Tag

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...

Seven Ways to Read a Mystical Book

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Reading the writings of the great mystics — of figures like St. John of the Cross, St. Teresa of Ávila, Meister Eckhart, Julian of Norwich, or even modern writers like Pierre Teilhard de Chardin or Bernadette Roberts — is not always easy. Many mystics use dense or figurative or poetic language in their attempts to express the inexpressible. Others rely on highly technical philosophical or...

“Mystics Teach us to Reconnect with Timeless and Essential Truth” — Join Me for the Free 2022 Mystics Summit, online August 15-19!

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An awake heart is like a lighthouse helping others to find a safe way home. ―Rolf van der Wind I’m one of over thirty presenters for the 2022 Mystics Summit hosted by The Shift Network — along with Mirabai Starr, James Finley, Rami Shapiro, and Greg Boyles, among many others! It’s free to register for this five-day event. To sign up, register here. Here’s the description of 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...

Le Point Vierge

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Cynthia Bourgeault’s latest book, just published this year, is a brief statement of her faith; the book is called The Corner of Fourth and Nondual. If you have been exploring contemplative Christian spirituality for any time now, you probably saw the pun in this title with no problem. But if not, no worries! Perhaps this post will shed some light for you. “The Corner” that...

Putting the “Christian” into “Christian Mysticism”

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Mysticism crosses all religious and spiritual boundaries. In other words, mysticism — like prayer or meditation or worship or sacrifice — is a universal spiritual/religious concept, not something that is limited to just one religious or wisdom tradition. What Baron Friedrich von Hugel called “the mystical element of religion” can be found in all the world’s great traditions...

The Problem with Christianity in a Nutshell

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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...

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