Advanced Praise for Superabundantly Alive: Thomas Merton's Dance with the Feminine

Thomas Merton: Superabundantly Alive is a refreshing addition to Merton studies. As this book bears witness, each person who reads Merton attentively finds a magic mirror in which he or she sees both a familiar and a transfigured face--a face of surprise, a face unmasked, a face freed from fear."

--Jim Forest, author of Living with Wisdom: a biography of Thomas Merton


"Susan McCaslin and J. S. Porter have given us in this book their heart-felt appreciations of Thomas Merton as gifted and imperfect human being, brilliant writer, and intimate friend of his readers. Their synergy as collaborators is infectious: fresh, personal, sassy, substantial. They invite us their readers to join with them in 'the general dance of the universe to which Merton invites us all."

--Donald Grayston, past president of the Thomas Merton Society of Canada
and of the International Thomas Merton Society


"This splendid gallimaufry by two poet-essayists is part riff, part meditation, part invention, part testament, but withal, a brilliant kaleidoscope of impression, insight, and inquiry. The many lineaments of love, desire, and memory, the many strands of 'lived theology,' and the many stages of human and divine maturation are explored with a fetching honesty. A liberating read."

--Michel Higgins, Vice-President for Mission and Catholic Identity, Sacred Heart University, CT;
his most recent biography is
Jean Vanier: Logician of the Heart (2016)


"It takes a certain fearlessness to attempt what Susan McCaslin and J S Porter have attempted in this remarkable book. It also takes tremendous humility and tenderness of heart. While reading I felt as if I was gazing on a living icon, and it was gazing back intently on me, through eyes of love. It is not just Merton who gazes from these pages but it is Wisdom-Sophia, the God of grace and mercy, who dares us each moment into loving communion and solidarity with the world.

Thomas Merton Abundantly Alive gives us a wholly unique reading of Merton's legacy, a "theology of encounter" in flesh and freedom, which always - always - includes, as in Merton's life, the risk of shipwreck and failure. Approach this book with "beginner's mind" and you cannot help but be drawn into the fire of divine-human vulnerability, rendered vividly, theopoetically, iconically, in a kind of literary-visual mandala--always evocative, sometimes provocative, and everywhere reverberant with hope. McCaslin and Porter have penned one of the finest and most original works on Thomas Merton in many years.

--Christopher Pramuk, author of Sophia: The Hidden Christ of Thomas Merton,
awarded the International Thomas Merton Society's 2011 Thomas Merton Award


Using different lenses and creating their own 'word dance,' seasoned writers McCaslin and Porter offer us a potpourri of fresh insights about Merton that creates both artistic tribute and epistolary conversation with Tom and with 'M'--an unconventional approach that maintains its "center of prayer-poetry-praise."

--Dr. Monica Weis SSJ, Professor emerita of English at Nazareth College,
former Vice President of ITMS,
and author of Thomas Merton's Gethsemani (with Harry L Hinkle) (UPK, 2005)
The Environmental Vision of Thomas Merton (UPK, 2011),
and Thomas Merton and the Celts: A New World Opening Up (Wipf and Stock, 2016)


"Thomas Merton, Superabundantly Alive, is a strong, distilled meditation on the life and oeuvre of a remarkable poet-monk whose works of spirit illuminated a turbulent period of 20th century American history.

In a compelling series of essays the authors navigate the many corners of the 'uncaged mind' of this pragmatic mystic--gender equality, the wisdom of the East, capitalism, war and peace, the relationship between solitude and community, the sacred feminine--with great verve and clarity. They point out Merton's love of and sensitivity to nature which would qualify him as a precursor in the ecological field.

The book is particularly insightful on Merton' s ongoing journey toward the true self, his evolution from flight from the world toward openness and engagement with the social and political problems of his era and what it ultimately means to be fully alive and awake.

In a revealing dialogue ('The Divine and Embodied Feminine: A Dialogue') the authors also explore Merton's brief love affair with 'M' near the end of his life, calling it a breakthrough in his spiritual journey. For the first time in his short life Merton fell in love with a living, breathing woman. This healing "enjoined flesh/spirit" experience helped him bridge the duality of male/female into an inner wholeness.

In sum, the authors of this thoughtful, readable study show the reader how Merton, by sharing his brokenness, inspires all of us to embrace our wounded selves as we each climb our private seven storey mountain toward mystery and greater love. Superabundantly Alive offers a rich encounter with the heart-mind-soul of a modern spiritual master."

--James Clarke, a poet and retired Ontario Superior Court Justice
who has published over twenty collections of poetry,
including Stray Devotions (Novalis, 2018)

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