There are so many things to share and discuss from this weekend’s “Contemplation in a Technological Era: Thomas Merton’s Insight for the Twenty-First Century” conference. The presenters and the papers were all very interesting, each adding to what became a two-day living conversation that was marked by the passion of the presenters and conference attendees. I was fortunate to meet many people this weekend and to discuss a variety of topics from Thomas Merton and his work on contemplation to the issues and challenges that our own technological age present to us today.
There were some familiar faces and friends that I’ve known in the Merton scholarly world for some time and there were some new faces. Among the new folks was a group of young adults who are part of the New Seeds Program of the Episcopal Service Corp. The director of the program in Louisville, KY is Rev. Canon Amy Real Coultas, with whom I had a wonderful conversation after my paper. She was one of the few people in attendance who was familiar with Palfrey and Gasser’s important book, Born Digital. It was great to see a group of Millennials in the crowd and to see how engaged they were in the discussions. For those who still think that Merton does not appeal to young people today, forget about it — young people love Merton and the interest will only increase (we just need to spread the word).
I thought I might be able to comment on each of the papers, but I realize that would be too much because there are just a million wonderful insights and reflections to share. Although I won’t be able to do that here, I do recommend that folks interested in this subject plan to buy the next volume of The Merton Annual, which will be released next Spring and is usually available on Amazon.com among other places. It will contain all the papers from this conference.
I want to take this opportunity to again thank Paul Pearson, the director of the Thomas Merton Center at Bellarmine University, and Gray Matthews for the invitation to be one of the presenters this weekend. They, and others like Mark Meade, the assistant director of the Center, did an excellent job putting the events together and facilitating a great conference.