Thomas Merton was a monk, a poet, a contemplative, a peace activist, a nurturer of interreligious dialogue—and much more. Countless books have been written exploring most of these facets of Merton's life and work in the years since his tragic death in 1968.
I have only a small flickering light to guide me in the darkness of a thick forest. Up comes a theologian and blows it out." So complained 18th-century French philosopher Denis Diderot. It is true that much that passes for theology fails to illumine the path, and it does not help to claim that nontheological reasoning is often equally opaque. Thankfully, a few lights shine brightly.
Icelanders have not been happy at what they consider a tepid response by their government to the refugee crisis in Europe, many coming from war-torn Syria. After the government said it would restrict the number of refugees it would accept to 50, more than 12,000 people responded to a petition on Facebook demanding that the government be more welcoming. Many of the petitioners offered to host refugees in their own homes. The Global Peace Index recently ranked Iceland as the most peaceful country in the world and Syria the least peaceful (Guardian, September 1).