C. S. Lewis, Brendan the Navigator, and Evelyn Underhill

In March I was one of several presenters at a symposium on C. S. Lewis and Joy Davidman sponsored by Brenau University and Grace Episcopal Church in Gainesville, GA. The theme of the symposium was "Love Letters to Jack, Love Letters to God." Here is the transcript of my talk, in which I weave together my love for C. S. Lewis — especially the Narnia stories — with two influences on him: Evelyn Underhill and St. Brendan the Navigator.Did "The Problem of Pets" Inspire Aslan?Our theme this we … [Read more...]

A Contemplative Faith — with a Gaelic Accent!

Friends, 2017 is shaping up to be the year of Celtic spirituality for me. I hope you'll join me in exploring this lovely dimension of Christian wisdom.What, exactly, is Celtic Christianity? Sure, it's the spirituality found in books like John O'Donohue's Anam Cara or Esther de Waal's Every Earthly Blessing, among many others. But still: what is it?The easiest answer to this question is: the distinctive spirituality of the Celtic peoples, which includes the people of Ireland, Scotland, Wal … [Read more...]

How to be a Contemplative in a “Toxic” Community (Part Two)

This is a continuation of a post I began yesterday — click here to read part one.I'm responding to a reader who wanted some guidance about how to be a contemplative Christian while participating in a church that is "toxic" and "cold." Yesterday I addressed that particular question head on. Today I want to address a few additional questions that arise in response to this same issue. Here goes...What does it mean to be "active" in a church? Is Sunday morning worship attendance e … [Read more...]

How to be a Contemplative in a “Toxic” Community (Part One)

A reader wrote the following message to me recently: Hi Carl. I'm a contemplative in a Roman Catholic Community. It's rather toxic and cold. I don't go to dinners or other community building events. I go to Sunday Mass regularly. Does this fulfill my community efforts at not being a "Lone Ranger" and individualist mystic? Regular readers of this blog will understand where the writer of this message is coming from. In posts like Is it possible to be a “Do It Yourself” Christian Mystic? or Do Con … [Read more...]

Richard Rohr on the Spirituality of Unknowing (Video)

Here's a treat for all you Richard Rohr fans (and if you're not a Rohr fan, perhaps this is a good introduction to him and his ideas).https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MnTC4NNIACkThis video was recorded at the Science and Nonduality Conference — which is a secular/interfaith gathering of folks exploring (in the words of their website) "a new relationship to spirituality, free from religious dogma, based on timeless wisdom traditions, informed by cutting-edge science, and grounded in direct … [Read more...]

Seven Things I’ve Learned from the Vinyl Revival

Sometimes I'm a bit slow on the uptake.Apparently vinyl records have been making a kind of limited comeback for at least the past decade. But I've been pretty much oblivious to it, at least until I noticed that used vinyl record shops were opening (not closing) in trendy neighborhoods around Atlanta.And then one day last year I stumbled across a rack of expensive, audiophile quality vinyl records in my local Barnes & Noble, of all places!When I told a friend of mine about this, … [Read more...]

Is it possible to be a “Do It Yourself” Christian Mystic? Evelyn Underhill would say “No” — and I agree with her

Nearly all Christian mystics maintain that an essential characteristic of Christian mysticism is participation in the Body of Christ, which is to say, in the Christian community of faith. In other words, to be a Christian mystic, it is as important to be a follower of Christ as it is to be a mystic. And to be a follower of Christ means to express spirituality in a communal way.The above statements annoy a lot of people. Sorry about that, but that's how it rolls.Recently a reader of th … [Read more...]