Thomas Merton vs. Philander Chase

In today’s match-up we get a 20th century monk/best-selling author with a lot of letters after his name versus a 19th century missionary bishop with what just might be the best name in Lent Madness (Enmegahbowh may beg to differ). Will the Kenyon College students and alums rally to put Philander Chase over the top? Or will the many who have read and been touched by Thomas Merton’s “The Seven Storey Mountain” jump to his cause? Only you and the next 24 hours will tell.

In yesterday’s battle, Mary Magdalene swept to a resounding victory over John Huss (66% to 34% with well over 1,700 votes cast), setting up a wild Round of the Saintly Sixteen match-up with Joan of Arc. Magdalene vs. Huss also set a record with over 100 comments! Keep up the good work, friends, and don’t forget to check out the updated bracket and the calendar of upcoming battles.

Thomas Merton, O.C.S.O. (January 31, 1915 – December 10, 1968) was born in France to Owen Merton, a New Zealander, and Ruth Jenkins, an American. Both were artists. Later in 1915, with World War I raging, they moved to the United States of America where John Paul, his brother, was born in 1918.

Merton’s mother died when he was six which led to a complicated childhood, moving between his father, his grandparents in New York, and boarding schools in France and England. His father died in 1931. Merton went to Clare College, Cambridge, in 1933 where he lived a dissolute life and it is likely that he fathered a child. His guardian, Tom Bennett, who had been a classmate of Owen’s in New Zealand, intervened and persuaded him to go back to New York.

In 1935 Merton entered Colombia University where he studied English literature. He also discovered an interest in Roman Catholicism and began to engage with issues of social justice.

He joined the Roman Catholic Church in 1938, the year that he graduated. He considered joining the Franciscans but, after a Holy Week retreat, in 1941, at Our Lady of Gethsemane, near Bardstown, Kentucky, he joined this monastery of the Order of Cistercians of the Strict Observance on December 10, 1941.

In the Second World War, his brother John Paul died in 1943 when his plane’s engines failed over the English Channel.

As a monk, Thomas Merton became one of the most widely-read and deeply-respected authors on spirituality of the twentieth century. He wrote more than seventy books as well as lots of articles. He also maintained a prolific correspondence, with people around the world, on a great diversity of topics.

His autobiography, “The Seven Storey Mountain,” published in 1948, was a publishing sensation. More than 600,000 copies sold in the first year alone.

Merton was responsible for the formation of new monks and novices at a time when the monastery was thriving. He had a passion for solitude and was finally given permission to live in a hermitage on the monastery grounds. He helped to highlight the spiritual dimension of Christianity and did so with a strong interest in other world religions.

He died from an electric shock from a faulty fan in Bangkok while attending a meeting of religious leaders.

Collect for Thomas Merton: Gracious God, you called your monk Thomas Merton to proclaim your justice out of silence, and moved him in his contemplative writings to perceive and value Christ at work in the faiths of others: Keep us, like him, steadfast in the knowledge and love of Jesus Christ; who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God for ever and ever. Amen.

— Bosco Peters

To Philander Chase (1775-1852), the Book of Common Prayer was the second best book ever written. Chase picked up the BCP when studying at Dartmouth College, and upon reading it, decided to become an Episcopalian. For Episcopalians throughout what was then the frontier of the United States, it’s a good thing he did. Despite the lack of a seminary in the new United States, Chase was ordained a priest at age 23 (having studied under the private instruction of the Rev. Thomas Ellison), and over the next 18 years served churches in New York, Louisiana, and Connecticut (the latter two of which would later become the cathedral churches of their respective dioceses).

Then in 1817, in fine Abrahamic tradition, Philander Chase uprooted his family, including his consumptive wife, Mary, and moved west to the frontier, which at that time was Ohio. Chase’s Oaks of Mamre were in Worthington, Ohio, where he founded Kenyon College and Bexley Hall Seminary (and where Mary passed away from her illness). His move west happened partly out of pioneering zeal and partly because he did not see eye to eye with Bishop Hobart of New York. His conflict with Hobart (in whose diocese the new General Seminary had recently opened), not to mention his unwillingness to expose young frontiersmen to the vicissitudes of city life (from which they might not want to return) led Chase to found the seminary in Ohio, which opened in 1824

Prior to that, in 1818, Chase was elected the first Bishop of Ohio. However, his penchant for single-handedly controlling the institutions in his charge led to fallout in both the college and diocese, and he resigned both the presidency and episcopacy in 1831. The old pioneering zeal flared up again, and he moved to Michigan, founding many churches along the way. Then, in 1835, he was elected the first Bishop of Illinois, and he continued moving west. He also served as the Presiding Bishop from 1843 until his death in 1852.

Philander Chase was a pioneer for the Episcopal faith in the frontier of the nascent United States. His conviction and zeal, while it often got him into trouble with his colleagues, helped spread the Gospel to the edge of the country, where it took hold and flourished.

Collect for Philander Chase: Almighty God, whose Son Jesus Christ is the pioneer and perfecter of our faith: We give you heartfelt thanks for the pioneering spirit of your servant Philander Chase, and for his zeal in opening new frontiers for the ministry of your Church. Grant us grace to minister in Christ’s name in every place, led by bold witnesses to the Gospel of the Prince of Peace, Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

— Adam Thomas


Thomas Merton vs. Philander Chase

  • Philander Chase (52%, 1,421 Votes)
  • Thomas Merton (48%, 1,293 Votes)

Total Voters: 2,711

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153 Comments to "Thomas Merton vs. Philander Chase"

  1. Nancy Baillie Strong's Gravatar Nancy Baillie Strong
    February 29, 2012 - 8:08 am | Permalink

    Wow! Am I really the first person to cast a ballot this morning? Thomas Merton figured prominently in my spiritual formation and journey in grace from the church of my childhood into the Anglican tradition — go figure! Also, his monastic pilgrimage kindled in me a continuing connection with the religious life and communities in the Episcopal Church. So, my vote was easy!

  2. Vicki's Gravatar Vicki
    February 29, 2012 - 8:08 am | Permalink

    As a Quaker, I have always been grateful for Merton’s appreciation of The Society of Friends through his devotion to/in silence. This is easier for me than Hus vs. Mary M.!

  3. Kaeleigh's Gravatar Kaeleigh
    February 29, 2012 - 8:17 am | Permalink

    As a friend of Bexley Hall Seminary, I have to vote for Philander Chase. Not only did he start a college in the wilderness, but he also founded a great seminary. Besides, he was a Presiding Bishop! GO PHILANDER!

  4. Jeanne Smith's Gravatar Jeanne Smith
    February 29, 2012 - 8:21 am | Permalink

    In this very complicated age, I am particularly grateful for (in the words of the collect) Merton’s efforts ” to perceive and value Christ at work in the faiths of others.” We need more of that.

  5. Cori's Gravatar Cori
    February 29, 2012 - 8:24 am | Permalink

    I decided on Philander Chase because he did not give up. When things did not go well for him in Ohio, he moved on and kept on going! How many of us suffer a set-back and decide to give up? Not Philander! It wasn’t an easy choice, but if one has to pick, I pick him.

  6. Marguerite's Gravatar Marguerite
    February 29, 2012 - 8:34 am | Permalink

    My mother was a devoted fan of Merton whereas my daughter went to Kenyon College. Such a dilemma. I am predisposed toward the contemplative however. Will ponder this for a while.

  7. Beth Royalty's Gravatar Beth Royalty
    February 29, 2012 - 8:38 am | Permalink

    Philander doesn’t come across as the most attractive character here, but I admire leaders who are feisty and focused, and wonder if someone like him might be just what we need in our time?

  8. Junior Abraham's Gravatar Junior Abraham
    February 29, 2012 - 8:42 am | Permalink

    Well, Merton converted FROM the Episcopal Church (and initially was somewhat parocial about it!) and Chase TO the Episcopal Church. So I guess that shows who was the wisest, eh?

  9. Barb's Gravatar Barb
    February 29, 2012 - 8:43 am | Permalink

    Thomas Merton had a great influence on my life. I knew I was being called from a very young age but took a different path. In 1975 I read the Seven Story Mountain. That changed everything for me. Even thought it was years before I was eventually ordained Merton and his writings were with me on the journey. Last year I got to visit Bardstown. It is beautiful.

  10. AmyPT's Gravatar AmyPT
    February 29, 2012 - 8:44 am | Permalink

    I do like Thomas Merton, but I’m going to have to vote for Philander Chase since he was the first Rector at my husband’s home church in Worthington, OH.

  11. Tom B's Gravatar Tom B
    February 29, 2012 - 8:47 am | Permalink

    Philander Chase was a true visionary. He was not limited to the imagining the church as it is but sought to make it into something it could be in a changing world. Unfortunately, he left a chain of broken relationships and hard feelings. He reminds me a little to much of self centered individuals who act like the church is their very own plaything and anyone who disagrees is an obstructionist, deluded or worse. In our age of public and institutional bullying, I have to go with the monk in his hermitage who knew that in Christ, he was connected and in relationship with the rest of the world and acted like that mattered.

    • Laura Lou's Gravatar Laura Lou
      February 29, 2012 - 10:16 am | Permalink

      My vote is being made for the same reasons as Tom B.

  12. Geof's Gravatar Geof
    February 29, 2012 - 8:52 am | Permalink

    I have great respect for Thomas Merton’s spirituality: his “Seven Storey Mountain” was a key in my own formation; but I can’t imagine going into a monastry three days after Pearl Harbor. I have to give my vote to Philander Chase; I think there is a courage to pushing the frontier.

  13. Amy Cornell's Gravatar Amy Cornell
    February 29, 2012 - 8:55 am | Permalink

    Would have voted for Merton anyway, but I could not vote for someone who disagreed with Hobart and dissed my seminary “in the City.”

    • February 29, 2012 - 7:07 pm | Permalink

      By “diss” you mean thought that not every single priest in the Episcopal Church should have to mean move to NY city for their education but that people who lived on the other side of the Appalachian should actually be able to get a Masters of Divinity in the Anglican Tradition without having so to do…

      • February 29, 2012 - 8:23 pm | Permalink

        I went to Kenyon and heard the stories of the founder, Philander…and went to General and heard the stories of the founder, John Henry. They are the ecclesiastical equivalent of apples and oranges, oil and water. That’s good news, aside from the mutual “dissing” that went on as they competed for funding for their respective seminaries. That even at that early stage our denomination could be so diverse, what a gift! Still, I am sure that old Philander and John Henry did a little spinning in their sleep in Christ when I signed the respective Matriculation Books!

    • Ed Adcock's Gravatar Ed Adcock
      March 1, 2012 - 12:35 am | Permalink

      Having matriculated at Hobart College in Geneva NY (unabashed plug), I’ve been aware +Hobart was not an easy bishop to work with. But he also was on the western edge of “civilisation”. Stubborn people do not mix well. How about a bracket of Episcopal Bishops since the seperation from the Church of England? 🙂 The spread of the Episcopal Church as Americans spread across what is now the USA is a fascinating story with many chapters, many personalities.

  14. February 29, 2012 - 9:03 am | Permalink

    Chase may have had pioneering zeal, but anybody who would drag his consumptive wife to the frontier seems to be seriously lacking in the virtues of mercy and compassion. I agree with some others that he comes across as autocratic and bull-headed. Sure, maybe there’s a time and place for such behavior, but our modern world seems far too full of bull-headed autocrats. My vote’s with Merton.

    • Jennifer's Gravatar Jennifer
      February 29, 2012 - 11:31 am | Permalink

      I agree with Mainecelt’s comment on Chase. I know Merton is a great spiritual authority but I don’t like the way either of these guys treated the women in their lives. Voting for neither.

      • tracy's Gravatar tracy
        February 29, 2012 - 4:16 pm | Permalink

        I’m wondering what you mean. Yes, Merton had a relationship with a woman as a very, very young man. She never spoke of it. Perhaps she continued to care for him? At any rate, I’ve never read that he treated the women in his life disrespectfully. Falling in love with one is not disrespect.

    • February 29, 2012 - 3:03 pm | Permalink

      Autocratic and bull-headed? He founded Kenyon?

      Sounds about right.

      • joe's Gravatar joe
        February 29, 2012 - 10:56 pm | Permalink

        Jordan, Did you get a rejection letter from Kenyon??

  15. Gian's Gravatar Gian
    February 29, 2012 - 9:06 am | Permalink

    I have never heard of both, but I found Thomas Merton’s life very interesting. Actually, I am planning to read his Seven Storey Mountain. Being a Catholic monk, I do not understand why Thomas Merton was not known in Cuba, where I grew up, since the Roman Catholic Church is the major Christian church back there. I wonder whether his book has been translated into Spanish. Otherwise, it could be a great experience doing it by myself.

  16. vincent ira ciaramitaro's Gravatar vincent ira ciaramitaro
    February 29, 2012 - 9:08 am | Permalink

    Easy choice for me. I read Seven Story Mountain in 1959 when I was 11 and was hooked. I can say in all honesty there has been less than a 100 days in my life that I have not read or listened to Merton. The ability of Merton to speak to so many varying folks is amazing. At the International TM Society of meetings it is a gathering of a real melting pot folks. It is real live Pentecost event. I doubt Merton will ever be canonized by Rome. Too much is known about him. We have his books, articles, and letters but the most revealing and dynamic is the recorded talks and teachings especially if you started collecting them before some redactors/censors got hold of them. I think the most outstanding part of Merton’s character is how he dealt with his constant struggle with his vow of Obedience. It was a mine field that cause him much angst and turmoil yet he remained faithful. It is a lesson from a very strong willed individual to us strong will individuals. There is something to be said for obedience and something to be said for testing the boundaries. How much more relevant can one get?

  17. Bryan C's Gravatar Bryan C
    February 29, 2012 - 9:08 am | Permalink

    Philander Chase was a staggering individual. In a church that today finds itself so married to academic and intellectual pursuits of the Spirit, Chase stands as a strong reminder in our day that intelligence. consideration and insight must by necessity be backed by action, with patient strength, resolute determination and an unimpeachable sense of duty to the call of God. As fallibly human as any man could be, Philander Chase’s own failings as a leader serve to remind us that we, too, can and often do let our own very human perceptions, desires and shortcomings overshadow the good work that God is bringing forth in our lives.

  18. Ann Case's Gravatar Ann Case
    February 29, 2012 - 9:10 am | Permalink

    The comments of others helped me decide this morning. I never could understand how Merton could be a “hermit” and still travel all over the world. I don’t think I would have liked to be married to Chase but as someone said, he went to the Episcopal Church and Merton went from it. And I’m trying not to vote just for people I knew beforehand. Thanks for new information.

  19. vincent ira ciaramitaro's Gravatar vincent ira ciaramitaro
    February 29, 2012 - 9:26 am | Permalink

    Some clarity here: Merton was only a handful of times in an Anglican Church outside when forced while he was in school. It is a stretch to talk of him as being an Anglican/Episcopalian so to leave it. From the time he entered the monastery to his death he was rarely out of the monastery. He went to Louisville KY for medical reasons. He went to a conference in MN once and to NY to meet with DT Suzuki when Suzuki was dying. His “travel all over the world” occurred at the end of his life (last 3 years) and that was very limited by his Abbot.

  20. zig's Gravatar zig
    February 29, 2012 - 9:35 am | Permalink

    Gimme an “M”; gimme a “E”; gimme an “R”, gimme a “T”; gimme a”O”; gimme an “N”! Whatzat SPELL? (not sure–never was a really good speller–but I DO know that it is the Abbey of Gethsemani, with an “i” at the end!) A beautiful place with more than a thousand acres, a statuary garden in the woods, and wonderful mature trees planted by Merton when he was the Forester. Vote M-E-R-T-O-N!

  21. Dennis Johnson's Gravatar Dennis Johnson
    February 29, 2012 - 9:39 am | Permalink

    You folks on the East Coast certainly get up earlier to vote than those of us in the West! I could not help but vote for Thomas as his writtings have had a real impact on me. That being said, its hard not to vote for a guy with a name like Philander. I’m sure he took some grief as a young man.

    • William F Bellais's Gravatar William F Bellais
      February 29, 2012 - 5:43 pm | Permalink

      They probably called him Phil.

  22. Alan Bobowski's Gravatar Alan Bobowski
    February 29, 2012 - 9:40 am | Permalink

    This was difficult – I like saints who aren’t perfect. Merton lead a “disoulute” life before conversion and Philander “got into trouble”. In the end, though, I have to vote for the Episcopalian pioneer.

  23. Laura's Gravatar Laura
    February 29, 2012 - 9:43 am | Permalink

    Although Philander Chase had much to do with the Episcopal church in Louisiana and would win my vote by that fact, how can he compete with Thomas Merton? If you want to lift up your heart, google Thomas Merton quotes.

    “My life is measured by my love of God, and that in turn is measured by my love for the least of His children: and that love is not an abstract benevolence: it must mean sharing their tribulation.” –Run to the Mountain

    “If you want to identify me, ask me not where I live or what I like to eat . . . Ask me what I am living for and what I think is keeping me from living fully that.”
    ― Thoughts in Solitude

    “MY LORD GOD, I have no idea where I am going.
    I do not see the road ahead of me.
    I cannot know for certain where it will end.
    Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think that I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so.
    But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you.
    And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing.
    I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire.
    And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road though I may know nothing about it.
    Therefore will I trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death.
    I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.”

    And also, “([Ezra] Pound and Esquire are on exactly the same level, both bad in the same offensive and frightening way).” — Run to the Mountain

  24. Ann's Gravatar Ann
    February 29, 2012 - 9:43 am | Permalink

    Neither treated women as anything other than objects. And there is no sign that they ever changed or repented. No voting from me today

  25. Ann's Gravatar Ann
    February 29, 2012 - 9:44 am | Permalink

    I am okay with “broken” people becoming saints but not abuse of women. There was no “maybe” about Merton’s child – he admits it in one of his writings.

    • tracy's Gravatar tracy
      February 29, 2012 - 4:19 pm | Permalink

      I’d like some citation — that Merton abused women. That’s not the way I’d describe falling in love and having sex — as a young man.

  26. February 29, 2012 - 9:47 am | Permalink

    I’ll admit it’s tribal pride that has me vote for Chase over Merton. How can I overlook the man who maintains his diginity despite bequeathing his name to the dog of my former bishop, Bill Persell of Chicago? OK, so the whole world thinks Merton is holy, I’m voting for the underdog this time.

  27. Joe Rutter's Gravatar Joe Rutter
    February 29, 2012 - 9:50 am | Permalink

    Don’t get me wrong.. I love Thomas Merton without bounds. His writings and his intellect have inspired and enriched my spiritual growth throughout my life. His pray that opens.. “My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going..” has informed my life’s quest for living in harmony with the Divine’s Will for the world and for me. 

    But if I know anything about Merton it is that he had no desire for “sainthood” and would never presume to interfere with anyone else’s journey. He didn’t aspire to be revered.

    Philander on the other hand did desire to be a pastor and to win souls for Christ. As I come from the very “frontier lands” that he evangelized I have always heard his stories and admired him. He desired so much for us who now occupy his beloved Protestant Episcopal Church that I simply must give him the vote. Br. Thomas will be too busy meditating to notice.

  28. February 29, 2012 - 9:57 am | Permalink

    Anyone else noting the bizarre irony of matching Merton with a Philander(er)?

    • Tom Cox's Gravatar Tom Cox
      February 29, 2012 - 5:22 pm | Permalink

      Meredith, you beat me to that one. I have been struggling to decide whether to cast my vote for Philander or the (former) philanderer.

  29. Ann Ely's Gravatar Ann Ely
    February 29, 2012 - 9:58 am | Permalink

    I can’t vote for anyone whose wife was so sick and move the whole family to another state where she died. She may have died anyway, but it doesn’t appear as if he had much compassion. My vote goes to Merton.

    • Fr Bill Loring's Gravatar Fr Bill Loring
      February 29, 2012 - 11:01 pm | Permalink

      Since the main treatment for consumption until relatively recently was to get out of the city and into the fresh air I just don’t see that Philander was so hard on his wife (and Ohio was frontier country but not the Wild West and had been a state –sort of but that’s another story — for 14 years by the time he moved there). Anyway I grew up in Cincinnati, and Philander is Our Guy so he gets my vote.

    • Ginny Rodriguez's Gravatar Ginny Rodriguez
      March 1, 2012 - 12:23 am | Permalink

      Do we know what Mrs. Chase wanted? Perhaps she wanted to see another part of the country; perhaps the doctors said, “Go west. You might get better or just feel better.” Such advice was frequently given. It seems shocking Chase would drag the missus away from family & friends, but maybe not. She may have been glad to go!

  30. Gary Goldacker's Gravatar Gary Goldacker
    February 29, 2012 - 10:03 am | Permalink

    Resigned the episcopate to do mission work? Gets my vote!

  31. Susan Carter's Gravatar Susan Carter
    February 29, 2012 - 10:04 am | Permalink

    Philander Chase reminds us of the need to step out of the chancel, out of the sanctuary, and to go with Christ into the world. He was not perfect, nor are we, but we can be faithful.

  32. February 29, 2012 - 10:09 am | Permalink

    Hadn’t heard of Philander Chase before, but I think Merton’s life shows a far more Christ-like character than Chase.

  33. Sister Mary Winifred's Gravatar Sister Mary Winifred
    February 29, 2012 - 10:17 am | Permalink

    A lot depends on the words/tone of the biographers . . . maybe it was thought that moving west to cleaner air would help Chase’s wife’s illness. I’m wary of “saints” in the Religious Life — pretty much “oxymoronic.”

    • Sandi M's Gravatar Sandi M
      February 29, 2012 - 11:23 am | Permalink

      Love the word “oxymoronic”! Will definitely add it to my vocabulary.

      • Ed Adcock's Gravatar Ed Adcock
        March 1, 2012 - 12:37 am | Permalink

        Oxymoronic = Military Intelligence

  34. Cat's Gravatar Cat
    February 29, 2012 - 10:19 am | Permalink

    I feel like I should read the comments before voting next time! Digging the passion everyone has for who they voted for.

  35. Kris's Gravatar Kris
    February 29, 2012 - 10:25 am | Permalink

    Both of these gentle souls had difficulty getting on with others, and both had a hunger for God. Merton never desired Sainthood, but did most of the Saints ever say, “I want to be a Saint?” I love the idea of this wiley hermit being dubbed a Saint.

  36. Mary-Elise's Gravatar Mary-Elise
    February 29, 2012 - 10:27 am | Permalink

    In previewing this match-up, I had questioned if Merton was a saint… I noticed he was a double ** in the saints calendar and some internet research shows he is not on the list for consideration in his own faith. I certainly respect his work and find his writing inspirational, but I’m voting for Chase.

  37. Laurie Atwater's Gravatar Laurie Atwater
    February 29, 2012 - 10:32 am | Permalink

    One of the most important aspects of Philander Chase was his commitment to developing seminaries and clergy training in what was then the Northwest Territories. Otherwise, priests and deacons had to be “imported” from the East Coast and they were often people with little understanding of the frontier life and its people. Chase did a crucial service in growing the Episcopal Church in America. Yes, he was certainly a prickly sort of person, but boy, he got a lot done! We studied him in our discussion group at St. Martin’s and I’m glad to have learned about him. He gets my vote today…

  38. February 29, 2012 - 10:32 am | Permalink

    Early in my professional journey, I worked with liturgical designer, Bill Schickel who had designed the renovation at the Abbey of Gethsemani about a dozen years before I arrived. High on a storage shelf in our design studio was a cardboard box, hand-labeled in black marking pen “THOMAS MERTON’S BLUE JEANS”- an inspiring relic.

    The sorry wake of broken relationships along Chase’s frontiersman trail is painful to contemplate. But I’m going with actions speak louder than words. With roots in Michigan, Ohio and Chicago, I’m voting homey today with Philander Chase.

    Good thing I’ve got an AMBIDEXTEROUS Lenten Madness mug filled with soothing tea to guide me through this challenging hagiography.

  39. Maggie Martin's Gravatar Maggie Martin
    February 29, 2012 - 10:36 am | Permalink

    “…But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you…” is one of my favorites! My vote, therefore, has to be for Merton.

  40. Marguerite's Gravatar Marguerite
    February 29, 2012 - 10:37 am | Permalink

    Still haven’t voted. Merton remains my favorite though. I think for about 10 years Merton was all my mother read. Being Catholic, she was mainly concerned with sin, and not committing it, so here was a different approach to God. Just for the torment (and challenge) he offered my mother, I think I’ll have to vote for the monk.

  41. February 29, 2012 - 10:50 am | Permalink

    As a Briton I have to confess to never having heard of Philander Chase before today (sorry), whereas Thomas Merton’s writings were extraordinarily influential in my own journey to faith and, eventually, ordination. So out of gratitude and deep admiration my vote goes to Merton.

  42. Lauren Stanley's Gravatar Lauren Stanley
    February 29, 2012 - 10:54 am | Permalink

    Philander Chase said things he shouldn’t have said that needed to be heard. He did things he shouldn’t have done, because he thought they were the right things to do. He messed up. Big time. He did the honorable thing and quit. And then he kept going! He went to the place that God would show him, he preached the Gospel, he planted the seeds, and he remained faithful, despite everything. I deeply admire Mr. Merton, but Philander Chase and I might just be cut from the same cloth. At least, I hope and pray that is so.

    • Anne Lane Witt's Gravatar Anne Lane Witt
      February 29, 2012 - 11:50 am | Permalink

      Lauren, I can definitely see you and Philander Chase being cut from the same cloth! I voted for him as well. Let is also be said that Chase helped establish the first Episcopal parish in New Orleans, hoping that the warmer climate would help his wife’s TB. They had left their children with relatives in Vermont but missed them so much that they moved back to New England. To me, his wife’s health does seem to have been a concern and not disregarded.

  43. Cheryl's Gravatar Cheryl
    February 29, 2012 - 11:00 am | Permalink

    Bexley, Bexley, Bexley!!! Philander Chase is the way to go!!!
    Bias: I am an alum of Bexley Hall Seminary!

  44. Carol Buckalew's Gravatar Carol Buckalew
    February 29, 2012 - 11:01 am | Permalink

    Philander for me. I started east & moved west & all around. There are a number of pioneers in my family. I am glad he started churches wherever he went.

  45. Holly's Gravatar Holly
    February 29, 2012 - 11:05 am | Permalink

    The Seven Story Mountain was pivotal in my return to the church after a many decades absence. Merton pushed for interfaith dialogue before it had become popular and actually lived it out in his writings and life. His well-documented struggle with the fame his writings brought him and the Abbey are a compelling alternative voice in this age of 10-second notoriety. There is no question in my mind that his writings have been the source of spiritual nourishment for thousands of people, no matter their denominational or religious background, and no doubt have also been the impetus for drawing thousands if not tens of thousands, to Christ. Got to go with Merton.

  46. PJ's Gravatar PJ
    February 29, 2012 - 11:19 am | Permalink

    As a loyal daughter of Kenyon College, I must cast my vote for the Reverend Chase. “The first of Kenyon’s goodly race, was that great man Philander Chase!”

    • BCB's Gravatar BCB
      February 29, 2012 - 4:09 pm | Permalink

      “He climbed a hill and said a prayer and founded Kenyon College there.”

  47. February 29, 2012 - 11:29 am | Permalink

    No contest for me – silence is the most important work. Merton gets my vote.

  48. Patsy White's Gravatar Patsy White
    February 29, 2012 - 11:33 am | Permalink

    It seems a lot harder to be a pioneering clergyman and bishop than a contemplative hermit. I voted for the Esky-piskie.

  49. February 29, 2012 - 12:11 pm | Permalink

    Interesting comments. I didn’t know much about Philander before reading this. He seemed like a guy that got a lot done but pissed a lot of people off. Someone you could respect for doing the work but you were really glad you didn’t work for him!

  50. Melissa's Gravatar Melissa
    February 29, 2012 - 12:19 pm | Permalink

    My vote goes to Merton today as his reminders not to get too mixed up in what he calls the “violence” of an over-busy life have been helping me keep perspective on my schedule of late.

  51. Eve's Gravatar Eve
    February 29, 2012 - 12:23 pm | Permalink

    He did good by doing bad=Philander
    Bad happened to him and he was good = Tom
    Do I vote with my Episcopal lineage or my ecumenical tendencies?

  52. Paul Rosbolt's Gravatar Paul Rosbolt
    February 29, 2012 - 12:37 pm | Permalink

    I was personally inspired by 7 story mountain…Merton gets my vote.

  53. Heather's Gravatar Heather
    February 29, 2012 - 12:41 pm | Permalink

    I thought I’d vote Episcopal, but by the time I finished reading about ol’ Phil moving his ill wife a great distance (presumably without an air conditioned vehicle, far from her friends & family to ultimately die in a strange place) — well, Tom won this round.

  54. February 29, 2012 - 12:43 pm | Permalink

    Never heard of either of these men, so I did a little extra digging for more information. What I learned really emphasized to me that “saints” sometimes are not “saintly” at all. That God calls us just as we are, and equips us for the work He wants us to do.

    While Philander Chase moving his consumptive wife to the frontier sounds harsh, the idea of fresh air and open spaces was an acceptable and desirable treatment at the time, and there is nothing in what little I read to indicate that he made the move without any regard to his wife’s well-being, so I’ll give him a pass on that. Thomas Merton’s infatuation with Buddhism, while remaining resolutely committed to the doctrines of Christianity has piqued my interest and put him on the list of authors I want to read. But in the end, my vote goes to Chase, the missionary. Both men were seriously flawed, but Merton’s life was, in my opinion, devoted to self-improvement through selective isolation. And while he acknowledged that he fathered a child, did he actually acknowledge the child?

    Voting for Philander Chase, the stiff-necked missionary. If for no other reason, my default mode rarely favors hermits, as neither Christ nor the Apostles modeled a hermit’s lifestyle. Apologies for the long post.

  55. Arne Bergland's Gravatar Arne Bergland
    February 29, 2012 - 12:44 pm | Permalink

    It’s shallow I know, but I am voting on the basis of which one of thee gentlemen I would most likely want to have coffee with. On that basis it is a clear choice for Merton.

  56. Christopheles Nacion's Gravatar Christopheles Nacion
    February 29, 2012 - 12:52 pm | Permalink

    Mystic, poet, activist, monk, literary and social critic, teacher, ecumenist…the list goes on. One of the most prolific letter writer-ers in the 20th Century, Merton ought to win because of his genuineness, his humor, and his memorable love for other people. From the heart-wrenching poem written in commemoration of his brother who died at war, to his mystical experiences of communion with others (the Louisville encounter) Merton is as saintly as it gets in my opinion.
    Some here have talked about his early years when Merton, like Augustine, was a womanizer. But throughout his life, he cherished and knew many, many women whom he admired, wrote to, and corresponded with regularly. He was deeply moved by Dorothy Day, Flannery O’Connor, and many, many more women, not to mention his loving relationship with “M.”

    “The one end that includes all the others is the love of God.” -t merton

  57. Marjory H's Gravatar Marjory H
    February 29, 2012 - 1:18 pm | Permalink

    I’m love to have coffee with the bishop….it would be incredible to get to know my great-great-great grandfather, without whom I would not be here…let alone blessed in the community of my church.

    Thank you Bishop Chase!

    • Eve's Gravatar Eve
      February 29, 2012 - 8:48 pm | Permalink


  58. Tarheel's Gravatar Tarheel
    February 29, 2012 - 1:34 pm | Permalink

    As a member of a Dartmouth family, this was an easy pick. Merton gets a bit too far out there for me. Did Chase have his shortcomings, yes, but he founded a college and seminary. He prepared future generations.

  59. Janet's Gravatar Janet
    February 29, 2012 - 1:34 pm | Permalink

    Don’t let a somewhat negative biographer keep you from voting for the brave, pioneering bishop who was more beloved and admired than his bio indicates! Does Thomas Merton have his own song? Philander Chase does – go to and sing enthusiastically!

  60. Gillian B's Gravatar Gillian B
    February 29, 2012 - 1:36 pm | Permalink

    I had to vote for Merton. I have been inspired and strengthened by contemplation and silence. Philander Chase, despite his great name, seemed to have trouble getting along with people and caused drama/trauma. I’m with Merton.

  61. Adam's Gravatar Adam
    February 29, 2012 - 2:21 pm | Permalink

    Wow. I had no idea that the comment about Chase’s wife’s TB would be such a factor in people’s votes! If I had known, I might have explained the context a little more. And for those of you who thought the tone of his biography was negative, then you’re right. I didn’t want to sugarcoat Chase’s personality, and many people seemed to find him quite abrasive. Though 400 words isn’t much for cramming a life as full of his into. Thanks for everyone’s thoughtful comments today. Very cool!

    Still not sure for whom I’m voting, and I wrote one of these bios. yikes!

    • Sister Mary Winifred's Gravatar Sister Mary Winifred
      February 29, 2012 - 5:31 pm | Permalink

      It’s that word “uprooted” — maybe his wife said, “Phil, they’re never going to appreciate your gifts here . . . let’s go West!”

  62. Christopher Nimmo's Gravatar Christopher Nimmo
    February 29, 2012 - 2:21 pm | Permalink

    Sounds like Chase would probably be an ACNA member these days 😉

    • Ed Adcock's Gravatar Ed Adcock
      March 1, 2012 - 12:53 am | Permalink

      As a member of the reorganized Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth and one of the few fortunate parishes to still be “in-building”, please be careful about references to the on-going situation. There are probably several posters who have been adversely affected or don’t know what ACNA or AMiA means.

  63. Justice's Gravatar Justice
    February 29, 2012 - 2:22 pm | Permalink

    After taking a skeptical look around the wilderness plot that would ultimately become Bexley Hall and Kenyon College, Philander Chase shrugged and said: “This will do.” Anyone who’s ever happened upon the hill on which these two were built will no that it is a little piece of paradise here on Earth. I vote against complacency, for high ideals, and little irascibility to boot. I vote for Philander Chase…

  64. Margaret Smist's Gravatar Margaret Smist
    February 29, 2012 - 2:30 pm | Permalink

    So excited that Chase is ahead of Merton by one (1) vote as of 2:30 pm! If you haven’t voted yet (and you plan to vote for Chase) GET TO THE POLLS!

  65. Mary-Elise's Gravatar Mary-Elise
    February 29, 2012 - 2:47 pm | Permalink

    This is the first lead change I’ve seen… how exciting.

    • February 29, 2012 - 8:54 pm | Permalink

      It’s really interesting to see Philander Chase pull ahead as the day advances and, presumably, more people from further west head to the polls!

  66. Edna's Gravatar Edna
    February 29, 2012 - 3:00 pm | Permalink

    Having the experience of my own Abrahamic adventure and finding my Oaks of Mamre in the deep south – tough going for a gal raised in Boston, I have to put in a plug for Philander Chase. I adore Thomas Merton’s writings and aim towards the contemplative life but, besides the cool name (I liked Lancelot Andrewes too), Phil’s family, journeyed with him into the unknown. A vote for him gives them some credit too.

  67. Johannas Jordan's Gravatar Johannas Jordan
    February 29, 2012 - 3:09 pm | Permalink

    One was a Philander, but named Thomas and was not, but carried the name. Both interesting and flawed men.
    However much I resonate with Merton’s silent contemplative life I must cast my vote for the curmudgeon’s curmudgeon : Philander Chase. Got to love us prickly people.

  68. Philander Chase's Gravatar Philander Chase
    February 29, 2012 - 3:40 pm | Permalink

    I’m flattered, folks, but let’s be realistic: Merton was one of the greatest spiritual writers of the 20th century.

    • Jenn's Gravatar Jenn
      February 29, 2012 - 3:46 pm | Permalink

      Philander seems to be a rather 21st century guy, voting online! Have to vote for him, although I aspire to center daily ala Merton!

  69. Doug's Gravatar Doug
    February 29, 2012 - 3:43 pm | Permalink

    One of these men was meek and submissive to the authority of the Church. That gets my vote.

  70. Debbie's Gravatar Debbie
    February 29, 2012 - 3:54 pm | Permalink

    My vote goes to Philander and to all the good that comes out of Kenyon College, the perfect college choice for our daughter. I admire a life of action over one of silence. With all the concern about Philander’s wife, for whom we’re now seeing he had more regard than was initially indicated by the post, neglect and abandonment of a child is a worse crime in my book. Go Kenyon College!

  71. Jean Cavada's Gravatar Jean Cavada
    February 29, 2012 - 3:55 pm | Permalink

    I’m for the Episcopal pioneer. My ancestors were pioneers from the East to Illinois and
    Indiana in the early 1800’s.

  72. Cate's Gravatar Cate
    February 29, 2012 - 3:58 pm | Permalink

    Just voted. My comment has to do more with the voting than who I voted for. I was unfamiliar with both men, so started googling them. Now, here’s my problem. I can’t remember if I hit the Vote button, or decided to ponder. I assume the web designers allowed voting more than once from a single computer to allow for people who are sharing. But a little reminder (Vote has been cast from this device, are you sure you want to vote) would help keep the ADD among us on track. Thanks – and I return you to your discourse. Cate

  73. dr.primrose's Gravatar dr.primrose
    February 29, 2012 - 4:08 pm | Permalink

    I’m struggling with this one.

    In The Seven Storey Mountain, Merton was critically dismissive of Anglicanism. I remember feeling “ouch” when I read these comments. A decade or so later Merton seemed to be embarrassed by these comments. And in light of his later inter-faith work, I’m sure he was especially embarressed by them. His “My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going” has meant a lot to me. One website I looked at said that he tried to locate the mother of his child and his child after the Second World War but was not able to do so; it was thought they were killed in the blitz.

    A bit more triva on Chase. He raised his nephew Salmon P. Chase, who went on to become U.S. Secretary of the Treasury and then Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. Nephew Chase once had his portrait on the $10,000 bill and was largely responsible for having “In God We Trust” put on U.S. currency.

    Before he went out west, Uncle Chase moved to Lousiana to help alleviate his wife’s TB. But it didn’t help so they moved back to New England. So apparently we wasn’t a total jerk on this issue.

    I think I end with Merton by a hair.

    • Eve's Gravatar Eve
      February 29, 2012 - 8:52 pm | Permalink

      Did you mean heir?

    • Fr Bill Loring's Gravatar Fr Bill Loring
      February 29, 2012 - 11:15 pm | Permalink

      A tad more trivia: Salmon P Chase’s proper final title was “Chief Justice of the United States” — not of the Supreme Court — as the justices have responsibilities beyond the Court.

  74. Linda's Gravatar Linda
    February 29, 2012 - 4:23 pm | Permalink

    I was going to vote for Merton until I read the comment that he had a more Christ-like character. It seems to me that, although Jesus spent some time in contemplation, he spent the majority of his time on earth with the people, teaching and healing. My vote went for Chase.

    • February 29, 2012 - 8:58 pm | Permalink

      Zoinks, talk about unintended consequences! 😉

      I did say Christlike *character* not lifestyle… but I respect your point.

  75. tracy's Gravatar tracy
    February 29, 2012 - 4:28 pm | Permalink

    The biography of Merton fails to note what a spiritual and intellectual giant he was. And about how deeply concerned he was about war and racism. When the history of 20th century Christian spirituality is written — Merton will be recognized as a giant.

  76. Gretchen R Chateau's Gravatar Gretchen R Chateau
    February 29, 2012 - 4:34 pm | Permalink

    Thomas is a piece of my daily bread, thus gets my vote. Interesting to learn about Philander, though.

  77. February 29, 2012 - 5:06 pm | Permalink

    It’s obvious from the comments that Chase did great things for the Episcopal church, but Merton’s influence was further reaching, to Christians of different denominations and to non-Christians as well. In my mind that’s what tips him more towards the Golden Halo…

  78. Anne's Gravatar Anne
    February 29, 2012 - 5:25 pm | Permalink

    The first of Kenyon’s goodly race was that great man Philander Chase! He climbed a hill and said a prayer and founded Kenyon College there!

    I love Merton, but, I mean, how, as a proud Kenyonite, could I not vote for Philander? I mean, as the song says, Kenyon’s heart still holds a place of love for old Philander Chase.

    P.S. “He smoked the what?!”

  79. Marguerite's Gravatar Marguerite
    February 29, 2012 - 5:59 pm | Permalink

    Let me understand this..people are voting for Philander Chase BECAUSE he was a difficult person? Wow. Assuming you’ll all turn out in droves for Paul of Tarsus then.

    I seriously thought this would be no contest.

    • Christopher Nimmo's Gravatar Christopher Nimmo
      February 29, 2012 - 6:29 pm | Permalink

      I don’t know whether Episcopalians are big fans…

    • February 29, 2012 - 7:11 pm | Permalink

      Because he was a difficult person… why yes, the Episcopal Church is rather filled with difficult persons who have not bowed down to convention. That is why we have female priest, are active on LGBT equality, and are the amazing church we are. Because we are filled with difficult people who say we have a vision and a church and we will not allow our vision to divide the church or our church to divide our vision.

      • Eve's Gravatar Eve
        February 29, 2012 - 8:54 pm | Permalink


      • Marjory H's Gravatar Marjory H
        March 1, 2012 - 1:12 pm | Permalink

        Well said!

    • Ed Adcock's Gravatar Ed Adcock
      March 1, 2012 - 1:10 am | Permalink

      My favorite aunt was Marguerite and she was a “difficult person”, i.e. spoke her own mind – devil the consequences. I have to agree with Ben G. Also difficult people make us assess our positions in response. Isn’t Lent Madness fun?

  80. Jo Duff's Gravatar Jo Duff
    February 29, 2012 - 6:14 pm | Permalink

    Wow! Close but I had to go with Merton in the end.

  81. Kate's Gravatar Kate
    February 29, 2012 - 6:16 pm | Permalink

    Merton…it must be Merton!
    Devoured my first Merton “Seeds of Contemplation”…realizing too late that it should have been savored, with days in between. My brain buzzed for weeks! But I simply could NOT put it down!
    I live in Ohio, am an Episcopalian, have visited Kenyon and Bexley Hall and a church he started…but I’m sorry, Philander…my vote MUST go to the monk who stole my heart with the first page!

  82. February 29, 2012 - 6:19 pm | Permalink

    I read a two volume biography of Philander Chase in seminary (having come from IL). If I remember correctly, when he got to New Orleans he wanted to hire a servant but was told that if he wanted household help he would have to buy a slave. The slave kept running away and Chase ended up setting him free because he got tired of dealing with it.
    When he went to England to raise funds for Kenyon, John Henry Hobart blackballed him among potential donors, not wanting competition from a midwestern school. However, someone found out that Chase had freed a slave, and suddenly he was very popular with the abolitionists at the time and was able to do his fundraising. Of course everyone forgot the reason why he freed the slave in the first place!
    He was certainly persistent, but his motives and methods weren’t always the best. Merton was very human too, but his writing was wonderful, so he gets my vote!

  83. MartyMcFly's Gravatar MartyMcFly
    February 29, 2012 - 6:34 pm | Permalink

    I am a US Coast Guard veteran who was stationed on the USCGC Chase…..which was named for Philander’s nephew Salmon P. Chase. So choosing Philander was a no-brainer!

    • February 29, 2012 - 8:26 pm | Permalink

      To “Marty McFly” thanks for all you do for our country. It is most appreciated!

  84. Megan's Gravatar Megan
    February 29, 2012 - 6:49 pm | Permalink

    I’m voting for Philander Chase, in honor of my sister, Kenyon College ’80.
    “The first of Kenyon’s goodly race
    Was that great man Philander Chase;
    He climbed the Hill and said a prayer,
    And founded Kenyon College there.
    He climbed the Hill and said a prayer,
    And founded Kenyon College there.

    He dug up stones, he chopped down trees,
    He sailed across the stormy seas,
    And begged at every noble’s door,
    And also that of Hannah More.
    And begged at every noble’s door,
    And also that of Hannah More.”

    Maybe next year Hannah More will show up for Lent Madness?

  85. Rocky Rachal's Gravatar Rocky Rachal
    February 29, 2012 - 6:55 pm | Permalink

    My vote most definitely goes to Merton. In 2004 I did training to become a spiritual director and took as my historic spiritual director (aka, Hero in the Faith), Thomas Merton. The story of his journey was, and is, inspiring. He was no “saint”, if by that we mean someone who stands apart from the rest of humanity. But, he recognized his own failings, and was willing to wrestle with his doubts and confusion. That’s why his prayer, “MY Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me” is so authentic and inspiring. It has often expressed my own sense of where I am on my journey.

  86. February 29, 2012 - 7:18 pm | Permalink

    I have to be honest that before I came to Bexley Hall Seminary, perhaps the least known of the Episcopal Seminaries, that I would have gone Philander who??? But when the Episcopal Church thought that one seminary in NYC would be all it needed he said no. Philander believed that a Seminary Education should be available to people that lived on the frontier so that frontiersmen could become priest and preach to the very people from which they came. This is an understanding of Mission Shaped/Fresh Expression/Missional Church that existed way before its time. That the context that the priest was made in directly influences the context in which the priest is viable. Standing up for a truth when all of the church is fighting against you is a remarkable reality and one that Bishop Chase fought for and the church has ever been blessed by the results.

    • February 29, 2012 - 9:03 pm | Permalink

      Philander believed that a Seminary Education should be available to people that lived on the frontier so that frontiersmen could become priest and preach to the very people from which they came. This is an understanding of Mission Shaped/Fresh Expression/Missional Church that existed way before its time.

      Oh, very well said. This is something that we American Roman Catholics are struggling with now that we are officially a “mission country” and many of our priests have *not* been formed in this country but come from Africa or South America.

  87. February 29, 2012 - 7:21 pm | Permalink

    In pondering this difficult choice today (and after a long nap which may have rendered me woozy), I came up with these limericks:

    There once was a man they called Merton,
    He got in big trouble from flirtin’,
    But he turned to our Lord,
    Wrote so well on his Word,
    That now of his sainthood we’re certain.

    There was a good man named Philander,
    Oh my! He could get up his dander!
    His wife died, it’s true,
    But the churches he grew!
    His legacy’s not up for slander.

    I beg the more literary and eloquent among us to please improve upon my poor efforts! I’ve been waffling, but as time is getting short, and being much like Cate above, which means I may forget to vote if I put if off longer, I’m going for Merton because of his wide-reaching influence and urging of acceptance of other religious viewpoints. Now, I’m off to update my Amazon wishlist with all of his books!

    • Kate's Gravatar Kate
      February 29, 2012 - 8:54 pm | Permalink

      Bravo! Love the limericks. Thank you!!

    • Ed Adcock's Gravatar Ed Adcock
      March 1, 2012 - 1:25 am | Permalink

      Clean limericks are always to be applauded, they are easily learned. Too many of us only know “There was ….” Nevermind, the limerick is an abused form and Tikimama should be encouraged.
      Thanks Tikimam, keep up your limericks.

  88. Marguerite's Gravatar Marguerite
    February 29, 2012 - 8:19 pm | Permalink

    I wish I could “retweet” those limericks.

  89. CynDiva's Gravatar CynDiva
    February 29, 2012 - 8:30 pm | Permalink

    As much as I love Merton, you can’t really be an Episcopal convert in Illinois and not vote for our dear Philander.

  90. Jeunee Cunningham's Gravatar Jeunee Cunningham
    February 29, 2012 - 9:02 pm | Permalink

    As a former church planter, I just had to vote for Philander!

    • Phyllis's Gravatar Phyllis
      February 29, 2012 - 10:36 pm | Permalink

      And such a good rhyme!

  91. February 29, 2012 - 9:22 pm | Permalink

    Tough choice, especially as I am now re-reading “The Silent Life” by Thomas Merton. I’m in Kentucky, which gives one point for Merton. Philander Chase is Episcopalian, so one point for him. Chase disagreed with Bishop Hobart, which (in my view) is one point against him. Chase founded colleges in my neighboring state of Ohio, so one point for him. So that’s a tie. I’m going with Philander Chase based on the strength of that awesome photo of him. I mean, look at him!

  92. Alec's Gravatar Alec
    February 29, 2012 - 9:30 pm | Permalink

    I’ve always been enamored with pioneers. Merton moves my soul but Chase seems to be the real worked in the vineyard.

    • Genuflexious's Gravatar Genuflexious
      February 29, 2012 - 10:19 pm | Permalink

      Also, keep in mind that Merton travelled the globe, connecting with others of similar spiritual bent, but from foreign traditions. He tried to build bridges between disparate mystical experts from around the world.

  93. Heidi Shott's Gravatar Heidi Shott
    February 29, 2012 - 10:07 pm | Permalink

    What??? I vote and then go away for eight hours and Merton has lost his lead!! Has this gone viral on some Kenyon College listserv?

    I’ve been blessed to work for two wonderful bishops over the last 14 years. Lucky me! Grumpy bishops? No Golden Halo for them. C’mon people who have yet to exercise their franchise, make it happen for Merton.

  94. Genuflexious's Gravatar Genuflexious
    February 29, 2012 - 10:15 pm | Permalink

    How curious, to see my inspiration, Merton, in a competition with the founder of my alma mater, Kenyon College!!

    I’d have to take Merton… this man is famous, and despite his tragic demise as a young man, his philosophy will inspire generations to come.

    That said, Chase picked a nice spot for a college!!!

  95. February 29, 2012 - 10:57 pm | Permalink

    As a monastic myself, I have to vote for Thomas Merton, AKA Father Louis, who showed us the spiritual paucity of the 20th century and how to overcome it. I’ve been on retreat at Gethsemani and it had a major influence on my spiritual growth. With due respect to pioneering Philander Chase, Merton gets my vote.

    • Diane Amison-Loring's Gravatar Diane Amison-Loring
      February 29, 2012 - 11:02 pm | Permalink

      You’d better marshal the troops at Gethsemane, then, and get them voting…

      If a Kenyon College listserv can take off, why not a Trappist one? Are the Trappists on FaceBook?

  96. Jill Watson Cox's Gravatar Jill Watson Cox
    February 29, 2012 - 11:10 pm | Permalink

    Oh, wow, really??? I had Merton with the halo??!!!

  97. Diane Amison-Loring's Gravatar Diane Amison-Loring
    February 29, 2012 - 11:26 pm | Permalink

    Folks, follow that trackback to the Thrill from Kenyon College.
    It is a hoot! I am bookmarking this one.
    David Hoyt writes a rousing rally to arms around Philander Chase.

    Click on some of the side links: “How to Succeed as an English Major Without Really Trying: Some Vastly Oversimplified Pointers” by Thea Goodrich is a great read. She has nailed my experience as an English major, albeit some of the genres weren’t around when I graduated from Columbia School of General Studies in the sixties.

  98. Jeff Lipschultz's Gravatar Jeff Lipschultz
    March 1, 2012 - 12:09 am | Permalink

    I had to go with +Chase solely because of the historical record attesting to him repeatedly enduring broken bones from carriage accidents on the rough roads to my parish to make his visitations – while working for free, no less. (1) Nothing against Merton, but that’s devotion.

    1. Rima Lunin Schultz. The Church and the City: A Social History of 150 Years at Saint James, Chicago (Chicago: The Cathedral of Saint James, 1986), 23-24.

  99. Cindy's Gravatar Cindy
    March 1, 2012 - 12:27 am | Permalink


  100. Ginny Rodriguez's Gravatar Ginny Rodriguez
    March 1, 2012 - 12:50 am | Permalink

    Chase never gave up preaching & organizing colleges. An obvious leader, hw kept leading & spreading the gospel. Merton retired to write books, speeches, etc. I’m voting for Chase, the fearless evangelist ! I’d love to know the story behind the naming: Philander.

  101. Ed Adcock's Gravatar Ed Adcock
    March 1, 2012 - 1:33 am | Permalink

    12:32 CST
    Lent Madness is addictive. Good Night.

  102. Marguerite's Gravatar Marguerite
    March 1, 2012 - 6:00 am | Permalink

    Most votes ever?

  103. Jocelyn Knepler's Gravatar Jocelyn Knepler
    March 1, 2012 - 9:05 am | Permalink


  104. Alice Straus's Gravatar Alice Straus
    March 1, 2012 - 12:12 pm | Permalink

    Philander rocks!

  105. Jennifer's Gravatar Jennifer
    March 1, 2012 - 12:46 pm | Permalink

    Dear Merton Voters,

    I am sorry about this stunning loss. I truly am. Merton’s writings on spirituality are classics and as a devoted ecumenist I greatly admire his interest in interfaith dialogues. It would not be too strong a word to call the outcome of this vote a travesty.

    If you are looking for a way to assuage your grief and pain, please take a look at the big picture bracket and consider that — jarring as this vote was — at least voting in future rounds just got easier. Really, if you think about it, a future vote against Chase anywhere is a vote for Merton, don’t you think? Vengeance may not be a very Trappist virtue, but seriously, wouldn’t it be satisfying to have the parochial Chase taken down by another world-class 20th-century theological giant?

    Starting an early lobby for D. Bonhoeffer…

  106. zig's Gravatar zig
    March 1, 2012 - 1:30 pm | Permalink

    Yes, this was a painful loss, but I think painful losses are the heart of Christian spirituality–undoubtedly familiar to both Bishop Chase and Father Louis. But perhaps voters could take a wider world view in voting? Just a suggestion. Otherwise I’d like to propose my mother–an amazing gentle person, humble without being a floor mat, and bold in the faith. You will all be thrilled to meet her in Heaven!

    • Jennifer's Gravatar Jennifer
      March 2, 2012 - 12:42 am | Permalink

      Love it!
      I was thinking about Lent Madness this afternoon, in the context of theology of glory (ssssss) versus theology of the cross (yay – if one can cheer that sort of thing). I was wishing that rather than the Halo going in the end to one of the folks in the bracket, deserving as any one of them would be, it would be wonderful to lift up for one brief shining moment just some regular good Christian soul, out there trying to live his/her life not for glory but just out of love of God and their neighbour…but who? How would you choose? How would you even know? ….and then there’s your e-mail, doing just that and providing a nominee (sort of). Sign from God. I would so vote for your mother! : )

      • zig's Gravatar zig
        March 2, 2012 - 8:48 am | Permalink

        She would be SO embarrassed by your “second” of her nomination, but I know she would be pleased as well.

  107. Marjory H's Gravatar Marjory H
    March 1, 2012 - 1:30 pm | Permalink

    Thank you all for this intriguing bit of Lenten Madness. I have thoroughly enjoyed the discussion! Let me just say, looking at the Chase progeny through the generations since the Bishop, I believe “bull-headed”, “irrascible”, and “pioneering” all fit my family.

    According to family lore, the Bishop said that as he rode through the frontier in Ohio and Illinois, where most people saw a minister once in 20 years, he would often be called on to “marry the couples and baptize all their children.” The interesting part is that we seem to be returning to that outlook of getting outside our comfortable pews, and taking Christ to where people are, in the developing Missional church….making the Bishop more relevant in the 21st Century than one would expect!

  108. Brigid Courtney's Gravatar Brigid Courtney
    March 2, 2012 - 9:46 am | Permalink

    I have to say I like to see stories of those who have had a checkered past fall in love with God. I remember reading Merton when I first cam into religious community

  109. Toni Ponzo's Gravatar Toni Ponzo
    March 2, 2012 - 10:51 am | Permalink

    Philander Chase reminds me of an evangelist I once knew. A wonderful charismatic person who was self aware enough to know that his gift was to motivate the flock but not to stay and tend them. Philander’s singlemindedness and passion for the Gospel made him the perfect person for lighting a fire in people’s hearts but I think he lacked the patience and gentleness to tend those fires and keep them burning. It’s like cooking soup. You need a high heat to start it to boil but you then you have to turn it down and let it simmer or it will burn up.

  110. peter fluchere's Gravatar peter fluchere
    March 16, 2012 - 10:14 pm | Permalink

    It is my priv’ to drive past Philander’s church in Fishkill,NY 2x day. He was an original evangelist, and we are in is debt. I love the Hobart-Chase thing, still, every year at Diocesan conventions. And, I’m in it for mary Mag too. have a cross from her “grotto” in Provence.

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