Is it possible to be a “Do It Yourself” Christian Mystic? Evelyn Underhill would say “No” — and I agree with her

Nearly all Christian mystics maintain that an essential characteristic of Christian mysticism is participation in the Body of Christ, which is to say, in the Christian community of faith. In other words, to be a Christian mystic, it is as important to be a follower of Christ as it is to be a mystic. And to be a follower of Christ means to express spirituality in a communal way.The above statements annoy a lot of people. Sorry about that, but that's how it rolls.Recently a reader of th … [Read more...]

Why Evelyn Underhill Remains Required Reading After Over 100 Years

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rZXAH-wchdE A Book for All Time: Why Evelyn Underhill’s Mysticism Still Matters For pretty much my entire adult life, if anyone would ask me who my favorite authors are, without hesitation I would say Evelyn Underhill and Thomas Merton. To me, the work of Evelyn Underhill represents the call for the revival of mysticism in our time, while Merton anchored the call to mysticism in the urgent political and social concerns that shape life in America over the last f … [Read more...]

What is Christian Mysticism? (Video)

Last week I posted a video about Julian of Norwich which is the first of a series of videos in which I talk about various topics related to the Christian mysticism and contemplative spirituality. Here is the follow-up to that video, where I try to answer the question, "What is Christian Mysticism?" It's based on Karl Rahner's often quoted soundbite that "the Christian of the future will be a mystic or... will not exist."https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-A-T-olAaWM&t=24sSo what is … [Read more...]

Why do Mystics Love the Church?

For a long time now, I've been fascinated by people who self-define as "spiritual but not religious" (or "spiritually independent," or "none" or some variation thereof) — in other words, people who see the Church or "institutional religion" as overly legalistic, spiritually stifling, hidebound, more concerned with enforcing morality than seeking enlightenment. I don't speak out of judgment, for at times in my life, I've been there myself.Part of what fascinates me is how many SBNR folks, de … [Read more...]

How to Think About Angels

Here is a wonderful description of angels from the anonymous Syrian monk who is now called "Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite." The angel is an image of God...... a manifestation of the hidden light...... a mirror, pure, bright, untarnished, unspotted, receiving, if one may say so, the full loveliness of the divine goodness and purely enlightening within itself as far as possible the goodness of the silence in the inner sanctuaries. This is from the treatise The Divine Names, as t … [Read more...]

A Christian Mystics Bibliography

In my books The Big Book of Christian Mysticism and Christian Mystics: 108 Seers, Saints and Sages, I suggest a number of books that anyone interested in learning more about Christian mysticism might enjoy.On this page I've gathered together those books (and a few audio recordings). For good measure, I've thrown in a few other important titles, and will continue to add useful books to this page as they come to my attention.I believe this list represents a comprehensive library of Chri … [Read more...]

Preliminary Practices for Christian Contemplatives

Tibetan Buddhists have a series of spiritual exercises that are seen as foundational to their spiritual practice: a sort of "spiritual boot camp." They are called ngöndro or in English, "preliminary practices."The aspirant who wishes to attain enlightenment begins with these preliminary exercises, which include a series of 100,000 prostrations and a variety of chants designed to purify the individual of impediments such as jealousy, attachment, or delusion. According to Thubten Chodron, "The … [Read more...]