Thomas Merton was one of the most influential Catholic authors of the 20th century. A Trappist monk of the Abbey of Our Lady of Gethsemani, in the American state of Kentucky, Merton was an acclaimed Catholic spiritual writer, poet, author and social activist. Merton wrote over 60 books, scores of essays and reviews, and is the ongoing subject of many biographies. Merton was also a proponent of inter-religious dialogue, engaging in spiritual dialogues with the Dalai Lama XIV
, Thich Nhat Hanh
, D. T. Suzuki
and poet Robert Lax
. His life and career were suddenly cut short at age 53, when he was electrocuted stepping out of his bath.