Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander
Thomas Merton, Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander, (New York: Random House), 1965
Some books are worth re-reading when one enters a different phase of life. I think I have much more appreciation for Merton than I did when I was younger. Among things that I notice upon re-reading this classic piece that seemed less evident before is Merton's delightful sense of humor. This volume is a collection of essays, writings and stories - the cover describes it as "sketches and meditations." The book is at times poetic, at times terse, at times historical and frequently theological.
It is the theology that inspires me. Thinking about God in new ways - pursuing the relationship that pursues the believer.
Having recently read several deconstructionist theologies, Merton is a refreshing read for a person of faith. Merton at once assumes God's presence and goodness, while being totally unthreatened by the questions and concerns that have been raised by those who criticize the institutional church and some of its doctrines. He lives and has his being within the church and yet is unperturbed by those who question it.
Merton's gift for language and writing serves him well in this book. It is a book to read slowly and savor - and a book to which one will want to return again and again.