Who goes to Hell and who doesn’t?

Hell is never a nasty surprise waiting for a basically happy person. Nor is it necessarily a predicable ending for an unhappy, bitter person. Can a happy, warm-hearted person go to Hell? Can an unhappy, bitter person go to Heaven? That’s all contingent upon how we understand Hell and how we read the human heart.…

Practising mysticism

“I’m a practicing mystic!” A woman said that in one of my classes some years ago and it raised lots of eyebrows. I was teaching a class in mysticism and asked the students why the topic of mysticism interested them. Their responses varied: some were simply intrigued with the concept; others were spiritual directors who…

Ascending, descending, and just keeping steady

Where should we be casting our eyes? Upward, downward, or just on the road that we’re walking? Well there are different kinds of spiritualities: Spiritualities of the Ascent, Spiritualities of the Descent, and Spiritualities of Maintenance, and each is important. Spiritualities of the Ascent are spiritualities that invite us to strive always for what’s higher,…

Our own Good Friday

When the Romans designed crucifixion as their means of capital punishment, they had more in mind than simply putting someone to death. They wanted to accomplish something else too, namely, to make this death a spectacle to serve as the ultimate deterrent so that anyone seeing it would think twice about committing the offense for…

But where are the others?

Most of us have been raised to believe that we have right to possess whatever comes to us honestly, either through our own work or through legitimate inheritance. No matter how large that wealth might be, it’s ours, as long as we didn’t cheat anyone along the way. By and large, this belief has been…

Our struggle for proper celebration

We don’t know how to celebrate things as they’re meant to be celebrated. We want to, but mostly we don’t know how. Generally we celebrate badly. How do we normally celebrate? By overdoing things; by taking a lot of the things we ordinarily do, drinking, eating, talking, singing, and humouring, and bringing them to excess.…

Hard lessons from painful failures

What’s to be learned through failure, through being humbled by our own faults? Generally that’s the only way we grow. In being humbled by our own inadequacies we learn those lessons in life that we are deaf to when we are strutting in confidence and pride. There are secrets, says John Updike, which are hidden…