Christian Mystics: 108 Seers, Saints and Sages celebrates the many types of mystics, visionaries, wisdom keepers, and non-dualists whose spiritual insight and perceptive teachings have illuminated the Christian tradition for the past two thousand years. Looking at 108 mystics from Biblical times to the present day, this user-friendly guide shows how the spiritual masters of the western tradition provide a variety of paths into the transforming heart of God.
Everyone needs teachers and companions to guide and nurture us in developing rich interior lives — as we seek to respond to the beatifying, deifying love of God. The mystics, whose legacy includes sublime poetry, fascinating autobiographies, and potentially life-changing teachings, can help anyone find greater love, purpose, and a deeper sense of God's presence.
But the mystics are not a uniform bunch, which is why this book is such an essential guide to their lives, wisdom, and essential teachings. Carl McColman, author of The Big Book of Christian Mysticism, organizes the mystics into nine categories: visionaries, confessors, lovers, poets, saints, heretics, wisdom keepers, soul-friends, and unitives. By profiling twelve examples of great mystics and spiritual teachers in each category, the book can help you to learn more about the mystics, and identify those whose writings will be most valuable to you as you pursue your own adventure of falling ever more deeply in love with God.
All of the most famous Christian mystics are profiled here: figures like Teresa of Ávila, Meister Eckhart, Julian of Norwich, John of the Cross, Evelyn Underhill, Thomas Merton, and anonymous masters like the authors of classics like The Cloud of Unknowing or The Way of a Pilgrim. But the book also will introduce you to many lesser known (but truly wonderful) mystical geniuses, such as Beatrice of Nazareth, Gregory of Narek, and Coventry Patmore. Nor does the book shy away from living (or recently living) mystics: visionaries such as Howard Thurman, Sara Grant, Kenneth Leech, and Bruno Barnhart are all included.
This informative volume will appeal to those who buy religious reference books and anyone interested in Christian mysticism or western spirituality. But it's more than just a history book or an encyclopedia: Christian Mystics: 108 Seers, Saints and Sages is a curated celebration of western spiritual wisdom, making it accessible for all seekers today.
“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
“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 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
"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. Ch
McColman, a lay practitioner who leads contemplative spirituality workshops and retreats, has gathered brief biographical entries for more than 100 Christians whom he identifies as mystics from throughout the history of the church. A mystic, he writes, is "someone who knows God, who embodies the presence of God, and whose life has been transfigured by this divine presence." Entries are arranged thematically according to nine mystic types identified by the author. Within each category, 12 mystics are profiled in entries ranging in length from several paragraphs to a half-dozen pages. Each entry gives the dates of the mystic's birth and death, a few biographical facts, and a taste of his or her mystic experience. Each entry includes suggestions for further reading, typically the mystic's own writings. The book also provides a bibliography and endnotes. While women mystics are fairly well represented, non-Western voices are disappointingly absent. The entries are written in chatty prose (for example, St. Francis of Assisi is described as "the Doctor Doolittle of Christian mysticism") and do not attempt to provide the reader with an authoritative summary of the mystic's life. Rather, the book might be viewed as an invitation to the curious layperson to browse and select a handful of mystics whose teachings may resonate for him or her. Given its format, the book could well serve as a tool for group study, if augmented with additional readings.