Sigh. The folks at Lighthouse Trails Research (one of the Internet’s more visible anti-mysticism websites) are getting goofier and goofier (or, perhaps, more and more paranoid). Yesterday they posted a blog entry in which they listed over thirty terms that they describe as “the ‘inside language’ of contemplative spirituality.” They go on to issue this dire warning: that all these “point to one thing … eastern mysticism.”
The list includes such terms as:
- The Jesus Prayer
- Lectio Divina
- A Thin Place
- Spiritual Direction
- Ignatius Exercises (sic)
- Centering prayer
- Prayer of the Heart
- Dark night of the soul
- Practicing the Presence
- Spiritual Formation
Actually, only two of the terms on the list — “Yoga” and “Mantra” — are from eastern religions. All of the rest are thoroughly Christian terms, even if some of the practices included, such as Centering Prayer, are ecumenical in scope (Centering Prayer, as a method of teaching contemplative prayer, was created as a response to the many Christian young people who were exploring eastern mysticism in the 1970s). So, not only is this post silly and paranoid, but it’s just plain inaccurate.
Indeed, most of the terminology on this post points not to eastern mysticism, but to Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Christianity. I think the people at Lighthouse Trails should just call a spade a spade and admit that their real agenda is to tear down the body of Christ, by pitting evangelicals against Catholics.
My favorite term on this list is “A thin place,” which comes from not from the lands of eastern mysticism, but from Ireland. It simply refers to a place where one can more easily discern the presence of God (whether it be a cathedral, a monastery, or a site of natural beauty and wonder). I’m sure the generations of devout Christian Celts who celebrated God’s presence in their lives would be most amused to discover that they were secret agents of eastern mysticism, without even realizing it!
If you’ve read this far, please join me in praying for everyone associated with Lighthouse Trails Research — that they might be healed of their erroneous belief in an angry God who hates contemplative spirituality. As annoying as I find their website, what really saddens me is when I ponder what it must be like for those who actually live under the bondage of such a legalistic theology.