Encountering Silence
Silence and Mysticism (Episode 16)
April 4, 2018
Exploring the role that silence plays in mysticism, in the light of Carl's book "The Little Book of Christian Mysticism."
What role does silence play in mysticism? That’s the question that launches our conversation this week. Episode 16 is inspired by the recent release of The Little Book of Christian Mysticism, by Carl McColman. But rather than just focus on the new book, we decided to broaden the conversation in this week’s episode to a more general reflection on how silence and mysticism belong together — and influence each other. We launch our conversation by looking at the problems connected with merely trying to define the word “mysticism” (and related terms  like “experience” and “spirituality”). From there we explore the connection between mysticism, mystery and silence. “The Christian of the future will be a mystic — which is to say, a Christian who’s comfortable with silence, who’s comfortable with mystery, who’s comfortable with paradox and ambiguity, but who moves into all of that for the sake of love: the love of the Divine, and the love of one another.” — Carl McColman Our conversation considers how mysticism is misunderstood by both the academic world the world of “pop” spirituality, how mysticism can make a difference even in the context of the institutional crisis in the church today, and how mysticism can be meaningful to the ordinary person today — leading to the radical (but ancient and orthodox) teaching of deification or divinization — what Saint Peter called being “partakers of the Divine nature.” In our conversation, we explore who are some of Carl’s favorite mystics, how the women mystics of the Middle Ages need to be acknowledged as courageous heroines of the faith, and which mystics ought to be declared doctors of the church. “Experience is the beginning of mysticism... People will say ‘I am drawn to mysticism because I want an experiential faith.’ I think that’s great! But let that be your starting point, and not your ending point. If the experience of God is the beginning of mysticism, then God’s encounter with you is the end of mysticism.” — Carl McColman Some of the resources and authors mentioned in this episode: Carl McColman, The Little Book of Christian Mysticism Maggie Ross, Writing the Icon of the Heart Pseudo-Dionysius, The Divine Names and the Mystical Theology Carl McColman, The Big Book of Christian Mysticism Carl McColman, Befriending Silence Carl McColman, Answering the Contemplative Call Jacques Derrida, A Derrida Reader John of the Cross, Collected Works Meister Eckhart, Selected Writings Anonymous, The Cloud of Unknowing Don Cupitt, Mysticism After Modernity Karl Rahner, Concern for the Church Evagrius Ponticus, The Praktikos & Chapters on Prayer Julian of Norwich, The Showings of Julian of Norwich Thérèse of Lisieux, The Story of a Soul  Mother Teresa, Come Be My Light Teresa of Ávila, The Book of My Life C. S. Lewis, The Four Loves Thomas Merton, Dialogues with Silence Thomas Keating, Open Mind, Open Heart: The Contemplative Dimension of the Gospel Evelyn Underhill, Practical Mysticism Caryll Houselander, Essential Writings John Climacus, The Ladder of Divine Ascent Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, The Divine Milieu Dorothee Soelle, The Silent Cry: Mysticism and Resistance Bernard of Clairvaux, Selected Works George Maloney, Inward Stillness Douglas Steere, ed., Quaker Spirituality Augustine, The Confessions of Saint Augustine The Catechism of the Catholic Church Hildegard of Bingen, Selected Writings Marguerite Porete, A Mirror of Simple Souls Hadewijch, The Complete Works Catherine of Siena, The Dialogue Catherine of Genoa, Purgation and Purgatory; The Spiritual Dialogue Mechthilde of Magdeburg, The Flowing Light of the Godhead Gertrude the Great, Life and Revelations Jeanne Guyon, Selected Writings Grace Jantzen, Julian of Norwich John Ruusbroec, The Spiritual Espousals and Other Works Pope Benedict XVI, The Essential Writings and Speeches