The Problem with Christianity in a Nutshell


We all know that so many people today prefer to remain spiritually independent, intentional about cultivating their interior life but unencumbered by affiliation to a faith community. In other words: “spiritual but not religious.” We know that this annoys some religious people, while others seem to roll with it. Even though I remain engaged with Christianity-as-religion, I also try to...

Even Your Breath Can Be Your “Sacred Word”


A reader of this blog submitted this question: How explicitly Christian does the prayer word need to be in contemplative prayer (e.g., Centering Prayer)? My quiet-time practice is a hybrid of Lectio Divina with the Liturgy of the Hours. “No problem” with the three discursive steps of Lectio, but when I get to the non-discursive contemplatio, I struggle with monkey brain…...

Two Online Retreat Options for October: Celtic Wisdom and the Spirituality of Tolkien and Lewis!


Hi friends, just want to make sure everyone is aware of two upcoming retreats I am doing online. If one or both of these topics appeal to you, I hope you’ll join me! On October 22 and 23, the Rock Hill Oratory is sponsoring a retreat called “The Wisdom of the Christian Imagination” featuring insights from the writings of J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis. I know fantasy isn’t...

Catholic Spirituality versus the Institutional Church: Navigating the Choppy Waters


A friend on Instagram wrote this to me recently: Hello, Carl! I have become so drawn to the Catholic Church and I don’t know what to do. I am an LGBTQ+ Christian, and I have to admit, the sexual-abuse scandals in the RCC plus their stance on female clergy and birth control REALLY hold me back from going forth and becoming Catholic. And yet… I cannot seem to shake the desire to become...

My Latest Initiative, or, What is a “Contemplative in Residence”?


Friends, I am honored to announce that I have embraced a special relationship with one of Atlanta’s most progressive and visionary spiritual communities. I have been named the “Contemplative in Residence” for Zeitgeist Atlanta. What is a Contemplative in Residence? As you may know, many universities or non-profit organizations will appoint an “artist in residence” or...

Why the Desert Mothers and Fathers Still Matter


In one of his daily emails, Richard Rohr once admitted that he has some issues with the sayings of the Desert Mothers and Fathers — the early Christian hermits and monastics who lived in Egypt, Palestine and Syria in the 3rd and 4th centuries. Rohr admitted that, on some levels, because these writings are so ancient, they can be very problematic when viewed from the perspective of the 21st...

Faith, Science, PBS — and Trappist Monks


I’m so happy to share this segment from a recent episode of the PBS News Hour with you. It features the monks of the Monastery of the Holy Spirit — the monastery of which I am a Lay Associate. The topic is about how the monks are getting vaccinated to protect themselves from the coronavirus, but of course it’s also a wee glimpse into the world of the cloister, a world of prayer and...

A Meditation on the Spirituality of Healing (A Patreon Sneak Peek)


A note from Carl: Friends, I am currently writing a manuscript that I am calling Meditations on the Christian Mysteries. I’ve identified fifty-two key themes, wisdom teachings, and mystical principles of the Christian tradition — and each month, I take one of those themes and I wrote a meditation based on it. I’m over halfway done — in fact, the meditation I’m sharing with you...

Many Paths, One Way: Balancing Religious Commitment with Spiritual Diversity


A reader, who chooses to remain anonymous, posed the following question: “a world shaped by peace and harmony among the people of all positive paths.” Are they all the way or is there only one way? The reader is quoting me from an article posted on my website, The Hidden Tradition of Christian Mysticism. In short: are all religions one? Are all spiritual paths simply different...

James Martin: Learning to Pray


“Everyone can pray” is the hopeful and helpful opening message of Learning to Pray, the new book from bestselling Jesuit author James Martin. But he knows that many people don’t pray — even people who never miss church on Sundays. Prayer is something that, at least for those of us who grew up in religious homes, we learn as small children — but then it seems for so many of us...

How My Surrogate Grandmother Introduced Me to Silence


When I was a small boy, there was a lady named Mrs. Frazier who lived across the street from my home. Mrs. Frazier and her husband were a bit older than my parents; they only had one child, Pam, who was a good ten or twelve years older than me. So when I was a child, they lived alone in their house. Mrs. Frazier and I bonded; both of my grandmothers died before I was born, so she was a surrogate...



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