Benedict’s Dharma (New York: Riverhead Books, 2001)

This book is an interesting interfaith experiment — in which four Buddhists (Norman Fischer, Joseph Goldstein, Judith Simmer-Brown and Yifa) reflect on the Holy Rule of Saint Benedict. For Christians, this is an interesting way to see how one of our foundational contemplative texts can be seen by practitioners of other wisdom traditions. While on occasion I found myself arguing with the various writers on one point or another, for the most part Benedict’s Dharma is a respectful, yet honest, contribution to interspiritual dialogue. It also includes an inclusive-language translation of Rule by Patrick Barry, OSB, and commentary from Christian monastics Mary Margaret Funk and David Steindl-Rast.

Christianity and Eastern Meditation: A Creative Synthesis
This five week course (September 9 through October 14, no class on September 23, Yom Kippur) explores how eastern meditation may be integrated into a Christian practice of prayer and contemplation. This is not about “blending” east and west, but about respecting the unique qualities of different traditions, as the best foundation for true interspirituality. While the class will be taught from a Christian perspective, people of all faith traditions (or none) are welcome to participate. Hope to see you there!
Date: September 9, 2015—October 14, 2015
Time: 07:15-08:30 PM
Event: Christianity and Eastern Meditation: A Creative Synthesis
Topic: Spirituality
Sponsor: Neshama Interfaith Center
Venue: Ignatius House
Location: 6700 Riverside Drive NW
Atlanta, GA 30328
More Info: Click here for more information.

To invite me to speak to your community, click here.

Artist, Mystic, Pilgrim, Companion: An Interview with Christine Valters Paintner

The Soul of a Pilgrim

Recently I had the opportunity to interview author and contemplative artist Christine Valters Paintner of the Abbey of the Arts. We talked about contemplative spirituality, pilgrimage, and her latest book,  The Soul of a Pilgrim: Eight Practices for the Journey Within. The book celebrates the spirituality of pilgrimage by identifying eight essential practices that can […]

Parker Palmer, perhaps one of the most important living Quaker writers (or, for that matter, one of the most important living contemplative writers of any identity) addresses the 2015 graduating class of Naropa University. With grace and humor, he offers six soulful suggestions for their lives, quoting figures as diverse as Diane Ackerman and Saint Benedict along the way. This is nineteen minutes of gently quiet inspiration. Watch it and be edified.


Draw Me Into Your Friendship (Saint Louis: The Institute of Jesuit Sources, 1996)

The Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius can be difficult reading, even in contemporary English translation. Ignatius originally wrote the exercises as notes for a retreat, and so it reads as a kind of outline, which, in fact, it is. Add to that the normal challenges involved in reading a text almost five hundred years old and composed in a foreign culture, and it’s easy to see why this text, mystical classic though it is, may be challenging for 21st-century Americans. Enter David L. Fleming, whose Draw Me Into Your Friendship is a Godsend: on facing pages is a literal translation of the Spiritual Exercises, along with a “contemporary reading” — part commentary, part paraphrase, part imaginative rendering into a voice for our time. The result is a book that works both for study and devotional reading, unlocking the treasures of Ignatius and revealing his spiritual genius.

Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta Speakers’ Bureau: Carl McColman

Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta Speakers' Bureau

I am pleased and honored that I have been listed with the Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta’s Speakers Bureau, sponsored by the Institute for Ministry and Theological Education. I’ve been listed as a speaker available to address topics such as Christian spirituality, forming a personal rule of life, or the practice of contemplative prayer. Of course, my work is ecumenical in nature, so I invite event planners of all churches (and all locations) to stop by and learn more about my ministry as a speaker, teacher and retreat leader.

There is no use trying to conceal how difficult it is to find time for private prayer in the congested schedules under which most modern people live. But at bottom it is not a question of finding time, it is a question of the depth of the sense of need and of the desire. Busy lovers find time to write letters to one another, often find time for long letters, although what really matters is not the length of the letter any more than it is the length of the prayer. In this life we find the time that is necessary for what we believe to be important.

Douglas V. Steere
Prayer and Worship (Richmond, IN: Friends United Press, 1978), pp. 21-22.

Letter and Spirit: Thoughts and Silence?


In his sermon On Conversion, Saint Bernard of Clairvaux quotes Acts 26:24, only he paraphrases it like this: “Too much thinking has made you mad!” Whenever I see a verse like this rendered in an unusual or thought-provoking way, I like to check out the original Greek or Hebrew, even though I’m strictly an amateur when […]

One of my favorite living writers — the Jesuit author James Martin — talks about Thomas Merton and the influence that Merton’s life and books had on his own spiritual journey. The video provides a nice overview of Merton’s work and insight into how spiritual writing can make a difference in a reader’s life.


The “Complete” Cloud of Unknowing (Brewster, MA: Paraclete Press, 2015)

The Complete Cloud of Unknowing isn’t really “complete” — the author of The Cloud of Unknowing is associated with seven medieval texts, only two of which appear in this volume. But those two, The Cloud of Unknowing and The Letter of Privy Counsel, are certainly the most important works by this unknown author, two classics of medieval Christian contemplative spirituality, essential for anyone seeking to deepen their relationship with God through the practice of silent prayer. They are rich texts, full of nuanced wisdom that often gets lost in modern translations. Father JohnJulian has captured the beauty, humor and literary elegance of the original versions, but also has supplemented his translation with detailed notes that convey the subtle spiritual insight that makes these works required reading.


Integral Joy

Living Contemplatively (The Shalem Blog)
June 12, 2015

A phrase from the Lakota language, mitakuye oyasin, means “all are related” or “all my relations.” It’s a way of seeing: of recognizing that we exist not as some sort of isolated cells over and against our environment or are communities, but that our existence, our very lives, are indeed integrally bound up together with all other beings, with the world and the cosmos. We are all related. We are all connected.

This in turn reminds me of Julian of Norwich, who wrote “the fullness of joy is to behold God in all.” So not only are we connect to all, but that if we learn how to see, we can behold God in all to which we are connected. Read more…