Mainline Neo-Monasticism?

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Elaine A. Heath is a true friend of contemplation.She recognizes the vital importance of bringing contemplative prayer and mystical spirituality not only into the local church, but into the hearts of the clergy and other ministerial leaders in the church. As a seminary professor (she teaches Christian Evangelism at Perkins School of Theology in Dallas) and Methodist elder, she understands the crisis that mainline churches are facing in our time; while as a student of the contemplative tr … [Read more...]

Three Wonderful New Julian of Norwich Books

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I'm not sure why the fall of 2013 belongs to Julian of Norwich (except to the extent that any time is a good time for reading and reflecting on Julian's wisdom). What I do know is that three wonderful books about Julian have been, or soon will be, published this season. If you're already a Julian nut (yes, that's a pun) like me, rejoice, for these are all worthy books to add to your library. If you have not yet discovered Julian — the medieval anchoress (solitary) who experienced a series of v … [Read more...]

The Silences of the Lamb (of God)

Speaking (or writing) about silence is an enterprise embedded in paradox; every word represents a departure from, an obstacle to, the subject at hand. Oxford don Diarmaid MacCulloch (who created a splash with his Christianity: The First Three Thousand Years) begins this improbable task of recounting the story of Christian silence by appealing to a dog who did not bark in a Sherlock Holmes story. The great detective discerns a clue in the animal's silence (a dog that does not bark is a dog who … [Read more...]

Meditation with Liquid Mind

As a general rule, I believe that meditation or contemplative prayer are best practiced in silence — which means no TV blaring in the background, no MP3 player churning out sound, no computer or stereo making noise within earshot. Even using a so-called white noise machine is, to me, at best a necessary evil: perhaps required to mask the normal distracting sounds of children playing or whatever else might be happening in an adjacent room or apartment: but far less desirable than the pure absence … [Read more...]

Contemplative Commerce

Business Secrets of the Trappist MonksOne CEO's Quest for Meaning and AuthenticityAugust TurakColumbia Business School PublishingThe motto of Benedictine spirituality is ora et labora — a deceptively simple Latin phrase that means "to pray and to work." A variation of it, ora est labora, means "to pray is to work" — a sentiment handily embodied in the Latin words, where ora is actually part of labora. Prayer and work: the heart of Benedictine spirituality, and by extension, the heart of … [Read more...]

“Does anyone read Thomas Merton any more?”

Yesterday I received a review copy of a beautiful new book: The Selected Essays of Thomas Merton, edited by Patrick F. O'Connell. This newly published anthology from Orbis Books includes thirty-three essays on a wide range of topics. I am confident that anyone who loves Merton, poetry, or contemplation will find much to savor here. Merely glancing at the table of contents is enough to make this reader practically salivate: with topics ranging from St. John of the Cross to Gandhi, from Boris … [Read more...]

Two New Reference Books For You (or Your Library)

Mysticism — whether Christian mysticism, or comparative (world) mysticism — is a vast subject, one to which you could easily devote your life without any fear of ever mastering (or exhausting) the literature associated with it. Recently two books have crossed my desk that should prove to be invaluable for anyone seeking to study mysticism on a scholarly level. But first, a word of warning: these books are priced for library or textbook sales, and so they are not cheap! If you're on a budget, you … [Read more...]


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