In Pursuit of Silence: A Quiet Movie with Much to Say

"Silence is where we speak something deeper than our words...""Silence returns us to what is real."These are two of many jewels of insight spoken over the course of In Pursuit of Silence, a luminous and vitally important movie, which, as far as I am concerned, everyone needs to see.In 2014 I interviewed the film's director Patrick Shen (read the interview here), and now I have had the privilege to screen the film ahead of its North American debut later this month at the SXSW Festival … [Read more...]

Books and a Film: All About Silence

I would love to attend the South by Southwest Film Festival in Austin next month — if for no other reason than to be at the North American premiere of the movie In Pursuit of Silence. Here's the latest trailer for this "meditative film about our relationship with sound and the impact of noise on our lives."http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CDTxstUyrM8So if you live in or near Austin, or are attending SXSW, go see this movie (they haven't announced time and location yet, so keep an eye on the … [Read more...]

What Are We Afraid Of?

I've been reading Bill Bryson's charming and delightful book on the English language, The Mother Tongue, and ran across this delicious tidbit:English speakers dread silence. We are all familiar with the uncomfortable feeling that overcomes us when a conversation palls. Studies have shown that when a pause reaches four seconds, one or more of the conversationalists will invariably blurt something — a fatuous comment on the weather, a startled cry of "Gosh, is that the time?" — rather than let th … [Read more...]

Emptiness and Non-Attachment

Last week I wrote about the difference between how Catholics understand meditation and contemplation, based on material found in the Catholic Catechism. A reader left the following comment on that post: We rest in God. But we do not empty our minds. We are always in communication with God. Prayer is focusing on God and we praise him for who He is, we intercede for others, and we put our requests to Him. We align our wills with His in prayer. Never do we make our minds a 'spiritual vacuum' for … [Read more...]

Talking about “Befriending Silence”

Earlier today I joined Deborah Arca, one of the editors of Patheos, for a Skype conversation about my new book, Befriending Silence. We talked about Cistercian spirituality and how it can be a blessings for everyone, even monks and nuns.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c0vImOYGirU … [Read more...]

Seven Ways the Mystics Inspire Us Today

One of my favorite quotations comes from Karl Rahner: "The Christian of the future will be a mystic or will not exist."It's a prophetic statement, from a man who died in 1984. When paired with the demographic realities of the last 30 years (Americans who identify as Christian comprised 85% of the population in 1985, but only 70% of the population today, while the so-called "nones" — people without religious affiliation — grew from 8% in '85 to 16% today), it's fair to say that Rahner's "fut … [Read more...]

What to Say to the Nay-Sayers: Talking About Contemplation With Its Critics

If you are active in a church or other faith community, and you are drawn to (or practicing) silent prayer, if you talk about it with others you will likely, sooner or later, hear somebody say something along these lines:"Isn't meditation Buddhist? Or Hindu? Christians don't need to do that sort of thing.""Sitting in silence? It's just a waste of time. We are called to be serving others, not avoiding them.""Contemplation and mysticism aren't in the Bible. Therefore, they aren't for … [Read more...]