There are times when good words are to be left unsaid out of esteem for silence.
If you were stranded on a desert island, what music would you want to accompany you? The BBC has a long-running program called Desert Island Discs which began airing in 1942 and as of 2015 it’s still going strong. Here’s the concept: Desert Island Discs … was introduced to the listening public as “a programme in which a […]
Last week I shared six principles that guide me in my understanding of what Christian contemplative spirituality is. This week I’m sharing six more. As I said last week, it’s a bit of a paradox to offer principles for a spiritual practice that is grounded in silence and invites us into silence. Speaking of silence: […]
Here’s a delightful video filmed in 2011, on the 100th anniversary of the publication of Evelyn Underhill’s Mysticism: A Study in the Nature and Development of Spiritual Consciousness (the book which directly inspired two of my books, The Big Book of Christian Mysticism and Answering the Contemplative Call). My friend Dana Greene, who is an Underhill scholar, is here interviewed by Liz Ward of the Shalem Institute to shed some light on who Evelyn Underhill was, and why her wonderful book on mysticism still matters, after over a century in print.
Translated by Maurice O’C Walshe with revisions and a foreword by Bernard McGinn, The Complete Mystical Works of Meister Eckhart offers nearly 600 pages of English translations of the great medieval mystic’s German writings. With 97 sermons and five treatises, there’s enough material here for months, if not years, of study. Eckhart generally was more daring in his German works than in his Latin compositions, so it’s here that you’ll get the full sweep of his speculative mystical thought.
I’ll be interviewed by Kathy Chiero of WTVN, Columbus, OH, on July 19 as a guest on her “Sitting Room” program. Our topic will be “Why traditional religion is failing to connect the faithful to God.” Needless to say, I have an opinion or two on this subject! Hope you will tune in if you’re in the Columbus area, or you can always catch the show online at www.sittingroomradio.com.
The mystical life is beyond our power, nothing we can do can bring it to us, but God is longing to give it to us, to all of us, not to a select few.
A couple of years ago Rob Bell wrote a book with the title What We Talk About When We Talk About God. I haven’t read the book, but I love the title. So I suppose this blog post could be called “What we talk about when we talk about contemplation.” If that seems funny to […]
“Silence is what you already have, right now… but you need to let it in.”
No words can convey how much I am looking forward to this film. It is due to be released toward the end of 2015. Needless to say, I’ll be talking it up once it’s available.
In the meantime, here’s an interview with the film’s director: Talking About Silence: An Interview with Patrick Shen.
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!
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In silence we learn that prayer is less about what we do than about what God is doing; it is something we receive. It engages us in the process of redemption and sanctification by which God brings us to glory, to our full stature as his children in Christ.
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.