Spirit Week: East Orthodox Spirituality, Charismatics, & the New Monasticism

Tomorrow I’m about to introduce what I feel is the latest significant entree into Pentecostal/charismatic dialogue with emergent/progressive followers of Jesus – but first, I’ve declared this Spirit week on my blog! My ongoing Wisdom Christianity series with Cynthia Bourgeault will be continued next week, but first I want to delve into some older, popular posts exploring the relation of Holy Spirit to fresh emergence. Starting here…

Remember how Thursday in the comments section of my entry I mentioned the 24/7 prayer movement? Okay, maybe not. Well anyway, my friend Lenz Philipp Müller emails me the other day and asks a great question that is related:

“Hi Michael, I’m curious about the book you’re currently reading –Punk Monk: New Monasticism and the Ancient Art of Breathing. [Not be confused with the other punk monk, my friend Brother Karekin M Yarian – though I think he and Andy Freeman would get along if they met!]  I’d cherish your opinion of the book and am wondering if it’s about the Jesus Prayer and hesychasm? I’ve started an exploration of orthodox spirituality and would like to know if and how the new monastics dig into these parts of the cloud of witnesses. On the one side I’m fascinated by the early fathers, on the other hand I don’t see how hermitism is Biblical. So for now, I think even or especially the hermits acquired wisdom and methods and more that are worthy to be rediscovered in our day and age and might even be keys to a spiritual awakening of life in community. Is that an approach Freeman and Greig would ascribe to?”

Lenz is referring to my previous Myspace blog where I display what I’m reading with entries. Punk Monk has been a breath of fresh air to me as I’ve been moving from a kind of theological cynicism in certain places to a second naivete,’ a place of wonder, astonishment, and trust in God that comes out the other side of world-weariness and incredulity. Wow, that’s a mouthful! I’ll try and unpack it in some upcoming entries, not to mention the rest of my life.

So: This book has been a great ride, Lenz, a moving tribute to the power of street-level, embodied prayer and compassion…but it isn’t , alas, dealing directly with hesychasm or the Jesus Prayer–as the subtitle might lead one to suspect. In my reading so far, it doesn’t directly engage Eastern Orthodox spirituality much, though it certainly engages with the Western contemplative tradition, particularly Celtic saints as well as Benedictines and Franciscans. What the subtitle “The Ancient Art of Breathing” refers to is not breath prayer but rather the synergy of action and contemplation, “breathing in” with our lives rest in God’s presence, and “breathing out” with our lives hospitality and acts of compassion. They see this “art of breathing” as key to the spiritual awakening of life in community…and I’m inclined to agree! All in all, its an excellent addition to the growing body of New Monastic literature.

With that said, I’d like to see some post evangelical/charismatic engagements with East Orthodox spirituality–particularly hesychasm and the idea of theosis, or “divinization,” which I feel is a far sexier (or if that language offends you, more evocative) way of framing “sanctification” for the 21st century. Of course, there probably are just such works out there, and I’m just not familiar with ’em–input, anyone?

A fascinating paper comparing the “Glory Dust” phenomenon of certain chrarismatic gatherings for worship and the “Visible Glory” reported on the faces of practicing hesychasts in the East Orthodox tradition can be read here. What on earth is “glory dust,” you ask? I recount my own experiences with it in this blog archive from a few years back.

This was originally posted on August 25, 2007. Coming tomorrow: My brand-new interview with Leif Hetland, author of Seeing Through Heaven’s Eyes.

15 Responses to Spirit Week: East Orthodox Spirituality, Charismatics, & the New Monasticism

  1. storbakken August 25, 2007 at 4:32 pm #


    Looks like a great book. I added it to my Amazon Wishlist. Thanks for putting it out there.

    More fire!

  2. Lenz August 27, 2007 at 3:58 pm #

    Thanks for filling a brother in.

    I particularly liked the paper on transfiguration and gold dust and am excited about discovering more of what Pentecostal and Eastern Orthodox Christianity share in common behind different terminologies.

    And I also want more of people citing C.S. Lewis, Vladimir Lossky, Thomas C. Oden, Seraphim of Sarov and Ruth Heflin together! This almost freaks me out… (I used to attend the services of Heflin’s fellowship in J-Town.)

    Keep up the momentum.

  3. S. Nowacki-Butzen (fun signature, eh?) September 14, 2007 at 4:28 pm #

    I think I am going to read the book now. It looks great and I just read all the books on my waiting list during our summer break so I need to buy more! I am fascinated with this stuff ever since taking a class with the guy I always rave to you about – Dr. Corne Bekker. I can’t engage you much on things between Eastern Orthodox and Charismatic thought because I do not know enough about Eastern Orthodoxy – but glory dust! HA! I haven’t heard someone mention glory dust since my days at Berry. Sad to say I never experienced it myself but there is still time…

  4. Pat March 18, 2008 at 4:46 am #

    Ahhh, very interesting! I’ve wishlisted the book.

    I’m fascinated by this post. I find myself drawn greatly to celtic and monastic spirituality, and I’m preparing for a trip this October to study Orthodox spiritaulity as well. I’m working on a doctorate with Bakke Graduate University, and my thesis is starting to shape up around ways that we can contextualize the spiritual practices of Benedictine/Jesuit/Celtic/Orthodox streams into today’s missional and neomonastic movements.

    All that hits the first part of what you’re talking about – and then the last part: my mom’s a pentecostal Catholic (yep! :-)), and she’s often telling me about glory dust and gemstones and stuff like that that I have no grid for, so I hold it loosely.

    I’m printing that paper now.. 🙂

  5. rajan June 4, 2008 at 6:30 pm #

    eastern orthodoxy is similar is closer to old catholic denomination, the difference is the priest is allowed to marry and the eastern orthodox is open to sexual appetites which is treated as normal, as cathlic/protestant believes sex is just to procreate! Also the eastern faith has always been one to entertainment/arts after church in which the priest can take part in the folkloric dances: the western consider greek/gypsy dances a sin and will not support a celebration dance party after church! Western demoniations resist byzantine music/culture and say we only allow classical music and stick to only western based arts leaving no room for diversity!

  6. Matmarvel October 8, 2008 at 8:41 pm #

    Have any of you had your own experience with Glory Dust? Is anyone still getting dusted??? Or are the events of dusting all over???

  7. Cathryn June 20, 2009 at 11:48 pm #

    God dusted in my kitchen a few years back, – God can be sneaky like that… .. …
    Nice post Mike, it’s been awhile since i’ve popped on, been in a rather hidden, off general radar mode…

    Since i do a lot of Holy Spirit based “Bodywork” – Massage stuff, with clients, the Breath thing is pretty basic… – Well, Holy Spirit is literally translated … “The Holy Breath” right..
    God breathed into Adam’s nostrils – kinda makes me laugh when people get into a tizzy about it- Blessings dude!

  8. Johnny Laird November 14, 2011 at 3:45 pm #

    Love it!

    Reminds me of an old blogpost from a while back:


    Grace & peace


  9. Chris Marshall November 15, 2011 at 11:48 am #

    Here’s my reflection, kind sir. Probably a lot more than what you were asking for. ha!



    • Brian November 15, 2011 at 4:02 pm #

      I can’t remember if I’ve sent this on to you before, but my father has done some recent scholarly work around justification in Paul’s letters as theosis. It’s pretty sweet stuff: http://ow.ly/7uACm .


      • zoecarnate November 15, 2011 at 4:07 pm #

        Brian, I’ve wanted to read that for a couple of years now – I didn’t know that this is your dad! Can I get the family discount? 😉

        • brian November 17, 2011 at 11:39 am #

          I’ll get you the family discount if you can try to persuade my dad to come to Wild Goose Festival as a speaker–he doesn’t want to camp…

          I will try and get you a copy of it–email me your address. I also have a brother doing a ThD at Duke Div, so I could pretty easily get a copy into the Raleigh-Durham area for you to pick up.


    • zoecarnate November 15, 2011 at 4:06 pm #

      Ooh – eviscerated! 🙂

      No, good response. I’ll comment more on your blog.

  10. Sabrina March 12, 2012 at 6:52 pm #

    I would recommend reading anything by St. Symeon the New Theologian. He was all about Hesychasm. Also you might want to watch the movie “Mysteries Of The Jesus Prayer.” by Dr. Norm Chumley. You can get it on iTunes.


  1. Spirit Week: The Complete Series | Mike Morrell - November 30, 2011

    […] Spirit Week: East Orthodox Spirituality, Charismatics, & the New Monasticism  […]

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