Skip to main content

Christ of the Celts - Book Review

Do not read this book.  It will challenge you at such a deep level that you may not even consider yourself a follower of Jesus afterward.

I just finished it and I'm speechless (but yet I am trying to speak).  This book was written by J Philip Newell, the author of Listening for the Heartbeat of God. This is a small book, less than 150 pages.  But don't let the size full you.  It is extremely powerful.  As I have said before, 'Simple is better', to quote Mr Rogers.  That is what Newell does in this book.  He doesn't waste pages or time with complicated thoughts or words.  He is clear and straightfoward.  That in itself can be unnerving, especially for me.  I like big books that I have to ponder.  Well, let me tell you, there is plenty here to ponder!  Newell, an authority of the Celtic Christian tradition, calls us back to a time when Christ was embraced through various means, namely nature.  He refers to the sacredness of creation.  All creation.

At one point, close the end of the book, he talks about how the Celtic Christians met at the great high crosses scattered throughout the Celtic region.  Instead of coming together inside a 'church', the 'church' met outside at the place where, in Celtic tradition, heaven and earth met.  It was at this point, at the high cross, that we see Christ and earth together.  And they both came from the same center, from the Divine, the Sacred, the More.  It was at these places that people felt closest to the Source of Life.  It also illustrated that it is only within community that we are truly 'saved', 'healed', 'set free'.  To use a phrase from South Africa, at the high cross there was 'Ubuntu' - the 'I am because of who we are'.  Both see that it is together that we are made whole.  We do not find healing in isolation.  We find healing in the whole, in the heart of others, in the very core of all creation.

Newell tackles many 'sacred cows' within the Christian West and I'm sure he will upset many a person.  But, for me, he speaks of such truth that we can't deny it.  Time and again he points to the truth that we are all connected.  That all of creation is connected to humanity and we to all of creation.  Over and over he points to the truth that Christ did not come to give us a foreign humanity, a foreign creation, but a true humanity, one that is birthed from a true creation.

If you are feeling a struggle deep within regarding the way Western Christianity speaks to today's world, then I highly recommend this book.  Newell challenges us to hear the voice of God in nature and each other; to see how we address and respond and react to each other and the earth.

Peace be with you.

OD

Comments

[...] with John Philip Newell.  As you recall, I have made some brief comments about his latest book, Christ of the Celts.  In one of the sessions, John Philip told a story about a 20th century Celtic teacher from France [...]

Popular posts from this blog

Pipe Smoking—The Why

“I believe that many who find that ‘nothing happens’ when they sit down, or kneel down, to a book of devotion, would find that the heart sings unbidden while they are working their way through a tough bit of theology with a pipe in their teeth and a pencil in their hand.” — C.S. Lewis

In my last post I talked about my ingress into the fantastical world of pipe smoking. In this post, I want to talk about the “why’s,” the reasons I smoke a pipe. And that’s an important distinction. I’m not saying why you should smoke a pipe, I’m only speaking from my experience.

So, why did I start smoking a pipe?

I’m not really sure. Seriously. I just sort of fell into it. I mean, I guess part of it is the “old world” feel about smoking a pipe. I’m a lost romantic in a very unromantic world. I like “old” things—antiques, craftsmanship, clothes1, shaving2, etc.—and pipe smoking fits into a lot of those categories. There’s a quote I use when I give retreats on Celtic Christian Spirituality that goes like th…

Pipe Smoking—The Beginning

“I believe that many who find that ‘nothing happens’ when they sit down, or kneel down, to a book of devotion, would find that the heart sings unbidden while they are working their way through a tough bit of theology with a pipe in their teeth and a pencil in their hand.” — C.S. Lewis



As many of you know, I smoke a pipe. And while I really don’t mention it a lot on this blog, if you were to visit me we would, more likely than not, find ourselves sitting outside having a nice conversation and I’d be smoking a pipe. I might even offer you one, if you’re so inclined.

What I’d like to do is write a little series on pipe smoking. Perhaps some “how to’s” and what not. Who knows? I might even start a YouTube channel about it.

But one thing I’d like to try to do is tie pipe smoking together with theology and biblical study. A lot of people find the two—pipe smoking and spiritual commitment—diametrically opposed to one another. But as we saw in the Lewis quote above, it can be quite helpful and s…

Pipe Smoking—The Pipe Parts and Stuff

“I believe that many who find that ‘nothing happens’ when they sit down, or kneel down, to a book of devotion, would find that the heart sings unbidden while they are working their way through a tough bit of theology with a pipe in their teeth and a pencil in their hand.” — C.S. Lewis

In our previous post, we talked about the different shapes of a smoking pipe. So today we’re going to talk about the different parts of a pipe and some of the tools you’ll need for smoking your pipe.

Now that you have your first pipe (congratulations, by the way!), let’s talk about the different parts of your pipe.


As you can see in the above image, a pipe has two basic sections, the stummel and the stem. The stummel is the wood part and the stem is the mouthpiece.

The stummel can be made of different material but is generally briar wood. Briar (Fr. bruyère)comes from a flowering, evergreen shrub (erica arborea) in the heather family that grows in the Mediterranean Basin. After the shrub has reached maturity…