cover image Christian Mystics: 108 Seers, Saints, and Sages

Christian Mystics: 108 Seers, Saints, and Sages

Carl McColman. Hampton Roads, $19.95 (288p) ISBN 978-1-57174-730-3

McColman, a lay practitioner who leads contemplative spirituality workshops and retreats, has gathered brief biographical entries for more than 100 Christians whom he identifies as mystics from throughout the history of the church. A mystic, he writes, is “someone who knows God, who embodies the presence of God, and whose life has been transfigured by this divine presence.” Entries are arranged thematically according to nine mystic types identified by the author. Within each category, 12 mystics are profiled in entries ranging in length from several paragraphs to a half-dozen pages. Each entry gives the dates of the mystic’s birth and death, a few biographical facts, and a taste of his or her mystic experience. Each entry includes suggestions for further reading, typically the mystic’s own writings. The book also provides a bibliography and endnotes. While women mystics are fairly well represented, non-Western voices are disappointingly absent. The entries are written in chatty prose (for example, St. Francis of Assisi is described as “the Doctor Doolittle of Christian mysticism”) and do not attempt to provide the reader with an authoritative summary of the mystic’s life. Rather, the book might be viewed as an invitation to the curious layperson to browse and select a handful of mystics whose teachings may resonate for him or her. Given its format, the book could well serve as a tool for group study, if augmented with additional readings. (Oct.)