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Christian Mystics: 108 Seers, Saints, and Sages Paperback – October 1, 2016
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"108 is a sacred number in the Eastern wisdom traditions. I love that Carl McColman chose this esoteric vessel to hold the perennial wisdom of the Christian mystics. Drawing together an array of colorful visionaries and sublime poets, this book is an elegant guide to the essence of those awakened souls who transcend religiosity while simultaneously opening our hearts to the love of their Master, Christ." --Mirabai Starr, translator of The Showings of Julian of Norwich and author of God of Love: A Guide to the Heart of Judaism, Christianity and Islam and Caravan of No Despair: A Memoir of Loss and Transformation
"How blessed we are to have this book! Carl McColman not only broadens our notion of mysticism, but also deepens it, and thus invites ever Christian on the same beloved path." --Richard Rohr, OFM, founder of the Center for Action and Contemplation and author of What the Mystics Know
“We live to feel alive. We need to know love and joy. And I feel this book could help safeguard -- and encourage -- many tender, precious unfurling wings." --Daniel Ladinsky, bestselling author of The Gift and Love Poems From God
“Carl McColman offers an inspiring introduction to a broad range of 108 Western Christian mystics, helpfully divided into 9 different kinds of mystics. The reader who is drawn to particular ones as potential teachers for their spiritual journey is helped by the author’s listing of an outstanding available book for each mystic, that will expose them more fully to that person’s wisdom. The book is written in lucid, non-academic language that allows it to be accessible to a wide range of people.” --Tilden Edwards
“I used to carry around Evelyn Underhill’s classic, Mysticism. My copy of Bernard McGinn’s anthology is marked on every page. But now, Carl McColman’s Christian Mystics will be my go to guide. The people in chapters “Heretics” and “Poets” are like treasures hidden in a field, and the “Unitives” are like a heavenly feast. Appropriately presented last, they are the ones that take us all to new ground.” --Jon M. Sweeney, author of The Enthusiast: How the Best Friend of Francis of Assisi Almost Destroyed What He Started
"Christianity is a vast sea of wisdom, and yet most of us are content only to skim the surface. Carl McColman's introduction to Christian mysticism invites us to dive deep and discover a Christianity most of us have never even imagine. If you think Christianity = Church + Sunday School, you need this book!" --Rabbi Rami Shapiro, author of Perennial Wisdom for the Spiritually Independent
"This useful and engaging book is, as the author says, a kind of "speed-dating" introduction to the world of Christian mystics. It's of real value both for beginners and for more experienced readers, who may have overlooked some of the great mystics of the past." --Richard Smoley, author of Inner Christianity: A Guide to the Esoteric Tradition
“Carl McColman has given us another rich introduction to the Christian mystical tradition, this time though the lives of some of its greatest explorers. This loving and accessible collection of portraits shows us the lush diversity of those who’ve ventured deep into the presence of God. Visionaries and lovers, poets and others, McColman joins these scalers of the spiritual heights and invites us forward on our own journey. An invaluable resource for both newcomers and those well-versed in the contemplative way.” --Susan R. Pitchford, author of Following Francis, God in the Dark, and The Sacred Gaze
“Read a page a day of this sacred book, and you will surely tap into the mystic wisdom and love of your own heart.” --Robert Holden, author of Life Loves You! and Shift Happens!
“Carl McColman’s wise and gentle primer has introduced me to many mystics I’ve never heard of, as well as renewed my acquaintance with some favorites like Julian of Norwich, Meister Eckhart and Richard Rohr. This book brings mystics down to earth even while bringing readers that much closer to heaven. I will be turning to it many times in the coming years.” ―Jana Riess, author of Flunking Sainthood
"Christian Mystics is a delightful spiritual banquet, a real feast, giving us a taste of the many mystics throughout time who can serve as our teachers and companions. It is accessible, informative, and inspiring, bringing the mystical tradition to life. This book is a treasure, one to enjoy and return to again and again." --Colette Lafia, author of Seeking Surrender: How my Friendship with a Trappist Monk Taught me to Trust and Embrace Life
"A treasure trove of the Christian mystics--seers, saints and sages--presented in all their rich diversity and offered as mentors to guide the contemporary Christian toward an encounter with the presence of God. Christian Mystics serves as both a primer and a resource to inspire and inform." --Dana Greene, author of Evelyn Underhill: Artist of the Infinite Life, The Living of Maisie Ward, and Denise Levertov: A Poet's Life
“Carl offers his readers the great gift of a distillation of 108 wise and worthy guides on the mystical way, each entry offering a spark for further exploration. His categories were especially helpful in finding kindred souls and I love that ‘Heretics’ were included.” --Christine Valters Paintner, PhD, author nine books on the spiritual life including Illuminating the Way: Embracing the Wisdom of Monks and Mystics
"The genius of this book lies in its ability to introduce the reader to the heart of the mystics through tiny, sparkling jewels of their writings. A mystic himself, Carl McColman knows these mystics deeply and selects passages that invite the reader into their profound experience of God." --Margaret Benefiel, author of Soul at Work and The Soul of a Leader
About the Author
Carl McColman lives near Atlanta, Georgia, where he is the member of the Lay Cistercians of Our Lady of the Holy Spirit―a contemplative community under the spiritual guidance of Trappist monks. He is a member of the Atlanta Shambhala Center and is active in the Atlanta interfaith community. Carl frequently leads workshops and retreats on contemplative spirituality at churches, seminaries, monasteries, and retreat centers.
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Top Customer Reviews
also as an interesting and informative exploration of the topic.
But McColman’s book is about more than doing searches and gaining knowledge. In the introduction, Carl McColman says (quoting William McNamara) that each person is a “special kind of mystic.” We are made to love God and to be transformed into his image. Mystics of the past (and present) guide us in this process. We can look to them as teachers in God’s school of love. That’s how McColman’s book should be approached—as part of the teaching process.
Rather than presenting a chronological history, Christian Mystics is arranged thematically, with sections on Poets, Lovers, Soul Friends, and six other categories. McColman is really good at bringing out the unique personality and gifts of each mystic, and this helps us, the book’s readers, to figure out which mystics can help us the most based on our own personality and interests. My favorite category is Soul Friends, because this is just what I need—a friend and guide to go with me on my path.
I also like the way the book dispels some common myths about mystics. The profile on Bernard Lonergan, for example, shows us that mysticism is not based solely or even primarily on one’s subjective experience or feelings. It’s more about knowing and loving God. McColman also makes a point of saying that having visions is not the most important part of mysticism, and many mystics of the past did not have visions. The mystics are more accessible than we might think.
In the conclusion, McColman suggests that we try reading the mystics using the exercise of lectio divina. In other words, don’t just read for information. Read for transformation. The profiles and resources in McColman's book provide a very good start on this path. They're going to be part of my spiritual journey in 2017.
This is not just a book about “saints”, a term which has come to have more to do with morality than spirituality. McColman includes the wisdom of the “heretics” as well. He asks readers to look past the limitations of individual people and understand the spiritual experience of the soul contained within the body.
Written for people who want to encounter the mystics rather than study them, McColman encourages us to read the book devotionally rather than academically, allowing the Holy Spirit to enter our lives and transform us.
This book provides a broad range of examples, from C.S. Lewis to Julian of Norwich to Martin Luther King Jr., all of whom have something to share with us, regardless of our motivation for reading about Christian mysticism.
(Inannaworks.com received a free review copy of this book.)