Introduction to Christian Mysticism

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A class through Emory University Continuing Education.The renowned twentieth century German theologian Karl Rahner said, “The Christian of the future will be a mystic or will not exist at all.” What could he have meant by this? In the popular mind, mysticism is associated with eastern spirituality, like Yoga or Zen. But there is a little-known tradition of meditation and spiritual awakening even within Christianity. This non-sectarian class will survey the history of Christian mysticism from … [Read more...]

Circle the World in Prayer… with Shalem

My journey into contemplative practice began at Shalem.Before I discovered the Shalem Institute in the spring of 1984, mysticism and contemplation were pretty much just topics I liked to read about. That's not to say these topics weren't meaningful to me, or that they did not give me a sort of intellectual spirituality that accompanied me during my college years. I'm an introvert and it's my style to read about something before I'll actually take the risk to go and meet someone who's doing … [Read more...]

Three Video Clips: Speaking of Mysticism in Portland, OR

Here are three brief excerpts from a talk I gave in Portland, OR, in October 2010 on the topic of Christian mysticism. They were filmed and produced by Cathy Zheutlin of Holy Rascals — a media company that produces videos and webinars for the spiritually adventurous. In the first one, I tell an amusing story of one of my monastic mentors, Father Anthony, who gave me some grief about the difficulty of defining the word "mysticism"...So in this next video, I offer less of a "definition" of … [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...]

Three Myths of Mysticism?

Last night I joined the good folks at Countryside Church in Omaha, NE for their weekly webcast, Darkwood Brew. Needless to say, our topic was Christian mysticism. The host, Dr. Eric Elnes, invited me to comment on what he described as three "myths" related to Christian mysticism — three common misconceptions that many Christians might have about mysticism that might prevent them from taking it seriously as a means of fostering a deeper spirituality.Here are the three myths:That m … [Read more...]

Nonduality in the Bible … and us

A reader writes:I love reading your articles but am new to the terminology. What is "non-dualism" and is it compatible with Biblical truth? Also, why did non-dualism get marginalised?Great questions, both of them, and both point back to Richard Rohr, one of the most dynamic contemplative teachers alive today. Rohr calls Jesus the first nondual religious teacher in the west, and also speaks of how nondual wisdom teachings have been lost in the west since the late middle ages (I would cut u … [Read more...]

Insight from a Deep Well

Mystical spirituality is concerned with one basic question: how can we truly know God? One way of knowing involves learning information about God; it is doctrinal. Another way of knowing leads to union with God; it is mystical. Mystical writing often seems impenetrable and incomprehensible, eluding precise definition, as if it were an unknown and unknowable foreign language. Mystics relish paradox, speak in abstractions and metaphors, and love mystery. They tell us that knowing God is intuitive … [Read more...]


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