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Mon, Feb 13


Eight monthly sessions online via Zoom

Western Roots

Explore the origins of the Christian spiritual tradition

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Western Roots
Western Roots

Time & Location

Feb 13, 2023, 7:30 PM

Eight monthly sessions online via Zoom


About the event

In this group we will explore the ancient origins of Christian spirituality beginning with Jesus' teachings as recoded both inside and outside the biblical canon. Then we will trace two interrelated streams of western spirituality: 

  1. the monastic from the Desert Fathers and Mothers to Benedictine, Celtic and Orthodox monasticism, and 
  2. the mystical, from ancient Greek philosophy and Neoplatonism to the early Christian mystics who honed the divine vision.

The books selected are primary sources translated into English. The first and last books are exceptions, however. They are explorations by modern authors who have particular expertise. Neil Douglas-Klotz uses the original language Jesus spoke to gain a deeper insight into his teachings recorded in the cononical gospels. Bernard McGinn, perhaps the foremost contemporary scholar of mysticism, and Patricia Ferris McGinn offer brief portraits of twelve early mystics who made distinctive contributions to the broader tradition. 

Our group's exploration is intended to deepen not only our understanding but also our spirituality by engaging both the head and the heart. It is not mainly an academic course. The books are all accessible. At the same time, however, they are based in the rigors of academic inquiry in order to avoid distortions of the tradition. Our group sessions will rely on Socratic questioning and freedom of inquiry to spark both learning and growth.

On the second Mondays each month beginning Febraury 13, at 7:30 pm, for ten sessions, we will take up the discussion of a book or sections of a book. The books and session dates are as follows:  

1. Seeking the Mystic Jesus Inside and Outside the Biblical Canon

Feb. 13: Revelations of the Aramaic Jesus: The Hidden Teachings on Life and Death, by Neil Douglas-Klotz

Mar. 13: The Gnostic Gospels, by Alan Jacobs

2. The Monastic Stream

Apr. 10: Desert Fathers and Mothers: Early Christian Wisdom Sayings―Annotated & Explained by Christine Valters Paintner

May 8: The Rule of Saint Benedict by St. Benedict, edited by Timothy Fry

Jun. 12: The Celtic Monk: Rules and Writings of Early Irish Monks, translated by Uinseann Ó Maidin OCR.

Jul. 10: Philokalia―The Eastern Christian Spiritual Texts: Selections Annotated & Explained translated by G.E.H. Palmer

3. The Mystical Stream

Aug. 14: The Pythagorean Golden Verses & Hierocles' Commentary: An Ancient Handbook of Mystic Philosophy by Pythagoras of Samos, Hierocles of Alexandria

Sep 11: Selections from Six Great Dialogues: Apology, Crito, Phaedo, Phaedrus, Symposium, The Republic by Plato and Benjamin Jowett

Oct. 9: Selections from The Essential Plotinus by Plotinus, translated by Elmer O'Brien S.J.

Nov. 13: Early Christian Mystics: The Divine Vision of Spiritual Masters, by Bernard McGinn  and Patricia Ferris McGinn.

PLEASE NOTE: Tuition amount is flexible. The suggested donation is $50 for the ten sessions. If this is not affordable (or you wish to offer more to support others who may wish to attend but do not have the funds), you can can donate any amount over $9 . Alternatively, you can become a member of Halcyon Arts and join any of our online groups for free.

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