We just launched Praying with English Mystics with Dan London For Individuals and For Groups.
Mystics have an exotic reputation. Our culture associates them with altered states of consciousness; with strange, even supernatural activities; with “mystic crystal revelations,” as the title song in the musical Hair puts it. At the very least, we expect otherworldly, “saintlike” behavior.
We do not necessarily picture a quiet woman who lived a life of prayer in her church cell with her cat, sometimes offering spiritual guidance to visitors, as Julian of Norwich lived. We don’t think of St. Theresa of Avila, annoyed at having had to cross a stream head down under her donkey due to a saddle-related mishap, griping to God about the indignity of her treatment — and, upon God’s resp0nding that this is how God treats friends, snapping back to God, “No wonder you have so few!” We don’t picture, in other words, people with personalities, tempers, and pets — but the entire point of this course is that mystical experiences are not limited to desert hermits or people who live in a kind of extreme religious haze, but for Christians of every kind and temperament who desire union with God.
In this course, Dan London, a teacher and priest serving Christ Episcopal Church in Eureka, California, discusses the English mystics of the fourteenth century, particularly Julian of Norwich and the author of The Cloud of Unknowing. He talks about the work of these mystics in the context of contemporary scholarship and explains ways in which we can use their work to help us on our own spiritual journeys.
We hope that this course helps support you as you build and expand your life of prayer. For a preview of this course, please click here.
Outside the context of the liturgy, today’s Christians tend to approach scripture as something we read to ourselves. For most of its history, however, people listened to the words of scripture rather than reading them on their own. So why not use today’s technology to bring scripture into your life the old-fashioned way? Here are some audio versions of scripture that you might find particularly interesting or inspiring.
- Inspired By … The Bible Experience: Old Testament and Inspired By … The Bible Experience: New Testament are powerful and dramatic readings of scripture with over 400 actors, actresses, and members of the clergy taking different roles. Performers include Samuel L. Jackson, Angela Bassett, Denzel Washington, Forrest Whitaker, Blair Underwood, and many others. The reading has exceptional sound quality and is accompanied by an original score performed by the Prague Symphony Orchestra. This extraordinary recording won the 2007 Audio Association award for Audio Book of the Year.
- The Word of Promise Complete Audio Bible is a powerful recording of the New King James Version of the Bible in its entirety. Many award-winning actors read characters in this version as well, including Richard Dreyfus, Louis Gossett, Jr., Gary Sinese, and Marissa Tomei.
- James Earl Jones Reads the Bible: New Testament is the King James Version of the Bible read by James Earl Jones (presumably because the firsthand voice of God was not available and this was the next best thing). There’s also a version of the King James Bible in its entirety read by James Earl Jones and Jon Sherburg.
- BibleGateway now provides free audio readings for some translations of the Bible, including (but not limited to) the New International Version, the King James Version, and The Message. Just look up the passage and see if it has a speaker icon in the toolbar above the passage. If it does, you can listen to it. Many of the readings are extremely good. We especially like Max McLean’s reading of the New International Version. The website also has a page with information about its audio bibles, which are available in a number of different translations and languages.
- The free Bible App offers access to free audio readings of the Bible. The best version is probably the same Max McLean New International Version that BibleGateway uses. The app is easy to use. Once installed, just select the NIV version in the top right and then press the speaker on the lower left.
We hope these audio Bible suggestions help enrich your reading of scripture.