Wednesday, October 03, 2018


Finishing the last two books left me in a desert place, unable to write. I'm still there, really, but I would like to share some insights about old age and judgement. At least something is finally stirring!

There is judgement; don't doubt it for a minute. It happens when the years start mounting up, but especially as you advance into the seventies. It consists of memories that arise from unfathomable depths, humiliating events in which you did or were done to, events you have not thought about for decades. They are unrelenting. They have to be faced. It is a whole 'nuther phase of purification, one that can't happen before you get old.

Sometimes you face them, you deal with them, but they still—force of habit?—persist like clouds of mosquitoes on the Arctic tundra. A Tibetan nun, in her inimitable direct French way, responded, when I asked her about these nuisance thoughts: 'Ask yourself why you need to cling to them.' Sometime later, another friend sent me a blessing with which he blesses himself at night. Astounding! was my knee-jerk reaction. Bless oneself???!!! And I wrote him back, 'Why is it so difficult to bless oneself?' It is a kind of nakedness to God.

All these little nudges mingle together, of course, and one of the insights is that purification is positive at this stage. If the thoughts persist after being dealt with, rather like a reflex, it is possible to ask, 'Why am I clinging to this thought? Why do I need to see myself like this?' And perhaps we see that even more than acknowledging our thoughts and weaknesses it is important to allow this false self-abnegation to fall away. 

'Negative thoughts' we tend to see as bad thoughts about other people or things or events; but it is the negative thoughts about our selves and our pasts in general that are even more insidious, because they block our receptivity to the forgiving mercy of God. We do not have to despise our selves to be acceptable to God. Our sins, yes; and some of them are truly horrendous. But, repented, they are forgiven, and to fail to surrender to that forgiveness is a kind of false pride that is worse that anything we might do. Perhaps it is the sin against the Holy Spirit.

Nothing earth-shattering, here, but a reminder.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Now available from DLT UK

Silence: A User's Guide vol 2 is now available directly from Darton Longman Todd UK. Enjoy!

Tuesday, January 02, 2018

Urgent Message

Gentle Readers,

Please do not buy Volume 2 from Amazon UK if you live outside the UK and Europe. Likewise if you live in the UK or Europe, please don't buy what is currently listed on Amazon UK as this edition isn't out yet. There are two different publishers involved and the American one has mistakenly listed its edition on the Amazon UK site. If too many books are wrongly sold through this site the UK edition may be cancelled, which would be a disaster. Thank you.

The Amazon USA site is:


Thursday, December 14, 2017

Silence: A User's Guide, Vol. 2 Is Available

I am very happy to announce that Silence: A User's Guide, Vol. 2, is now available from Wipf and Stock customer service. It will be available on Amazon in two to four weeks; the Kindle edition will be available probably in March.

The British edition will be available in the spring.

Happy Christmas!

Thursday, December 07, 2017

Kenosis and Trinity

Before a few notes on kenosis and Trinity, a word about the publication date of Silence: A User's Guide, vol. 2, which is, in the USA, March 9, 2018. Available from Wipf and Stock. The UK publication date (DLT) is not yet available.

Matt has written to ask about the relationship between kenotic theology and Trinitarian theology. The link is self-emptying. Each Person of the Trinity is self-outpouring. In patristic theology this is called circumincession. This is not something each Person 'does' but is rather who each Person is. Of course everything we say about the Trinity is inadequate; but we can talk about the self-outpouring of the Trinity because of the self-emptying of Christ.

In a purely speculative mode, we might think of the Trinity as kenosis-glory-wisdom; a Buddhist trinity might be emptiness-compassion-wisdom. It's interesting that wisdom and emptiness occur in both. Of course we could also say that the second Person of the Christian Trinity is also compassion; these are just analogies and hints. But recently I have been interested in glory as the other side of kenosis (see vol 2 above); kenosis does not lead to glory, it is glory. We cannot see the glory because we would be overcome, as Isaac of Nineveh says; but faith is in part the confidence (parrhesia) that this unity of kenosis and glory is so. This is one notion that ties together the epistles and the Gospel of John. This subject is all quite mind-blowing and unfolds slowly. More later, perhaps.

Happy Advent, everyone.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Happy Late Summer

Happy late summer to all. I hope your harvest has been as fruitful as mine—in more than one area.

I have finished volume 2 of Silence: A User's Guide and it is at the publishers. It will be available sometime towards the end of the year or early in 2018. The publishers are the same as for volume 1: Wipf and Stock in the USA and the rest of the world except for DLT in the UK and Europe.

Now to find a new topic: the well on this one is absolutely dry, or, perhaps more positively, I have written myself into silence about silence.

However, now that the book is finished, perhaps I can start paying more attention to this blog. Thanks for waiting.


From the sublime to the ridiculous: did you know that garden snails have a sense of direction? An experiment showed that snails remembered the part of the garden from which they were collected. There was a control group of snails from Cornwall. All the snails headed for the quarter from which they were taken; the Cornwall snails headed due west.  It was not reported whether they were taken home! I hope so.


My prayers are especially with those of you living in Trumpestan. Take heart: surely he can't last much longer before being removed or resigning. The UK isn't much better at this point, Brexit being increasingly seen as utterly destructive to life in the UK. We can only hope the government will realise it is impossible at every level.

Prayers too for all of you living in Texas. Please, if you are in the line of fire from the hurricane, evacuate!

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

A Blessed Holy Week to All

In this time of uncertainty and fear, let us take refuge in openness to God, who is beyond what we can conceive of or imagine, which faith is recapitulated this week. May you all have a blessed Holy Week and Triduum, and a very Happy Easter.


Someone just sent me the following: I can't resist posting it.


Articles of Faith

This mounted event for rider and ass is held weekly and should be attended by all who wish to be included among the Chosen. Any rider who fails to turn up will be disqualified. The course for examining the Articles of Faith is modelled on that of the showjumping arena.

The first obstacle is a fence commonly referred to as Original Sin. Built as it is of natural materials, it is perhaps surprising that all competitors save one female have fallen at it. This is usually blamed on asses shying when they catch sight of the snake woven into the wattle hurdle. N.B. Riders by the name of Balaam are given a bye here..

Original Sin is followed by the water jump, which poses no real difficulties as a wetting is obligatory: extra points are given for total immersion.

Atonement, a triple jump, is typical of the course in presenting three problems in one. Some commentators with a C. of E. background like to call it At-one-ment, to the confusion of French and German competitors, not to mention visiting Poles. The parts, in ascending height and difficulty, are Moral Example, Substitution and Ransom. Betting on the last two elements is widespread and indeed encouraged.

The Wall, also known as the Creed, is solidly built to prevent dislodgment of individual bricks, allowed at other venues with less stringent rules. A big jump, it must be cleared the first time.

If these obstacles are successfully negociated the competitor will probably get round the rest of the course, though should he or she lose points, in grave cases risking elimination, there is a tricky in-and-out known as Confession, where faults incurred earlier can be wiped out by a course inspector, on condition of proceeding on one’s knees, leading Br. Ass by the bridle.

This event should be engaged in and ideally completed weekly to ensure that riders retain their place among the Chosen. The water jump is missed out after the first round.

Those temperamentally unsuited to the event sometimes stumble onto a narrow out-of-the-way track, where other dimensions are in play, the linear being revealed as redundant. Here time is no more. Birth, death, and the four seasons are co-existent. Logical process is by-passed. All is perceived in the round. The only narrative is that of faith, which, lit by glory, is rendered indefinable, past comprehending, true, and thus adorable.

Anyone who claims to understand will end lying face-down in the dust; that much is sure.