What Good is Religion? A Contemplative Perspective

Bloggers on Patheos have been asked to reflect on the question "What Good is Religion?" this month. I figured it might be worth pondering from a contemplative perspective.When I was a young man I was fond of saying that religion brought out the best in people and it brought out the worst in people. For the best, I'd cite Mother Teresa of Calcutta or Dorothy Day as exemplars. Nowadays I might add Desmond Tutu and Pope Francis to the list. For the worst, I'd mention Jim Jones (of the People's … [Read more...]

Rocking Justice & Spirituality: Like the Two Movements of the Breath

When I met the Anglican writer Kenneth Leech, who is one of my heroes, he told me a funny but sad story.I mentioned to him that one of my favorite books of his was The Eye of the Storm: Spiritual Resources for the Pursuit of Justice. I loved it (and still do) because it is an eloquent statement of why Christian spirituality necessarily includes a commitment to making the world a more peaceful and just place. He explained to me how he was inspired to write the book.At some point in the … [Read more...]

Social Media… and Silence

Hi. My name is Carl and I'm a Facebook addict.("Hi, Carl!")This past weekend, against my better judgment, I got into an unpleasant debate in a Facebook group with a young person whom I do not know. No need to go into details here — let's just say that by the end, nobody was edified. Much of my weekend got swallowed up in a back-and-forth conversation that generated much more heat than light. I'm embarrassed that I allowed myself to get so thoroughly triggered, and that I kept going back f … [Read more...]

Sister Joan Chittister and the Way of Paradox

A mature spiritual life embraces paradox. And paradox lies at the heart of Sister Joan Chittister's newest book, Between the Dark and the Daylight. The subtitle of the book is "Embracing the Contradictions of Life" but I think paradox would be a better word here. As physicist Niels Bohr put it, “The opposite of a correct statement is a false statement. But the opposite of a profound truth may well be another profound truth.” It is profound truths which Chittister explores in this book, and for th … [Read more...]

Meet the Newest Doctor of the Church: Saint Gregory of Narek

Vatican Radio announced earlier this week that Pope Francis has declared a tenth century Armenian saint and mystic, Saint Gregory of Narek (Grigor Narekatsi), a Doctor of the Universal Church.St. Gregory of Narek is the first new Doctor of the Church appointed by Pope Francis. The last saints to be given this title were Sts. Hildegard of Bingen and Juan of Avila, conferred by Pope Benedict XVI in 2012. Before that, the last Doctor of the Church was St. Thérèse of Lisieux, declared by Pope Jo … [Read more...]

How to Keep a Holy Lent

Mardi Gras can be a lot of fun, but when Fat Tuesday ends, Ash Wednesday begins. Clean up the mess from the party, and recycle the empty bottles. Welcome to Lent.If you've never observed Lent before, or if it means nothing more to you than "forty days without chocolate," then here are a few thoughts to introduce you to this ancient Christian season. Lent is more than just a time of year — it's a spiritual practice.The word Lent comes from the Old English word lencten meaning "sprin … [Read more...]

Concerning Emergence, Contemplation, and the Faith of the Future

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...]


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