Craving, Avarice, and Deadly Sin

Had an interesting exchange on Twitter over the weekend. It began with I made the following tweet:According to Dorothee Soelle, the Christian "deadly sin" of avarice equals the Buddhist concept of craving.Here is the quote from Dorothee Soelle which inspired my pithy little comment.Possessions are often regarded as a kind of life-threatening drug, impeding the power of judgment. 'Sloth and cowardice creep in with every dollar or guinea we have to guard.' Having contributes to rendering … [Read more...]

“Counterfeit” Mysticism and Oppositional Consciousness

The other day a woman named Diane Stranz posted a lengthy comment to my Contemporary Mystical Experience page, in which I quote the passage from my book The Aspiring Mystic describing an extraordinary experience I received as a teenager while attending a Lutheran youth weekend. In the passage, I go on to mention that, at a later date, I experimented with psychedelics. Ms. Stranz has some interesting thoughts in response to my experience, and I quote her in part: It is my belief, and the belief … [Read more...]

The Two Faces of Restlessness

Yesterday at the Lay Cistercian Gathering Day we had a class on the monastic vow of stability (Cistercian monks have three vows: Stability, Obedience, and Conversion of Life). The brother who taught the class spoke at one point about restlessness as a tendency within us to undermine stability. I shared with him and the class that I wasn't entirely comfortable with this idea, because, it seemed to me, that restlessness comes in more than one flavor. Certainly, there is the kind of restlessness … [Read more...]

Matthew 7:1

I had a dream last night in which I was counseling a woman, perhaps a little bit younger than me, who had struggled with addiction much of her adult life. Eventually she began to turn her life around and became involved in a small church. Unfortunately, she still would act out from time to time, and this impacted her religious life when, at a church picnic, she engaged in a sexual encounter with another member of the church — a married man.As she told me this story, she mentioned that as a new … [Read more...]

Quote for the Day

Contemplation in the age of Auschwitz and Dachau, Solovky and Karaganda is something darker and more fearsome than contemplation in the age of the Church Fathers. For that very reason, the urge to seek a path of spiritual light can be a subtle temptation to sin. It certainly is sin if it means a frank rejection of the burden of our age, an escape into unreality and spiritual illusion, so as not to share the misery of other men. — Thomas Merton, The Inner Experience: Notes on Contemplation … [Read more...]

Acedia & Me

Acedia & Me: A Marriage, Monks, and a Writer’s Life By Kathleen Norris New York: Riverhead Books, 2008 Review by Carl McColmanAcedia — a spiritual state of soul-weariness, boredom, or perhaps even wilful depression — is hardly the kind of topic I would expect to see an entire book devoted to; not even a book by an author renowned for her keen insight into the ongoing relevance of monastic spirituality in our time. But Kathleen Norris is capable, like few other authors I know of who are writ … [Read more...]

The Vatican in the news

Mike Morrell has his ear to the ground (or, at least, his eyes on his keywords) and has brought to my attention several interesting news tidbits concerning the Vatican this week.First, we learn that Benedict XVI is interested in issuing a conciliatory statement about Martin Luther — while I wouldn't go so far as to believe the pope intends to "rehabilitate" the man who unleashed the Reformation, I do think this is a hopeful sign for future ecumenical dialogue. I suppose it took having a German … [Read more...]