One of my favorite coyotes, Phil Foster, has challenged me thusly: Quick, Carl - a blog entry on the relationship of Christianity, agnosis and sexuality. Begin with Song of Songs. Or, to paraphrase Genesis, male and female - and God saw that it was good. My first thought is that this big topic could go in all sorts of directions. … [Read more...]


The other day I took a walk with a friend of mine, about my age, who is going through a spiritual transition. He was at one point a very devout Christian, going to seminary with the hope of becoming a missionary. But a crisis of faith cut that journey short, and launched him on an unexpected trajectory of criticism toward organized religion that has finally resulted in his declaring to me, just the other night, that he has begun to wonder if perhaps he is an atheist. It became clear from our … [Read more...]

Kakure Kirishitan

Follow this link to read a fascinating article about a sect in Japan that evolved after the earliest Christian missionaries arrived in the sixteenth century. When Christianity was suppressed starting in the early 1600s, Japan's first Christians had to adapt to survive — and they did, by blending Christianity with elements of Buddhism and Shinto. I think one can easily find parallels to the history of Christianity in Ireland, Africa, and elsewhere.Japan's "Hidden Christians" Face E … [Read more...]


One of my desires as a Christian contemplative — and as a writer about the mystical life — is to celebrate the orthodox heart within Christianity. By "orthodox" I mean engaging with key elements of Christian tradition, including the teachings regarding the Holy Trinity, the Incarnation, salvation and the Passion, the Sacraments as means of grace, and the Church as Mystical Body. I try to safeguard against several forces active in our world today that would pull against such an understanding of Ch … [Read more...]

Double Blasphemy

I went to see Beowulf last night. I thought it was pretty mediocre. Sure, it renders Grendel's Mother as the hottest thing in a catsuit since Seven of Nine, but that's hardly a commendation. Really, there's not much to say about this movie other than it has its share of gee-whiz animation.As for the story, this film does a pretty good job at eviscerating the original tale. I thought we could have expected much better from Neil Gaiman. … [Read more...]

Friends, it’s a movement…

So what do Thomas Merton, Thich Nhat Hanh, Raimon Panikkar, Ken Wilber, Bede Griffiths, Ravi Ravindra and Henry Le Saux (aka Swami Abhishiktananda) have in common?They've all done work involving the question of Christian spirituality in conversation with one or more forms of eastern mysticism. Some of them are Christians, some not, and at least one of them seems to have radically blurred the line between the two. For some of these folks, the east-west conversation seems to be the central or … [Read more...]

Mysticism feels good

Back in the 1990s I saw a bumper sticker that declared, simply, "The Truth Feels Good." I've thought about that bumper sticker a lot since then. I think it's a fascinating declaration. Lately I've begun to wonder how it squares with Christian doctrine. Christianity certainly has an ethic of sufffering, victimization and martyrdom, none of which (in my experience) feel so great. But the point is, of course, to seek a higher good than merely one's own fleeing feelings. It is painful to devote … [Read more...]