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2/8/2005 Trappist living focus of Linfield faculty lecture

McMINNVILLE – A Linfield College religion professor, who spent a month living the life of a monk, will share his thoughts on peace during an upcoming faculty lecture.

William Apel, professor of religion, will present "Signs of Peace: Living with the Trappist Monks and Thomas Merton" on Wednesday, Feb. 16, at 7:30 p.m. in 201 Riley Hall.

The lecture is free and open to the public.

Apel spent a month living with the Trappists of Our Lady of Guadalupe at the Trappist Abbey outside Lafayette during a sabbatical last year. He spent the time in spiritual contemplation, as well as intellectual investigation, focusing on Thomas Merton, an American author and Trappist monk, about whom he was writing.

Apel decided to live at the monastery because he wanted the quest to be experiential, rather than academic. He said he hoped to uncover the practical compassion common to the best of the world’s religions.

"In a world torn by violence and war, in which religion is often the culprit, I set out on my sabbatical to find the signs of peace that I suspected were deeply rooted in the world’s great religious traditions, but mostly forgotten," Apel said.

During the lecture, Apel will reflect on his Trappist experience and also present research on Merton’s interfaith correspondence with people outside the Catholic tradition, including Protestants, Jews, Muslims, Hindus and Buddhists.

Apel argues that it is not necessary to become a monk or live like Thomas Merton to be a "sign of peace."

"My approach, like the Trappists and Merton, is to dig my well deeper and deeper as I extend my spiritual pipeline further and further into the world," he said. "I have concluded that this is an indispensable way in which people of great differences can come to know each other and act in ways that make for peace rather than war."

Apel has been on the Linfield faculty since 1975. He holds a bachelor’s degree from Muskingum College, a master’s of divinity from Garrett Theological Seminary and a Ph.D. from Northwestern University. He is author of several books and numerous articles on religion, ethics and spirituality.

The Linfield College faculty lecture series offers one presentation each month by a member of the Linfield faculty. For more information, call 503-883-2409.