One of my writing students recently introduced me to the work of Eric Whitacre, who has become a bit of a celebrity for his “virtual choir” videos, featuring the recordings of hundreds or even thousands of vocalists from around the world, mixed together to create stunning performances of the composer’s works. As my wife and I were watching one of the virtual choir videos last night, Fran remarked that it would be lovely to see this done with music as prayer. Well, they could start with this deeply contemplative piece, nine minutes of “Alleluia.” While it hasn’t been performed by a virtual choir (yet), this video features a choral recording of “Alleluia” paired with some lovely nature scenery. Watch it, or simply let it be the soundtrack to your day. Either way you’ll be blessed.

Here is a delight: Philip Marshall (I don’t know who he is, but he has a beautiful voice) reads “Immanence,” a poem by Evelyn Underhill. Enjoy!

When people in power tell other people what to do with their hobbies, their work, their passion, and their lives, we run the risk of enforcing the status quo, by pretending we’re talking about morality, when we’re actually using fear or corporate greed as a motivator.

Hence the stress that so many organized religions face today. When the religion ceases to be about faith and hope and connection and love and positive change and begins to focus on compliance, this organizational embrace of the status quo runs straight into the trend toward the weird. Playing the morality card is a weak way to build a tribe.

Weird is not immoral.

Seth Godin
We Are All Weird (Seattle: The Domino Project, 2011), p. 84

Desert Island Discs (and DVDs)

If you were stranded on a desert island, what music would you want to accompany you? The BBC has a long-running program called Desert Island Discs which began airing in 1942 and as of 2015 it’s still going strong. Here’s the concept: Desert Island Discs … was introduced to the listening public as “a programme in which a […]

I’ll be interviewed by Kathy Chiero of WTVN, Columbus, OH, on July 19 as a guest on her “Sitting Room” program. Our topic will be “Why traditional religion is failing to connect the faithful to God.” Needless to say, I have an opinion or two on this subject! Hope you will tune in if you’re in the Columbus area, or you can always catch the show online at

Date: July 19, 2015
Time: 05:00-05:45 p.m. EST
Appearance: Guest on “The Sitting Room” with Kathy Chiero
Outlet: The Sitting Room with Kathy Chiero (News Radio 610 WTVN)
Location: Columbus, OH
Format: Radio

Artist, Mystic, Pilgrim, Companion: An Interview with Christine Valters Paintner

Recently I had the opportunity to interview author and contemplative artist Christine Valters Paintner of the Abbey of the Arts. We talked about contemplative spirituality, pilgrimage, and her latest book,  The Soul of a Pilgrim: Eight Practices for the Journey Within. The book celebrates the spirituality of pilgrimage by identifying eight essential practices that can […]

Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta Speakers’ Bureau: Carl McColman

Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta Speakers' Bureau

I am pleased and honored that I have been listed with the Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta’s Speakers Bureau, sponsored by the Institute for Ministry and Theological Education. I’ve been listed as a speaker available to address topics such as Christian spirituality, forming a personal rule of life, or the practice of contemplative prayer. Of course, my work is ecumenical in nature, so I invite event planners of all churches (and all locations) to stop by and learn more about my ministry as a speaker, teacher and retreat leader.

What Do Contemplatives Want?

(or, Results from My Reader Survey)

First a disclaimer about my headline. I’m answering this question (What do contemplatives want?) based on the results from my 2015 readers’ poll. If you aren’t interested in the survey results, scroll to the bottom of the post to see my conclusions. All the blogging gurus suggest that professional bloggers should survey their readers once a year […]

Advance Praise for “Befriending Silence”

What do Brian McLaren, Fr. Daniel Horan OFM, Fr. Michael Casey OCSO, Br. Patrick Hart OCSO, and Phyllis Tickle have in common? They’ve all endorsed Befriending Silence. Brian McLaren praises Befriending Silence as “a great gift to all who hunger for meaning, mystery, peace, hope, and God.” Fr. Daniel Horan calls the book “an accessible and enlightening introduction […]

Please Fill Out My Reader Survey!

Please fill out my reader’s survey — and help me to make this a better blog. I’m asking for this information (collected anonymously) to give me a better sense of this blog’s readers, which in turn will help me as I continue to create new content for the blog. I invite everyone to participate, whether you are a […]

“Just a touch of wildness”

Did Evelyn Underhill inspire C. S. Lewis?

One of my favorite contemplative authors from the early twentieth century — Evelyn Underhill — corresponded with another favorite author, C. S. Lewis. Underhill (1875-1941) was the leading English author on Christian mysticism in her day. Lewis (1898-1963) became renowned especially for his imaginative spiritual fiction. Several of her letters to him are preservered in The Letters […]

How to Stay in Touch

Photo by Fran McColman

I recently received a very nice email from a reader in Canada, who ended her message like this: “So thank you Carl and I look to somehow stay in touch with you?” Here’s how I replied:

An Accident and its Aftermath

In the summer of 1992, I was in a rather nasty car accident. It left me with a jaw broken in several places, a few missing teeth, lacerations along one arm, and a totaled vehicle. After surgery (leaving my mouth wired shut for six weeks — no easy feat for this enthusiastic speaker) and the […]