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Publisher's Summary

In popular usage, mysticism typically refers to New Age or Eastern forms of spirituality. However, the mystical tradition is also an important component of the Christian tradition. At its heart--and much like its expression in other faith traditions--Christian mysticism is an ancient practice that incorporates meditation, contemplation, worship, philosophy, the quest for personal enlightenment, and the experience of Divine presence.

This volume is a comprehensive introduction and guide to Christian mysticism. It is a big book about a big possibility: the hope of achieving real, blissful, experiential unison with God. Among the topics covered here are a general introduction to mysticism, the Bible and mysticism, the history and types of Christian mysticism, biographical sketches of leading Christian mystics, and practical instructions about practicing mysticism today. This is a breathtaking work that explores a form of spirituality that has changed lives over the course of 2,000 years. Learning about Christian mysticism and how it has been articulated through the centuries will prove inspirational for today's seekers, regardless of the faith tradition.

The mystic is not a special kind of person; every person is a special kind of mystic. (William McNamara)

©2010 Carl McColman (P)2013 Linda Biagi

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  • MJ
  • 07-28-13

Setting the record straight

Carl McColman's "The Big Book of Christian Mysticism" is NOT evangelical or fundamentalist in any way, contrary to the rather puzzling assessment of the only other review to be posted at this time; it is a highly competent and heartfelt (if somewhat didactic and prescriptive) overview of Christian mysticism/contemplative Christianity that is about as far from fundamentalist/evangelical thinking as is spiritually possible. To assert otherwise indicates that one simply does not know what the words "evangelical" and "fundamentalist" actually mean. (Medical intuitive and "Entering the Castle" author Caroline Myss wrote an endorsement for this book, if that helps clarify where the author is coming from.)

Authors or teachers from ANY spiritual/religious tradition are naturally going to quote/discuss the sacred texts and great spiritual masters of their faith. Quoting the Bible -- as a wisdom book in the "perennial tradition", not a literalist text -- and discussing Jesus, one of the greatest mystics and wisdom teachers of all time, is perfectly natural and appropriate for a Christian mystic or contemplative author to do, just as it would be normal for Pema Chodron to quote Tibetan Buddist texts or discuss the life of Siddhartha. (Does this really need to be said?) According to the standards of the previous review, everyone from Thomas Merton and Richard Rohr to Thich Nhat Hanh and Deepak Chopra (all of whom have quoted Christian scriptures and/or written extensively about Jesus at one time or another) would all be evangelicals or fundamentalists! Obviously, this is utter nonsense, as is any assertion that TBBoCM is coming from this perspective.

I can agree (in part) with one point that the previous review made, and that is regarding the narration. I don't know who at Audible is in charge of selecting/overseeing narrators for their self-produced titles, but they are doing a poor job, at least in the genres I listen to most often. While I am not going to attack this narrator for his southern twang -- evidently, not only are Christian writers not allowed to be Christian these days, but narrators are not allowed to have politically incorrect accents -- I am going to call him and (even more so) whoever produced this recording to task for some pretty inexcusable mistakes in pronunciation. For the narrator to mispronounce the word "contemplative" about a thousand times over the course of a book about contemplation, not to mention all of the other mistakes, and for this to go unnoticed and uncorrected in the recording studio...ugh. Personally, I'd pass on this audio and get the hard copy instead.

28 of 30 people found this review helpful

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Wonderful book awful narration

I love this book! An awesome and sole guide to mysticism. The narrator is far to slow and cannot pronounce many of the simplest words though. At times it made the book difficult to listen to.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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Great book! Poor narrator.😏

Carl McColman's wonderful book on Christian Mysticism deserves a much better narrator! While Brian Smith has a good enough voice for narration, his mispronouncing of words was quite distracting at times. I've listened to many books on Audible and this was the first narrator I disliked. I was very disappointed and surprised that Audible let this reading be produced.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Can’t with this narrator.

Omg! It’s no wonder this recording is 10 hours long. Any other narrator could have easily done it in 2 hours.

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Oh my!

It's like Eeyore reading the phone book, you try to get beyond the performance and get to the story, but just can't.

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Hard To Listen


Although the content was interesting, the reading was hard to listen to. The reader's voice frequently utilized "vocal fry" no doubt to soften the sound but which is irritating to listen to for a whole book. However, the worst thing about the reading was the very frequent mispronounced words, mispronounced names, and actual changed language which totally changed the meaning of the content, for example "comprised" became "compromised." I listened for 16 chapters because I was interested in the content but couldn't bring myself to finish it. The overall poor quality of the reading distracted too much from the content.

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exceptional

So thought & heart provoking that I listened to it twice, back to back & will listen to it many more times,.

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Good Book, Seriously Bad Narration

Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

I feel like this is a very important book. I want to listen to it. But I get stuck asking the question, why did they choose this particular narrator. He sounds more like he should be narrating a western or novel about the deep South. I will continue to listen, until the narration gets in my way of learning anything, because like I said, the topic of the book is very important to me.

Would you be willing to try another book from Carl McColman? Why or why not?

Yes, if the narrator is different.

What didn’t you like about Brian Smith’s performance?

Very gravely voice, sounds like he needs to clear his throat. Very slow.

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Great book. Narration needs work.

First the book is a very good and sweeping introduction to Christian spiritual practices of contemplation/meditation. Well worth a read by beginners and experienced practitioners alike.

Second, the narrator has a good pace and inflection while reading that illumine a the book's message.

However, the narration does continually and consistently mispronounce names and terms common to this subject. In particular, the narrator often accents the incorrect syllable. The negative result is two fold. First the narrator causes the book to appear less authoritative on the subject. Second the constant mispronunciation sate distracting.

Verdict: Great introductory book. Narration is passable, but leaves some to be desired.

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Good as a complete survey

Would you consider the audio edition of The Big Book of Christian Mysticism: The Essential Guide to Contemplative Spirituality to be better than the print version?

na

What other book might you compare The Big Book of Christian Mysticism: The Essential Guide to Contemplative Spirituality to and why?

Into the Silent Land

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

no ... needs to be digested

Any additional comments?

The mispronunciation of words is distracting, but if you know what is being said you can get past it.

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  • Jacqui
  • 02-25-17

Thoroughly Enjoyable

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. . I found that the author covered the subject of Christian Mysticism very well. Lots of wonderful examples and advise.
I am glad that I did not read the other reviews here before buying this book. A lot of people said that they did not like the narrator of the Audible. If I had read that before buying it would have been a huge distraction for me. I honestly found the narrator very good. His voice is quite calming and I think it enhanced the book. But everyone is different I guess and not everyone will agree.