Three Video Clips: Speaking of Mysticism in Portland, OR

Here are three brief excerpts from a talk I gave in Portland, OR, in October 2010 on the topic of Christian mysticism. They were filmed and produced by Cathy Zheutlin of Holy Rascals — a media company that produces videos and webinars for the spiritually adventurous. In the first one, I tell an amusing story of one of my monastic mentors, Father Anthony, who gave me some grief about the difficulty of defining the word "mysticism"...So in this next video, I offer less of a "definition" of … [Read more...]

Answering the Contemplative Call ebooks now available

I'm happy to announce that three different ebook versions of Answering the Contemplative Call are now available. Pick your preferred version:Kindle VersionNook VersioniBooks VersionAnd of course, if you'd rather have the old fashioned paper-&-ink version:Buy it at AmazonBut it at Barnes & NobleBut it at an Independent Bookstore (Online or Near You)Hope you enjoy the book. … [Read more...]

A shout out to Evelyn Underhill and her wonderful book

Over the next few weeks or so I'll be posting four new videos on Youtube.One will be an "about me" video, one in which I talk about my three most recent books, one in which I talk about an idea I first presented at the Patheos website on "compass points for the spiritual life," and finally, this short little segment on "the book that changed my life." Here you go, it's only a minute long: About two years ago I gave a paper on Evelyn Underhill's Mysticism at a conference on the … [Read more...]

Getting Started in Contemplative Practice

A reader writes:I hope you might be able to write me a quick note about a good way to get started in a more contemplative/mystical oriented Christianity.  I was involved in religious fundamentalism for most of my adult life and now I am trying to recover from that.  I am hoping you might point me to some books that would help me embark on this path.  Thanks for your time.Thanks for a great question. This is actually the subject of my book, Answering the Contemplative Call, but I'll go ah … [Read more...]

Mysticism for those who don’t like “mysticism”

A reader writes:In the first chapter of The Big Book of Christian Mysticism you offer your sense that mysticism offers the serious practitioner the possibility of experience of God that is transforming and which then enhances the world around us. I firmly agree. But does that mean such a transformative relationship is not open to those who can't accept the value of mysticism, or is it that the depth of the relationship is potentially greater through the pursuit of prayer, meditation and … [Read more...]

“Eleven years of Catholic education had told me nothing about Christian meditation.”

Here's an interesting article published the other day in the Utah Statesman by a fellow named Michael Sowder: Finding Home in India. The author tells the story of his spiritual journey, and it's a story I've heard again and again. Basically, it runs like this: born into a Christian family, Sowder (and countless others like him) finds himself befuddled by the sterile Christian education he received as a child. Eventually he  goes on to find meaning and insight in contemplative spirituality … [Read more...]


A reader of my blog has written to me to ask for advice on reading the mystics. He notes, "they embrace very traditional theology that is awkward for me in the 21st century."Indeed.There is no one single "Christian mystical theology." I would be suspicious of anyone who tries to distill the teachings of all the great mystics into a single summarized statement of "this is what you do in order to become a mystic." It just doesn't work that way. For one thing, the mystics stretch across two … [Read more...]