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October 5, 2016

Book: The Root of War is Fear: Thomas Merton's Advice to Peacemakers
Author: Jim Forest
Orbis. Maryknoll, NY. 2016. Pp. 223

An Excerpt from the Jacket:

Thomas Merton, the Trappist monk who died in 1968, is one of the most influential religious figures of modern times. Yet many readers remain unaware of his deep preoccupation with the theme of peace --- a subject that runs throughout his life, from his early stance as a conscientious objector to his prophetic writings on nuclear war and nonviolence. Drawing in large part on the author's own letters from Merton, this book offers spiritual encouragement and guidance for all those engaged in ridding the world of war and violence.

An Excerpt from the Book:

The obliteration bombing of cities on both sides, culminating in the total destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki by one plane with one bomb for each, had completely changed the nature of war. Traditional standards no longer applied because . . .there was no longer any distinction made between civilian and combatant . . .[In fact] the slaughter of civilians was explicitly intended as a means of "breaking enemy morale" and thus breaking the "will to resist." This was pure terrorism, and the traditional doctrine of war excluded such immoral methods . . .These methods were practiced by the enemy [at the war's start, but by the time] the war ended they were bequeathed to western nations.

"There is one winner, only one winner in war.
The winner is war itself.
Not truth, not justice, not liberty, not morality.
These are the vanquished." Thomas Merton

Table of Contents:

Jonas in the belly of a paradox
A book in a bus terminal
Meeting Merton
Merton's collision with censors
Peace in the post-Christian ear
Cold war letters
Pacem in terries
Building a Catholic peace movement
Founding the Catholic peace fellowship
The spiritual roots of protest
Burning draft cards, burning body
A quiet voice at the Vatican Council
Saying no to war, loving our enemies
Face to face with Vietnam
Blessed are the meek
Joy and grief
Letter to a young activist
A square in a patchwork quilt
The roots of sin is fear