What I’m Currently Reading

Long-time readers of my blog know that I tend to have anywhere from 20 to 40 books “going” at a time… in other words, between titles I plan on reviewing, research I’m doing for whatever project I happen to be working on, my ongoing study of the mystics, or even just stuff I pick up for fun, I’ve always got a slew of books by my bedside table. Frankly, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Today I was having so much fun reading that I decided to blog about a baker’s dozen of the titles in my library that currently have bookmarks in them. So here you go, in no particular order…

  • The Rule of the Society of Saint John  the Evangelist, North American Congregation — I have deep respect for the “Cowley Fathers,” one of the monastic orders of the Anglican Communion. Given my interest in the Rule of St. Benedict, it is fascinating to read this contemporary rule (published in 1997).
  • S. Abhayananda, History of Mysticism: The Unchanging Testament — A survey of world mysticism written by an American practitioner of eastern spirituality. I don’t agree with all his conclusions/interpretations, but it’s fun to see who he includes.
  • Spencer Burke, The Heretic’s Guide to Eternity — I’m reading an advance proof of this forthcoming book. Look for a review soon.
  • Michael Casey, Fully Human Fully Divine: An Interactive Christology — Casey is an Australian Cistercian; this book explores the Gospel of Mark as an initiatory text of deification. The writing is poetic, richly textured, and spiritually profound.
  • Steven Fanning, Mystics of the Christian Tradition — Another book I’m considering for a possible review.
  • W. R. Inge, Christian Mysticism — One of the first major studies of its subject in the late-modern era, this philosophical approach to mysticism was originally a series of lectures given at Oxford University in 1899.
  • J. N. D. Kelly, Early Christian Doctrines — A classic survey of the formation of Christian thinking, and also an essential text for the study of Orthodox spirituality and the doctrine of deification.
  • Andrew Louth, Denys the Areopagite — A basic survey of the writings of one of the most important mystics of the first Christian millennium.
  • J. B. Phillips, The New Testament in Modern English — This paraphrase of the Christian scriptures was published in the late 1950s but it still reads with power and immediacy almost a half century later.
  • Pseudo-Macarius, The Fifty Spiritual Homilies and the Great Letter — The book I’m currently reading from my 111 Mystics list. He’s no John of the Cross, but his sermons reveal a deep love for the faith and an optimistic approach to the possibility of mystical transformation.
  • J. W. Taylor, The Coming of the Saints — Another old book (published exactly a hundred years ago), this survey of early Christian folklore considers the folklore surrounding Mary Magdalene and Joseph of Arimathea and their legendary missions to the Celts.
  • Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, The Divine Milieu — What a beautiful book! The great Jesuit paleontologist/mystic explores how to approach devotion to Christ in a way that honors both nature and science. The translation is lovely; I can only imagine how beautiful the French prose must be.
  • Ken Wilber, Integral Spirituality — Yet another advance reading copy of a not-yet-published book (due in October); I’ll probably write a review of it sometime closer to its publication date.

We live in a world filled with lovely and fascinating and poetic writing, and those of us who are blessed to have access to wonderful books really owe it to ourselves to enjoy them.


What Has Not Yet Been Revealed
Preliminary Practices for Christian Contemplatives
Mysticism and the Divine Feminine: An Interview with Mirabai Starr
Sanctity and Struggle, or, Why Saints Have Chaotic Inner Lives (Hint: It's Because We All Do)
About Carl McColman

Author of Befriending Silence, The Big Book of Christian Mysticism, Answering the Contemplative Call, and other books. Retreat leader. Speaker. Professed Lay Cistercian.