A wise Episcopal priest once told me, "Most Christians believe that unless something is explicitly approved in the Bible, it is forbidden by God. But it makes just as much logical sense to say that unless something is explicitly forbidden in the Bible, it is approved by God." Her words echo in my mind whenever I run across folks who attack mysticism or contemplative prayer because it is "unscriptural." Not only do I believe the Bible is literally infused with mystical sensibility, but I've never … [Read more...]

Books are costly, blogs are cheap…

After making a wonderful allusion to Ireland, the Epiphany Girl notes, in response to The Prosperity Mongers: This post is an interesting companion to the piece you wrote about those we leave behind specifically in terms of accepting the fact that mysticism is not for everyone while at the same time wanting to bring it to a broader audience ... the path of the mystic appeals to so few (based on personality and inclination as you say), it seems an inherently difficult entity to effectively bring … [Read more...]

La Peste

Here is a sobering article about the on-going threat of the bubonic plague. Even now, there are ten to twenty cases in America each year.Many scholars speculate that Julian of Norwich may have lost family members to the plague. We know that she lived through several outbreaks of the pestilence. It's important to remember that, despite the advances of science and technology and the comfort that first worlders can take in access to treatment, still on a very primal level the world we live in is … [Read more...]

The Prosperity Mongers

I spoke with an editor of a large faith-oriented website yesterday; I had pitched a couple of ideas to this site and hadn't had any luck getting a contract. We talked about how most of their readers were looking for breezy, self-help articles. He mentioned Joel Osteen more than once.When I think about folks like Joel Osteen or Rhonda Byrne (author of The Secret), I have deeply ambivalent feelings. On the one hand, no one can argue with the worldly success of such things as the Law of … [Read more...]

Brian Sanders on Disillusioned Christians

We could fill stadiums in every major city with people who have been burned or wounded by bad churches. But you never see them. You never hear them, because the first thing a leaver loses is her voice. In the corners of every city are believers who are no longer visible to churchgoers; they have no platform to speak from, no committee meetings to make their point heard, no friendship with the pastor to get a change made. They are isolated and unorganized. Yet they are an army. In my mind they … [Read more...]

The Ones We Leave Behind

I've been thinking about the relationship between contemplatives and others. What does it mean to pursue the mystical life, when so many people have no desire for, interest in, or aptitude for contemplative practice? Myers-Briggs personality type indicators suggest that only about 1% or so of the general population are "natural" mystics. Assume another 2 percent or so have enough of an interest in the contemplative life to pursue it, even without the inborn aptitude. Still, that leaves only 5% … [Read more...]

The Butler, Tea, and Single Malt

I was poking around Beth Patterson's Virtual Teahouse this morning, and found a link that led me to a link (!) to Jesse Kornbluth's wonderful tribute to John O'Donohue at Headbutler. Probably the most wonderful and heartfelt tribute to the Connemara mystic I've yet to see. You'll want to check out what O'Donohue said one morning after a bottle of single malt whisky had bested him.And while you're at it, take some time to get to know both the Virtual Teahouse and Headbutler. The Virtual … [Read more...]