Sojourners reports in “A Thoroughly Modern Mystic Makes His Way to the Big Screen” on big news for fans of American Catholic mystic Thomas Merton: his life story — or at least a love affair which played a significant role — is coming to the movies.
Cathleen Falsani writes:
Merton’s voice was unique in the way he lived in the awkward no man’s land between holiness and humanity. He was a man’s man, handsome and strapping, like a rugged Spencer Tracy with a tonsure and cassock. He had been around the block a few times, both before he moved behind Gethsemani’s cloistered walls and after. Which makes him more accessible and authentic than many other giants of the faith.
Merton was saintly and serious. He also was sexy and a little bit dangerous.
“He is so human, real and relatable to me,” Eisner said. “I am convinced that what he so eloquently and vulnerably wrote about is perhaps more relevant today than it was in his own day. … I just can’t wait to introduce this beautiful person to a whole new mass of people who have yet to be smitten by his wit and wisdom.”
The way Eisner and Miller have written the romance between Merton and his M isn’t tawdry or voyeuristic, and it leaves to the audience the (highly debated) question of whether their relationship was ever fully consummated. The details of what happened between the sheets are the least compelling part of their unlikely coupling.
“Dear, I have a terrible desire for fidelity to what has been far greater than either of us,” Merton wrote to M in the Midsummer collection. “And not a choice of fidelities to this or that, love or vows. But a fidelity beyond and above that to both of them in one, to God; to the Christ who is absolutely alone and not apart from us, but is the dreadful deep hole in the midst of us, waiting for no explanation.”
Looking forward to it. God bless the filmmakers and their production. I hope they find a way to make Merton relevant and exciting especially for today’s young people.