October 12, 2018

This is turning out to be “James Ishmael Ford” week at my blog. Earlier this week I posted a review of his new book, Introduction to Zen Koans. Check it out if you haven’t done so already. One of the reasons I like his writing so much is that he is a Zen roshi who warmly supports Christians who embrace zazen. We need more folks like him. Yesterday, Ford Roshi wrote a blog post called “Living in the Great Buzz: Some… Read more

October 10, 2018

Introduction to Zen Koans: Learning the Language of Dragons is the latest book by James Ishmael Ford who is one of my favorite Patheos bloggers (if you don’t know his blog, Monkey Mind, do yourself a favor and check it out). James is a Unitarian-Universalist minister, but also a Soto Zen priest and roshi. He has written a number of books, about various aspects of Zen history, spirituality and practice. When I got my copy of his new book, my first thought… Read more

October 6, 2018

This evening I’ve been asked to speak to a small house church in my neighborhood on the spirituality of silence. This particular community is evangelical, and silence is not something that they have traditionally placed a lot of emphasis on. But their pastor (who lives across the street from me) is discerning in his heart a call to greater silence in his prayer, and knowing that silence is “my thing” he invited me to come share with the community. It… Read more

October 4, 2018

A reader, who identifies as a contemplative/mystical Christian, posted this question to me on Facebook: Carl….when I meditate/contemplative prayer…can I use a mantra such as-OM or Hare Krishna or something similar? It’s a great question, and the short answer is, it depends. Some Christians are allergic to the very idea of a mantra. They see it as the importation of a “foreign” (non-Christian) practice, an adulteration or impurity that God will reject in anger. That “God” is neither one I… Read more

October 2, 2018

Recently I posted this on Facebook: In response, a reader made this comment: Carl, it took time, but about 10 years ago I finally fell In love with silence and the heart of God I find there. This past week though, as so many people on the national stage are trying to speak truth and being told to stay silent or being told their voices don’t matter, I find the idea and the word silence – even in a contemplative… Read more

September 29, 2018

A reader of this blog wrote to me about the practice of silent prayer. He alluded to a comment I made in an interview where I talked about allowing my breath to be my “prayer word” — in other words, instead of focussing my attention by silently repeating a single word (as promoted by The Cloud of Unknowing and Centering Prayer), I allow the normal rhythm of my breathing to be that gentle focal point for my attention. So with that… Read more

September 25, 2018

In response to my previous post from last October, Why Experience Is Not the Foundation of (All) Spirituality, a reader recently posted this comment on Facebook: As someone who struggles with fear and nihilism I often find myself craving an experience of god to help “cast out all doubt.” While in some ways it’s good to know I’m not the only one whose never had such an experience, it’s also nice to know there are alternatives. That said it is also… Read more

September 12, 2018

Did you know that one of the most popular authors in Catholic bookstores is a non-Catholic? I’m speaking of C. S. Lewis, the Anglican layman whose common-sense apologetics and visionary fiction has made him one of the best-selling Christians authors not only among Catholics, but among Christians of all stripes. And while I have a few philosophical and theological quibbles with the man, I continue to find reading his work to be enlightening and inspiring. Lewis didn’t want to be… Read more

September 11, 2018

Today’s post is by a guest author, Dr. David Rensberger, author of Johannine Faith and Liberating Community. A version of this post originally appeared on the blog for the Weavings Journal. Religion is about balance, we are often told. For example, there’s a story in the gospel of Luke about Jesus paying a visit to two sisters, Martha and Mary. Martha busied herself with the necessary household preparations, while Mary simply sat at Jesus’ feet and listened. This story is often… Read more

September 8, 2018

A reader named Kevin wrote and asked me:  What’s your view on the phenomenon of spiritual ecstasy? I used to think, before I experienced it, that it was a surge of positive emotion, rather like joy. Experienced in the body. Actually, in my experience spiritual ecstasy takes place in silence, in stillness, and in the spirit rather than the body. It is an internal experience. Do you have a view? That’s a great question, and I’m afraid I can only… Read more

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