The Tyranny of Labels

Several folks have pointed out to me that my response to critical comments left on this blog lately has, to put it bluntly, lacked humility. I've allowed myself to get into a place of defensiveness, and that has colored both my blogging and my commenting. To such an observation, I fear I can only say nolo contendere. At least one person has declared that he will no longer be reading this blog. I'm sorry he feels he needs to go, but I understand why he's been disappointed here. I'm  sorry that my … [Read more...]

Is Christian Mysticism “Special”?

Yesterday morning I received quite an interesting comment, posted on my webpage about Walter Hilton, from a man who I believe has never commented on this blog or website before. It's the kind of comment that reveals just how much diversity there can be among people who share a common interest in mysticism — for this person's idea of what constitutes "real" mysticism differs significantly from my own views. His comments are rather provocative, and hopefully I'm not being too snarky in my r … [Read more...]

Chapters 17 and 18

A reader writes, in response to last Monday's post: can you please comment on chapter17 and 18 of the cloud of unknowing as i think very relevant to this discussion. it is certainly an ungoing struggle with myself as within my own mind there is ongoing dialogue between active and contemplative life the author of the cloud seems to reject the idea that the two forms can exist in one s life and i would definately agree………after one receives spiritual direction to authenticate the yearning of the spi … [Read more...]

Lectio Divina and the English Mystics

I've been reading Carmen Butcher's delightful new translation of The Cloud of Unknowing, and today I read chapter 35, which discusses the importance of lectio divina in the contemplative life: The contemplative beginner must, however, engage in certain exercises. These are the lesson, the meditation, and the orison, better known as reading, reflecting, and praying. You can learn about these three activities in another book, where the author explains them better than I can, so I won't go into … [Read more...]

Quote for the Day

The hound that runs after the hare only because he sees the other hounds running will rest when he is tired, or go home again. But if he runs because he’s seen the hare, he won’t stop, however tired he gets, until he has caught it. — Walter Hilton, The Stairway of Perfection … [Read more...]

Quote for the Day

The hound that runs after the hare only because he sees the other hounds running will rest when he is tired, or go home again. But if he runs because he’s seen the hare, he won’t stop, however tired he gets, until he has caught it. — Walter Hilton, The Stairway of Perfection … [Read more...]

Quote for the Day

In their ignorance some think they do not desire God unless they are always calling him with the words of their mouth or else by words of desire in their hearts, as if I were to say, 'Ah, Lord, bring me to your bliss', 'Lord save me', or something of this kind. These words are good whether sounded in the mouth or formed in the heart, for they stir a man's heart to the desire of God. Nevertheless, a pure but wordless thought of God or of any spiritual thing — virtues, the manhood of Christ, the j … [Read more...]


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