Contemplation in a Consumer Society (Why Contemplation is Revolutionary, Part Two)

This is the second part of a series. If you're just joining the conversation, begin with The Archbishop and the Community Theologian and then proceed to Why Contemplation is Revolutionary (Part One).Today we're looking at the second of ten points drawn from quotations on contemplation from Archbishop Rowan Williams and Father Kenneth Leech. Today's point, quoting the archbishop directly: contemplation is "the key to the essence of a renewed humanity that is capable of seeing the world … [Read more...]

Why Contemplation is Revolutionary (Part One)

In yesterday's post (The Archbishop and the Community Theologian) I quoted two renowned living contemplatives — emeritus Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams and author/community theologian Kenneth Leech — both speaking of the communal and social implications of contemplative prayer.Naysayers, stand aside. Contemplative prayer is not about navel-gazing or self-absorbed "spiritual experiences." Indeed, anyone who explores contemplation only out of a desire for mystical experience or per … [Read more...]

The Archbishop and the Community Theologian

I've posted both of the following quotes in this blog before, but they are such wonderful quotes that I find myself going back to them again and again. Last night I taught a class on contemplative spirituality at an Episcopal Church in Gainesville, GA, and I used the first of these two quotes. It's from the former Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, on the occasion of his addressing the Catholic Synod of Bishops in Rome: the first time an Anglican Archbishop ever gave such an address. The … [Read more...]

Contemplative Prayer in Decatur

Wow. I feel so privileged to have been part of the first contemplative gathering at First Christian Church of Decatur, Georgia.It was a very simple thing, actually. There were over 20 of us (I counted 21, but someone else said 22, maybe I forgot to count myself) gathered together in one of the education rooms at the church. We sat in a circle and after introducing ourselves, we shared a communal exercise based on the ancient monastic practice of lectio divina (sacred reading). … [Read more...]

The Silences of the Lamb (of God)

Speaking (or writing) about silence is an enterprise embedded in paradox; every word represents a departure from, an obstacle to, the subject at hand. Oxford don Diarmaid MacCulloch (who created a splash with his Christianity: The First Three Thousand Years) begins this improbable task of recounting the story of Christian silence by appealing to a dog who did not bark in a Sherlock Holmes story. The great detective discerns a clue in the animal's silence (a dog that does not bark is a dog who … [Read more...]

Following the Path

I think a lot about the trend toward more and more people identifying themselves as "spiritual but not religious." I know this polarizes a lot of people — some churchgoers, even liberal ones like UCC Minister Lillian Daniel, dismiss this kind of spirituality as symptomatic of our culture of narcissism; while other folks, like Rabbi Rami Shapiro, see it as a positive sign: a sign of being (in Rabbi Rami's words) "spiritually independent." Here's another way to look at it: some folks blame the S … [Read more...]

Why Contemplation Matters

Two significant insights into the importance of contemplation crossed my desk this week. The first, Reversing the Exodus, comes from the Association of Religion Data Archives, where writer David Briggs looks at research currently being done to understand religious congregations (across faith traditions) that are successful in engaging membership and participation of young adults. Briggs compiles a list of seven characteristics common to such youth-friendly communities, and some of them ("Keep up … [Read more...]


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