Natural Mysticism and “The Genuine Article”

A reader writes: Hi Carl, I have gathered that Christian mystics distinguish between ‘natural mysticism’ and what they see as the genuine article. However I am unclear on the difference. In addition I wonder how this critique maps onto mysticism in other traditions – does it amount to anything more than faith or belief in the necessity of orthodox Christian doctrine as the ‘skeleton’ of practice? Thanks for a great question, and I'm sorry that for now I can only give the briefest of replies (toda … [Read more...]

Visiting my Father on Mother’s Day

Both of Fran's parents, and my mother, have all passed away. So we visited my father on Mother's Day. That in itself is not too remarkable, as we visit dad almost every Sunday. I told Fran more than once that I appreciated her spending Mother's Day — "her" day — going to a nursing home to visit my father. "I love him," was her simple, and completely typical, response.Dad has had Parkinson's disease for well over a decade now, with a variety of other ailments, from some heart issues to a scare w … [Read more...]

“Counterfeit” Mysticism and Oppositional Consciousness

The other day a woman named Diane Stranz posted a lengthy comment to my Contemporary Mystical Experience page, in which I quote the passage from my book The Aspiring Mystic describing an extraordinary experience I received as a teenager while attending a Lutheran youth weekend. In the passage, I go on to mention that, at a later date, I experimented with psychedelics. Ms. Stranz has some interesting thoughts in response to my experience, and I quote her in part: It is my belief, and the belief … [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...]

Resistible Grace

Many of my readers might be surprised to learn that I believe in the doctrine of hell.Universalism is very appealing, and given my experiential and intuitive sense of divine love, as well as the splendid description of the same by Julian of Norwich, I simply cannot understand the notion that God is in the business of damning souls. I think the notion of damnation, of divine wrath meted out to the impenitent, is mostly a caricature of our very human thirst for revenge and punishment projected … [Read more...]


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