Thomas Merton, A Mystic Lover Of Life with Matthew Fox, Ph.D.

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Thomas Merton was an American Catholic writer, mystic, and Trappist monk who died mysteriously in Bangkok, Thailand when he was 53 years old. The gifts he left behind from his short life were immense. He combined deep contemplation with social action. Here Fr. Matthew Fox shares his profound intersection with Merton via Creation Spirituality. It was Merton who suggested that Fox, who was a young Dominican at the time, go to Paris and pursue his doctorate. Through many years, Fox was stimulated by his correspondence with Merton. He takes us through a history lesson of the Roman Catholic Church and highlights such turning points as the introduction of original sin, which instituted a dualistic, pessimistic, and patriarchal view of the world. Fox also shares Merton’s view that technology and information will not save humanity, and analyzes the media and the capitalist system, as “giving the public what it wants in order to get the public’s money to increase profits.” Merton honored silence and understood that compassion contains action. Fox and Merton shared a similar path as they both explored Creation Spirituality. (hosted by Justine Willis Toms)


Father Matthew Fox is a priest and was a member of the Dominican Order of the Catholic Church for thirty-four years. For speaking out on women’s rights, gay rights, and Native American rights, he was silenced for a year and later expelled from the Dominican Order under the papacies of John Paul II and Benedict XVI. He then joined the Episcopal Church to work with young people to create postmodern forms of ritual and worship known as the “Cosmic Mass” that incorporates dance, DJ, VJ, rap, and other postmodern art forms. He is the co-founder of the Order of the Sacred Earth and, since Mother’s day 2019, has offered free daily meditations. He holds a doctorate in History and Theology of Spirituality and is founder of the University of Creation Spirituality.

Matthew Fox is the author of more than thirty books including:

To learn more about the work of Matthew Fox go to

Topics Explored in This Dialogue

  • How a contemplative monk can also be an activist
  • The suspicion that Merton’s “accidental” death was the result of foul play
  • How Fox was influenced by Merton through correspondence and advice
  • How Pere Chenu, with his ideas of Creation Spirituality, was a mentor to both Fox and Merton
  • When original sin was first introduced in the Church
  • How original sin is a very dualistic, pessimistic, and patriarchal view of the world
  • What was the meeting between the Dalai Lama and Merton like
  • How Meister Eckhart brought Eastern and Western spiritual thought together
  • How Merton’s God was one of awe and wonder (via Positiva), pathos and suffering (via Negativa), the creative (via Creativa), and the journey through suffering (via Transfomativa)
  • How the absence of a sense of the sacred is the basic flaw in our view of the natural world
  • Why did Merton feel that technology is not going to save us
  • How creation mystics call God, Mother
  • What is the fourth path of joy and creativity that is left out of most religions

Host: Justine Willis Toms         Interview Date: 8/30/2016          Program Number: 3593

Music Playlist

From Album: Wind Songs
Artist: Michael Hoppé and Tim Wheater
1996 Seventh Wave productions #SWP7044-2

Opening Essay: Track 02 Silence of Stars
Music Break 1: Track 04 Stray Bird
Music Break 2: Track 05 This Lovely Land
Music Break 3: Track 02 Silence of Stars (reprise)