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Sometimes, I confess, God seems far too intangible and abstract to be of much practical use to me in a world where friends die, politics terrify, wars threaten. This God-concept is one I like to play with intellectually; the notion intrigues me, and theology fascinates me. But are my ideas about God “real”—or merely imaginary? When I was a child, my world teemed with invisible friends, and God was as real as any of them. At some point, though, as I grew older, I began to doubt this loving God whom I touched only with the fingers of my imagination. Obviously, make-believe isn’t real. It would be comforting to believe in a loving power overseeing everything, promising us all an Eternity of love—but it would be nice to believe in Narnia and elves and magic too.
The yearning we feel in the twenty-first century for all things Celtic is nothing new. In the 1700s, people in England became interested once again in the Druids and sought to bring druidry back to life. Later, in the nineteenth century, the poet William Butler Yeats was at the center of what is known as the Celtic Revival, a movement that sought to reaffirm a Gaelic spiritual heritage amid the encroaching British culture.
In Reading the Bible the Celtic Way: The Peacock’s Tail Feathers, Ken McIntosh explores the way in which the early Christian Celts considered the Bible and Nature to be equally the Word of God. Many of us find that concept attractive, both because of the value it puts on the natural world and because it indicates a new balance for biblical literalism. But from our modern perspective, it’s a metaphor. I don’t think we totally grasp the metaphor—because we don’t really get how the medieval mind thought about reading.
In a well-known gospel story, a woman with a flow of blood comes to Jesus, speaking an affirmation “if I but touch him, I will be healed.” (Mark 5:21-34) For at least twelve years, she had suffered from what was likely a gynecological ailment that not only made her life miserable, but led to her being judged as a social outcast, religiously unclean, and likely responsible for her health situation.
Here at Anamchara Books, we’ve been impressed (and thrilled) by the overwhelming positive response to our release of the first installment of The Celtic Study Bible—Reading the Bible the Celtic Way: The Peacock’s Tail Feathers by Kenneth McIntosh. Personally, I’m both excited and grateful that this serendipitous idea (which came while exploring Devon and Cornwall with Ken and his wife Marsha) is bearing fruit—and that it’s clearly answering a felt need for many of you. But it’s made me wonder—why? Why are so many of us attracted to “Celtic spirituality”?
The words “interspiritual” or “interspirituality” have become popular among certain commentators on contemporary spiritual movements. Reflective of today’s spiritual pluralism, the terms reflect the practices of persons who are rooted in a particular religious tradition, and whose spiritual lives are also enriched by practices from other faith traditions.
Hello! As I think about what I'd like to communicate with Anamchara readers, an imaginary scene comes to mind. You and I are sitting in my living room together, and while we enjoy a cup of tea and some biscuits, we get to know each other. Since I don't know your name, I'm going to think of you as "Pilgrim," someone who is on a spiritual journey, seeking to discover new meaning and new connections with God. After we've talked about you for a bit, you begin to ask me questions about myself. Here's how the conversation goes
I remember my Mom sitting in the pre-dawn morning reading the Bible with a cup of coffee by her side. I would often sit with her, sometimes with the Bible, sometimes with other readings. This morning, I am continuing the practice.
For several weeks I saw him in the distance as I took my sunrise walk on the Cape Cod beach I frequent. He resolutely walked the beach with metal detector in hand. I often wondered why he bothered. It was October, tourist season was over, and he couldn't retrieve more than a handful of coins or maybe an occasionally a lost watch or cheap piece of costume jewelry in the course of his hunting. Yet, he came back day after day, just as I came back daily for my contemplative prayer walk.
I have more books in my head than I’ll ever write. An idea that’s percolating right now is a series of books on color. After my musing on the color blue a few days ago, now I’m thinking about GREEN.