Blessed Are the Peacemakers

The Good Bishop

Blessed are the peacemakers, and today I want to celebrate two such persons in particular.I could have called this blog post "A Tale of Two Walters," for both of these men share that same slightly nerdy first name. Both are the subjects of recently published books: a biography of one; a memoir by the other. Each of these men died in 2012, and both were not only renowned, but controversial, for their commitment to social justice and progressive theology. Finally, both embodied a deep and … [Read more...]

Spirituality for the Second Half of Life… and Beyond

Sacred Fire

It's been almost three years now since the release of Richard Rohr's Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life. But in that short time, it seems that this book has already become something of a minor classic, thanks to its insightful consideration of how the spiritual blessings, challenges, and concerns of people in the "second half of life" differ markedly from those in the first half. The first half is typically about building one's life: establishing identity, discerning and … [Read more...]

The Silence of the Heart

Silence of the Heart

In its very last paragraph, Norris J. Chumley describes Be Still and Know, his new book on contemplative silence (hesychia), as a "research study." And therein lies what is both wonderful and frustrating about this book.First, the frustration: the book reads like someone's PhD dissertation. While Chumley provides a concise historical survey of the development of hesychasm, or the practice of meditative silence through the Orthodox Jesus Prayer (Prayer of the Heart), and follows up the … [Read more...]

Seven Books I Hope to Read in 2014

Mystagogy

Are you looking for a book or two to read, on the topics of contemplation or mysticism?I thought I'd offer a twist on the typical blog post where books get reviewed. Here is a list of seven books I hope to read, ideally sometime this year. Some of these books are brand new, others a few years old, others older still. They all touch on contemplative prayer, the Christian mystery, and/or interspirituality, in some form or fashion. A disclaimer: copies of three of these seven books were s … [Read more...]

Keeping Spirituality Grounded

One of the pitfalls of contemplative practice is that we can easily get stuck in our heads. Combing through the Bible or other books for lectio divina, investing time to daily prayer and meditation, and nurturing our faith through study or devotional reading — these are all fine pursuits, but, especially when combined with the kind of white collar work so common in western society, they can result in a spirituality that is abstract, overly mental, and divorced from the messy realities of li … [Read more...]

Mirabai Starr: Giving Julian of Norwich a Lucid Voice

The Showings of Julian of Norwich

Julian of Norwich's Showings shines with luminous mystical wisdom. If there is one mystic I wish everyone would read, it is Julian. But of course, the question is, "which edition should I read?" Thankfully, Mirabai Starr's lovely and engaging new translation of this medieval masterpiece makes it more accessible than ever.Now, let me put in a bit of a disclaimer here. I'm not a purist, but I understand where purists come from and I can anticipate an objection that some would have to this … [Read more...]

The Kenosis of Clutter

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True confession time: I'm a clutter bug. I always have been, with books, CDs, and other forms of media being my worst offenses when it comes to acquiring stuff that I never use or under-use. Recently I got library privileges at my local seminary, which has helped some, but I still have the addiction."Hi, my name is Carl, and I'm a bookaholic." Everyone in unison now: "Hi, Carl!"What's fascinating about all the books strewn (yes, no other verb will do) all about my house is that they … [Read more...]


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