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The Environmental Vision of Thomas Merton$
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Monica Weis

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780813130040

Published to Kentucky Scholarship Online: September 2011

DOI: 10.5810/kentucky/9780813130040.001.0001

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Encountering Rachel Carson

Encountering Rachel Carson

Environmentalist and Provocateur

(p.9) Chapter 1 Encountering Rachel Carson
The Environmental Vision of Thomas Merton

SSJ Monica Weis

University Press of Kentucky

This chapter provides an analysis of Thomas Merton's letter to Rachel Carson and a brief clarification of how these two literary minds were prophets of both revelation and revolution. Rachel Carson was the author of the recently published Silent Spring. Merton's January 12, 1963, letter is a watershed moment, or “spot of time”, in his developing environmental consciousness. Merton's reading of Silent Spring was an epiphanic event akin to other well-known and powerful moments of spiritual insight in his life. Nearly fifty years later, it can verify that Silent Spring became the catalyst for the current environmental movement. In both writers, there is a sense of responsibility for environmental health that comes from attentiveness to their surroundings and commitment to a coherent vision of the cosmos. There is also what the ecocritic Jonathan Bate has called ecopoesis—a deep longing for belonging.

Keywords:   Thomas Merton, Rachel Carson, Jonathan Bate, ecopoesis, letter, Silent Spring, environmental consciousness, environmental health

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