Three Video Clips: Speaking of Mysticism in Portland, OR

Here are three brief excerpts from a talk I gave in Portland, OR, in October 2010 on the topic of Christian mysticism. They were filmed and produced by Cathy Zheutlin of Holy Rascals — a media company that produces videos and webinars for the spiritually adventurous. In the first one, I tell an amusing story of one of my monastic mentors, Father Anthony, who gave me some grief about the difficulty of defining the word “mysticism”…

So in this next video, I offer less of a “definition” of mysticism and more of an evocative way of thinking about the topic, by linking mysticism to story, paradox, silence and ultimately transformation.

The third clip is the shortest but perhaps the best of all, where I am talking about how desert fathers (and mothers) like Evagrius Ponticus contributed to the origin of Christian contemplative practice.

I hope you enjoy them.


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  • Really enjoyed these clips. Especially the part about how mysticism explodes our experience, changes us…and we’re never the same again. There are moments when I almost wish I could go back, as though life would be almost simpler. Do you know what I mean? I could just move along with the hum drum, content to watch a movie on a Sunday afternoon and call it good. But then the hidden beauty and mystery of it all would continue to elude me. So I’m glad for these changes, even as sometimes they feel like an amazing responsibility.