Thomas Merton, poet, Catholic theologian, social activist and Trappist monk, was one of the most influential religious thinkers of the twentieth century. Merton entered the Cistercian Abbey of Gethsemani in Kentucky following his conversation to Catholicism in 1949. In the 1960s he was increasingly drawn into a dialogue between Eastern and Western religions, and domestic issues of war and racism. His many books include New Seeds of Contemplation, The Seven Story Mountain, Bread in the Wilderness, Raids on the Unspeakable, My Argument with the Gestapo, The Wisdom of the Desert, Zen and the Birds of Appetite and The Way of Chang Tzu. Merton died in 1968.