Coming back from the desert

No longer are such centres of solitude and critical reflection located only in the remote regions. The last decade has seen the growth of urban contemplatives, communities of Christian women and men who seek to live lives of prayer and silence within the urban scene. It was a movement predicted over twenty-five years ago by the Jesuit Jean Daniélou:'The Constantinian phase in Christian history is coming to an end ... The flight into the desert was a revolutionary innovation, lasting from the … [Read more...]

The Hidden Tradition of Christian Mysticism

This is an article I wrote for the summer 2010 issue of Evolve! magazine.Karl Rahner, one of the most renowned Christian theologians of the twentieth century, once famously remarked that “the Christian of the future will be a mystic or will not exist at all.” For people whose experience of Christianity is, often, little more than a religion invested in obedience and in patriarchal morality, this seems to be a bold statement. After all, mysticism implies not legalistic religion, but living spi … [Read more...]

The Ones We Leave Behind

I've been thinking about the relationship between contemplatives and others. What does it mean to pursue the mystical life, when so many people have no desire for, interest in, or aptitude for contemplative practice? Myers-Briggs personality type indicators suggest that only about 1% or so of the general population are "natural" mystics. Assume another 2 percent or so have enough of an interest in the contemplative life to pursue it, even without the inborn aptitude. Still, that leaves only 5% … [Read more...]