Embedded Mysticism

Thanks to Peter for alerting me to a fascinating review of a new book called Mystics by William Harmless. Harmless examines a variety of both Christian and non-Christian mystics and interpreters of mysticism, and draws the conclusion that mysticism is so fundamentally embedded in its cultural and religious/theological context that the modern/romanticist notion that suggests "all mysticism is the same" is called into question. I have long felt that it is a mistake to see mysticism as reducible to … [Read more...]

The Pope and Pseudo-Dionysius

Two weeks ago Pope Benedict XVI spoke on the ancient mystic, Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite, whom the pope regards as a potentially important voice in east-west dialogue. It's exciting to see a major apophatic mystic get mentioned in the press, thanks to a papal endorsement.Read an English translation of the pope's talk on Pseudo-Dionysius … [Read more...]

In Between the Worlds

Yesterday while working at the Abbey Store I got a surprise: a man came in whom I recognized, but couldn't quite place. We spoke, and he reminded me who he was. I knew him years ago, when I was active in the Atlanta Neopagan community — and he was a Wiccan elder.It turns out he's discovered contemplative Christianity and has fallen in love with it. He spoke enthusiastically about meditating with the monks in the monastery church. I told him that I had become a Catholic in 2005, and he replied, … [Read more...]

More Thoughts About Christianity and Paganism

Judy's comment on my post yesterday concerning Quaker Pagans got me to thinking.Paganism and Christianity make for two very interesting spiritual cultures. In some ways they are practically mirror images of one another, in other ways they are so different from each other that they are like night and day. But what night and day and mirror images have in common is that each is somehow linked to the other.I have long felt that, on at least some levels, Neopaganism represents a new religious … [Read more...]

Orthodox/Interfaith

One of my desires as a Christian contemplative — and as a writer about the mystical life — is to celebrate the orthodox heart within Christianity. By "orthodox" I mean engaging with key elements of Christian tradition, including the teachings regarding the Holy Trinity, the Incarnation, salvation and the Passion, the Sacraments as means of grace, and the Church as Mystical Body. I try to safeguard against several forces active in our world today that would pull against such an understanding of Ch … [Read more...]

Friends, it’s a movement…

So what do Thomas Merton, Thich Nhat Hanh, Raimon Panikkar, Ken Wilber, Bede Griffiths, Ravi Ravindra and Henry Le Saux (aka Swami Abhishiktananda) have in common?They've all done work involving the question of Christian spirituality in conversation with one or more forms of eastern mysticism. Some of them are Christians, some not, and at least one of them seems to have radically blurred the line between the two. For some of these folks, the east-west conversation seems to be the central or … [Read more...]

Pagans in the Pews

Here's an encouraging report from theooze.com about an evangelical church in Salem, Massachusetts, that is working hard to create meaningful dialogue between Christians and Neopagans:Beyond the Pall … [Read more...]


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