Quote for the Day

People in the postmodern era have lost confidence in the idea of perpetual progress advanced by the sciences and technology. They have become distrustful of and disenchanted with authority, which includes that of the church. They value experience over against outside authority, a faith based on experience over against one that is ecclesiastically pre-formulated, and a plurality of voices that are of equal value over against a singular voice that makes all final decisions. Authenticity, being … [Read more...]

Concerning Theology, Straw, and Basic Kindness

In New Seeds of Contemplation, Merton made this acerbic, but I think on-the-mark, comment: "Beware of the contemplative who says that theology is all straw before he has ever bothered to read any." Historically, theology and mysticism were not two separate disciplines, but rather two sides of the same coin. Theology, or "God-talk," sought to express what in contemplation comes to us as ineffable mysteries. Why bother, you might ask, to attempt to speak of what cannot be put into words? Like the … [Read more...]

Quote for the Day

Now if God is beyond distinctions, God is also beyond language. This explains the mystics' playful use of language to subvert itself... Whichever way language is used, God is not named by it. It does not matter if language is used only to deny things of God for these denials always fall short of the mark and have themselves to be denied. Thus apophaticism creates room for a great deal of affirmative language about God (as long as it is remembered that these affirmations also fall short of the … [Read more...]

Christian Mysticism of the Future

One of my gripes with Phyllis Tickle's book The Great Emergence is that she provides little or no insight into where she thinks the church is headed during this period of emergence. I think everyone kind of gets it that post-modernity is a hinge time, where we're after something that no longer works (modernity) and we don't really know yet what it is we're before. (as an aside, I figure it's either going to be a new renaissance that will make the 15th century look like a dress rehearsal, or else … [Read more...]

The Fidelity of Betrayal

The Fidelity of Betrayal: Towards a Church Beyond Belief By Peter Rollins Brewster, MA: Paraclete Press, 2008 Review by Carl McColmanIn this book, Peter Rollins expands and deepens the apophatic/postmodern re-visioning of Christian theology/mystery that he first introduced in his first book, How (Not) to Speak of God. Rollins is a philosopher/theologian whose work appears to be all about dismantling unhelpful boundaries: between philosophy and theology, between church and culture, between … [Read more...]

Ministry in the Emerging Postmodern World

Here is a succinct slide show that begins to describe the important distinctions between modernity and postmodernity, and what a difference that makes for people of faith.[slideshare id=351486&doc=ministry-1208139814839629-9&w=425]I think it's a few years old, but since it's new to me, I figured it might be new to a few other folks as well. Thanks to the ever-resourceful Mike Morrell for passing it on. … [Read more...]

Mysticism After Modernity

Mysticism After Modernity By Don Cupitt Oxford: Blackwell Publishers, Ltd., 1998 Review by Carl McColmanDon Cupitt presents a lucid and stimulating argument for ways to understand mysticism in the postmodern world. He suggests that the modernist understanding of mysticism (in vogue from approximately 1790 to 1970) was based on a fundamental error: the idea that a mystic was a person who had "mystical experiences," a sort of ineffable event which confirmed the truth of religious orthodoxy. Such … [Read more...]