Royal Canadian Air Force (and trained right here in Manitoba! John Paul Merton had been flying bombing runs over a real sandy desert on the prairie just outside nearby Camp Shilo, where today's Canadian Artillery Officers still train. My late father was flown at Canadian Army expense each year, late in life, to address the graduating officers at that camp: Small world!) Just before leaving for overseas, John Paul flew to see his older brother Thomas and, not incidentally, be Baptized, and welcomed into the Catholic faith. Then he left for England (and was killed in action the next year, when his RAF bomber went down over the English Channel). His death provides the moving culmination to this book - bringing the reader `full circle' from the moment (back on page 25) when Thomas Merton introduces us to John Paul. (What follows is the passage that moves me to tears when I read it aloud to a friend.) ------ "One thing I would say about my brother, John Paul: My most vivid memories of him, in our childhood, all fill me with poignant compunction at the thought of my own hard-heartedness, and his natural humility and love. "I suppose it's usual for elder brothers, when they are still children, to feel themselves demeaned by the company of a brother, four or five years younger, whom they regard as a baby, and tend to patronize and look down upon. "So when Russ and Bill and I (older brothers all) made huts in the woods out of boards and tar paper . . . we severely prohibited John Paul, and Russ' younger brother Tommy and their friends from coming anywhere near us. If they did try to come and get into our hut, or even to look at it, we would chase them away with stones. "When I think now about that part of my childhood, the picture I get of my brother John Paul is this: standing in a field a hundred yards away from our hut, is this little perplexed five-year-old kid in short pants and a kind of leather jacket, standing quite still; his arms hanging down at his sides. "He is gazing in our direction, afraid to come any nearer on account of the stones, as insulted as he is saddened, and his eyes full of indignation and sorrow. And yet he does not go away. We shout at him to go away, beat it, go home, and wing a couple more rocks in that direction. We tell him to play some other place. He d

Poet, hermit and monk--a fascinating autobiography

Thomas Merton was brilliant, skilled at literary criticism, a poet, analytical and creative. His sense of self, however, was a mixture of deep introspection and a measure of self-loathing. His spiritual seeking led him to a short stay with Trappist monks in Kentucky. As a result, he gave up his worldly career and embarked on a journey of spiritual seeking as a brother at the monastery.Merton loved music, women, good food, yet he also had a yearning to be free of the world. He describes the ascetic diet at the abbey--meat is forbidden, even fish not eaten, and the monks do heavy agricultural work on bread, vegetables, cheese, and in the evening, maybe a small dish of applesauce. Despite the hardships, Merton finds that becoming a priest is the most meaningful thing ever to happen to him. Merton's writing made him so famous he sought a hermitage at the abbey. He never seemed quite comfortable anywhere. His sense of discomfort with himself and his exquisite sensibility to spiritual heights make for fascinating reading.

Each Read Encourages Me In My Faith

The Seven Storey Mountain is my favorite book. I've read it several times. Any time I feel distant from God, I pick up this book. Without fail, my faith increases, I contemplate God more often and I feel the interiorly peaceful warmth of union with Christ.Even though that last paragraph may have been a bit "sappy," consider the fact that Merton is a lot like you and I. He drifted from one ideology to the next. He explored humanism, communism, and a lot of other isms. Merton had several failings. He was ambitious, and at times during his journey, he was an arrogant intellectual.The beauty of The Seven Storey Mountain is that, with God's help, Merton became a great lover of God. He overcame these faults, and in so doing, he has paved a road for the rest of us.Merton, if he were alive, would be the first to tell you that you don't have to join a monastery to find happiness in God. But that was Merton's joyful calling.The Seven Storey Moutain follows Merton's life as he followed his artist father around the world from France to Long Island to the Carribean to England and back to New York.All can profit spiritually from this book. Like many, Merton was successful in secular ways and, in taking stock of his life, found that he was still unhappy. Merton found his place with God and, perhaps, this book will help you do the same. Buy this book and read it several times over.

A journey of faith

I have read and reread this book several times, and I always enjoy going back into the first half of the 20th century and taking the journey to faith with Thomas Merton, as he moves from childhood to self-absorbed teen to a dabbler in communism, to writer/intellectual, to searcher, to Catholic, to Trappist monk. What a journey!Merton writes in a clear, matter-of-fact, self-depreciating style that is quite attractive. He makes the reader feel as "if this too, could happen to them", because Merton himself is portrayed as just a common man - filled with sin and propensity for wrong decision-making, but on the road to God nevertheless.Merton shows us that our religious conversion is more than just a point in time: it is a journey in God.I would especially recommend this book to young adult Catholics and those who were not in the Catholic Church during the pre-Vatican II period. The book goes into a fair amount of detail regarding Merton's experience in that Church, and for this reason, might be of interest to those who have come into the Catholic Church since the mid-1960's.

a wry blessing..

Thomas Merton's early years gave no clue as to the vast richness of spirit and intellect he would develop through out his life and share through his writings. He was the son of an itinerant painter, had an upbringing with little or no religious character, was a nondescript student, a rabble rouser.. not even a Catholic.. who at a point in his early manhood left the fast life of New York and knocked on the doors of a Kentucky monastary, to give over his life to austere celibacy and contemplation.. and profound internal enrichment. Seven Story Mountain has been compared to the Confessions of Augustine, but these books are of different timber. Merton's is a story told at a personal level, of a spiritual journey in a modern context. It does not try to compete with Augustine's intense intellectual and theological reasoning, preferring to dwell on the peace and joy of religious life, and more generally the meaning and responsibilities of all lives. You can't read this book without being charmed and blessed by the proximity to this rare bit of humanity and devotion in our very secular and material age.
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