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Church

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How to Deal with Catholics Who Disapprove of Centering Prayer

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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

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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.

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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

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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?

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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

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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

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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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