Carl McColman

Denomination: Other

Carl McColman is a Roman Catholic layperson and a lay associate of the Cistercian Monastery of the Holy Spirit in Conyers, Georgia. He is the author of several books on the spiritual life, including Befriending Silence, The Big Book of Christian Mysticism, 366 Celt and The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Celtic Wisdom. He teaches classes and conducts retreats on mysticism and contemplative spirituality, and is the author of The Website of Unknowing (www.anamchara.com), a blog devoted to ecumenical and interfaith spiritual practice.

Articles by Carl McColman

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A Little Reminder

Wednesday July 28, 2010
When we adopted a rescued kitten this summer, she brought more than mere amusement to our home.

I'm Off to Northern Ireland

Wednesday July 28, 2010
Tomorrow I leave for a week-long retreat on Celtic spirituality and peacemaking I'm co-conducting in Northern Ireland. The more I reflect on the retreat, the more I realize how peacemaking is always about each and every person's heart.

Remembering Raimon Panikkar

Wednesday July 28, 2010
The death of theologian Raimon Panikkar last week at the age of 91 marked the passing of not only a great interfaith theologian, but also one of the great mystics of our time.

The Dawn Treader Movie: Too Much Action, Too Little Transformation

Wednesday July 28, 2010
While it's worth seeing, the movie adaptation of C. S. Lewis's "The Voyage of the Dawn Treader" ultimately sacrifices the book's nuanced spirituality for plenty of cinematic action.

Why the Wild Goose Festival Matters

Wednesday July 28, 2010
The Wild Goose Festival was far more than a summer music festival for progressive and emergent Christians ”” it was a venue where needed conversations could take place.

Carl McColman: "I Felt Like Poisoning a Monk"

Wednesday July 28, 2010
The monastic life is not for wimps. Look at Saint Benedict, who nearly drank a deadly cup of wine prepared for him by his own brothers.

Carl McColman: The Contemplative Life in Three Easy Steps

Wednesday July 28, 2010
Sometimes, the most complicated spiritual ideas really can be expressed in beautifully simple ways.

Carl McColman: The Challenges of Spiritual Simplicity

Wednesday July 28, 2010
Are our over-consumptive, and often cluttered and hoarding lives a result of our stuffed and cluttered minds, hearts and souls?

Carl McColman: A Contemplative Revolution

Wednesday July 28, 2010
Contemplative spirituality is like the French resistance of the Nazi era. Think about Jesus, who insisted that to follow him Christians should be "in, but not of" the world. Compare that to the rather challenging task that a member of the resistance faced during World War II.

Carl McColman: Of Gods and Men, Movies and Violence

Wednesday July 28, 2010
As we grieve the tragedy of Aurora, Colorado, an under-appreciated French film can offer a pathway to hope.

Carl McColman: Two Types of Spiritual Peace

Wednesday July 28, 2010
"The peace that passes understanding" just might lead us to places that hardly seem serene.

Carl McColman: A Mystical Vision of the Trinity

Wednesday July 28, 2010
A 12th-century mystic's holistic vision of the Trinity offers fresh theological insights for us today.

Carl McColman: Is Contemplation Boring?

Wednesday July 28, 2010
Contemplative silence really is boring—at least, if we do it right. It bores down beneath all the psychic defenses we normally employ to distract ourselves from the presence of God in our lives.

Carl McColman: The Sheer Sound of a Still Small Voice

Wednesday July 28, 2010
Just what exactly did Elijah hear on the mountain?

Carl McColman: Purity

Wednesday July 28, 2010
Purity does not lie in separation from but in deeper penetration into the universe. ”” Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

Carl McColman: Dreaming the Tiger: A Review of "Life of Pi"

Wednesday July 28, 2010
My family and I went to see Life of Pi last night. I have not (yet) read the book, but Gareth Higgins (who knows a lot more about movies than I do) says it’s one of the best novel adaptations he’s ever seen. I can only judge the movie on its own merits, and I’d say it’s well worth seeing.

Carl McColman: The Ethics of Sharing Mystical Knowledge: Meister Eckhart and the Cloud Author

Wednesday July 28, 2010
Pick up any edition of The Cloud of Unknowing, and you are likely to find the following language a bit intimidating...

Carl McColman: Would Thomas Merton Use an iPad? Contemplation, Technology and Discernment

Wednesday July 28, 2010
In our rush to employ technology in ways to make life better (at least for some people), are we not inadvertently also making life worse (for others, or perhaps for all of us?). It's not a fashionable question, and perhaps never has been, but it's the type of question that informs Thomas Merton's ambivalence toward the technological progress of his day.

Carl McColman: New Year's Resolutions: Better Late Than Never

Wednesday July 28, 2010
while on the one hand it is tempting to think "It's too late for a New Year's resolution column; I had better come up with a more timely topic," I've decided that the more truly contemplative thing to do is to stick with my original idea.

Carl McColman: Impermanence

Wednesday July 28, 2010
Historic Christian spirituality encouraged meditation on one’s own mortality. Today we consider that morbid and so we don’t do it. But perhaps reflecting on impermanence is not such a bad idea.

Carl McColman: Simplicity and Silence

Wednesday July 28, 2010
Recently I was asked two questions about my personal spiritual practice. First, what does my own daily practice look like? And secondly, what do I think about using more than one method of contemplative practice?

Carl McColman: Concerning Stillness, Songs and Soul Friends

Wednesday July 28, 2010
I’m afraid I’m not one for anthropomorphic experiences of God, so no floating or whispering in my experience. How, then, do I hear the voice of God? I take my cue from Julian of Norwich...

Carl McColman: Does God = Consciousness?

Wednesday July 28, 2010
Carl McColman answers a reader's question about the meaning of God.

Carl McColman: Speaking of Mysticism... Three Videos

Wednesday July 28, 2010
Here are three brief excerpts from a talk I gave in Portland, OR, in October 2010 on the topic of Christian mysticism.

Carl McColman: Does Anyone Read Thomas Merton Anymore?

Wednesday July 28, 2010
Fewer folks may be reading Thomas Merton, but I trust that readers who will truly appreciate, and be enriched by, his work will still manage to find him. Here is a review of a new compilation of his writings.

Carl McColman: The Evelyn Underhill Rosary

Wednesday July 28, 2010
In a letter written in the spring of 1924, Eveyln Underhill offers her correspondent a set of prayers she could use with rosary beads. I think it is a lovely set of prayers, and so I’d like to share it with you here.

Carl McColman: Contemplative Commerce

Wednesday July 28, 2010
A review of Business Secrets of the Trappist Monks: One CEO’s Quest for Meaning and Authenticity, by August Turak

Carl McColman: "Life Is Change...How It Differs from the Rocks"

Wednesday July 28, 2010
So my friends, it is time for me to announce a fairly major change in my life. After almost eight years of service, I have resigned my position as the book buyer at the Abbey Store of the Monastery of the Holy Spirit. My last day will be August 15: the Feast of the Assumption, which seems an auspicious day for such a major shift.

Carl McColman: Why Contemplation Matters

Wednesday July 28, 2010
Two significant insights into the importance of contemplation crossed my desk this week.

Carl McColman: Meditation with Liquid Mind

Wednesday July 28, 2010
As a general rule, I believe that meditation or contemplative prayer are best practiced in silence ”” which means no TV blaring in the background, no MP3 player churning out sound, no computer or stereo making noise within earshot. So perhaps it is a bit ironic that in this post I am going to praise an album of ambient music called Meditation.

Carl McColman: Shine On You Immortal Diamond

Wednesday July 28, 2010
Franciscan Friar Richard Rohr just keeps releasing wonderful books. Immortal Diamond: The Search For Our True Self picks up the language of Cistercian authors like Thomas Merton and M. Basil Pennington, who have written about the 'true self' and the 'false self' as ways of understanding the spirituality of being human.

Carl McColman: Following the Path

Wednesday July 28, 2010
Ours is not only a multi-cultural society, but also an increasingly religiously pluralistic one as well. Given this trend, no wonder many people eschew religious affiliation even while seeking to maintain some sort of spiritual identity. Why limit yourself? Why be pigeonholed?

Carl McColman: Spirituality, With or Without Religion

Wednesday July 28, 2010
Spiritual-while-also-religious folks, in my experience, tend to bust our society’s stereotypes of religious people. SWARs are educated, compassionate, thoughtful, often open to the gifts of religious traditions outside their own, and ”” of particular interest to me ”” many are committed to contemplative forms of prayer or spiritual practice.

Carl McColman: Concerning Sheep, Goats, and the Unconditional Love of God

Wednesday July 28, 2010
I received this email today. Thought it might be worth exploring here on the blog.

Carl McColman: The Archbishop and the Community Theologian

Wednesday July 28, 2010
What can we learn from these two Anglican theologians ”” one of whom inhabited the central corridors of the church’s power, the other of whom lived out his ministry in some of the grittiest neighborhoods in London’s economically challenged east end?

Carl McColman: Why Contemplation is Revolutionary (Part 1)

Wednesday July 28, 2010
Contemplative prayer is not about navel-gazing or self-absorbed “spiritual experiences.” Indeed, anyone who explores contemplation only out of a desire for mystical experience or personal fulfillment will probably not stick with it for too long (unless he or she realizes that prayer is more about what you give than what you get).

Carl McColman: Contemplation in a Consumer Society (Why Contemplation is Revolutionary, Part Two)

Wednesday July 28, 2010
Today we’re looking at the second of ten points drawn from quotations on contemplation from Archbishop Rowan Williams and Father Kenneth Leech.

Carl McColman: Contemplation and the Unreal World (Why Contemplation is Revolutionary, Part Three)

Wednesday July 28, 2010
Today we’re looking at the third of ten points drawn from what Archbishop Rowan Williams and Father Kenneth Leech have said about contemplation.

Carl McColman: Contemplation, Truth, Honesty and Love (Why Contemplation is Revolutionary, Part Four)

Wednesday July 28, 2010
We’ve been considering the words of former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, who suggested that the Christian practice of contemplation is a powerful antidote to the insanity and unreality of our world, dominated as it is my greed, acquisitiveness, and the fantasies spun by the triple threat of Wall Street, Madison Avenue, and Hollywood. Today we will shift gears and consider contemplation in itself, and why it is in itself such a good thing.

Carl McColman: Denise Levertov and the Poetics of Mysticism

Wednesday July 28, 2010
October 24 of this year marks what would have been Denise Levertov's 90th birthday. With a recently published academic biography and a new anthology of her poetry due this fall, it's encouraging to see that interest remains high for this enigmatic literary figure.

Carl McColman: Contemplation and the Real World (Why Contemplation is Revolutionary, Part Five)

Wednesday July 28, 2010
My last four posts have looked at a quote about contemplation from the former Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams. Today we turn our attention to one of Archbishop Williams’ colleagues and theological contemporaries, Father Kenneth Leech, a community theologian and author of books on both social action and spiritual growth.

Carl McColman: Exploring the “Inner Wasteland” (Why Contemplation is Revolutionary, Part Six)

Wednesday July 28, 2010
Although we may not be used to thinking of it this way, contemplation points us to a new way of understanding life and the world we live in, where our inner and outer lives are intimately bound up together and in fact influence and shape each other.

Carl McColman: Chaos, Crisis, and the Pursuit of the Vision of God (Why Contemplation is Revolutionary, Part Seven)

Wednesday July 28, 2010
Christian contemplation is about silence, and relaxation, and attentiveness, and mindfulness, and stress reduction: all those wonderful benefits that we recognize come from a regular meditation practice. In addition, Christian contemplation seeks to be present to the presence of God, regardless of whether such presence is 'felt' or 'experienced' ”” or not.

Carl McColman: Sharing in the Passion of Christ (Why Contemplation is Revolutionary, Part Eight)

Wednesday July 28, 2010
When we struggle with contemplative practice ”” facing our own inner chaos, turmoil, and darkness ”” we participate in the passion of Christ, which is a deeply revolutionary matter.

Carl McColman: Why Contemplation is Revolutionary (Conclusion)

Wednesday July 28, 2010
We’ve made our way through the quotations from Archbishop Rowan Williams and community theologian Kenneth Leech. We’ve looked at contemplation as a means for transformation.

Carl McColman: The Fullness of Our Destiny

Wednesday July 28, 2010
The Laughter of God: At Ease With Prayer by Trappistine nun Miriam Pollard is an insightful book which seeks to foster a sense of prayer as a means of entering into intimacy with God ”” the God who laughs and loves, a healthy corrective to the frightening God of judgment and wrath that so often seems to be the stock in trade of old-style religion.

Carl McColman: Interfaith Dialogue, Interspirituality, and Holy Daring

Wednesday July 28, 2010
It is important for any person or community to have appropriate and healthy boundaries, and I understand that religions need to safeguard their identity as much as any other social unit. But it gets tricky when a religion reveres someone like Jesus of Nazareth, much of whose ministry was all about challenging unhealthy or unfairly enforced boundaries.

Carl McColman: Keeping Spirituality Grounded

Wednesday July 28, 2010
One of the pitfalls of contemplative practice is that we can easily get stuck in our heads. Combing through the Bible or other books for lectio divina, investing time to daily prayer and meditation, and nurturing our faith through study or devotional reading ”” these are all fine pursuits, but, especially when combined with the kind of white collar work so common in western society, they can result in a spirituality that is abstract, overly mental, and divorced from the messy realities of life.

Carl McColman: Mirabai Starr: Giving Julian of Norwich a Lucid Voice

Wednesday July 28, 2010
Julian of Norwich’s Showings shines with luminous mystical wisdom. If there is one mystic I wish everyone would read, it is Julian. But of course, the question is, which edition should I read? Thankfully, Mirabai Starr’s lovely and engaging new translation of this medieval masterpiece makes it more accessible than ever.

Carl McColman: The Kenosis of Clutter

Wednesday July 28, 2010
I found Susan V. Vogt’s new book on 'stuff management,' Blessed by Less: Clearing Your Life of Clutter by Living Lightly, to be a spiritual delight. Her focus is on the big picture, looking at the how lightening our material load offers spiritual as well as practical benefits.

Carl McColman: Seven Books I Hope to Read in 2014

Wednesday July 28, 2010
Are you looking for a book or two to read, on the topics of contemplation or mysticism?

Carl McColman: Sometimes When I Sit in Silence...

Wednesday July 28, 2010
Contemplative prayer ”” the prayer of sitting in silence, waiting in faith and trust on God ”” needs to be a daily practice. There are a number of reasons for this, but today I’d like to look at something I experience in my own prayer.

Carl McColman: Concerning Contemplative Prayer and Spiritual Xenophobia

Wednesday July 28, 2010
Contemplative spirituality is a spirituality in which, in the words of Richard Rohr, 'everything belongs.' It’s a spirituality of inclusion, rather than exclusion. It seeks to build bridges rather than walls. To me, this is part of the towering beauty of contemplation. But we live in a world where not everyone sees things the same way, and contemplation, like anything else, has its critics.

Carl McColman: The Choices We Make Determine Who We Are

Wednesday July 28, 2010
I grew up under the shadow of a punishing image of God: the angry father, the dominating lord, the sovereign judge who would tolerate no dissent or disobedience. It has been a long journey for me to let go of such a toxic, idolatrous deity.

Carl McColman: The Silence of the Heart - A Review of "Be Still and Know"

Wednesday July 28, 2010
In its very last paragraph, Norris J. Chumley describes Be Still and Know, his new book on contemplative silence (hesychia), as a 'research study.' And therein lies what is both wonderful and frustrating about this book.

Carl McColman: Spirituality for the Second Half of Life… and Beyond

Wednesday July 28, 2010
If Richard Rohr is right ”” and I think he is ”” about the dearth of support for those in the second half of life, then we can give thanks for the new book from Ronald Rolheiser, 'Sacred Fire: A Vision for a Deeper Human and Christian Maturity.'

Carl McColman: Blessed Are the Peacemakers: A Tale of Two Walters

Wednesday July 28, 2010
Blessed are the peacemakers, and today I want to celebrate two such persons in particular.

Carl McColman: A Prayer for the Morning

Wednesday July 28, 2010
Beautiful God, Blessed Trinity, I thank you for the gift of this new day....

Carl McColman: Living with Hospice

Wednesday July 28, 2010
May 19 was my stepdaughter Rhiannon’s 29th birthday. It’s always a sweet day, but today is a bit sweeter than most, because just a few months ago we thought she wouldn’t live to see it.

Carl McColman: Monastic Life from the Inside

Wednesday July 28, 2010
Recently I have read two wonderful books that offer a glimpse into the life of a Trappist monk and Trappistine nun. Both books are autobiographical, yet imbued with a deep and rich spirituality.

Carl McColman: Prologue 9

Wednesday July 28, 2010
The Prologue to Saint Benedict’s Rule is itself a renowned spiritual document, a stirring cry to holiness and fervor for anyone who might seek to follow the way of Christ without compromise. But it is also a subtly mystical document, inviting Christians not only to a life of devotional fervor and penitential rectitude, but also ”” and perhaps, most importantly ”” to a transfigured life.

Carl McColman: A Beautiful New Bible and a Contemplative Request

Wednesday July 28, 2010
Today I wrote a letter to Adam Lewis Greene, who is known for his wonderful project, Bibliotheca, which achieved an awesome level of crowdfunding through Kickstarter. And yes, I’m one of the nearly 15,000 backers.

Carl McColman: "Empty Yourself Completely and Sit Waiting"

Wednesday July 28, 2010
I sometimes get asked if contemplative prayer is 'really Christian.' When someone asks that question, it’s usually because they have noticed the similarity between practices like centering prayer and eastern disciplines such as zazen or transcendental meditation.

Carl McColman: Mainline Neo-Monasticism?

Wednesday July 28, 2010
Elaine A. Heath is a true friend of contemplation. She recognizes the vital importance of bringing contemplative prayer and mystical spirituality not only into the local church, but into the hearts of the clergy and other ministerial leaders in the church.

Carl McColman: Completing the Hospice Journey

Wednesday July 28, 2010
Back in May, I wrote a post about my daughter’s decision to enter in-home hospice care. Rhiannon struggled with health issues, related to polycistic kidney disease, her entire life, and spent 26 of her 29 years in a wheelchair. I first blogged about her challenges back in 2010. Today’s post is the inevitable conclusion to her story. Rhiannon passed away on August 30.

Carl McColman: 10 Recommended Books on Christian Meditation

Wednesday July 28, 2010
A Facebook friend recently asked me, 'Hey Carl, what are your ten top books on meditation?' So here's my answer...

Carl McColman: Talking about Silence: An Interview with Patrick Shen

Wednesday July 28, 2010
Indie filmmaker Patrick Shen has made several award-winning documentaries, including Flight From Death (2003), a look at the human longing for immortality. But it’s his current project that caught my eye: In Pursuit of Silence, a meditative film about the importance of silence for human beings ”” and the increasing noise that is drowning out silence in postmodern life.

Carl McColman: Timothy Keller Gets Contemplation Wrong

Wednesday July 28, 2010
Timothy Keller, the popular New York City Presbyterian pastor and author of several bestselling books, is out and about promoting his newest work, called Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God. But it seems that Keller has no idea what he’s talking about when it comes to Christian contemplative prayer.

Carl McColman: Silence: Not Just for the Night Before Christmas

Wednesday July 28, 2010
The minions notwithstanding, "Silent Night" is a much-loved carol, and may be one of the few cultural icons left to us that honors silence.

Carl McColman: Do Contemplatives Need Bible Software?

Wednesday July 28, 2010
Is the Bible a textbook, or a legal code, or a love letter? I suppose one could argue that it is all three. But it seems that, for much of Christian history, our theologians have tended to lock themselves away in an ivory tower, reading the Bible like a textbook, while church authorities (and their secular counterparts) have too often seen the book as merely a juridical text, meant to enforce morality and good order.

Carl McColman: Following the Ancient Path Today

Wednesday July 28, 2010
If you’re anything like me, the first thing you’ll notice about The Ancient Path: Old Lessons from the Church Fathers for a New Life Today is how beautifully designed the book is.

Carl McColman: Lessons I've Learned from a Feral Cat

Wednesday July 28, 2010
We first noticed feral kittens in our front yard last spring. At the time we just thought they were cute, and didn't try to interact with them -- like all undomesticated animals, they ran away if my wife or I walked anywhere near them.

Carl McColman: When Silence Rings

Wednesday July 28, 2010
A reader named Nick writes: I would like to engage in practices like centering prayer, but in the instructions for these meditations, I often hear an emphasis on finding a silent place to engage in these activities. I don’t have problems finding a silent place, but silence is not something that I carry with me. I have a condition called Tinnitus that causes me to perceive a ringing sound in my ear, and this ringing sound will likely not be going away anytime soon.

Carl McColman: Concerning Emergence, Contemplation, and the Faith of the Future

Wednesday July 28, 2010
Recently a reader of this blog named Peter asked me to comment on the emergence or emerging church ”” the movement of Christians who advocate new models for church and theology, in conversation with the dynamics that are shaping today’s society, including postmodern philosophy, science, world religions.

Carl McColman: Seven Hopes for the Christian (and Church) of the Future

Wednesday July 28, 2010
I’d like to offer seven hopes that I have for the Christian ”” and Church ”” of the future. All of my hopes are grounded in scripture and Church tradition, so I’m not advocating any kind of major change for the faith, but simply a rediscovered commitment to the heart of the Gospel. By putting first things first, perhaps we can breathe new life into our shared faith.

Carl McColman: Sister Joan Chittister and the Way of Paradox

Wednesday July 28, 2010
A mature spiritual life embraces paradox. And paradox lies at the heart of Sister Joan Chittister’s newest book, Between the Dark and the Daylight. The subtitle of the book is “Embracing the Contradictions of Life” but I think paradox would be a better word here.

Carl McColman: Social Media... And Silence

Wednesday July 28, 2010
This past weekend, against my better judgment, I got into an unpleasant debate in a Facebook group with a young person whom I do not know. No need to go into details here ”” let’s just say that by the end, nobody was edified. Much of my weekend got swallowed up in a back-and-forth conversation that generated much more heat than light.

Carl McColman: Rocking Justice & Spirituality: Like the Two Movements of the Breath

Wednesday July 28, 2010
When I met the Anglican writer Kenneth Leech, who is one of my heroes, he told me a funny but sad story. I mentioned to him that one of my favorite books of his was The Eye of the Storm: Spiritual Resources for the Pursuit of Justice. I loved it (and still do) because it is an eloquent statement of why Christian spirituality necessarily includes a commitment to making the world a more peaceful and just place. He explained to me how he was inspired to write the book.

Carl McColman: What Good is Religion? A Contemplative Perspective

Wednesday July 28, 2010
You can’t legislate or argue or wish religion away. Like it or not, here it is, and it seems to be as much a part of the human condition as dating rituals or devotion to mother. So here’s the real question facing us: how can religion be understood, and used, in such a way that maximizes its good and minimizes its bad?

Carl McColman: Why Is "Mysticism" a Dirty Word?

Wednesday July 28, 2010
I could care less about whether or not I’m a mystic. I want to be a lover of God. I want to respond to God’s love. I began to engage with this concept of 'mysticism' and 'mystical tradition' after reading authors like Evelyn Underhill or Thomas Merton, who use such terms uncritically ”” but let’s be clear: what drew me to those authors (and this language) was a hunger for God.

Carl McColman: What To Do When Your Prayer Doesn’t Get ”˜In The Zone’

Wednesday July 28, 2010
Let’s be honest: most of us have deeply undisciplined minds. Even if we are basically mature, emotionally healthy people. We live in a culture that, according to T. S. Eliot, is 'distracted from distraction by distraction' and this plays out in the theatre of our minds and hearts.

Carl McColman: When Contemplation Feels Like Dying

Wednesday July 28, 2010
"For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God" (Colossians 3:3). How exactly does this 'spiritual dying' fit in with the practice of contemplative spirituality? One reader of this blog is curious about this.

Carl McColman: The Intelligent Person's Guide to Prayer: On Leah Libresco's book, Arriving at Amen

Wednesday July 28, 2010
Like so many folks in the blogosphere, I was fascinated by the story of Leah Libresco, atheist blogger who in 2012 surprised all sorts of folks by converting to Catholicism. I haven’t been a regular follower of her blog, either before or after she entered the Church, but the few times I’ve checked it out her writing struck me as articulate, intelligent and thoughtful.

Carl McColman: Life is a Pilgrimage ”” So Embrace the Journey: Christine Valters Painter's new book, The Soul of a Pilgrim

Wednesday July 28, 2010
Christine Valters Painter is one of the most creative and visionary of spiritual directors with a meaningful online presence. Her website, Abbey of the Arts, functions as a sort of 'cyber-cloister,' a place of quiet presence and spiritual nurture where participants are invited to encounter God not only through the words and practices of contemplative spirituality, but also ”” and perhaps more significantly ”” through creative expression.

Carl McColman: What Has Not Yet Been Revealed: a lectio divina meditation on 1 John 3:2

Wednesday July 28, 2010
One of my favorite verses in the Bible is I John 3:2. Here is a lectio divina meditation I recently wrote about this verse.

Carl McColman: Do You Need a Spiritual Teacher?

Wednesday July 28, 2010
A reader writes, "My experience with Centering Prayer has been very positive and what I have read and heard about the Christian Contemplative Path resonates with me. To really deepen my practice, do I need a spiritual teacher? If so, how do I find one? If not, what is the next step for me?"

Carl McColman: Summer Reading for the Soul

Wednesday July 28, 2010
I know: summer reading is supposed to light, fun, escapist. Murder mysteries and steamy romances. Call me weird, but I'm the kind of person who likes to read thoughtful or even challenging literature, even when I'm lounging around on the beach. And I suspect I'm not alone.

Carl McColman: Mysticism and the Divine Feminine: An Interview with Mirabai Starr

Wednesday July 28, 2010
One of my favorite contemporary authors is Mirabai Starr, who I first encountered through her vivid and accessible translations of John of the Cross, Teresa of Avila, and Julian of Norwich. Mirabai has emerged in the last few years as one of the leading voices in interspirituality.

Carl McColman: “They’ll Know We Are Christians By Our Love” ”” And These Gifts Make It Possible

Wednesday July 28, 2010
One of C.S. Lewis’s last, and best, books was called The Four Loves. Drawing from four different Greek words for love, the book celebrates affection, friendship, eros, and charity and considers the moral, ethical, and spiritual dynamics at play in each form of love.

Carl McColman: Creative Conversation Begins with Contemplative Compassion

Wednesday July 28, 2010
A friend of mine, who is the executive director of a progressive Christian ministry, told me the story of meeting an activist who identifies as spiritual but not religious. At first, this person wasn’t even interested in talking to my friend. He saw a Christian as someone hopelessly irrelevant, part of the problem rather than the solution.

Carl McColman: Five Things Christian Contemplatives can learn from Buddhists

Wednesday July 28, 2010
What I took away from the evening was not so much the content of the class, but some real insights into how Christian contemplatives could learn a thing or two from our Buddhist friends.

Carl McColman: Five Things I Learned from Phyllis Tickle

Wednesday July 28, 2010
I met Phyllis Tickle in 1997 at a book industry trade show. Over the next 18 years I never got to know her, but our paths would cross from time to time. From the first time I heard her speak, I was hooked. Her books were excellent, but her skill as a speaker was even better, mainly because she would have the audience laughing so hard that I would end up crying and my side hurting.

Carl McColman: Five Approaches to InterSpirituality

Wednesday July 28, 2010
Brother Wayne Teasdale, author of The Mystic Heart: Discovering a Universal Spirituality in the World’s Religions, coined the new word 'interspirituality.' Sort of a mash-up between 'interfaith dialogue' and 'spirituality,' interspirituality refers to the possibility or practice of integrating spiritual exercises and practices from more than one faith tradition into one’s own expression of spirituality.

Carl McColman: Why Trappists Make Great Spiritual Guides

Wednesday July 28, 2010
In the past few weeks I’ve read three books that demonstrate the wisdom of Trappist monks. Two of the books are new, and one is an overlooked gem from twenty years ago. One of the titles is written by a monk; the others by laypersons who share how the friendship and guidance of monks helped them in periods of transition in their own spiritual journey.

Carl McColman: How to Find a Contemplative-Friendly Church

Wednesday July 28, 2010
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.

Carl McColman: Is Mysticism Genetic?

Wednesday July 28, 2010
A reader of this blog named Chris writes: I have been studying the German medieval mystics and I am strangely drawn to them. My ancestry is strongly German and my historical spiritual roots are there. Does God encode us with a certain kind of spiritual mystical DNA?

Carl McColman: Preliminary Practices for Christian Contemplatives

Wednesday July 28, 2010
Tibetan Buddhists have a series of spiritual exercises that are seen as foundational to their spiritual practice: a sort of 'spiritual boot camp.' They are called ngöndro or in English, 'preliminary practices.'

Carl McColman: The 2016 Presidential Candidate Prayer Challenge: Are You In?

Wednesday July 28, 2010
I have a simple request of all my readers (yes, that includes you). Will you join me in praying for all the presidential candidates? Yes, that’s right. I said all of them. Even the ones with whom you profoundly disagree.

Carl McColman: Faith, Doubt, and Perseverance

Wednesday July 28, 2010
Joining the 'Bart Ehrman is dangerous!' chorus is the Catholic scholar Brant Pitre, with a new book called The Case for Jesus: The Biblical and Historical Evidence for Christ. It wasn’t until I got into the book that I realized it is, in essence, an attempt to refute Ehrman.

Carl McColman: Is America No Longer a “Christian Nation”?

Wednesday July 28, 2010
Norman Wirzba, who teaches Christian theology at Duke Divinity School, has written a sobering article in which, based on the kind of rhetoric that we see during our presidential campaign this year, he declares that 'Christian America' has come to an end.

Carl McColman: In Pursuit of Silence: A Quiet Movie with Much to Say

Wednesday July 28, 2010
On the surface, this film is a straightforward documentary, about the beauty of silence, its spiritual and physical benefits, and the price we are paying individually and collectively for our increasingly noisy world. But it is more than just an educational or investigative film.

St. Benedict and the Prosperity Gospel

Wednesday July 28, 2010
Recently my wife and I went with some 19,000 other folks to hear Hillsong United, the Australia praise band famous for their song “Oceans,” which is the closest thing I’ve ever heard to an actual contemplative piece of contemporary Christian music. It was quite the extravaganza...

Carl McColman: Thoughts are to contemplative silence like a monstrance is to the Host

Wednesday July 28, 2010
The Catechism of the Catholic Church defines contemplation like this: A form of wordless prayer in which mind and heart focus on God’s greatness and goodness in affective, loving adoration; to look on Jesus and the mysteries of his life with faith and love.

Carl McColman: Seven Ideas for a Contemplative New Year’s Resolution

Wednesday July 28, 2010
”˜Tis the season for making a resolution for a positive change in our lives. It’s easy to get cynical about new year’s resolutions (how many of us join the gym in January, only to cancel our membership by March?), but I think we need to keep a positive attitude. Better to make a resolution and at least attempt to improve ourselves, than just not to bother at all.

Carl McColman: Encountering Jesus through Questions in the Gospels

Wednesday July 28, 2010
Saint Teresa of Ávila, one of the greatest of Christian mystics, understood clearly that the height of mystical spirituality, at least for Christians, must be grounded in the humble humanity of Jesus Christ.

Carl McColman: Why do Mystics Love the Church?

Wednesday July 28, 2010
The great Christian mystics of the past ”” up to and including Thomas Merton, as well as living contemplatives like Richard Rohr or Thomas Keating ”” almost always regarded faith community as an essential part of the spiritual life.

Carl McColman: Seven Tips for Returning to Church (After Being Away for Awhile)

Wednesday July 28, 2010
Have you been away from parish life for a while, but now feel like returning? You’re not alone.

Carl McColman: Seven Important Bible Verses About Silence

Wednesday July 28, 2010
Christians can be a noisy bunch. I’m always a bit surprised when I visit a church just before Mass and it’s filled with chatter. Maybe I’m showing my age here, but I recall as a boy that visiting a church was like visiting a library ”” it was a place reserved for the utmost silence.

Carl McColman: Five Ideas that Shape Contemplative Prayer

Wednesday July 28, 2010
I’ve been pondering: what are the ideas that form the foundation of contemplative spirituality? Or, perhaps I should more humbly say, what are the ideas that shape my understanding of contemplation, the understandings that undergird this blog?

Carl McColman: How to Cultivate Your “Contemplative Ecosystem”

Wednesday July 28, 2010
Recently I had a wonderful conversation with Kevin Johnson, who contributes to the Inner Room blog at Patheos. Kevin shares my deep conviction that contemplative practice forms an essential aspect of mature Christian discipleship.

Carl McColman: Is it possible to “fail” at contemplative prayer?

Wednesday July 28, 2010
It’s easy to get stuck in our heads when we pray ”” after all, prayer and meditation involve awareness, attention, consciousness. But we are embodied creatures, and so even something as mind-focused as praying occurs cradled within our human form. So there is a form prayer and contemplation just as there is a proper form for lifting weights.

Carl McColman: Is it possible to be a “Do It Yourself” Christian Mystic?

Wednesday July 28, 2010
Nearly all Christian mystics maintain that an essential characteristic of Christian mysticism is participation in the Body of Christ, which is to say, in the Christian community of faith. In other words, to be a Christian mystic, it is as important to be a follower of Christ as it is to be a mystic. And to be a follower of Christ means to express spirituality in a communal way.

Carl McColman: A Contemplative Faith ”” with a Gaelic Accent!

Wednesday July 28, 2010
What, exactly, is Celtic Christianity? Sure, it’s the spirituality found in books like John O’Donohue’s Anam Cara or Esther de Waal’s Every Earthly Blessing, among many others. But still: what is it?

Carl McColman: C. S. Lewis, Brendan the Navigator, and Evelyn Underhill

Wednesday July 28, 2010
In March I was one of several presenters at a symposium on C. S. Lewis and Joy Davidman. The theme of the symposium was “Love Letters to Jack, Love Letters to God.” Here is the transcript of my talk, in which I weave together my love for C. S. Lewis ”” especially the Narnia stories ”” with two influences on him: Evelyn Underhill and St. Brendan the Navigator.

Carl McColman: How Julian of Norwich Changed My Life

Wednesday July 28, 2010
Julian of Norwich, the author of Revelations of Divine Love, had a series of visions on May 8, 1373. Or maybe May 13, we’re not entirely sure. Nevertheless, today is a day that people around the world honor as a memorial of Julian’s extraordinary encounter with Divine Love.

Carl McColman: What is the relationship between Christian prayer and meditation?

Wednesday July 28, 2010
A reader named Bill wrote to me recently and asked this question: How does a church pray as a group? Is there a place in the church for intercession and supplication?

Carl McColman: Celtic Monks Observed Three Lents Each Year ”” Perhaps We Should Too

Wednesday July 28, 2010
When we think of Celtic spirituality in our day, we might think of nature mysticism, or of poetry and storytelling, or even of a holistic spirituality that embodies the best of both paganism and Christianity. But what we often forget is how important monasteries were to the ancient Celts.

Carl McColman: Beyond the Green Beer: Getting to Know Saint Patrick

Wednesday July 28, 2010
Patrick of Ireland may be a well-known saint, but that is thanks to the day that bears his name ”” March 17 ”” which for most people is more about green beer than anything else.

Carl McColman: Saint Brigid

Wednesday July 28, 2010
Patrick may be the best known of the Celtic saints, but for many people, the heart of the Celtic tradition belongs to Brigid.

Carl McColman: The Heart of Celtic Spirituality is Hospitality

Wednesday July 28, 2010
The heart of Celtic spirituality is hospitality. Indeed, from even before the coming of Christianity, the Celts recognized hospitality as a core value of their civilization.

Carl McColman: At the Edge of Waiting ”” A Celtic Approach to Contemplation

Wednesday July 28, 2010
The Irish word for contemplation ”” or contemplative prayer ”” is rinnfheitheamh. Yes, that’s a mouthful! I only have enough Irish to be dangerous, and the pronunciation of Irish depends on which of several dialects you’re speaking, but to the best of my knowledge the pronunciation is something like RINN-eh-hev.

Carl McColman: Can We Measure the Scientific Benefits of Christian Contemplation?

Wednesday July 28, 2010
Trying to measure the scientific efficacy of Christian contemplation, or, for that matter, comparing the 'benefits' of Christian prayer to other meditation practices, seems a bit like wondering if my marriage is happier than yours.

Carl McColman: How do Contemplatives Share the Gospel with Others?

Wednesday July 28, 2010
In my recent book, Christian Mystics: 108 Seers, Saints and Sages, I made a comment that inspired a reader to reach out to me. It involves the question of evangelization, or proclaiming the Gospel.

Carl McColman: What is the Relationship Between Contemplation and Privilege?

Wednesday July 28, 2010
We live in a moment in history when, finally, our global human family seems to be starting to truly wrestle with the problems associated with systemic oppression ”” including racism, sexism, classism, and other ways in which we create social distinctions, or limit people’s freedom or opportunity, merely on the basis of their identity.

Carl McColman: Seven “Ingredients” for Cultivating a Truly Mystical Life

Wednesday July 28, 2010
I think Christians have a lot to be hopeful about and that’s primarily because of the burgeoning interest in contemplative and mystical spirituality.

Carl McColman: Five Elements of a Daily Contemplative Practice ”” and Four Principles for Cultivating Your Practice

Wednesday July 28, 2010
Recently a reader of this blog posted this question: 'Just curious Carl ”” what does your typical schedule look like? How do you put it all together?' I think the larger question here is how can anyone ”” not just me ”” cultivate a daily contemplative practice. So I’ll answer the question, but then I want to reflect on the question of a regular practice in general.

Carl McColman: 12 Insightful Quotations from the Great Christian Mystics

Wednesday July 28, 2010
Here are some wonderful quotations excerpted from 'The Little Book of Christian Mysticism' which features over three hundred quotations of the mystics, from Biblical times to the present day.

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Carl McColman (Part 3) - Day1 Conversations with Peter Wallace

Wednesday July 28, 2010
Day1 Key Voice blogger and author of the new book, The Big Book of Christian Mysticism, Carl McColman sits down with Day1 host Peter Wallace to discuss the ideas and history of Christian mysticism, contemplative prayer and what connections there are to the Emerging Church movement.

Carl McColman (Part 2) - Day1 Conversations with Peter Wallace

Wednesday July 28, 2010
Day1 Key Voice blogger and author of the new book, The Big Book of Christian Mysticism, Carl McColman sits down with Day1 host Peter Wallace to discuss the ideas and history of Christian mysticism, contemplative prayer and what connections there are to the Emerging Church movement.

Carl McColman (Part 1) - Day1 Conversations with Peter Wallace

Wednesday July 28, 2010
Day1 Key Voice blogger and author of the new book, The Big Book of Christian Mysticism, Carl McColman sits down with Day1 host Peter Wallace to discuss the ideas and history of Christian mysticism, contemplative prayer and what connections there are to the Emerging Church movement.

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Carl McColman on Christian Mysticism

Wednesday July 28, 2010
Carl McColman, author of The Big Book of Christian Mysticism, talks with Day1 host Peter Wallace about the history, purpose, and practices of contemplation and mysticism in the Christian faith.