Winter Living Theology (WLT) has not taken place in-person since the advent of the Covid pandemic. However, this year, the Jesuit Institute South Africa will again host WLT. The theme of this year’s series is Searching for Meaning. The wisdom of Thomas Merton for our times. Franciscan friar, Fr Daniel Horan, will be in Southern Africa to present the series.
Thomas Merton was one of the most influential Christian writers of the last century. In many ways he revived monastic life with the publication of his autobiography Seven Storey Mountain which sold like wildfire. But, more importantly, Merton’s commentary on contemplative life, politics, non-violence, the nuclear threat, the church and racism read as if it was written for our context today.
Jesuit father, Russell Pollitt, interviewed Fr Horan ahead of his visit in July/August 2022. Below is an excerpt from that interview.
Can Merton still teach us something today?
In addition to his timeless contributions to Christian spirituality and contemplation, his social justice writings – especially on non-violence and racism – are resources that are still under-appreciated and may serve us well today.
What will you be covering at WLT and what do you hope the benefit will be for people in Southern Africa?
The overarching focus of this year’s WLT theme is to engage Merton’s life, thought, and legacy with an eye toward how he might assist us in addressing the pressing issues of our time in church and society. Among these key issues are non-violence and peace-making, interreligious and ecumenical dialogue, environmental justice, and systemic racism.
I hope that those already familiar with some of Merton’s writings will grow deeper in their appreciation for his relevance and insight, while also being introduced to some of his lesser-known texts and commentary. For those who know little about or are entirely new to Merton, I hope they will find a new spiritual companion and source of inspiration that helps all spiritual seekers bridge a contemplation with action, prayer and practice, and justice and peace.
The WLT lecture series will take place in Cape Town from 19-21 July (at St Francis Xavier Seminary, Athlone), Durban 26-28 July, Eswatini 30 July, Johannesburg 2-4 August and in Botswana on 10 August.
To register or for more information please contact the Jesuit Institute firstname.lastname@example.org or call 011 482 4237. You can register on our website: https://www.jesuitinstitute.org.za/winter-living-theology/