Distinguishing Mysticism from Contemplation

Gary asks: "Christian mysticism, contemplative Christian spirituality, (pardon my naive position but are these different, similar or the same?)..."Regarding the distinction between contemplation and mysticism: I do address this issue in my forthcoming book (can't resist the plug), but briefly, I would say mysticism is an umbrella term for spirituality that engages the mysteries of the  faith (and this is a pun, for the Eastern Orthodox Churches call the sacraments the "mysteries"), whereas … [Read more...]

Authority and its Discontents

Early this morning my friend Gary left me this morsel of food for thought: God has been making, since the first word of creation, all things new, so perhaps what is never new under the sun is human behavior, driven by sin, and yet redeemable. That behavior as you commented on the previous blog response to me and reiterated above, is often at its core authority challenge. The emergent church can be an example of how each generation challenges parental/previous generational authority just for the … [Read more...]

Yes I said Yes I will Yes

Okay, the only reason I'm quoting Molly Bloom in this post's title is because I wanted a snappy way to say yes. But of course, I'm a James Joyce fan, so it only makes sense that Molly would show up in this blog from time to time.My respondents to yesterday's post (all seven of you, four more than I had hoped for) all seem to be urging me away from the idea of finding a single focus for this blog, and instead just embracing it all. Which, to be honest, is pretty much what I figured I would be … [Read more...]

For the Future

First, the good news: I have finally — after several delays and re-negotiated deadlines — submitted the manuscript for my "big book of Christian Mysticism" to my editor. Long-term readers of this blog will recall that I signed a contract to write this book almost two years ago, so it's been a long road. The book is much different from what I originally envisioned — at first, I thought I would place a lot of emphasis on the historical mystics themselves, unpacking their life stories, conte … [Read more...]

A Kiss from Mom and a Lesson About Suffering

Early this morning (August 15, 2009) I had a dream in which I was standing outside a building, like an officer’s club on a small military base. It felt like I was in Florida or somewhere else where the winters are mild. There may have been palm trees, but I’m not sure. What I do remember is that I stood outside the building, with tables and chairs all around me, as if this were a place where people can gather and share a meal. Perhaps there were a few others milling about; again, I don’t recall f … [Read more...]

The Table of Contents

Okay, so here's the Table of Contents for A Big Book of Christian Mysticism — as it currently stands. Everything, and I mean everything, about the book is subject to change: the title, the names of individual chapters, the way the book is organized, etc. But with that disclaimer in mind, I thought it would be fun to share this with you guys. Now, obviously, some of these chapter titles are more poetic than descriptive: for example, "Wood, Water & Wine" is a chapter about day to day living t … [Read more...]

Mark your calendars: retreats next summer

I've confirmed dates for two weekend retreats that I will be will be co-conducting at the guesthouse of the Monastery of the Holy Spirit in Conyers, GA. Mark your calendars — I hope to see you there! For more information including registration information, click here. The Monastery Website still has the 2009 schedule online, but if you email the registrar at the retreat house, you could go ahead and make reservations for these retreats. They both filled up this year, so they probably will again n … [Read more...]