C. S. Lewis, Brendan the Navigator, and Evelyn Underhill

In March I was one of several presenters at a symposium on C. S. Lewis and Joy Davidman sponsored by Brenau University and Grace Episcopal Church in Gainesville, GA. The theme of the symposium was "Love Letters to Jack, Love Letters to God." Here is the transcript of my talk, in which I weave together my love for C. S. Lewis — especially the Narnia stories — with two influences on him: Evelyn Underhill and St. Brendan the Navigator.Did "The Problem of Pets" Inspire Aslan?Our theme this we … [Read more...]

Is it possible to be a “Do It Yourself” Christian Mystic? Evelyn Underhill would say “No” — and I agree with her

Nearly all Christian mystics maintain that an essential characteristic of Christian mysticism is participation in the Body of Christ, which is to say, in the Christian community of faith. In other words, to be a Christian mystic, it is as important to be a follower of Christ as it is to be a mystic. And to be a follower of Christ means to express spirituality in a communal way.The above statements annoy a lot of people. Sorry about that, but that's how it rolls.Recently a reader of th … [Read more...]

Sharing Your Faith with Someone Who is “Spiritual But Not Religious”

This post may get me in trouble with a few folks. Well, so be it.I make no apologies for my conviction that mysticism — at least, Christian mysticism — is meant to be a communal experience. For Christians, the spiritual life consists not only in loving God, but also in loving our neighbors as ourselves (and we even are instructed to love our enemies). The pagan philosopher Plotinus described mysticism as "the flight of the alone to the Alone" — which makes sense to Christians insofar as Jesus … [Read more...]

Seven Essential Books on the Spirituality of the Desert Fathers and Mothers

The headwaters of the Christian contemplative and mystical tradition — aside from the Bible, of course — is the wisdom of the Desert Fathers and Mothers, hermits and early monks and nuns who lived in the deserts of Egypt, Palestine and Syrian in the third and fourth centuries.A literature of stories, parables, wisdom teachings, biographies, and even travelogues grew up around the lives and sayings of the Desert dwellers, giving us valuable insight into early Christian understandings of com … [Read more...]

A Christian Mystics Bibliography

In my books The Big Book of Christian Mysticism and Christian Mystics: 108 Seers, Saints and Sages, I suggest a number of books that anyone interested in learning more about Christian mysticism might enjoy.On this page I've gathered together those books (and a few audio recordings). For good measure, I've thrown in a few other important titles, and will continue to add useful books to this page as they come to my attention.I believe this list represents a comprehensive library of Chri … [Read more...]

Remembering (and Praying with) Evelyn Underhill

Today (June 15, 2016) marks the seventy-fifth anniversary of the death of Evelyn Underhill, the Anglo-Catholic writer who probably did more than anyone else in the first half of the twentieth century to promote Christian mysticism as a spiritual path for everyone, not just priests or saints, monks or nuns. In this way she anticipated the Second Vatican Council and its affirmation of a "universal call to holiness." Underhill is best remembered for her landmark book Mysticism: A Study in the … [Read more...]

Who’s Who Among the Christian Mystics…

My friends, I'm happy to announce my forthcoming book, due in October 2016.Christian Mystics: 108 Seers, Saints and Sages is a companion volume to The Big Book of Christian Mysticism. I originally envisioned including a section in that book that would serve as a sort of who’s who of mysticism, with entries for all the major figures that gave biographical informa-tion, key teachings or ideas, and a representative quote or two. For a variety of reasons, that never came to pass, and so The Big B … [Read more...]