Maggie Ross’s Response

Here's what Maggie Ross posted on her blog, in response to the questions I posed to her yesterday.First, for those just joining the conversation, here is what I wrote to her: Dear Maggie Ross,First of all, I'm honored even to be mentioned in your blog. I read Pillars of Flame years ago and was impressed by its eloquence, the force of its argument, and its spiritual depth. I still consult both appendices regularly.Now, as to my unlikely appearance in your blog: I'm humbled by your … [Read more...]

Maggie Ross on Scholarship and the Contemplative Life

I am honored, although also humbled, to have been mentioned in the blog of Anglican solitary Maggie Ross, author of a truly wonderful book on the spirituality of priesthood, Pillars of Flame. Ross is taking me to task for recommending Carmen Butcher's translation of The Cloud of Unknowing. Although she is gracious in the tone of her criticism, her overall message is that anyone who seeks to learn from the great contemplatives of the past must be careful in his or her scholarship, or else the … [Read more...]

What Mystics Do (and You Can, Too)

What do mystics do? The following list can be a way to begin answering this question. I'm not suggesting that every mystic does everything on this list (for starters, this list is particularly aimed at Christian mystics), or that a person has to do all of these things to be considered a mystic. I'm trying to make the list general, so that it's not just about persons who live in a cloister (monks and nuns) or who have ordained ministries of some sort. Think of this list as a glimpse into the … [Read more...]

Into the Silent Land

Into the Silent Land: A Guide to the Christian Practice of Contemplation By Martin Laird Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006 Review by Carl McColmanHere is one of the loveliest, most poetic, and most useful books on the practice of mature Christian prayer that I have ever read.First of all, what this book is not. It is not a comprehensive guide to Christian spirituality, or even to Christian prayer. The author does not bother discussing the sacramental or liturgical life of the church, or … [Read more...]

Quote for the Day

As I understand it, the soul whom the Lord has been pleased to lead into this Mansion will do best to act as I have said. Let it try, without forcing itself or causing any turmoil, to put a stop to all discursive reasoning, yet not to suspend the understanding, nor to cease from all thought, though it is well for it to remember that it is in God's presence and Who this God is. If feeling this should lead it into a state of absorption, well and good; but it should not try to understand what this … [Read more...]

Interior and Exterior

A friend of mine was party to a conversation among several folks committed to the spiritual life. I wasn't there, so I have no idea who these folks are, except for my friend who told the tale. Apparently, the subject of silence came up. Everyone agreed that silence was essential to living a contemplative life. But then, something interesting happened. One person said, "I just don't turn on my television any more." Another chimed in, "That's right. My grandson gave me an MP3 player and I've never … [Read more...]

More on the Proposed Contemplative Practice Group

Phil Foster and I met last night to talk about our proposal for a Contemplative Practice group. Here's what we're looking at doing:Reading and reflection on Sacred Scripture. We think we'll begin with the Gospel of John, and use N.T. Wright's John for Everyone commentary. The purpose is not to do "Bible Study" in the traditional Protestant sense, but rather a group practice of lectio divina with particular attention to the way in which the text supports contemplative practice in our … [Read more...]


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