Why Contemplation is Revolutionary (Conclusion)

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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...]

Quote for the Day

In many of the houses of the poor in Africa and Latin America, there are no locks on the doors. In fact, in many houses, there are no doors. In the U.S. we have at least two doors per household, and two or three locks per door. Is this a symptom of anything? As a nation, America is constantly fortifying itself with bigger missiles and better guns... What does this say about our priorities? Christians are often the worst of all in promoting a national security state, while still daring to read … [Read more...]

Quote for the Day

I said to my soul, be still, and wait without hope For hope would be hope for the wrong thing; wait without love For love would be love of the wrong thing; there is yet faith But the faith and the love and the hope are all in the waiting Wait without thought, for you are not ready for thought: So the darkness shall be the light, and the stillness the dancing. — T. S. Eliot, from "East Coker," The Four Quartets … [Read more...]

Believe in = Embrace the Mystery of

I spoke with a friend recently about the concept of belief. We talked about the challenges of believing in the postmodern world. Joni Mitchell sums it up nicely in her song "The Same Situation": Still I sent up my prayer Wondering where it had to go With heaven full of astronauts And the Lord on death row... Much of the contemporary difficulty, I think, comes from the fact that belief has, culturally speaking, come to imply a sort of suppression of rational or cognitive doubt: "I believe in … [Read more...]

Quote for the Day

The cloud of unknowing is that dark and obscure knowledge and love that fills the mind of the contemplative when, void of images and discursive reasoning, it rests silently in God in mystical sleep. The knowledge now suffusing the mind is only that of a faith which, nakedly divorced from any human consideration whatsoever, finds God's truth in His revelation in Christ; and from this knowledge springs a love that touches the very essence of God, bringing yet a higher wisdom. This darkness of … [Read more...]

Concerning Myth and Miracles

One of the fun things about blogging is the fact that I'm always getting in trouble, one way or the other. Here's my latest infraction — on Thursday when I wrote about the Annunciation, I dared to say "Whether the Annunciation be a miracle or a myth, it’s a powerful story that is well worth our consideration." This was too much for a reader named Andy who commented: I’ve been following your blog with interest for a few weeks now, but I suppose I finally see I’m just in the wrong place … [Read more...]

Finding the True Path

A reader of my blog has emailed me the following questions. They seem to involve the question of how to embrace the Christian mystery when one cannot be sure if it is the "true" path or not. As a former neo-pagan, didn't you find getting to grips with Christianity's necessity to hold a set number of essential beliefs? Don't you have any doubts and don't you find them restricting? I was wondering if you knew much about Islamic mysticism - sufism - and if you had ever written something about it … [Read more...]

From the Wilderness to Mount Tabor

I'm still pondering the categories of "wild" and "tame" in relation to God, to the mystical life, and to my own work as a writer. If you're just joining the conversation, read yesterday's post and comments to get a sense of where I am. My fellow blogger Benjamin David Steele (whose original thoughts sparked my reflection) posted on both his and my blog that he meant no insult by describing my blog as "tame." I want to go on the record as saying I never saw that as an insult. I saw it as … [Read more...]

Faith

For truly I tell you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you. — Matthew 17:20 NRSV One concept I have run into again and again, both among Christians as well as among others with an interest in mysticism, is the idea that mysticism is about experience which is somehow different from faith. The logic seems to go like this: as the author of the letter to the Hebrews puts … [Read more...]

That which is different

My brother Don and I were chatting this morning, and I mentioned an evangelical friend of mine who has a "secret" interest in Catholic mysticism. Don, who describes himself as an "agnostic hedonist," made the following fascinating observation: You know, the evangelical movement could do so much good, but people's fear of that which is different just screws things up. Now, in their defense, the fear of "that which is different" is not unique to evangelicals (or to Christians in general). In fact, … [Read more...]