Sunday, November 28, 2004


How come Merton gets all the attention? Sure he's quite a writer, but he's not the only home-grown American monk with a lot to teach us. I came across Father Seraphim Rose recently. Growing up in Berkeley in the 60's studying Eastern Religions could land you about anywhere - this guy landed an Orthodox scholar/monk in the hills of Northern California. His book on the afterlife is significant because it takes head on the phenonemon of after-death-experiences... a nice antidote to Betty Eadie's Embraced by the Light which has caused much confusion. Too often Christians seem to think, "You die, you're with Jesus, end of story." Rose reminds us that the Christian tradition has for quite a while understood the transition from death to the presence of God to be a much more complex experience... albeit a complexity contained within the person of Jesus Christ.

Also a product of the Sixties is musician/Catholic convert John Michael Talbot whom perhaps more have heard of. Although much has been written on the subject, I found this relatively new book of his is good one-stop-shopping for those seeking to integrate the Christian and Hindu/Buddhist perspectives, specifically their respective meditation techniques, without surrendering Christian coherence.

Talbot is very affirming of, and has in fact mastered, many of the non-Christian techniques... while able nevertheless to insist on the Incarnation over reincarnation, grace over karma, and the new creation's fullness over nirvana's nothingness as the end of all earthly pursuits.

Best of all, Talbot reatains his distinctive Catholicism without being a jerk about it. He is well able to affirm all the places (which he says are many) where non-Christian monasticism has outpaced Christian monasticism, and to learn from them. Thanks to my sis' for tipping me off to the book.