Tell the Truth

One of the ways we can learn to grow in the spiritual life is by simply learning to tell the truth. The truth of what we think, certainly, but I think a more powerful truth is the truth of how we feel. Sometimes what we think is an elaborate cocoon we spin to distract us from what we feel. Telling the truth can be a way to put all those glorious thoughts into perspective and get down to the nitty gritty of what's really going on. … [Read more...]

Truth and Mercy, Justice and Peace

A person reading The Big Book of Christian Mysticism emailed me this morning to comment on my reflection on the paradox of mercy and justice in chapter seven. He sent me a link to an essay by the peacemaker John Paul Lederach, which is in essence a meditation on Psalm 85, especially verse 10: Steadfast love and faithfulness will meet; righteousness and peace will kiss each other. Lederach relates this to his experience working for conflict transformation in Nicaragua. He ponders on what a … [Read more...]

Knowing Just Enough to Be Dangerous

When I reviewed William Riordan's Divine Light yesterday, I spoke in general terms about how I felt the book did a good job at offering a positive view of the ancient theologian Denys (or Pseudo-Dionysius) the Areopagite, who has been dismissed by many Christians because he is clearly not a New Testament author, as he claims to be.I didn't get into the nuances of Riordan's treatment of Neo-Platonism, because, frankly, that's not my area of expertise.Last night a commenter pointed out a … [Read more...]

Quote for the Day

He who begins by loving Christianity better than Truth, will proceed by loving his own Sect or Church better than Christianity, and end in loving himself better than all. — Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Aids to Reflection … [Read more...]

God is love (and the Eskimo words for snow)

There's a popular urban legend that the Eskimo have many words for snow. It's kind of like saying "Europeans have many words for water" — there is more than one language among the Inuit, and even within one language, often various words are employed to describe similar phenomena: think of the English words river, rain and ocean, for example. The urban legend persists, though, because it asks an interesting cultural question: how do languages evolve to parse out distinctions in meaning? The Urban … [Read more...]

Mysticism feels good

Back in the 1990s I saw a bumper sticker that declared, simply, "The Truth Feels Good." I've thought about that bumper sticker a lot since then. I think it's a fascinating declaration. Lately I've begun to wonder how it squares with Christian doctrine. Christianity certainly has an ethic of sufffering, victimization and martyrdom, none of which (in my experience) feel so great. But the point is, of course, to seek a higher good than merely one's own fleeing feelings. It is painful to devote … [Read more...]