Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Other Sellers on Amazon
+ $3.99 shipping
+ $5.32 shipping
+ $3.75 shipping
The Big Book of Christian Mysticism: The Essential Guide to Contemplative Spirituality Paperback – August 1, 2010
"Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress"
Is the world really falling apart? Is the ideal of progress obsolete? Cognitive scientist and public intellectual Steven Pinker urges us to step back from the gory headlines and prophecies of doom, and instead, follow the data: In seventy-five jaw-dropping graphs, Pinker shows that life, health, prosperity, safety, peace, knowledge, and happiness are on the rise. Learn more
Frequently bought together
Customers who bought this item also bought
Customers who viewed this item also viewed
"Mysticism is not mystifying at all, but simple, always available, and utterly clarifying. Carl McColman's much needed book will allow you to experience this for yourself. Christians and all Seekers will find both meat and dessert in such a full meal." - Richard Rohr, author of The Naked Now and Everything Belongs
"Charmingly and conversationally written, but also rich in nuance and thorough in its coverage and its attention to detail, The Big Book is, as its name suggests, a big ... even an enormous ... contribution to our current literature on the subject. Highly recommended." - Phyllis Tickle, author of The Great Emergence
"Before I heard about The Big Book of Christian Mysticism, I had been thinking about how such a book has been needed for a long time. Now, having read it, I'm glad we waited for Carl McColman to come along to write it. It's accessible, well-informed, balanced ... just what we needed." - Brian McLaren, author of A New Kind of Christian
"A guidebook for going deeper on the Christian mystical path, The Big Book of Christian Mysticism is grounded in sound scholarship and thoughtful reflection (often surprisingly fresh and insightful!), but what makes it sing is the authenticity of the author's own contemplative journey." - Cynthia Bourgeault, author of The Wisdom Jesus
"Carl McColman has both studied and practised the Christian mystical tradition, stressing its earthiness and 'ordinariness'. He holds that mysticism is not an esoteric realm, reserved for the very holy, but is what all Christian life is about. I strongly commend this book." - Kenneth Leech, author of Soul Friend
From the Author
When I was eighteen years old, a friend of mine loaned me a copy of Evelyn Underhill's Mysticism: A Study in the Nature and Development of Spiritual Consciousness. Like many folks raised in a mainstream Christian context, I had no idea that Christianity had such a rich and storied history of men and women who experienced profound, life-changing mystical encounters with God -- nor did I have any sense that such a tradition could remain relevant, even today. But Underhill's book opened the door to that wondrous spiritual world for me, and I have been an enthusiastic seeker of the mysteries ever since. I've come to believe that mysticism is Christianity's "best kept secret," and that a renewed understanding of, and appreciation for, Christian mysticism can help Christians find greater meaning and joy in their faith, and help non-Christians to see the wisdom tradition that began with Jesus of Nazareth in a new light.
Given how important Underhill's book has been to my own spiritual life, I discerned a desire to write an introduction to Christian mysticism for the third millennium. While my book can never replace or supplant hers, my hope is that it can help introduce its readers to the splendor and beauty of Christian mysticism, just as Underhill's book made that introduction for me. So on a very personal level, The Big Book of Christian Mysticism is my way of saying "thank you" to Underhill -- and beyond her, to God, who Christians believe is the source of all true mystical experience.
Evelyn Underhill was a brilliant scholar who spent years researching the history and literature of mysticism. Her pioneering work led to further studies by such renowned academics as Bernard McGinn, Harvey Egan, Andrew Louth, and the late Grace Jantzen. My book is designed to serve as a complement to such important researchers and theorists. The Big Book of Christian Mysticism bridges the gap between the "ivory tower" of scholarly studies of mysticism, and the everyday experience of ordinary Christians, for whom mysticism is not a topic for bookish research, but rather an invitation to a deeper experience of God. Because I assume that my readers may not know anything about mysticism (or, for that matter, anything about Christianity!), it can be an ideal introductory book.
My spiritual journey, like that of many seekers in our time, has been marked by a variety of twists and turns. I was raised a Lutheran Christian, moving to the Episcopal/Anglican communion as a young adult. But I was also drawn to the wisdom of other traditions, including Buddhism and Neopaganism. Eventually I spent about seven years outside of Christianity, exploring Wicca, shamanism, Goddess spirituality, Celtic Druidism, Ken Wilber's Integral Theory, among other spiritual paths. But the Christian contemplative path called me back, and in my 40s I entered the Catholic Church, placing myself under the spiritual guidance of Cistercian monks and Benedictine wisdom. What all this means is that I've been able to ponder the meaning of Christian mysticism for people both inside and outside the institutional expression of Christianity (the church). With this in mind, I endeavored to write The Big Book of Christian Mysticism both for Christians who might be new to the topic of mysticism, but also for people outside of the Christian tradition, who may or may not be students of the mysteries, but who are unfamiliar with how mysticism has been uniquely experienced and expressed within the lineage of those who follow Jesus of Nazareth.
Mysticism is a wonderful "location" of spiritual experience, particularly for those who are more drawn to what unites all people, rather than what separates us. All through history, Christian mystics have been at the forefront of interfaith dialogue: the great conversation between people of different religions. Unlike how some Christians too often approach "others" merely as targets for conversion, the great mystics and contemplatives of the Christian faith, especially in the recent past and present, see mysticism as the bridge that enables fruitful and positive interaction across religious boundaries. Thus, Thomas Merton explored Buddhism, and Henri Le Saux became so immersed in Vedanta that he even took a new religious name as Swami Abhishiktananda. More recently, contemplatives like Cynthia Bourgeault, Tilden Edwards, Mary Margaret Funk, and Paul Knitter have been leaders on the frontier where Christian spirituality engages with the wisdom of other traditions. The Big Book of Christian Mysticism is not an interfaith book per se: it really is intended to serve as an introduction to the distinctively Christian expression of mysticism. But it is written as a contribution to an understanding of spirituality that is both deep (as in deeply-rooted in the Christian path) and inclusive (open to the wisdom of others). It is my hope that readers who do not identify as Christians will nevertheless find in this book a lovely expression of a particular stream of spirituality. Meanwhile, those readers who do identify as Christians will find themselves called to a deeper, richer, more intimate, and hopefully transformational dimension of their faith.
One final word: I'm rather embarrassed by the book's title. Here's the inside story. My editor came up with the idea of calling this work the "big book" because, in early conversations before I actually started writing it, we envisioned a tome rather like Underhill's: 500+ pages long, providing more information about mysticism than you'll ever need. But as I wrote the book, I began to question whether my goal of writing an accessible introduction to Christian mysticism would really be served by making this book so long that it could seem intimidating. My editor agreed, and eventually the book ended up being about half the length we originally thought it would be. Which I'm perfectly happy with -- except neither he nor I thought to revise the title. Oops! I've had a few readers scratch their heads over how "little" this "Big Book" is. Thankfully, only a couple of snarky reviewers have attacked the title, and then there's Richard Rohr, who very kindly told me he thought the title was "whimsical." Maybe in a future edition we can drop "The Big Book of" and just call this work Christian Mysticism: A Guide to Contemplative Spirituality. But for now, it is what it is. I humbly hope you'll order yourself a copy. Just don't be surprised at how "normal-sized" this so-called "Big Book" is!
Top customer reviews
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
Also, if you're a Catholic or other Christian attracted to mystical things (like me) but you're hesitant to proceed because our religion discourages things such as the occult, reincarnation, New Age, etc, or you did proceed, and then realized you shouldn't have (like me), because you had insufficient grounding in your own religion, then Christian Mysticism may be just the thing for you. Christian mysticism certainly doesn't encourage the occult and reincarnation, but it's goal is the same: divine union, but with Jesus at the center. Carl does not criticize any religion. His perspective is respectful, honest, and quite insightful.
The book does have a useful bibliography and reading list in the appendix, which is strongest in its treatment of Roman Christian authors and mystics. My own perspective is that this is not a book which you will keep on your shelf very long, no matter how useful it becomes to you. If it succeeds for you, you will quickly move on to others which you will want to keep around; if it disappoints you, you will want to give it away. For that reason, I suggest that you purchase the Kindle edition, as I did. The reading list will always be there in the Cloud for reference, and my shelf space can be saved for books I need to pick up and show to other folks.
Despite that the modern view of Christianity is one only of allegiance and compliance (kind of like thinking of citizenship as voting, paying bills, and doing taxes), true Christianity is about a relationship with God. Of course this relationship can never be captured, because it is one of love. A parent sets rules for his or her child, but to say that those rules are the entirety of parenthood or family life would be ludicrous. So this book, or any book, cannot adequately encompass all of God or all of our relationship with God. But it tries, and within those limits I think it has at least a partial success.
I think one of the worst, maybe even the absolute worst aspect of the fall of man was that it brought separation between all of us, and separation of us from God. And yet there is still a connection. Maybe it's buried deep and hard to find, but it is there. In a football stadium are different teams and fans taking different sides, but they are all there out of love for the spirit of the football game. We all are of the same human spirit breathed into us by God. We are our brother's keeper, and everyone is our neighbor that we are commanded to love as ourselves. One of the aspects of mysticism is that, because it is not a set of rules but a relationship with our Source, God, we begin to understand that everyone's relationship is personal and individual.
True, mysticism is not Christianity. But Christianity is mystical through and through, and this book explores that innate and intimate component.
I am also impressed with the author's listing of Christian mystic sources at the end of the book. Many directions are pointed at for further study, though as the author states, the best source is the Bible itself.