A thoroughly modern mystic makes his way to the big screen

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Trappist monk Thomas Merton is considered one of the most influential spiritual writers of the 20th century. Merton died in 1968 while attending a monastic conference in Bangkok, Thailand. Religion News Service file photo used with permission of the Merton Legacy Trust and the Merton Center at Bellarmine University.

Trappist monk Thomas Merton is considered one of the most influential spiritual writers of the 20th century. Merton died in 1968 while attending a monastic conference in Bangkok, Thailand. Religion News Service file photo used with permission of the Merton Legacy Trust and the Merton Center at Bellarmine University.

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(RNS) The screenplay for "The Divine Comedy of Thomas Merton" is an epic tale of spiritual, emotional, and cultural transformation in the 1960s. And, yes, it is a love story.

  • Kitt

    What about Giovanni Ribisi?

  • EH

    Tucci is perfect. I can’t wait. Hopefully it will bring more people to read his stuff, like Walking the Line did for all these new Johnny Cash fans.
    Merton never leaves you feeling comfortable.

  • When does it play in Athens, Georgia? And a good sequel would be the “Divine Comedy of Jesus!” Did I say that? Merton doesn’t make me uncomfortable anymore. I’ve learned how to do that all by myself! 😉

  • For more on Merton check out this website written by one of his students.

    mertonocso.wordpress.com

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  • I cannot remember the last …

    what was I saying?

  • Karen Hanegan

    As a person who just figured out that while I was growing up in Louisville, I played with the children of some of Merton’s friends; as a teenager, the probability is high I rode that old Bardstown Road bus with him; – all I can say is that I see red, totally, and will not see this movie. The man is worth more than being denigrated by focusing upon the one time he slipped – he was a monk, through and through.

  • Bob Hunt

    Who says he slipped? While I’m no fan of how Hollywood almost universally fails to understand and portray the depth of religious experience, there’s no reason to think that Merton slipped, in spite of the felt need to describe Merton’s relationship with “M” as an “affair” and the two as “lovers.” Rather, there’s every reason to conclude that he was ultimately faithful to his vows. Falling in love is hardly an experience reserved for the uncommitted. Married men and monks are not exempt. The question is: How do you respond? Do you throw away your commitments, or do you reaffirm them?
    Consider the difference between Merton and two other giants of religion from the sixties: Martin Luther King, Jr. and Bishop James Pike. King was a known and confirmed philanderer, and Pike a serial adulterer who married thrice and conspired to conceal the suicide of one of his mistresses. While King is still rightly regarded with honor for his achievements, no one holds up his adultery as a model of Christian witness. Pike isn’t even taken seriously, anymore, even by those who remember who he was. But Merton, he is still revered for his mysticism and wisdom. Had he faltered and surrendered his vows, he likely would be just one more forgotten name in a pantheon of broken busts.

  • This is SO exciting! And yes, I could totally see Stanley Tucci as Merton. Tucci was marvelous in “Julie and Julia” as Julia’s husband Paul. He would bring that same sensitive quality to Merton. Can’t wait for the film.

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