Category

Mysticism

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Gnosis and Mysticism

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A reader of this blog named Brian writes: Carl, How would you compare and contrast mysticism with gnosticism? Thanks! I suppose there are three ways to answer this question. First we’ll look at the historical sense of mysticism and gnosticism in the history of Christianity. Then, to bring it closer to the present day, we’ll consider how these words were used by a twentieth century...

Twelve Mystical Anthologies That Belong in Every Contemplative Library

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There are literally hundreds of mystics in the Christian tradition alone — or, should I say, hundreds of mystics who were writers (no one knows how many great mystics were too humble to write about their union with God, and so their wisdom is lost to history). And while some mystics like Julian of Norwich only wrote a small amount, others like Thomas Merton or Teresa of Ávila left us enough...

Encountering Christian Mysticism with the “Mystics and Skeptics” Podcast

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Hi friends, I recently was a guest on the “Mystics and Skeptics” podcast. Needless to say, we talked about… Christian mysticism, of course! Sybil, the host of the “Mystics and Skeptics” podcast, is a wonderful conversation partner; she and I quickly developed a rapport which led to a wide-ranging conversation about mysticism — both Christian and in general — and how...

The Wrath of God and Wishful Thinking (or, Julian of Norwich and Biblical Images of God)

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Recently a reader of this blog wrote the following to me: I am just starting out on this journey and feel drawn to the mystical/contemplative side of Christianity.   To this end, I am using your book “Answering the Contemplative Call” and also “Growing into God” by John Mabry as my guides.   I do not have a spiritual director as yet but am trying to find one near where I live in the UK.    In the...

The Erotic Dimension of Mystical Spirituality (or, Why Do Mystics Love the Song of Songs?)

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Almost from the beginning of the Christian era, mystics and saints and theologians and spiritual teachers have reflected on one of the most beautiful and poetic of the “wisdom writings” in the Bible to explore the mystery of the love of God and how that love seeks intimacy with us, God’s human creatures. I am referring to the Song of Songs, also known as the Song of Solomon or the Canticle of...

Divine Union is Embodied: Notes on the Incarnational Nature of Christian Mysticism

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I’ve been working my way through Mystical Theology and Contemporary Spiritual Practice: Renewing the Contemplative Tradition, a book in Routledge’s “Contemporary Theological Explorations in Mysticism” series. There’s a delightful essay in it called “Unlikely Mystics” about the sense of wonder and numinous reality that people encounter when visiting...

Mystical Minute II: The Book that Changed my Life

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Here’s the second release in my new series of “Mystical Minute” videos. The topic of this one: “the book that changed my life.” This is a brief introduction to Mysticism by Evelyn Underhill. After acknowledging that my first copy of the book (given to me by a friend when I was 18) has a hideously ugly cover, I briefly explain why this book matters to me — and why it...

The Christian of the Future — a New “Mystical Minute” Video for Contemplative Seekers

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Friends, here is a new video I’d like to share with you. God willing, this will be the first of a series of videos I will be creating in the months to come. This video, like all my online content, is funded through Patreon. When I set up my Patreon account, I set several goals: commitments for new content or new projects that I would undertake when the number of patrons supporting my work...

A Great Mystical Book — With a Surprising Title

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I’ve recently been re-reading one of the most fascinating and unusual books of mystical wisdom to have been written within the last 100 years. This is actually my third time through the book, and I know I will read it again, certainly more than once. It’s one of those rare books that rewards multiple readings, each new journey through it yielding new insights. I’m not the only...

Why Julian of Norwich Matters to Me

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I first “met” Julian of Norwich through reading Evelyn Underhill’s magisterial book Mysticism: The Nature and Development of Spiritual Consciousness. Underhill’s book changed my life, for a number of reasons: it gave me a language and a context for making sense of my spiritual experience, it helped me to see that there is a place for an intellectually honest, interfaith...

Carl McColman

Soul Friend and Storyteller. Lay Cistercian, Centering Prayer Presenter, Author, Blogger, Podcaster, Speaker, Teacher, Retreat Leader.

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