Thomas Merton Conference: November 14 and 15, 2008

N.B. I'll be at this conference. Hope to see you there, too! — Carl Reading Thomas Merton: The Atlanta 40th Anniversary Celebration   Thomas Merton (1915-1968), monk, writer, poet, artist, entered the Cistercian Abbey of Gethsemani in Kentucky on December 10, 1941.  He died by accident twenty-seven years later while attending a Monastic Conference in Bangkok, Thailand.  As a Roman Catholic monk, he published some fifty books while maintaining a regular monastic routine and a very active intel … [Read more...]

Consuming Jesus

Consuming Jesus: Beyond Race and Class Divisions in a Consumer Church By Paul Louis Metzger Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2007 Review by Carl McColmanChristianity is a counter-cultural movement, right? Well, you might not think so, based on how the faith plays out in the media and the imagination of many westerners. Sure, conservative Christians are forever on the march against secular and liberal attitudes toward human sexuality. But it seems like, for too many Christians, that's where … [Read more...]

A Community Called Taizé

A Community Called Taizé: A Story of Prayer, Worship and Reconciliation By Jason Brian Santos Downers Grove, IL: IVP Books, 2008 Review by Carl McColmanLong before any of us had heard the term "neo-monasticism" — long before Shane Claiborne and the The Simple Way or Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove and Rutba House  had captured the imagination of a young generation of ecumenically-minded Christians looking for intentional community — there were wonderful, Protestant/ecumenical communities that flowe … [Read more...]

Acedia & Me

Acedia & Me: A Marriage, Monks, and a Writer’s Life By Kathleen Norris New York: Riverhead Books, 2008 Review by Carl McColmanAcedia — a spiritual state of soul-weariness, boredom, or perhaps even wilful depression — is hardly the kind of topic I would expect to see an entire book devoted to; not even a book by an author renowned for her keen insight into the ongoing relevance of monastic spirituality in our time. But Kathleen Norris is capable, like few other authors I know of who are writ … [Read more...]

In Honour of Nature

In Honour of Nature: The Sacred Well in a New Time By Mary Shanahan Ballyheigue, Co. Kerry: Lumenium, 2007 Review by Carl McColmanI love Irish holy wells. The sacred wells dedicated to St. Brigid in Kildare and Liscannor; Tobernault near Sligo; and Tober Phadraig near Clonmel are some of the most beautiful and moving spiritual sites I've ever visited — and these are just a few of the natural water sources in Ireland that have been venerated as places of healing and spiritual presence for ages u … [Read more...]

Wisdom of the Celtic Saints

Wisdom of the Celtic Saints Revised and Expanded By Edward C. Sellner Saint Paul, MN: Bog Walk Press, 2006 Review by Carl McColmanThis big, gorgeous book with Patrick and Brigid on the cover belongs in the library of any lover of Celtic Christianity. Edward Sellner is a natural storyteller, a worthy successor to the great Irish bards of old. In this book he collects together folklore and tales concerning the lives and miracles of over 25 holy men and women from the golden age of Celtic … [Read more...]

Cold War Letters

Cold War Letters By Thomas Merton Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 2006 Review by Carl McColmanThomas Merton was one of the great prophetic voices of the turbulent 1960s, but some of his most trenchant writing was not allowed to be published during his lifetime. His "cold war letters" consisted of correspondence with a variety of well- and lesser-known artists and activists (including Erich Fromm, Clare Booth Luce, Henry Miller, and Dorothy Day) with whom Merton shared his thoughts about how people … [Read more...]