Contemplation, Fundamentalism, and Healthy Conflict

Another column for Patheos — this one might be a bit controversial — I originally titled it  Is Contemplation the Enemy of Fundamentalism? but the Patheos editors shortened that to the slightly more provocative Fundamentalism vs. Contemplation? There's a bit of a backstory here. At work I've had a couple of run-ins with fundamentalist persons lately, usually complaining because we are a Catholic store but sell books on other religions. I also recently read a baldly mean-spirited blog post from a … [Read more...]

Concerning the Heart and the Skeleton of the Body of Christ

Following last week's post Bhakti Jesus, I've been pondering the relationship between devotionalism and contemplation. In Centering Prayer, Narcissism and Relativism I considered the dangers of a contemplative practice cut off from a devotional framework. For example, engaging in a centering prayer practice without relying on discursive practices like the Daily Office, or even lectio divina, places the seeker at risk of getting lost in a kind of spiritual funhouse where one's own "experiences" … [Read more...]

Harvey Cox on Fundamentalism

My brother alerted me to an article that ran in the Boston Globe on Sunday by Harvey Cox, called "Why Fundamentalism Will Fail." Among other things, this hopeful essay suggests that fundamentalism is on the way out because mysticism is on the way in.I only hope he's right.Here's a link to the article: … [Read more...]

The Epistemology of Post-Fundamentalism

A friend of mine, formerly a devout Christian who is now an atheist (and, unfortunately, a rather bitter and cynical one at that), wrote this to me recently: I got into religion as a literal believer, and I became disappointed when I discovered that I was repeatedly lied to (the earth is not 6000 years old, for instance, and now I suspect that Jesus is not God in the flesh, any more than anyone else is anyway). Sigh.I understand his feeling of being lied to. But I am reminded of Meister … [Read more...]

So what does Centering Prayer have in common with Rock and Roll?

When I was in high school, I used to hear charismatic Christians talk about how rock and roll music conjured demons. "It's in the drum beat," they said. "It's the same drum beat that witchdoctors use in primitive cultures to call up their evil spirits." Basically, if you listened to rock music, no matter what your intentions may have been, you were (according to these folks) unintentionally making yourself vulnerable to the malevolent influence of opportunistic spirits.It's interesting how I … [Read more...]

The Year of Living Biblically

The Year of Living Biblically: One Man's Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible By A. J. Jacobs New York: Simon & Schuster, 2007 Review by Carl McColmanBasically a one-joke book, this amusing but by turns insightful and surprisingly heartfelt memoir traces the efforts of A. J. Jacobs, a thoroughly secular and agnostic New York writer, to devote an entire year to adhering to Biblical teachings, mandates, and laws, as fully as possible. Anyone with even a casual knowledge … [Read more...]

Lucifer’s Pawn?

Yesterday at the Lay-Cistercians gathering a friend of mine gave me a flyer for an event coming up in a couple of weeks featuring Moira Noonan, who wrote a book called Ransomed from Darkness: The New Age, Christian Faith, and the Battle for Souls. I'm familiar with the book: a woman who had been praying for my soul ever since my Pagan days sent it to me when she learned that I had become a Catholic. Here's what the flyer says about Noonan: Raised as a Catholic, author Moira Noonan began … [Read more...]