Concerning Emergence, Contemplation, and the Faith of the Future

Karl Rahner, The Christian of the Future (1965)

It's been fifty years since Karl Rahner wrote his important book "The Christian of the Future." In a different work, Concern for the Church, he made his classic remark "the Christian of the future will be a mystic or he will not exist at all." But in 1965 the Jesuit predicted that in the not-too-distant future Christianity will become marginalized, in many parts of the world would face persecution or at least the loss of social prestige, that "there will be no earthly advantage in being a Chri … [Read more...]

When Silence Rings

By Frmir (Own work) [GFDL or CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

 A reader named Nick writes: I am interested in the subject of meditation and Christian meditation in general, but I have a minor concern. I would like to engage in practices like centering prayer, but in the instructions for these meditations, I often hear an emphasis on finding a silent place to engage in these activities. I don't have problems finding a silent place, but silence is not something that I carry with me. I have a condition called Tinnitus that causes me to perceive a rin … [Read more...]

Flannery O’Connor on the Church and Politics

Flannery O'Connor: Spiritual Writings

I don't care what your political persuasion is, I bet you probably get frustrated from time to time with what Christian leaders have to say (or don't say) about matters of current concern.Here's a funny little quote from Flannery O'Connor that reminds us some things never change. It's from a letter she wrote in August 1959. About the Church's political actions. God never promised her political infallibility or wisdom and sometimes she doesn't appear to have even elementary good sense. She … [Read more...]

Seven Essential Thomas Merton Books

New Seeds of Contemplation

Today is the 100th anniversary of Thomas Merton's birth.To celebrate this day here is a list of seven books I would recommend to anyone who wants a grounding in Merton's life and wisdom, without having to read all of his many books. With over seventy titles to his name, it can be daunting to approach his work, especially for the first time. I hope this list will help readers to find the key themes and insights of his body of work; and even if you are a long-standing fan of Merton, maybe … [Read more...]

Following the Ancient Path Today

ancient-path

If you're anything like me, the first thing you'll notice about The Ancient Path: Old Lessons from the Church Fathers for a New Life Today is how beautifully designed the book is. The dust jacket features a fifteenth century fresco by Giovanni Pietro da Cemmo, of Saints Ambrose, Augustine, Gregory the Great, and Jerome. It is simultaneously elegant and inviting. The book itself presents a polite and at times engaging story in which a popular Catholic musician tells the story of his own spiritual … [Read more...]

Christian Mystics to Celebrate in 2015

"Teresa of Ávila" (1827) by François Gérard (1770-1837). Public domain.

2015 is something of a red-letter year for Christian contemplatives.This is the 100th anniversary of the birth year of Thomas Merton, who was born on January 31, 1915. Merton lived until 1968, and in his short life wrote over fifty books, published both before and after his accidental death at age 53. Merton entered the Trappist Abbey of Gethsemani in 1941, and became world-renowned after his spiritual memoir, The Seven Storey Mountain, became a surprise bestseller in 1948. Merton is a … [Read more...]

Do Contemplatives Need Bible Software?

Exegetical Guide for Psalm 65:1, which shows how the word "silence" is ignored in the NRSV translation. The Hebrew original reads "Silence is praise to you, O God," but  the anemic NRSV translation renders the verse is "Praise is due to you, O God."

Is the Bible a textbook, or a legal code, or a love letter?I suppose one could argue that it is all three. But it seems that, for much of Christian history, our theologians have tended to lock themselves away in an ivory tower, reading the Bible like a textbook, while church authorities (and their secular counterparts) have too often seen the book as merely a juridical text, meant to enforce morality and good order. Lost in the shuffle is the Bible as an amazing love story, full of poetry … [Read more...]


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