|BROADSTONE BOOKS presents
A Meeting of Angels: The Correspondence of Thomas Merton
with Edward Deming & Faith Andrews
edited by Paul M. Pearson
with Photographs by Thomas Merton
Winner of 2009 Kentucky History Award
Award of Merit for State & Local History
Hardcover, 128 pages
Publication Date: October 13, 2008
In November 1960 the noted scholar of Shaker life and
craft, Edward Deming Andrews, wrote to Thomas
Merton offering assistance with a book on the religion
of the Shakers that he had heard Merton was planning.
Though nothing came of that book, the ensuing
correspondence between Merton and Andrews, and
after Andrews' death in 1964 with his widow and
collaborator Faith, itself became a spirited and spiritual
examination and celebration of the lives and legacy of
Here for the first time, Dr. Paul M. Pearson (Director
of the Thomas Merton Center at Bellarmine University)
introduces and brings together both sides of this
correspondence,allowing the reader to delight in both
the interplay of ideas and inspiration, and the growth of
sincere affection, that occurred between Merton and the
Andrews through their shared vocation. The
correspondence is supplemented by a selection of
Merton's photographs of the Shaker Village of Pleasant
Hill in Kentucky, newly identified with captions
supplied by Pleasant Hill Curator Larrie S. Curry. A
review of the Andrews' Shaker Furniture by Ananda
K. Coomaraswamy concludes the volume.
Merton once observed, "The peculiar grace of a Shaker
chair is due to the fact that it was made by someone
capable of believing that an angel might come and sit on
it." To read these letters is to experience a meeting of of
the simple, but to this day challenging, gifts of the Shakers.
"This little volume of letters illustrates a well-known saying that may fittingly be applied to Thomas Merton:
nothing human was foreign to him. He was fascinated by the Shaker movement which he saw as a unique
phenomenon in American culture. His correspondence with Edward Deming Andrews and his wife Faith
makes clear his deep admiration for the marvelous craftsmanship found especially in the Shaker furniture.
The story of these unusual people, the spiritual purity of their lives and the marvelous simplicity of their work
display gifts that Merton sees as akin to elements of the life and spirituality of his own Cistercian monks. In
A Meeting of Angels, Dr. Paul Pearson has made available both sides of the correspondence between Merton
and a renowned authority on the Shakers. Dr. Pearson's brief and very helpful introduction and his judicious
use of footnotes display the careful scholarship we are accustomed to expect from him."
William H. Shannon, The International Thomas Merton Society
"A Meeting of Angels allows a rare glimpse of the relationship that existed between Thomas Merton and
Edward Deming and Faith Andrews. In this fascinating exchange of letters the reader is given an example of
Merton’s empathy with his correspondents and his great respect for the Shaker tradition which had so many
similarities with the best of the Cistercian spirit. How much more is seen when both sides of the
correspondence are made available. We are indebted to Paul Pearson for his editing of this volume with its
perceptive introduction. The selection of the Merton photographs of Shakertown enhances the value of this
small but beautifully produced book.”
Brother Patrick Hart, General Editor, The Journals of Thomas Merton
"These letters reveal a true meeting of minds. It is a delight to read the private correspondence of two such
learned and gentlemanly souls. Merton is thoughtful and eloquent; Andrews is generous and kind. Both are
intellectual. This is a lovely book, inside and out. Paul M.Pearson, who edited this volume and also provides
the introduction, is a fine scholar."
Frederick Smock, Louisville Courier Journal, November 29, 2008
"The publication ... emphasises particularly, for us, Merton’s great capacity for friendship, his compassion
and enthusiasm to share his boundless knowledge....We are indebted to Dr. Paul Pearson for this delightful
book which brings Merton, as his friends knew him, so much closer to us."
Thea van Dam, The Merton Journal, Eastertide, 2009; Vol. 16, No.1
"Over the sink in the kitchen of Thomas Merton’s hermitage is a Shaker spirit drawing, 'The Tree of Life,'
that hangs like a memory of Merton’s fascination with that peculiar people called the Shakers. It was the gift
of Edward Deming Andrews, the token of a friendship celebrated in this collection.... A Meeting of Angels is
another beautiful volume by Paul Pearson who has carefully presented...a precious distillation of Merton’s
illuminating insights into the fascinating heritage of the American Shakers....[With] Dr. Pearson, I salute the
friendship between these two exceptional souls which he describes as 'a rare meeting of spirits…the celebra-
tion of a meeting of angels….'"
Kathleen Deignan, CND, "A Common Ground of Simplicity," The Merton Seasonal, Vol. 34, No. 2, Summer
"A good book – a worthy book – leads its adventurous readers on a journey of discovery, only to bring those
pilgrims back home to their too familiar world, forever changed. In A Meeting of Angels: The Correspond-
ence of Thomas Merton with Edward Deming & Faith Andrews, editor Paul M. Pearson has given us just
such a book.... Reading any such book of real letters shared by real people struggling with passion and
purpose provides an experience starkly refreshing…."
David Shockey, Kentucky Monthly, May 2009
"Meeting of Angels is a refreshing and welcome addition to the posthumous publications of Merton's
correspondence. Just as Merton recognized the Cistercian spirit alive in Shaker life and buildings, so did
Andrews recognize the Shaker spirit in his monk friend's way of life. That both writers were able to articulate
clearly the ideals they shared is reason enough for the editor's diligent work and for the lasting worth of the
book. It should easily stand the test of time and hold the interest of all who read it, whether for scholarly
work or for lectio divina."
Sister Jeanne Doriot, SP, Cistercian Studies Quarterly Vol. 46.2, 2011
|Praise for A Meeting of Angels
Paul M. Pearson is Director and Archivist of the Thomas Merton Center at Bellarmine University in
Louisville, Kentucky and Chief of Research for the Merton Legacy Trust. He is Resident Secretary of the
International Thomas Merton Society (ITMS), served as its tenth President and was a founding member of
the Thomas Merton Society of Great Britain and Ireland. He is an editor of Thomas Merton: Poet, Monk,
Prophet (Three Peaks Press, 1998), Thomas Merton: A Mind Awake in the Dark (Three Peaks Press,
2002), Seeds of Hope: Thomas Merton's Contemplative Message (Cistercium-Ciem, 2008) and edited
Seeking Paradise: Thomas Merton and the Shakers (Orbis, 2003).