Magic and Miracles: What’s the Difference?


The other day I was having a conversation with an acquaintance who asked me to comment on the difference between “magic” and “miracles.” It was an interesting conversation, especially given my history — that I spent a number of years explore magical spiritualities like Wicca and Celtic paganism, only to eventually forsake those paths in favor of returning to a more...

A Few Thoughts on the Passing of Ram Dass


Ram Dass, author of many books including the spiritual masterpiece Be Here Now, has died. He passed away yesterday, 22 December 2019, at his home in Maui. He was 88 years old. I never met Ram Dass, or even saw him in person. My friend Mirabai Starr knew him well, so she would be in a much better position to offer a meaningful encomium. My purpose in writing about him is modest: I simply want to...

Inter-Religious Spirituality and the Contemplative Renaissance: How Other Faiths Helped Christians Rediscover Our Spiritual Heart


Christianity has a long history of contemplative practice. But many scholars and spiritual teachers within the faith recognize that in the centuries immediately preceding and following the Reformation, the church (at least in the west) largely lost its contemplative heart. Theologian Robert Davis Hughes III addressed this topic in his…... Read more at Patheos

Can Christians Use a (Non-Christian) Mantra?


A reader, who identifies as a contemplative/mystical Christian, posted this question to me on Facebook: Carl….when I meditate/contemplative prayer…can I use a mantra such as-OM or Hare Krishna or something similar? It’s a great question, and the short answer is, it depends. Some Christians are allergic to the very idea…... Read more at Patheos

Just What is Contemplation, Anyway? And Why Should I Care?


A Jesuit priest, a Trappist monk, and a Tibetan buddhist walked into a bar. (No, this is not a joke). A sign above the bar said, “Free drinks to everyone in your party, if you can all agree on a definition of the word “contemplation.” Two hours later, the Buddhist and the two Catholics were very thirsty — and still arguing. Contemplation is one of those words that, frankly...

In the Beginning Was the Tao…


Ken Leong, the author of The Zen Teachings of Jesus, posted this on Facebook the other day: I was having a conversation with a group of American Christians. I told them that in the Chinese version of John’s Gospel, the WORD was translated into “Tao.” They asked me for the definition of the Tao. I replied that the Tao cannot be defined and they laughed. Apparently they...

How Should A Christian Respond When a Friend Becomes Interested in Witchcraft and Magic?


As long-standing readers of this blog know, I have not always been a Catholic; I embraced Catholicism in 2004 after a Protestant upbringing and then about a seven-year stint in which I followed a neopagan spiritual path. Indeed, I wrote a number of books about paganism, a fact I discussed in an earlier blog post, You Wrote Books About Paganism? These days, my work as a writer is primarily geared...

“You Wrote Books About Paganism?!?”


The late Kenneth Leech used to tell the story about giving a lecture at a seminary in America on the topic of race relations, and afterwards a seminarian seemed surprised to learn that he was the “same Kenneth Leech” who wrote books on spirituality. Apparently, the mind of this seminarian couldn’t equate a social-justice Christian with a contemplative-prayer Christian. But yes...

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