Lineage 12-18-2015

In the tradition and writings of the Eastern Church we’re always reminded of the importance of lineage.[1] Both the theological wisdom and the contemplative spirit of the Eastern monks were passed down generation to generation.[2]

Christian tradition needs a lineage of spiritual teachers, whose wisdom is passed down through generations. We need realized practitioners who embody the Gospel and who have experienced heaven on earth through deep prayer. We need clergy who have been on silent retreat, who have a spiritual practice, and who have a mystical tradition to anchor their spirituality. We need teachers, who themselves had reliable teachers—a lineage of spiritual masters.

When it comes to the lineage of Christian mystics through the ages I think of an axe passed down generation after generation. The axe handle is Centering Prayer as taught by Thomas Keating, Basil Pennington, Cynthia Bourgeault, and others, which makes the oldest and deepest prayer forms of Christian tradition contemporary. The axe head is The Jesus Paradox, which is the theological legacy of the Alexandrian Mystics and the Oriental Orthodox Church. Perhaps my book, Healing The Divide, is the small wedge holding the two together in twenty-first century minds as the two were held together in the minds of the early mystics.

[1] “Patristic” writings are those passed down through generations, which reflect the best theological minds of the ages. The emblem of this legacy in the Eastern Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox Churches is The Philokalia.

[2] Christian tradition experienced a flowering of monasticism between the third and the fifth centuries in the deserts of Egypt. The genius of this period was encapsulated in the lineage of Alexandrian archbishops between the third and the fifth centuries. For more on this lineage see appendix B of Healing The Divide.