Means of Liberation and Internal Conversion

Yesterday at the Monastery of the Holy Spirit's lay associates gathering day, I attended a class in which we considered a document called Lay Cistercian Identity, drawn up at an international gathering of Cistercian lay associates in Spain two years ago. We particularly examined a list of "Cistercian values and practices" commended to laypersons as "a means of liberation and internal conversion." These values and practices include:Prayer and praiseConfidence and abandonment to … [Read more...]

Natural Mysticism and “The Genuine Article”

A reader writes: Hi Carl, I have gathered that Christian mystics distinguish between ‘natural mysticism’ and what they see as the genuine article. However I am unclear on the difference. In addition I wonder how this critique maps onto mysticism in other traditions – does it amount to anything more than faith or belief in the necessity of orthodox Christian doctrine as the ‘skeleton’ of practice? Thanks for a great question, and I'm sorry that for now I can only give the briefest of replies (toda … [Read more...]

Chapters 17 and 18

A reader writes, in response to last Monday's post: can you please comment on chapter17 and 18 of the cloud of unknowing as i think very relevant to this discussion. it is certainly an ungoing struggle with myself as within my own mind there is ongoing dialogue between active and contemplative life the author of the cloud seems to reject the idea that the two forms can exist in one s life and i would definately agree………after one receives spiritual direction to authenticate the yearning of the spi … [Read more...]

What I’m reading to prepare for the Northern Ireland Retreat

Several books are on my bedside table right now, as I reflect on the spirituality and political history of Northern Ireland (and Ireland in general) in advance of the Contemplative Spirituality and Radical Activism immersion experience coming up in August.First, to deepen my sense of Irish history (particularly in relation to the politics of Northern Ireland over the last 50 years), I'm reading Ireland: A History by Robert Kee. It's a sobering look at just how troubled Eire has been, with its … [Read more...]

Gotta love those yellow sneakers!

Here's a picture of Rhiannon, David Crowder, Fran, and me, taken last night, just outside the Smoky Mountain Center for the Performing Arts in Franklin, NC, shortly after the David Crowder Band's concert.I'm holding a copy of Everybody Wants to Go to Heaven, But Nobody Wants to Die, the book that Crowder wrote with Michael Hogan, one of his bandmates. He, meanwhile, is holding a promotional bookmark for The Big Book of Christian Mysticism. I wish I had an actual copy of the book to give him. … [Read more...]

Quote for the Day

If you want to find your soul, look at what you love. That's where your soul lives, just as it lives in your body, giving it life. And that's why if we want to go to heaven spiritually, we don't need to strain our spirits in any direction, up or down or from one side to another. Whenever we love, we're already there. — The Cloud of Unknowing, Carmen Butcher translation … [Read more...]

The David Crowder Band, 7-7-10

Last night Fran and Rhiannon and I went to see the David Crowder Band at the Smoky Mountain Performing Arts Center in Franklin, NC. Here's the setlist for the show...The Veil No One Like  You Foreverandever etc. Here is Our King Come Thou Font of Every Blessing  -> Amazing Grace How He Loves Everything Glorious Alleluia, Sing Shadows You Are My Joy I Saw the Light -> I'll Fly Away Oh Happiness O Praise Him (All This For a King) Here I am to Worship … [Read more...]