Advice for a Beginner

A reader posted these questions to my blog this morning: As a novice to Contemplative Prayer I guess I should take the introduction pace . Any suggestions ? Also, Carl, do you consider Henri Nouwen a mystic? I'll answer your second question first. I certainly have the sense of Henri Nouwen as a contemplative, based on what I know of him and his work. As you may have surmised if you've poked around this blog very much, though, I tend to be reticent about applying the word "mystic" to people … [Read more...]

Radical Forgiveness

There's a man here in the Atlanta area (I think he's from Britain originally) named Colin Tipping who has written a book called Radical Forgiveness. I haven't read it, so I can't say too much about the book one way or the other. But I love the title, that alone makes the book worth considering. I thought about it the other day when I was flipping through a different book, one which we sell at the Abbey Store (alas, I can't remember which one, but it was a garden-variety book on Christian prayer) … [Read more...]

Mystical Books on

Okay, so here's the kind of thing I do when I have too much time on my hands. This morning I created a book list on, featuring my forthcoming book (yes, of course, this is all about marketing) but also 39 other, far more worthy titles on the subjects of Christian mysticism and contemplative spirituality (like the just-released Complete Mystical Works of Meister Eckhart, pictured to the right). If you are looking to fortify your library of books on this wonderful topic, then follow … [Read more...]


I'm currently reading three books on prayer:Prayer: Conversing with God by Rosalind Rinker. A classic evangelical book from the 1950s about developing greater intimacy and faith in God through unscripted, conversational prayer. Praying Our Experiences by Joseph F. Schmidt. A guide to discerning the prayerful quality of all of life's journey, including our feelings and our struggle to know and discern truth. Prayerfulness by Robert J. Wicks. Prayer is not just something we do, it is an … [Read more...]


Is there a relationship between the charismatic renewal and the mystical tradition? Years ago I bought a book called Contemplation and the Charismatic Renewal. I never read it — maybe I should go back and read it now — but I liked the basic message as described in the blurb on the back cover: that the fervent excitement of charismatic experience can and perhaps ought to mature into the deep loving silence of contemplative practice.I hung out with charismatic Christians for about a year or so ba … [Read more...]


One of the monks who is reading the manuscript of The Big Book of Christian Mysticism teased me yesterday, by saying "It looks like you are just trying to get people into the pews!"I defended myself by saying, "No, I'm insisting that community is an essential, foundational aspect of Christian mysticism. Granted, for many people, Christian community means the church. But I really do have room for a broad variety of types of community."Our culture (I'm speaking here of North America, but I … [Read more...]


Check out my to-do list:I want to lose about 25 pounds. I want to learn to play the bass guitar (and, for that matter, the regular guitar, but first things first). I want to de-clutter the garage (ay yi yi) — and come to think of it, there's plenty of clutter inside the house that needs dealing with as well. I want to complete two new book proposals, and edit one of my out-of-print books for the publication of a new/revised edition. I want to improve my daily fidelity to contemplative p … [Read more...]