Contemplative Journal is the loveliest and most promising new website to come along in quite some time. Unlike some of the more prominent inter-religious websites, this start-up is dedicated to the contemplative dimension of the spiritual life, with a decidedly interspiritual presence. Early contributors included a variety of well-known and intriguing voices in the contemplative world: Judith Simmer-Brown, Rabbi Rami Shapiro, Mirabai Starr, Thomas Keating, and many others. According to its website, “Contemplative Journal boldly explores the mysteries of the universe within the context of the daily lives of our readers. The Journal focuses on spirituality, contemplative prayer, Christian meditation, spiritual growth, mindfulness, awareness, inner peace, spiritual retreats and more.” A community blog is already up and running, and future plans include a contemplative calendar, database of retreat houses. and a mentoring program.
Last week, Contemplative Journal published what I hope will be the first of many articles of mine to appear there. It’s called Embracing Depth and Diversity: a Contemplative Approach to Interspirituality and Religious Commitment — and as the title indicates, it’s an exploration of why I see an essential harmony or perhaps unity between interspiritual exploration and commitment to one “home” spiritual or religious tradition. For me, the home tradition is Christianity, and yet over the years I have also drawn sustenance from various forms of Neopagan spirituality as well as Buddhism. As I said on Twitter recently,
I explore the wisdom of the world's religions not to water down my faith, but to deepen it.
— Carl McColman (@CarlMcColman) September 20, 2013
The exploration of other religions is not about diluting my faith, or creating some sort of syncretistic blend, or concocting a self-directed “pick-and-choose” faith. Frankly, anyone can dilute or pick-and-choose his or her faith without bothering to learn about any other religions. When we approach it in the right spirit, the rigorous effort to learn about the teachings and values and worldview of other faiths helps us become more intentional and clear about how we understand those same elements in our own tradition. Especially when the “home” tradition is something you’ve known and practiced since childhood (as is the case with me and Christianity), the temptation to keep religion on auto-pilot can be very strong. Interspirituality and inter-religious study can be a wonderful tool to remain intentional and conscious about what we believe, how we see, and the values and behaviors we espouse.
Anyway — please take a moment to visit Contemplative Journal and especially to read my article. Please leave a comment (either here or there). And I hope you’ll make CJ a regular part of your web routine. Helping this website to succeed can only support the contemplative community as a whole.