Believe it or not, Lent is just over two weeks away. Which means it is time to select your Lenten book for devotional reading. Lent is a time for prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. According to the Rule of Saint Benedict, it’s also an ideal time for devotional reading. In The Rule of Saint Benedict we find this mandate: During this time of Lent each one is to receive a book from the library, and is to read the whole of it… Read more

I know, reader surveys are annoying. But I hope you will take just a few short minutes and give this one a go. What’s in it for you? This information will help me to tailor the posts on this blog to your needs and interests. Thank you!  P.S. I have a hunch that one or two of the questions in this survey will surprise you (unless you’ve been following my blog for a very long time, that is)… View Survey Read more

In response to my recent post about Contemplative Prayer and the Holy Trinity, a reader posted the following message to me via Facebook: I’ve gotten discouraged with the very idea of “spiritual practice”. I’ve found so many practices that are meaningful and helpful but I’ve managed to turn every single one into an idol, treating it like a mechanism that controls my relation to God. I see the need for practice but I don’t understand how to keep from idolizing… Read more

About ten years ago I had a conversation with an elderly Trappist monk about the book I was writing — a book on Christian mysticism. Hearing that it was intended to introduce mysticism to the general public, he scoffed. “Not everyone is called to be a mystic,” he objected. “But doesn’t God want us to be in union with him?” I replied. “Well, yes,” he admitted, “we are all called to holiness but not all to mysticism.” I disagreed with him, and I’m… Read more

The heart of Christian spirituality is the Mystery of the Holy Trinity. This is the ancient wisdom teaching that God is one God, in three persons: Father/Creator, Son/Redeemer, and Spirit/Sanctifier. We call ourselves “Christians” because we follow the 2nd Person of the Trinity: Jesus, the Christ. But it would be just as accurate — some might say even more accurate — to call ourselves Trinitarians, the people of faith in this Triune God. The Trinity is controversial: Jews and Muslims reject… Read more

Today’s guest post is by Kevin M. Johnson, one of the co-hosts of the Encountering Silence Podcast. I see, my dear Theaetetus, that Theodorus had a true insight into your nature when he said that you were a philosopher; for wonder is the feeling of a philosopher, and philosophy begins in wonder. — Plato, Theaetetus Recently, I have publically identified myself as a “recovering academic.” I have quickly grown fond of using this label. While I love to teach at the… Read more

The other day I received this message from a reader who contacted me via Facebook… I was intrigued by your recent post about the dangers of relying on experience. I fully agree with you, not least because I believe I have had experiences of God but I managed to turn them into idols every time, chasing after them and trying to conjure them up at my bidding. I am now at a point where my contemplation focuses on the sacred… Read more

Several months ago, in response to a reader’s question, I posted an article to this blog called How Should a Christian Respond When a Friend Becomes Interested in Witchcraft and Magic? The response to this post has been positive, even from readers who identify themselves as Wiccan or Neopagan. One such reader posted this follow-up question to me on Facebook: As a follow-up, I’d like to see what your thoughts are on this: what is it about paganism that scares… Read more

A reader of this blog wrote this question to me recently: Hi Carl, just wondering if I could pick your brain? My experience of contemplation is that a little success — a “good,” peaceful session — can actually be problematic for future meditations. The problem for me is that I end up trying to repeat the good meditation in the future sittings, not accepting the present moment. I find that a peaceful meditation can thus put me back months in my practice!… Read more

A reader of my blog writes: “Christian Contemplative prayer gets a lot of bad press, as you are well aware. Many say there is no Biblical support for it whatsoever. Can you please give me your take on this.” Thanks for the question. The word contemplation, like the words mystic, mystical, mysticism and even spirituality, never appear in the Bible. Some folks might see this as reason enough to dismiss these topics as “unchristian.” But we know that language naturally… Read more

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