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Life Arts    H4'ed 2/19/13

Was the Indian Jesuit Anthony de Mello Murdered in the U.S. 25 Years Ago? (BOOK REVIEW)

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(Article changed on February 20, 2013 at 19:43)

(Article changed on February 18, 2013 at 19:31)

Duluth, Minnesota (OpEdNews) February 18, 2013: On March 1, 2013, Orbis Book is scheduled to release the American edition of the book titled ANTHONY DE MELLO: THE HAPPY WANDERER: A TRIBUTE TO MY BROTHER, written by Bill de Mello, who now lives in Australia, and edited by Clifford W. DeSilva, a former Jesuit in India. The book was originally published in India about the time of the 25th anniversary of Anthony de Mello's death in 1987. Last summer, I was given a copy of the book that was published in India. As a result, I have had ample time to digest it.

 

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The Roman Catholic spiritual writer Thomas Merton (1915-1968) died in Bangkok, Thailand, as the result of a supposedly weird accident.

 

But the death of Anthony ("Tony") de Mello (1931-1987), the popular Jesuit spiritual director from India and author of a number of popular books on spirituality, was even more suspicious than Thomas Merton's death, as I will explain momentarily.

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At the time of his sudden death, Tony was a rising star in Roman Catholic spirituality. Jesuit priests and other Catholics in religious orders, including a certain number of Catholic women religious, flocked to Tony's spirituality center in Poona, India, to take part in his experimental group-counseling retreats, which were conducted something like encounter groups, but only for Catholics in religious orders.

 

In addition to conducting his famous experimental group-counseling retreats that attracted Catholics from different countries, Tony was popular on the lecture circuit in Catholic circles, giving spirituality conferences in different countries, including the United States. At times, his summer lecture tours in the United States also at times included conducting his experimental group-counseling retreats for certain Catholics who understood in advance what kind of experience they were signing up for.

 

In 1964, Tony had received his Master's degree in pastoral counseling from Loyola University Chicago. Carl Rogers and Fritz Perls were major figures influencing Tony's thought. However, in such posthumously published books as AWARENESS (Image, 1992, the edited transcription of one of his spirituality conferences), REDISCOVERING LIFE (Image, 2012, the edited transcription of another one of his spirituality conferences), and THE WAY TO LOVE (reissued Image, 2012, a coherent and cogent series of meditations that he wrote but did not publish in his lifetime), Tony sounds like Albert Ellis on steroids.

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But Tony's thought that sounds like Albert Ellis on steroids was probably most deeply influenced by the thought of the spiritual guide from India, Jiddu Krishnamurti and the kind of meditation that Krishnamurti advocated -- which resembles Buddhist meditation, even though Krishnamurti himself was not a Buddhist. In any event, like Krishnamurti, Tony also sounds like a Buddhist, even though he was not a Buddhist.

 

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Thomas James Farrell is professor emeritus of writing studies at the University of Minnesota Duluth (UMD). He started teaching at UMD in Fall 1987, and he retired from UMD at the end of May 2009. He was born in 1944. He holds three degrees from Saint Louis University (SLU): B.A. in English, 1966; M.A.(T) in English 1968; Ph.D.in higher education, 1974. On May 16, 1969, the editors of the SLU student newspaper named him Man of the Year, an honor customarily conferred on an administrator or a faculty member, not on a graduate student -- nor on a woman up to that time. He is the proud author of the book (more...)
 

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