How to Deal with Catholics Who Disapprove of Centering Prayer


A reader of this blog named Pawel writes: Hi Carl, What would be your advice for someone returning to Catholic faith through a practice like Centering Prayer (having been immersed in Eastern traditions for many years), but coming up against objections when trying to start with the “basics”? For example, I was looking for a good Bible study and came across The New Adventure Bible and...

“Do I stay Christian?” A Conversation with Brian D. McLaren on a Significant Question for Our Time


Last Wednesday I had the distinct honor of being part of a group interview with leading Christian theologian Brian D. McLaren. The occasion was in celebration of Brian’s latest book, Do I Stay Christian? A Guide for the Doubters, the Disappointed, and the Disillusioned. It’s a provocative title and, indeed, a provocative book. Brian is aiming to have a balanced but honest engagement...

I’m Wondering About the Relationship Between Mysticism and the Church. Here’s Why.


I often get asked if Christian mysticism needs the institutional church. Do you have to be a member of a church in order to be a Christian mystic? Or, to paraphrase a common way many people describe their spiritual lives: is it possible, in our day, to be “MBNR,” that is, “Mystical But Not Religious”? Almost ten years ago, on page 30 of The Big Book of Christian Mysticism...

Finding a Mystical or Contemplative-Friendly Neighborhood Church


A reader named Connie wrote to me and asked the following question: Is there a mystic/al church? What would it look like? Does such a thing exist in your experience? It’s a great question. I imagine anyone who truly learns about the spirituality of Christian mysticism can’t help but wonder what it would be like to be part of a neighborhood church that took contemplation and mystical...

Do Contemplatives Need the Church?


A post on this blog received the following comment yesterday: Having been with the Catholic Church and seminary trained for all my 71 years of life. I am naturally contemplative . But I do now believe practising formal meditation/contemplation is false . Aren’t we missing the point if we try and set time aside for contemplation? Surely if we are made in Gods image we are already suffused with...

How to Find a Contemplative-Friendly Church


Spirituality is all about love, and love only exists in relationship. Therefore, spirituality is healthiest when it is expressed in a communal way. For better or worse, this means — at least for followers of Jesus Christ and the Christian contemplative/mystical path — finding some sort of church or other faith community. That’s not always easy. Frankly, many churches are indifferent, or...

Seven Hopes for the Christian (and Church) of the Future


In his 1981 book Concern for the Church, Jesuit theologian Karl Rahner made his famous prediction, “the Christian of the future will be a mystic or he will not exist at all.” A third of a century later, has Rahner’s prediction come to pass? The “not exist at all” part seems ominously real, as more and more congregations face declining membership, a shortage of...



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