Christian Spirituality Studies Blog

Syllabus: Contemporary Expressions in Spirituality

Paul Blankenship intends this seminar to be taken by students in a particular masters level program at Seattle University’s School of Theology and Ministry, but it’s open to “all graduate students interested in contemporary spirituality.” Here’s the course description:

This seminar is an introduction to the critical study of spirituality. It is a conversation about how and why other people are spiritual, what this means, and whether it makes a difference. Because it is not possible in an academic quarter (or a lifetime) to cover the mélange of contemporary spiritualities in the world...

Syllabus: History of Christian Spirituality

This course, taught by Paul Blankenship, uses seven of the Classics of Western Spirituality series from Paulist Press as well as secondary sources by SSCS members Philip Sheldrake and Bradley Holt. Here is the course description:

Through the study of selected texts and visual images, this course introduces students to the rich variety within Christian spirituality. In addition to a general overview of the major movements, concerns, and personalities, students examine experiences of conversion and spiritual growth, mysticism and prayer, community and compassion. This course focuses on the...

Essay: Henri de Lubac (1896-1991) and Contemporary Mystical Theology, by Andrew Prevot

Appearing in A Companion to Jesuit MysticismAndrew Prevot‘s essay argues for the presence of a mystical theology throughout much of Henri de Lubac’s writings even though he never devoted a work exclusively to it. Here is Prevot’s concluding paragraph:

This chapter has shown that de Lubac deserves to be read alongside Rahner and von Balthasar as one of the great Jesuit, Catholic theological voices in the conversation surrounding Christian mysticism in the twentieth century. De Lubac’s essay “Mysticism and Mystery” gives us a glimpse at certain arguments that might have appeared in the...

Dissertation: Friendship with the Saints: A Practical Theological Reading of Teresa of Avila as a Spiritual Companion, by Tara Soughers

Combining the approaches of practical theology and spirituality studies, Tara Soughers explores the writings of Teresa of Avila on spiritual companionship. When understood within their historical contexts, the writings of the saints can offer a great deal to contemporary practice of spiritual companionship, and Sougher’s analysis of Teresa’s texts provides a case study of how that might be so. Here is the dissertation’s abstract:

This dissertation is a practical theology study of spiritual companionship with the saints, working with Teresa of Avila as a case study. Teresa’s writing...

Syllabus: Spirituality and Comedy

As Anita Houck points out in her introduction, the two main elements of her course are not often considered as complementary or even closely related. SSCS members can check out the resources she uses to get her students to think otherwise. Here is her overview of the course:

Christianity has often been resistant to areas of life we associate with comedy, such as laughter, play, and joy; as Hugo Rahner asks, “May a Christian laugh, when he has heard our Lord’s warning, ‘Woe upon you who laugh now; you shall mourn and weep’ (Luke 6.25)? May a Christian go on merrily playing when a stern and...

Essay: ‘Like a word still ripening in the silences’ Rainer Maria Rilke and the transformations of poetry, by Mark S. Burrows

In this essay, Mark Burrows, Poetry Editor of the SSCS journal Spiritus, explores Rilke’s focus on the role of the imagination in our inner transformation. Our fragmentary lives can be made whole through the power of the kind of archetypal imagery one can find in poetry. Here’s a portion of Burrow’s introductory paragraph:

Poetic language . . . is dynamic. One might even say that it is determinativeof change, of the kind of interior change that alters the way we inhabit our lives and our world. But how does one ‘find’ such images for this journey of growth? Where do they come from? Rilke...

Book: Poetic Revelations: Word Made Flesh Made Word, ed. by Mark Burrows, Jean Ward, and Malgorzata Gregorgzewska

Mark Burrows, Poetry Editor of the SSCS journal Spiritushas co-edited this multi-author collection of essays which one reviewer has described as “an important resource for students of Christian spirituality.” According to the book’s introductory blurb:

This book explores the much debated relation of language and bodily experience (i.e. the ‘flesh’), considering in particular how poetry functions as revelatory discourse and thus relates to the formal horizon of theological inquiry. The central thematic focus is around a ‘phenomenology of the flesh’ as that which connects us with the...

Article: Spirituality, Mothering, and Public Leadership: Women’s Life Writing and Generative Directions for Spirituality Studies, by Claire W. Wolfteich

Based on her presidential address given to the Society for the Study of Christian Spirituality during the annual meeting of the American Academy of Religion in November 2016, Claire Wolfteich’s article in Spiritus: A Journal of Christian Spirituality describes the challenges posed by modern life to pursuing a spiritual practice. As a scholar of practical theology and spiritual formation (and as a mother!), she wants to explore the spirituality of mothers and mothering in today’s super-busy world. Here is the article’s abstract:

The history of Christian spirituality is filled with...

Article: The Trinity Who Prays and Engages Others to do the Same, by David B. Perrin

David B. Perrin, former president of the SSCS, recently published “The Trinity Who Prays and Engages Others to do the Same.” A shorter version was presented at the Biennual International Conference of The Society for the Study of Christian Spirituality: Prayer without Ceasing: Perspectives in Spirituality Studies (June 2017) which took place in Kloster Kappel, Switzerland, a seminar hotel and education center of the Protestant Reformed Church of Canton Zurich. Those interested may reference the article in the journal indicated or e-mail the author for a copy.

David B. Perrin, “The Trinity...

Article: Continuous Prayer in Catherine of Siena, by Diana L. Villegas

Diana Villegas has published an article on continuous prayer in Catherine of Siena. It’s freely available as an open access article in HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological StudiesShe gave a presentation of essential parts of the paper in June at the third Biennual International Conference of The Society for the Study of Christian Spirituality: Prayer without Ceasing: Perspectives in Spirituality Studies. Here is the article’s abstract:

Catherine of Siena offers considerable wisdom regarding continuous prayer. However, this wisdom is not well known because it is scattered among her texts...

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