August 29, 2019

I can’t remember the first time it happened in prayer. But I remember the first conversation I tried to have about it. “My prayer has been… I mean, it’s been wonderful.” My eyes sparkled, but I struggled to find the words. “It’s like… it’s spousal. It’s like my heart blooms open, to a place deeper than I knew existed—and God pours himself out there. Sometimes it leaves me breathless!” I shifted slightly in my chair and glanced at the floor…. Read more

August 21, 2019

Hildegard of Bingen is, to use one writer’s phrase (William Harmless), a mystical multimedia artist. She wrote, lived, preached and practiced natural healing, composed music, wrote a morality play, ran a convent, and most famously of all, experienced visions. Her main theological works form a trilogy in which she interprets her complex and colorful visions through the lens of Christian theology. Not only are Hildegard’s visions beautiful, and bizarre, they are actually illustrated, each vision piercing through the page with a… Read more

August 14, 2019

Christ is not Jesus’s last name, as Richard Rohr says so powerfully in his latest book The Universal Christ. Jesus’s last name would have likely been, following the custom, Jesus bar Joseph as in, Jesus “son of Joseph.” But if Christ is not Jesus’ last name, what does it mean to call Jesus, Christ? Christ comes from the Greek word Christos, which is a translation of a Hebrew word that means Messiah. Christ is the Messiah, we might say, except if… Read more

August 5, 2019

Marianne Williamson’s focus on love, and her new book “The Politics of Love,” make her the anti-Trump candidate in a showdown of love and fear. I am impressed by her presence in the debates—and yet I find her spiritual beliefs and background troubling. I’ll start with the good, and then do a deep dive into the complicated, less-than-good. Read more

July 29, 2019

The Busy Trap has snagged many readers, I’m sure. I know it has snagged me. We wear our busyness as a way of boasting to the world that we are significant and that we matter. Writer Tim Kreider coined this phrase “the busy trap” in a memorable NYTimes oped. He pointed out that “Busy…has become the default response when you ask anyone how they’re doing. Busy. Crazy busy! So busy.” He writes: “Busyness serves as a kind of existential reassurance, a… Read more

July 26, 2019

Note: This article appears in SEEN Journal, Issue XVII, a publication of Christians in the Visual Arts and is used with permission. I discovered Dostoyevsky’s Russian masterpiece The Brothers Karamazov while a senior at a fundamentalist boarding school for missionary kids. My gentle, wise AP English teacher did not assign the nine hundred and eighty-six page book, but took pleasure in recommending classic literature to eager readers like myself to devour outside of class. If I’m honest, more than half of… Read more

July 19, 2019

Why is contemplative prayer so needed in our time? What good does the mystic generate in a world of climate crisis, racial trauma, and violence? And truly, if contemplative prayer does not have something to offer to a world, for example, in which immigrants and refugees are scapegoated and violently marginalized, then contemplative prayer doesn’t have legs to stand on. Yet I believe that contemplative prayer–along with sustained action against injustice!–is the primary healing path forward. Here’s why, using a teaching… Read more

July 17, 2019

So dark the night!…I went with no one knowing upon a lover’s quest –Ah, the sheer grace! – so blest, my eager heart with love aflame and glowing.” –John of the Cross, The Dark Night of the Soul Dark nights are inescapable. As Dante put it, we sometimes find ourselves in a dark wood. For the Hebrew prophet Jonah, it’s not a dark wood in which he finds himself, but a stormy night at sea.  The dark night is that space… Read more

June 7, 2019

God wants to meet with us. It goes both ways: we want to meet with God. Something deep in our human being yearns for more, to commune, meet with and contemplate divinity. But we often think of contemplation as something that only monks do, something that is an escape, something for people who have more time and care less about the world’s crises of injustice. The ways that people contemplate God in the Bible are the opposite of these stereotypes. Contemplation… Read more

June 4, 2019

Is Earth a sacred place for us, given by the hand of the Creator – or have we lost sight of Earth’s sacredness? Pope Francis, in the encyclical Laudato Si’, shows the grave consequences of our blindness to the sacred, living earth: ‘“Laudato si’, mi’ Signore” –“Praise be to you, my Lord.” In the words of his beautiful canticle, Saint Francis of Assisi reminds us that our common home is like a sister with whom we share our life and… Read more

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