While the institutional church has frequently set boundaries limiting what ideas, beliefs, and practices could be considered Christian, Smoley, a former editor of Gnosis magazine, reminds readers that adventurous seekers have always borrowed freely from many sources to enhance their inner spiritual knowledge. Smoley collectively labels these disparate voices "inner" (or "esoteric") Christianity. The writings used to construct this tradition are diverse, ranging from Gnostic gospels and kabbalistic cosmologies, through late medieval alchemical theory, right up to Swedenborgian and New Age teachings. An initial chapter spells out the historical breadth of these traditions, but the bulk of the book offers a contemporary synthesis, providing insight into the deeper, mystical meaning of traditional Christian doctrines. Quotations from the sources are usually more engaging than the synthesis itself, but the author makes the case for listening more closely to an eclectic Christianity's own esoteric voices. Many readers will filter much of the material through a selective sieve of skepticism, but the book overviews a wide range of material and provides a solid introduction to esoteric Christianity for the general reader. Recommended for all libraries.
Written by an anonymous figure who wished for the book to be published posthumously, Meditations on the Tarot has been translated from the original French by author Robert Powell, who lives in Germany.
"It is simply astonishing. I have never read such a comprehensive account of the 'perennial philosophy.' There is hardly a line without some profound significance. To me it is the last word in wisdom." (Father Bede Griffiths)
"This book, in my view, is the greatest contribution to date toward the rediscovery and renewal of the Christian contemplative tradition of the Fathers of the Church and the High Middle Ages." (Trappist Abbot Thomas Keating, OCSO)
"Meditations on the Tarot has become instrumental in my thinking and in my understanding of health and disease. The writer-who calls himself 'Unknown Friend'-seems to be speaking to me directly with endless wisdom and inspiration." (Gerald Epstein, M.D., author of Healing Visualizations)
"The most beautiful and instructive book of the twentieth century concerning Western esotericism." (Antoine Faivre, professor of Germanic Studies at the University of Haute-Normany)
"The book begs not only to be studied cover to cover, but also to be savored, meditated upon and assimilated into one's life." (Richard W. Kropf, National Catholic Reporter)
Now I must put in a disclaimer that I do not offer unqualified endorsement for either of these works, particular since I haven't read them yet, but the ground they cover on initial inspection seems quite extensive, so a must read for someone like me.
I am in a fairly liminal space right now. Lots of things that were overshadowing us over the last few weeks are coming to a close but the new has yet to emerge.
The looming retrenchment of myself and my collegue has finally come to pass and I walked out of my North Sydney office for the last time work today. I received a nice package so I won't be hard up for a while yet and I have a few irons in the fire already but for the time being I join the ranks of the unemployed.
Earlier this morning my wife called to say her grandfather has died after anticipating this for some time now. It's sad but his quality of life was virtually non-existant in the last two weeks so there's a sence of closure too.
The car broke down and had to be towed. So I'm currently without a mobile or transport. I feel technologically disconnected. Thank God we got the computer back today.
Open Faith Network reports that Geshe Sonam Thargye, the monk who organised the sand mandala at Erina Fair earlier this year, is the teacher at the Drol Kar Buddhist Centre in Geelong, Victoria, Australia.
The site contains an itinerary for their Sacred Footsteps Tour earlier this year and more information about the Drol Kar Buddhist Centre.
Note: Contrary to the claims of this last article, Nature Religions are now the fastest growing in Australia and Buddhism is the second fastest. But, this inaccuracy aside, the phenomenal growth of Buddhism and the associated issues highlighted by the article do deserve more attention. One of the ironies of Austalian church life is that many Christians believe Islam to be the fastest growing religion in the country. This owes more to post-September 11 media hype than any objective assessment of the facts (Muslim growth actually ranks way down at fourth!) but hey, whoever said the Australian church had a firm grip on reality? I offer this in hope that we can begin to look at our land with our eyes open just a little wider.
"Congregations are losing their religious belief even faster than churches are losing their congregations, according to research published today ... That undermines a cherished tenet of churches in Britain: that many people implicitly "believe" even if they don't explicitly belong."
Not sure how to take that but it has got me wondering.