What if we truly belong to each other? What if we are all walking around shining like the sun Mystic, monk, and activist Thomas Merton asked those questions over half a century ago. Writer Sophfronia Scott is asking them today.
Sophfronia Scott grew up in Lorain, Ohio, a hometown she shares with author Toni Morrison. She holds a BA in English from Harvard and an MFA in writing from Vermont College of Fine Arts. She began her career as an award-winning magazine journalist for Time and People.
When her first novel, All I Need to Get By, was published in 2004 Sophfronia was nominated for best new author at the African American Literary Awards. Her other books include the novel Unforgiveable Love, an essay collection titled Love’s Long Line, and a memoir, This Child of Faith: Raising a Spiritual Child in a Secular World, co-written with her son.
Her most recent book, The Seeker and the Monk: Everyday Conversations with Thomas Merton was published by Broadleaf books in March of 2021.
In The Seeker and the Monk, Scott mines the extensive private journals of one of the most influential contemplative thinkers of the past for guidance on how to live in these fraught times. As a Black woman who is not Catholic, Scott both learns from and pushes back against Merton, holding spirited, and intimate conversations on race, ambition, faith, activism, nature, prayer, friendship, and love.
She asks: What is the connection between contemplation and action? Is there ever such a thing as a wrong answer to a spiritual question? How do we care about the brutality in the world while not becoming overwhelmed by it? By engaging in this lively discourse, readers will gain a steady sense of how to dwell more deeply within–and even to love–this despairing and radiant world.
Some of the resources and authors we mention in this episode:
- Sophfronia Scott, The Seeker and the Monk
- Sophfronia Scott, All I Need to Get By
- Sophfronia Scott, Love’s Long Line
- Sophfronia Scott, Unforgiveable Love
- Sophfronia Scott & Tain Gregory, This Child of Faith: Raising a Spiritual Child in a Secular World
- Thomas Merton, Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander
Episode 132: Silence, the Seeker, and the Monk: A Conversation with Sophfronia Scott
Hosted by: Cassidy Hall
With: Carl McColman, Kevin Johnson
Guest: Sophfronia Scott
Date Recorded: March 15, 2021