A new web resource and magazine called Conversations: A Forum for Authentic Transformation has appeared in recent days. Some articles are published on the website but many others are available by subscribing to the magazine (which can be sent in PDF form). In the most recent issue entitled “Contemplation,” Mindy Caliguire reviews Gerald May’s book The Dark Night of the Soul. Here’s an excerpt from her article:
One of the most striking areas clarified for me was this: the experience of a “dark night”, according to John and Theresa, is not in fact just a season of difficulty. May asserts that a deeper meaning has been often lost in translation with the word, dark. Dark in John’s sense did not refer to something sinister or particularly bad. Rather, the Spanish word in John’s writing isoscura. May writes,
“Brother Lawrence of the Resurrection, another Carmelite mystic, lived in seventeenth-century France. At one point in his famous treatise, The Practice of the Presence of God, he says, “People would be surprised if they knew what their souls said to God sometimes.” Centuries before Freud “discovered” the unconscious, contemplatives such as Brother Lawrence, Teresa, and John had a profound appreciation that there is an active life of the soul that goes on beneath our awareness. It is to this unconscious dimension of the spiritual life that Teresa and John refer to when they use the term “dark”.… For them, it simply means obscure. In the same way that things are difficult to see at night, the deepest relationship between God and person is hidden from our conscious awareness.
“In speaking of la nocha oscura, the dark night of the soul, John is addressing something mysterious and unknown, but by no means sinister or evil…. John says it is one thing to be in oscuras and quite another to be in tinieblas (the sinister kind of darkness). In oscuras things are hidden; in tinieblas one is blind. In fact, it is the very blindness of tinieblas, our slavery to attachment and delusion, that the dark night of the soul is working to heal.” (p. 67-68) Read more here.
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Brian McLaren was asked a good question about whether or not God’s grace comes with terms and conditions. The question and his response is found here. He has also made some interesting observations about Rob Bell‘s new book Love Wins and some responses to its release. Read about that here.
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Read on Twitter this week: “I’m not a universalist but I prayer every day that God is.”
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Nate Stratman on his blog has written about an oft-missing ingredient in youth ministry.
When is the last time that we found out that a student was in counseling or left our church because we delighted in them too much? Delight is a cousin of Joy, which is a fruit of God’s Spirit and scripture says “against such things there is no law.” – Gal. 5:23 So my translation is “slather on an extra spoonful of delight” when we have the opportunity to greet any student in our ministries.
Here is the caveat, there are those that are easier to delight in than others. I must always remember my personal story and how I wasn’t the easiest teenager to delight in, which made it shocking when adults actually loved my ugly and not just my infrequent, well-behaved side. We delight because HE first delighted in us. (Read it all here.)
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Jonathan Brink has written on the EV blog. One sentence stood out for me above others (perhaps because of my own experience):
“You know what I don’t understand. I have a lot of friends who are strict fundamentalists, and I’m okay with that. It’s what they want to believe and I don’t want to change that.But what gets me is that none of them say, ‘I may be right, but I hope I’m wrong.'”
My comment on this is: how often have I spoken the caveat when speaking my own thoughts on an issue? (I wish some of those who commented on Jonathan’s post could have considered this as well.) Read it here.