Cover image for Thomas Merton and Thich Nhat Hanh : engaged spirituality in an age of globalization
Thomas Merton and Thich Nhat Hanh : engaged spirituality in an age of globalization
King, Robert Harlen, 1935-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Continuum, [2001]

Physical Description:
ix, 202 pages ; 24 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Central Library BL65.S62 K56 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



The author began the practice of Zen meditation a decade ago under the tutelage of a Jesuit priest. This book is the fruit of his spiritual journey. Thomas Merton and Thich Nhat Hanh were and are two of the foremost spiritual writers of their times. They met only once. Individually, says Robert King, they are important, but considered together they may be even more significant. For although their lives developed independently of one another and took quite different forms, they shed light on each other in wonderful and unexpected ways. What binds the two is the theme of contemplation and action - a form of religious practice that could serve as a unifying paradigm for the world's religions in an age of globalization.

Author Notes

Robert H. King, a graduate of Harvard and Yale, was professor of philosophy and religion at Millsaps College, Jackson, Mississippi, where he was also academic dean. His most recent book is Thomas Merton and Thich Nhat Hanh: Engaged Spirituality in an Age of Globalization. He and Elizabeth live in Green Mountain Falls, Colorado.

Reviews 2

Library Journal Review

Merton and Thich Nhat Hanh met briefly at the Gethsemani Trappist monastery in Kentucky in 1966, and though they admired each other, they had no further significant contact. King (emeritus, philosophy and religion, Millsaps Coll.) is interested in exploring the convergence of their viewpoints, which he sees as having caused a significant impact on current thinking regarding spirituality and social action. For those unfamiliar with the life histories of Merton or Thich Nhat Hanh, this book offers a reasonable and succinct outline. Similarly, those unfamiliar with the ideas these men expressed, particularly during the tumultuous era of the Vietnam War and the Cold War, will find an accessible summary here. King's somewhat thin presentation, however, suffers from a certain amount of repetition and lack of focus, and the full import of his intriguing premise is never fully realized. Both Merton's and Thich Nhat Hanh's ideas are better conveyed through their own voluminous writings. King's contribution to the current interest in interfaith dialog and spiritually centered social action makes up somewhat for these deficiencies, but only collections with a demonstrated interest in these two men will have a clear need for this title. Mark Woodhouse, Elmira Coll. Lib, NY (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

This book, organized like an academic work and not deficient in scholarship (though perhaps a bit repetitious at times), is also autobiographical: King (DePaul Univ. and Millsap College) explains how he has been influenced by and has applied the thought of these two men. Merton and Nhat Hanh met only once but immediately formed a strong bond. Both were nonviolent opponents of the Vietnam War, though they withdrew to some extent when the peace movement became violent. Both had struggles with their respective institutions but eventually achieved wide recognition. The dialogue between two monks eventually grew into a dialogue among religious leaders of all faiths worldwide, supporting issues besides peace, such as protection of the environment. They do not accept the old dichotomy between Martha and Mary: it is not either/or but both/and meditation and engagement. According to King, "It is not only engaged spirituality that these two men model, but interfaith dialogue as well .... They are global heroes as well at a time when the world desperately needs men and women who can model a way of life that is authentically human and also deeply spiritual." No bibliography. Recommended for general readers and lower- and upper-division undergraduate and graduate students. W. C. Buchanan formerly, Grand Valley State University

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