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Product Details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Hampton Roads Publishing (February 1, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1571746773
  • ISBN-13: 978-1571746771
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.6 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #271,569 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

McColman, a Christian layman who practices contemplative prayer and retreat, offers an accessible guide for those who feel the need to respond to a similar call. He divides his presentation into three stages: recognizing the contemplative call, preparing to follow it, and undertaking it. He writes for an audience that he assumes shares his interest, but he doesn’t claim contemplation as either a panacea for all spiritual needs or as specific to Christianity. Relying on historical examples of such famous contemplatives as Teresa of Ávila and Augustine of Hippo, McColman also acknowledges how contemplation now is contextualized by a social and scientific world far different from that of the Middle Ages. Ending with a discussion of the community aspects of contemplation, this is a complete handbook that can lend comfort and credence to the felt needs of latter day followers of Thomas Merton. Source notes provide a wealth of resources for interested readers to consult. --Francisca Goldsmith

Review

"Mysticism is a process and one in which everyone is called to participate. That is McColman's starting point. From there he discusses mysticism, meditation, and comtemplation. He uses the Judeo-Christian tradition as his framework. He weaves writings by and about Christian mystics through the text to help communicate his ideas, but while the quotes date back to the time of Jesus, McColman's writing brings it all forward into the 21th Century. There are sections of the text that echo Zen, Taoist, and Buddhist practice, making it an excellent natural bridge to interfaith study for Christian customers who are ready for that. Those who aren't will learn how to make traditional Christian beliefs more personally fulfilling. The mix of history and practice, communicated in real world language, makes this a very valuable resource." --Anna Jedrziewski, Retailing Insight, February 2013

Customer Reviews

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A very enjoyable and enlightening read, indeed.
kaon2009
Answering the Contemplative Call uses journey as well as theater to describe this adventure of life.
Richard Kautz, author of A Labyrinth Year
I would recommend it to anyone seeking out there.
L. Batsford

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

24 of 25 people found the following review helpful By John R. Gigliotti on February 10, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I discovered Christian mysticism seven years ago, but I hadn't read an interesting or practical book on the subject till Carl McColman's previous book, "The Big Book of Christian Mysticism." So I was happy to learn the author was writing another book about Christian mysticism.
I always wanted to act and be like Christ, but McColman tells you to simply love Christ. Trying to act like Jesus is putting too much emphasis on yourself.
Being still within so God can act within you is a radical change from the Catholic understanding I had before mysticism. Prayers without words are still prayers and worship to God. On a personal note, I do zazen daily and I am Catholic. I am partial towards forms of prayer without images. I see the balances of prayers with words and without, as Carl McColman makes sure the reader understands to try both forms of prayer.
I recommend this book for someone who is inclined to resting in the will of God. I recommend this book to any of my fellow Christians, too, who like me may have interfaith dialogue or meditation with Zen Buddhists as a priority. Why? There are many agreements upon which all mystical paths can take, and a peaceful world exists where we can appreciate our differences and stay true to our roots of religious practice.
Above all -- love God, neighbor and yourself. McColman is an expert on Christian mysticism and you will learn quite a lot in this book. I haven't even touched upon other insights that you may have reading this wonderful book. But after reading, sit down and shut up. Silence is there for you to grow and be in love with God.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on June 8, 2013
Format: Paperback
Being an introvert, I'm often drawn to quiet and solitude. When I was in divinity school, it's a large part of the reason I was drawn to mysticism and contemplative spirituality--and there I found somewhat of a home. Sadly, it's not a home I have tended for much of the past decade. My faith has become more cerebral and, in many ways, more active than contemplative. So when the opportunity came along to read and review Carl McColman's Answering the Contemplative Call: First Steps on the Mystical Path, I was happy to do so.

This book provides an excellent introduction to a contemplative life in a way that is accessible and practical. McColman pulls from an interfaith, but largely ecumenical base, citing well known mystics of old--and not so old. He provides an invitation to join the contemplative journey, and uses journey as the extended metaphor for the book as a whole. McColman provides a road map with suggested resources (travel agents, if you will), practical steps, and advice from those who have walked before. He boils it down to two core practices: meditation and contemplative (i.e., silent) prayer.

Embedded among the suggestions for cultivating the space, silence, and simplicity for a contemplative life, what I appreciated most about this book was the reminder that there is a rhythm to the contemplative life just as there is a rhythm to the everyday life, and we should be patient--and gracious--with ourselves as the process, or journey, unfolds. Although much of this book was a review for me, it truly is a beautiful and well done introduction of the contemplative life for those who are unfamiliar with such practices.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By kaon2009 on April 6, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
For anyone starting out on the path of contemplative Christianity, this book is a must-read. Carl McColman speaks with a clarity and intimacy that is right on the mark for the beginning contemplative. As an analogy, if his previous book, "The Big Book of Christian Mysticism," is like Bach, then "Answering the Contemplative Call" is Mozart. The author knows how to write a readable book and how to communicate with laymen. A very enjoyable and enlightening read, indeed.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Leah Chang VINE VOICE on April 23, 2013
Format: Paperback
Answering the Contemplative Call is a primer, a guide for first encounters, a kind of Contemplative Practice 101 textbook, so it's not comprehensive. Like most introductory texts, the book covers a lot of territory, and attempts to define and describe a lot of concepts.

Basics:
Recognize the call
Prepare for the journey
Embark on the adventure .... of
"...the mystical path [which] is the path of love between you and God." (page 10)

Straightaway author Carl McColman cautions us how the lifelong practice the mystical journey, of engaging the mysteries of God, the mysteries of our lives, is more of a spiral than a straight line. The text of this book spirals around a lot, too, but that's part of what makes it engaging and fairly easy to read.

I won't attempt to list the many historical and more contemporary lovers of God the author cites, but they include Thomas Aquinas, Thomas Merton, Evelyn Underhill, Julian of Norwich, the desert fathers and mothers, English and Spanish mystics, Augustine of Hippo, Hildegard of Bingen, Teresa of Avila, C.S. Lewis. We can place ourselves in their company!



At the beginning, on page 6, McColman insists thinking about God or having spiritual thoughts is not the first step along the way. In fact, I never ever would have guessed or imagined his root concept--it is "beholding." He lines out the initial sequence again:

God calls us
The call makes us restless
we wake up (respond) to the call
we behold the mystery
"and only then--do we start thinking about it."

On page 38: "To behold implies a profound engagement with that which you see. It implies paying attention and truly being present.
Read more ›
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Most Recent Customer Reviews


More About the Author

Carl McColman writes about the spiritual life. He explored many paths before taking refuge in the Catholic Church, which he joined in 2005. His newer books all reflect his love for contemplative, monastic and mystical Christianity. His older books covered a variety of topics including Pagan, Celtic and Goddess spirituality.

Carl's work is characterized by an optimistic, expansive understanding of spirituality, rooted in Christianity while embracing the wisdom of the world's contemplative traditions. In his own words, "I am passionate about helping people to embody creative, joyful lives of love and service, formed by prayer, silence, and the wisdom of the saints and mystics."

Carl McColman learned the practice of contemplative prayer at the Shalem Institute for Spiritual Formation. He is a professed Lay Cistercian -- a layperson under the guidance of Trappist monks. He regularly speaks, teaches and conducts retreats on contemplative Christian practice, and blogs at www.carlmccolman.com.

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