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Remain in Love

Yesterday a reader of this blog named Simon made this response to my post in which I announced that I’m writing a book on Christian mysticism:

Just something that immediately springs to mind. Do we really need another book on Christian mysicism? I mean, when is it going to end? There are whole libraries full of them. How about everybody, start at the Gospel, take what Jesus said seriously and take it from there? So much of this search for mysticism is just plain navel gazing and distraction.

Do we really need another book on Christian mysticism? I don’t know. Do we really need anything new? Simon suggests that we just “start at the Gospel.” It’s pretty hard to argue with a statement like this, until you stop to think about it. There’s a lot more going on here than just a dismissal of new books on mysticism. After all, mysticism itself is rejected as a “distraction.” So anything that distracts us from Jesus or the Gospel is bad. Hmmm. Think about it: just about anything that isn’t Jesus or the Gospels could be accused of being a distraction.

I can’t help but wonder if Simon really understands what mysticism is. Christian mysticism is precisely about entering into a deep, intimate, communion with Christ. My book may be about “mysticism” but that’s just to say it will be an invitation to do precisely what Simon recommends, in terms of being centered on Christ and the Gospel.

Meanwhile, consider this: the hostility to mysticism that Simon suggests under the rubric of “Why study mysticism, why not just get to know Jesus?” can easily be applied to anything. Yes, anything.

Here are a few examples.

  • Why learn about Buddhism or Taoism or Islam? Why not just take what Jesus said seriously and take it from there.
  • Why create new novels or songs or works of art? So much of this focus on artistry is just plain distraction.
  • Why worry about mental health and psychotherapy? So much of it is just navel gazing.
  • Why do we have medicine and doctors? How about everybody just take what Jesus said seriously.

And on and on it goes. And yes, there are Christians right now who organize their lives around ideas just like these (anyone remember Mary Baker Eddy?). It’s deliriously beautiful and joyful to fall in love with Jesus Christ, and most Christians I know will say that this falling-in-love has been one of the truly singular blessings of their lives. But guess what? Even this has a dark side. Yes, call me a heretic, but I’ll say it again: even falling in love with Jesus can have a dark side.

That dark side is this: loving Jesus often seems to results in a tendency to judge, reject and hate pretty much everything else.

I’m not suggesting that Christians set out to hate the world, even though that’s where many of us seem to end up. This is kind of like drug addiction. Teenagers don’t just wake up one morning and think, “Gee, I want to get strung out on heroin.” It’s a long road to becoming a junkie, and yes, I know in our sad world some folks can move down that road pretty quickly. But it’s still a process. You smoke your first joint, and then another, and then another… then you’re dropping acid, or snorting cocaine…. you learn how to polish off an entire six-pack or two in a single sitting… and then finally, some day somebody says, “If you really want to get high…” and all those promises you made to yourself never to use needles go out the window.

I’m sorry, my friends, but the lover of Jesus who hates the world isn’t free in Christ, but is a junkie in Christ. And like the heroin addict, it starts out slow. First you fall in love with Jesus, and then you have to figure out how to relate to everything else in the world. It’s the same world that Jesus loves and died for, but there’s also a lot of “anti-world” rhetoric in the Gospel, and you start trying to figure out what that means. So at first you have an attitude like St. Benedict, who said, “Prefer nothing to Christ.” No Christian would argue with that, and I’m not either, in so far as it goes. But the problem is that for many folks, this is the beginning of the slippery slope. Next comes “be in the world, but not of the world.” The next step after that is when judgment begins to set in — something like “In Christ is life, and in the world is only death.” And then comes the idea that the world belongs to Satan, and that wordly things will harm us, will keep us from our precious Jesus fix. So we start to feel suspicion toward the world. And before much longer, that suspicion turns to revulsion. And then finally, revulsion turns to pure hate.

Granted, many Christians are very sophisticated in their rejection of the world. They’re not dramatic about it, like a five-year-old who expresses all his emotions in over-the-top ways. No, the Christian hatred of the world is much more subtle than that. It shows up in myriad of little ways: in refusing to recycle or compost, in a reverse snobbery that finds art and poetry “boring,” or in a xenophobic judgment toward non-Christian religions and wisdom traditions. And yes, it shows up in statements like “so much of (fill in the blank) is just plain navel gazing and distraction.”

Only in Jesus do we find life. Only in Jesus do we find love. Only in Jesus do we get our fix. Forget the world: let it burn in hell. We are all about Jesus. Jesus, Jesus, Jesus. We listen to Jesus music, we wear Jesus t-shirts, we read books about Jesus. We talk about Jesus all the time. No wonder so many non-Christians get really turned off by us.

Please don’t misunderstand me. I find great joy in being a Christian and in walking in his path of discipleship and love. But in saying this, I’m also saying that I count it as my amazing and undeserved privilege that I can serve Christ in the many humble ways that I am called to love and care for the very same world that he loves and died for. And I do so out of a profound realization that I can only serve the world if I love it. Otherwise, my service will be tainted by my resentment and my worship of the very Christ I claim to love so desperately will be poisoned by my aversion to his creation.

I mentioned how there’s a lot of “anti-world” rhetoric in the Gospels, and many Christians will dismiss my entire argument for that reason alone. But as far as I can tell, Jesus never commands us to hate or judge everything that isn’t him. He’s only saying don’t settle for a lower level of consciousness that is so prevalent in our world: this very consciousness of hatred, of judgment, of condemnation. That’s the “world” we are called to bring light to!

This long post began with by reflecting on how my reader criticized mysticism as a “distraction” from Jesus. Ironically, in the core practice of mysticism — meditation — we learn how to deal with the most insidious distractions of all: the distractions found within our own minds. Any meditator worth his or her salt knows that mental distractions cannot be fought, or hated, or suppressed out of existence. The way to deal with distractions during meditation is to simply accept them, and let them go. No judgment, no hatred. So if we as Christians really do want to be Jesus-centered, let’s do it. But let’s go easy on the distractions in the meantime. Just let them go.

Back to Simon. I’m sure he means well by trying to discourage me from writing another book on mysticism, and I’m glad he took the time to express his opinion; it reminds me that many people think like he does. But I find it rather sad that Simon, or all the other critics of mysticism, can’t see how mysticism in itself functions as a powerful tool for encouraging the love of Jesus. Apparently he wants us all to “start at the Gospel” only in the ways he thinks are right. And that’s really the bottom line: the hatred of, revulsion toward, the rejection of the world all stems from the same place in our hearts: a place of judgment. When Christians judge the world as “wrong,” we set ourselves up to hate the world. This is very sad, for it subverts two really important messages of Christ:

Do not judge, and you will not be judged; because the judgments you give are the judgments you will get.

— Matthew 7:1-2

I have loved you just as the Father has loved me. Remain in my love.

— John 15:9

 

  • Peggy

    If you have the opportunity, please read “Risks and Riddles” by Gregory F. Treverton
    in the June 2007 issue of The Smithsonian. I ran across this in a waiting room and it seemed to fit with some thoughts I had about Mystery. He discusses the difference between a puzzle which can be solved because it has an answer or answers and a mystery which has only a contingent answer which has to be framed within the context of many factors, known and unknown. A mystery is ambiguous.

    I haven’t read any of your books (I do mean to eventually!) so I don’t know how you have addressed this issue between puzzles and mysteries. I can only say that I perceive my Christian life as a journey in, of, by Mystery.

    I think this may be related to Chaos Theory: That there is an underlying pattern in apparent randomness. That was a response I got a few months ago when I was despairing over “Finding my life path” or “higher spiritual purpose.” I felt like I had messed up my life somewhere and there was no angel around with a PLAN C or D…
    I went to sleep and the first thought in my head come morning was “Chaos Theory.” I did a quick review on Internet. And I’ve had peace ever since. That is a Mystery…

    I may be way over my head here.

  • judith collier

    Personally,I like the thought of another contemporary book on mysticism. Knowing the author from this website makes an upcoming book from him especially personal. I’ve come to love this sight. Carl responds in a most intelligent and patient manner with grace and insight. Does anyone realize how much love is required to still the heart and emotions in this manner? Well, I do! It takes everything I’ve got sometimes to respond without judgement and name calling. One can only do this when one loves the author of his soul. Self control is a virtue of the Holy Spirit. I find this website a retreat from my challenges. And, besides a book from someone living in the world at the same time you are is more apt to relate, the book should be very interesting. judy

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/carlmccolman/ Carl McColman

    Thanks, Judy. I’m touched!

    And Peggy, the puzzle/mystery distinction is wonderful. I’ll look up Treverton’s article, it might be helpful for the book I’m working on . In The Aspiring Mystic I draw a distinction between “mysteries” and “secrets,” but I think a similar distinction between “puzzles” and “mysteries” could be helpful as well.

  • http://fakeexpressionsoftheunkown.wordpress.com/ Andrew

    To be honest, I have only skimmed over this posting. But thought I must add my penny thought.

    In my opinion, the more books on any subject, the better. The more angles/perspectives of any subject matter, the more you see the whole picture. The more reflections of God I see, the more I see God.

    “And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” 2 Cor3v8

    Our writings, paintings, speech, lives reflect the Lords glory. Our creativity transforms us into his likeness.

    Bless you Carl.

  • Virginia

    Carl:
    I want to thank you for your very insightful blog. I am always searching for the next step to help me in my ascent to God. I would like to say that what appears as a negative comment might just be the catalyst to speed you on toward you goal. Without the comments such as the one you brought to our minds, how can we say we stayed the course without the temptation to distraction?

    God loves us all. We are so blessed by the agreeable people and probably more so by those who disagree with what we are doing.

    God be with you.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/carlmccolman/ Carl McColman

    I agree, Virginia. When I reflect on a reader’s comment, even if it’s clear I disagree with the reader, I don’t mean any disrespect or condemnation; as you suggest, it is truly a blessing to be able to listen to those whose perspective is so different from our own. It’s a challenge to grow, to change when we need to, or at the least, to practice love and forgiveness!

  • http://www.myspace.com/excali13u12 Reachea L.

    You inspire Humanity with your writing. I can personally say I’ll be waiting for your next publication =)

  • http://serenityinsilence.com Angela Johnston

    I love your simplicity and how easy it is. As Christians, why do we feel that our vision of Jesus needs to be defended? He needs none. He has overcome the world. We become defensive at the thought that another will devalue our belief of what Christ is for us and we call this peace? I offer my sincere gratitude to you Carl for showing all of us the true gift we all are. I look forward to reading your book.

  • http://www.holisticdivorcesolutions.com Danah Hilden

    I agree the more books on a subject the better. This is akin to the more words for something in any given language the more that something is valued by the people. Some cultures have 30 words for snow because snow is such a large part of their lives. On another note, mysticism is in my book way to become closer to God by becoming more contemplative in prayer and going within. This is a more ecumenical approach to knowing God one which transcends any particular organized religion yet does not de-value any religion. Truly a spiritual win-win. Kudos to you.

  • judith collier

    I’m new at this computer stuff so please bear with me here. I just took a test,quite lenghthy,concerning one’s beliefs. How I got there,well, I totally forgot! Anyway, it turns out I was of the Evangelical Holiness/Wesleyan mind. Only 36%, this kind of messes with my head. Not really, but interesting. I’m thinking this means I’m open minded but strict. Yeah, that sounds like me. Judy

  • Peter

    First I want to offer a hearty Amen! to the post by Angela above: Jesus truly never needs any defense from us. He is quite willing to take care of himself and his own good name, thank you very much!

    Next let me develop a bit further an idea that has re-surfaced in my reply to one of Carl’s earlier blogs: I have noticed that the main attacks against Carl (and Mike Morrell and others who share their perspective) MOSTLY seem to come from folks with UNPROVEN FAITH, faith that has been accepted easily and naturally (often from childhood) but has not stood the tests of time, attrition, unpopularity etc. In contrast to that is the faith that someone like Carl (and I count myself in the same camp) has come to through the back door, that is to say, by seeing the centrality and supremacy of Jesus IN AND THROUGH ALL THINGS, the physical creation, the world of poetry and art, the social world of people, even the exerimental / experiential / existential investigation (sometimes quite extended) into the realm of paganism and non-Christian spiritual experience. If this proves true, it will enhance the power to be patient with those who are still experimenting, trusting that Jesus who is what he says he is can illuminate their understanding and instantly (should he choose to do so) quicken their consciousness concerning who he is and the passionate love relationship he desires to have with them.
    I find this kind of openness refreshing, and full of faith too: a mature faith that has watched Jesus at work and is confident enough to refrain from having to promote him offensively or speak out on his behalf defensively. It’s like the faith of the healthiest of the healing-gospel crowd (such as John Wimber) who say, Let’s come together and see what Jesus will do–as in Bear’s favorite quote from Rumi: Jesus is here and he is looking for someone to heal or raise from the dead!

  • Peter

    Conclusion:

    So my point in the above is that, rather than being divided on doctrinal or confessional lines, these responses to the message of radical grace may possibly be evaluated simply on the basis of the writers’ various experience of that grace in their own lives. Those for whom it has been tested and proved will be confident in its power and unafraid of its ability to stand on its own in an admittedly competitive spiritual milieu. Those for whom it is still tentative or unproven will fall prey to the temptation to defend or prop up their faith, like the pagans in Jeremiah or the silversmiths in the book of Acts who feel compelled to build up and defend their gods. (Or as I read in a news report the other day concerning the Danish cartoons and Muslims shouting, “We have to defend Allah and his prophet!” Very sad.)

    Amen! that we can only serve the world by loving it.
    Amen! that Jesus condemns ONLY judgment, hatred, xenophobia.
    And Amen! to the final supremacy of love when all the smoke clears…

    Love and peace to all,
    Peter

  • robert

    I am very new to this whole thought(Mysticism), being steeped in calvinism during my youth and into early adulthood, these thoughts still haunt me these many years later. Two years ago I walked away from the non denominational fundamentalist (neo-con movement) To continue at long last my journey. This journey has brought me to this Mysticism you write of. I would say yes, to another thought, another book, It is true what James Finley writes, ” There is a risk to take. There is a journey to make.” So i begin anew, reading the Gospels in Lectio Divina…This single change in my reading (and life) has also changed what i now see within the words of Christ, it’s as if i’m reading the Gospel for the first time, as i now feel, and see the emotion in whice these words were written. Just thought you might want to hear from someone on the outside looking in.

  • simon

    Wowzers.

    I didn’t anticipate such a response, so sorry for delaying getting back.

    First of all, allow me to clarify that I have nothing against mystical writings. I myself have benefitted from reading the mystics. If I hadn’t, I would have never found this website in the first place.

    I admit that my comment was blunt, but one thing that was clear from the number of posts detailing just how much material was already “outthere”, a big consideration should be “why another book on mysicism?”

    I don’t need you to describe mysticism to me Carl. Its not for lack of love that I brought this up. In a sense, your whole website could be viewed as a potential shopping list of the mystics. And thats my point. Just another notch in a whole list of hundreds of titles claiming to explain (for the paltry sum of…) how to do it right.

    I believe in reading and understanding of the Gospel, in simple faith, is enough to inspire the recipient to understand Taoism, Pyschology other sciences and faiths etc. The fact that there are so many “how to” books outthere, shows a resistance to the Gospel message (as well as the writings of the Prophets).

    Luke 16

    27 “Then he said, ‘I beg you therefore, father, that you would send him to my father’s house, 28 for I have five brothers, that he may testify to them, lest they also come to this place of torment.’ 29 Abraham said to him, ‘They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.’ 30 And he said, ‘No, father Abraham; but if one goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’ 31 But he said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rise from the dead.’”

    I think you protest a little too much Carl. There is such a wealth of information in this site leading people to the writings of the mystics (who themselves, if they are doing their job correctly would be pointing people to the Source ie Christ and what he taught in the Gospel)

    And I don’t believe Christ came to mystify people so they could quietly sit around in perfumed rooms. He came to shake up the World, and it is this aspect of the Gospel that has been overlooked. The cross that Christ bids us to take up.

    Matthew 6
    Do Good to Please God
    1 “Take heed that you do not do your charitable deeds before men, to be seen by them. Otherwise you have no reward from your Father in heaven. 2 Therefore, when you do a charitable deed, do not sound a trumpet before you as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory from men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. 3 But when you do a charitable deed, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4 that your charitable deed may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will Himself reward you openly.

    Just something for us all to consider.

  • simon

    And don’t you see the irony in posting Christ’s words about not judging after a lengthy diatribe containing assumptions about me?

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/carlmccolman/ Carl McColman

    Hi Simon. I’m very sorry that you see me as protesting “a little too much.” Given how much I love writing, how much I love Christian mysticism, and my belief after considerable time spent in prayer and discernment that my vocation involves spiritual writing, I suppose I could be forgiven for being a bit defensive when told that what I’m doing is essentially a “distraction.”

    Then again, if you really believe Christian mysticism involves “navel gazing” or “mystify(ing) people so they could quietly sit around in perfumed rooms,” then it seems evident to me that you don’t have even a beginner’s knowledge of what Christian mysticism is.

    Despite your misgivings, I will forge ahead with my project, for no other reason than I believe it is a way for me to offer a tiny bit of love and worship back to the God who has so lavishly loved me first. As for your question “why another book on mysticism?,” here is my perspective: if only one person should ever be inspired to draw closer to Christ as a result of it, I will consider it time well spent.

    And frankly, given how poor your knowledge of mysticism appears to be, perhaps you will be that one person.

    Of course, my feelings won’t be hurt if you decline to read my book; to paraphrase a popular pro-choice bumper sticker: “Against books on mysticism? Then don’t buy them!”

    P.S. Sorry if you felt judged by my post. God knows I’m not perfect! But it wasn’t my intention to target you in particular: I was simply using your earlier comment to illustrate what I see as a common theological problem within the Christian community, a problem which I believe your comment reflects — but, since I don’t know you, I can hardly accuse you of truly embodying the world-hating perspectives that I was criticizing. I do apologize for that misunderstanding. Rather than judging you, I’d rather simply reiterate the same gratitude that I mentioned before: thanks for sharing your opinion.

  • simon

    C’mon Carl, will you quit with “considering how poor your knowledge of Christian mysticism is” schtick. And like I said, I know I came across as blunt, but did you really want everyone to agree with you? And yes Carl, you are judging me. You just did it again, but have attempted to prettify it.

    Are you doubting that surrounding yourself with books (and your list of books is exhaustive) could be seen as a distraction? Can you see that technically speaking insteading of inspiring communion with the Living God, that these practises can tend toward idolatry?

    Christian Mysticism is primarily a focus on the love of God, agreed?

    Do you doubt that God is able to speak to people himself?

    Do you doubt that God would point people interested in listening to him to His Son?

    Luke 9

    28 Now it came to pass, about eight days after these sayings, that He took Peter, John, and James and went up on the mountain to pray. 29 As He prayed, the appearance of His face was altered, and His robe became white and glistening. 30 And behold, two men talked with Him, who were Moses and Elijah, 31 who appeared in glory and spoke of His decease which He was about to accomplish at Jerusalem. 32 But Peter and those with him were heavy with sleep; and when they were fully awake, they saw His glory and the two men who stood with Him. 33 Then it happened, as they were parting from Him, that Peter said to Jesus, “Master, it is good for us to be here; and let us make three tabernacles: one for You, one for Moses, and one for Elijah”—not knowing what he said.
    34 While he was saying this, a cloud came and overshadowed them; and they were fearful as they entered the cloud. 35 And a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is My beloved Son.[b] Hear Him!” 36 When the voice had ceased, Jesus was found alone. But they kept quiet, and told no one in those days any of the things they had seen.

    I’ll leave it here as it I can’t see this going anywhere.

    Sorry if I upset you Carl.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/carlmccolman/ Carl McColman

    Well, my getting defensive is my problem, not yours.

    But frankly, I find your hostility toward books disingenuous. Sure, books can be a distraction. But so can just about anything else. The point of my post is that even falling in love with Christ can have unintended idolatrous consequences. Are you seriously suggesting that no one should ever write another hymn, or paint another painting, or compose another poem, out of love and devotion for Christ, simply out of fear that it could be a distraction? And if that’s not what you’re saying then why do you target books on mysticism in particular? Is it really that you have an axe to grind about the contemplative life? (plenty of Christians do).

    Sigh. As you say, this probably isn’t going anywhere. I really do suppose we’ll have to agree to disagree. Once again, my apologies for sounding so judgmental.

  • simon

    Carl,

    Just so you know that my problem is not with books. Really its not, I’ve read a lot of them and a lot of them have been on mysticism (Christian and otherwise). In fact between December and February I have read around 10-15 books, three quarters of which have been an even split between theology and mysticism. A big part of the frustration you perceive is at myself.

    I know I have come across as harsh. A lot harsher than I have intended. My hostility is not about books, but about the fact that a lot of us can fall into a lull where we surround ourselves with a comfort blanket. And we can stay there for years.

    I am certainly not suggesting that we stop being creative.

    Yes, I know God’s love. I have been touched by Christ. I think you are correct when you say there is a “dark side” to loving Christ. Christ Himself testifies to this in the Gospel

    Matthew 10

    34Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword.

    35For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law.

    36And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household.

    37He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.

    38And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me.

    39He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.

    And as much as we try and wrangle around this one, it is true.

    I have a lot of sadness and frustration when I see what people have done in Christ’s name. I am not some zealot fundie. But I think Christianity has tried to jettison Jesus crucified, and replace it with another Gospel. And that does concern me.

    I can see how my comments could have come across as unecessarily harsh. Sorry Carl.

    Ecclesiastes 12
    1 Remember now your Creator in the days of your youth,
    Before the difficult days come,
    And the years draw near when you say,

    “ I have no pleasure in them”:
    2 While the sun and the light,
    The moon and the stars,
    Are not darkened,
    And the clouds do not return after the rain;
    3 In the day when the keepers of the house tremble,
    And the strong men bow down;
    When the grinders cease because they are few,
    And those that look through the windows grow dim;
    4 When the doors are shut in the streets,
    And the sound of grinding is low;
    When one rises up at the sound of a bird,
    And all the daughters of music are brought low.
    5 Also they are afraid of height,
    And of terrors in the way;
    When the almond tree blossoms,
    The grasshopper is a burden,
    And desire fails.
    For man goes to his eternal home,
    And the mourners go about the streets.
    6 Remember your Creator before the silver cord is loosed,[a]
    Or the golden bowl is broken,
    Or the pitcher shattered at the fountain,
    Or the wheel broken at the well.
    7 Then the dust will return to the earth as it was,
    And the spirit will return to God who gave it.
    8 “ Vanity of vanities,” says the Preacher,

    “ All is vanity.”

    The Whole Duty of Man
    9 And moreover, because the Preacher was wise, he still taught the people knowledge; yes, he pondered and sought out and set in order many proverbs. 10 The Preacher sought to find acceptable words; and what was written was upright—words of truth. 11 The words of the wise are like goads, and the words of scholars[b] are like well-driven nails, given by one Shepherd. 12 And further, my son, be admonished by these. Of making many books there is no end, and much study is wearisome to the flesh.
    13 Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter:

    Fear God and keep His commandments,
    For this is man’s all.
    14 For God will bring every work into judgment,
    Including every secret thing,
    Whether good or evil.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/carlmccolman/ Carl McColman

    Simon, thank you. I was just about to email you and say “I’ll make a deal with you: I promise to refrain from judgmental and attacking language if you’ll agree to refrain from dismissing mysticism with pejorative language like navel-gazing, etc.” But I think your latest comment is a pre-emptive affirmative answer to that proposal. Am I correct?

    I’m glad you didn’t just go away in a huff. I think part of my defensiveness is because you’re actually raising one hell of a good point. I had a Jesuit spiritual director years ago (before my first book ever got published) who gently teased me about my ambition to write about the spiritual life: “Carl, there are libraries full of books telling us how to live good and holy and happy lives, and people are just as screwed up as ever.” That criticism has haunted me (guided me?) over the years as I’ve written my various books (not all of which are Christian in nature, since I spent seven years alienated from Christianity).

    Simon, are you willing to give this a fresh start? My guess is if we can avoid the temptation to take potshots at each other (!), we might have an interesting dialogue.

    I have an appointment at church in 45 minutes, so I’m signing off for now. But I’ll try to write a more detailed response to some of your concerns (probably in a new post) in the morning.

    Cheers,

    Carl

  • simon

    Yes please Carl. I am in the UK so am about to turn in, but will check back tomorrow.

    Love and Peace

  • judith collier

    hey simon, you are not alone. you’ll find acceptance here and a place you can discuss things with other seekers. take courage, remember the times god came through for you, surely there is a few times. i feel such pain coming from you,please know you are loved. the cross gets heavy at times. jesus was helped by simon, now let jesus help simon. sometimes it’s just jesus in others but that can hold you till the good comes back into your life. love judy

  • Pingback: Do we really need another book on Christian mysicism? « The Website of Unknowing

  • http://frimmin.wordpress.com/ Jon

    “Just start at the Gospel,” I think, presupposes that the Gospel is contained soley within the Gospels. Mysticism recognizes that it’s everywhere.

  • http://www.creativeartcoaching.com Laura Sweeney

    Why would Jesus be upset that there’s going to be a new book on Mysticism when Jesus loved all people–male and female– and was a mystic himself who accepted even those who had taken alternative paths. A new book on mysticism teaches the learner who is ready for the message that we all have freedom to choose that which meets our needs as we move along our paths. Fortunately, we all have the option of not reading or accepting that which does not meet our needs or that which we are not ready to understand.

    Does this mystical leader named Jesus really care how we define ourselves as Christians, Wiccans, Jews, Pagans, et al.? Are we not judged by our deeds such as “Love thy brother as thyself.” and wouldn’t a book that invokes a connection between the writer and his readers be the ultimate manifestation of Jesus’ love?

  • http://www.ashchiropractic.com West Los Angeles Chiropractor

    Great stuff. Nice to read some well written posts that have some relevancy !


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