“That God’s Love Might Live in Us” — A Few Lovely Words from Thomas Merton

Thomas Merton in his hermitage. Photo by John Howard Griffin

I've been re-reading Thomas Merton's The Waters of Siloe for a class I'm teaching at the monastery. It's basically Merton's history of the Cistercian order, but it's also full of his insights into Cistercian spirituality (and monastic spirituality in general). I especially love the book because it devotes several pages to the founding of the monastery in Georgia, including a wonderful photograph of the monks sitting in front of the old barn where they lived when they first came to the … [Read more...]

The Silence of the Heart

Silence of the Heart

In its very last paragraph, Norris J. Chumley describes Be Still and Know, his new book on contemplative silence (hesychia), as a "research study." And therein lies what is both wonderful and frustrating about this book. First, the frustration: the book reads like someone's PhD dissertation. While Chumley provides a concise historical survey of the development of hesychasm, or the practice of meditative silence through the Orthodox Jesus Prayer (Prayer of the Heart), and follows up the … [Read more...]

Seven Books I Hope to Read in 2014

Mystagogy

Are you looking for a book or two to read, on the topics of contemplation or mysticism? I thought I'd offer a twist on the typical blog post where books get reviewed. Here is a list of seven books I hope to read, ideally sometime this year. Some of these books are brand new, others a few years old, others older still. They all touch on contemplative prayer, the Christian mystery, and/or interspirituality, in some form or fashion. A disclaimer: copies of three of these seven books were … [Read more...]

The Kenosis of Clutter

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True confession time: I'm a clutter bug. I always have been, with books, CDs, and other forms of media being my worst offenses when it comes to acquiring stuff that I never use or under-use. Recently I got library privileges at my local seminary, which has helped some, but I still have the addiction. "Hi, my name is Carl, and I'm a bookaholic." Everyone in unison now: "Hi, Carl!" What's fascinating about all the books strewn (yes, no other verb will do) all about my house is that they … [Read more...]

The Fullness of Our Destiny

Pollard

I picked up a copy of an old book called The Laughter of God: At Ease With Prayer by Trappistine nun Miriam Pollard from the used book tent at the Monastery of the Holy Spirit's Fall Festival earlier this month. It's an insightful book which seeks to foster a sense of prayer as a means of entering into intimacy with God — the God who laughs and loves, a healthy corrective to the frightening God of judgment and wrath that so often seems to be the stock in trade of old-style religion. Here is a … [Read more...]

Deep Listening

The other day when several folks gathered at a church in Atlanta to participate in the Shalem Institute's 40th Anniversary "Circle the World in Prayer" vigil, one participant talked about a wonderful teaching she once received from Jerry May, who was a senior fellow at Shalem and the author of such classic books as Will & Spirit and Addiction & Grace. My friend shared an idea that May spoke of, called "deep listening." As we enter into silence, we consciously choose to let go of the … [Read more...]

Why Contemplation is Revolutionary (Conclusion)

receive

This is the final part of a series on “Why Contemplation is Revolutionary.” If you want to start at the beginning, follow this link: The Archbishop and the Community Theologian. We've made our way through the quotations from Archbishop Rowan Williams and community theologian Kenneth Leech. We've looked at contemplation as a means for transformation. In the silence of "being still and knowing God," contemplation hones our awareness of the chaos within us (which fosters humility), but also … [Read more...]


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