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John McLuckie
priest, reader, listener
Interests: Jazz, novels, mystical theology, cities, paintings, healthcare, biblical studies, buildings, poetry, Thomas Merton, William Johnston
Recent Activity
Sometimes, the season of Lent can seem like a heavy, solemn thing, an opportunity for grave reflection and burdensome self-denial. I prefer to think of it as a season of shedding, of simplifying, of lightening the load. If there is renouncing to be done, let it be the renunciation of... Continue reading
Posted Feb 18, 2015 at Justluckie
I had one of those important conversations with a friend recently which served as a timely reminder that religion, if it is to be true to itself, must be about life. The conversation was about the simple practice of meditation, which each of us practices with others every week in... Continue reading
Posted Feb 11, 2015 at Justluckie
This Saturday, 31 January, is the centenary of Thomas Merton's birth in the small town of Prades in the Pyrenees-Orientales area of France, near the Spanish border. You could argue that there's nothing inherently worth noting about a centenary, but I'm not going to argue with any excuse to celebrate... Continue reading
Posted Jan 27, 2015 at Justluckie
The delightfully potty Alasdair Gray published a book of prefaces in 2000 and the book, as ever, is as fabulous for its artwork and cheeky glosses as for its undoubted literary ambition (from Caedmon to Wilfred Owen). Gray is surely right that prefaces can be a sort of 'verbal doorstep... Continue reading
Posted Jan 19, 2015 at Justluckie
I am a Scottish Episcopalian. That means that I like traditional things, and here are a few that I like very much but that seem to suffer from a considerable degree of neglect right now. I mention them not to have a go at anyone but myself and to remind... Continue reading
Posted Dec 16, 2014 at Justluckie
Yesterday was the anniversary of Thomas Merton's untimely death in 1968, so I offer this little reflection as part of my ongoing love for this incomparable mystic, poet, activist and writer. Thomas Merton was a solitary for the last few years of his life, but his call to solitude was... Continue reading
Posted Dec 11, 2014 at Justluckie
So Thomas Merton wrote in a short, passionate piece in 1966 for the magazine Jubilee after meeting the Vietnamese monk, Thich Nhat Hanh in May of that year. The essay was later published in his collection, Faith and Violence. It was an appeal for the safety of Thich Nhat Hanh... Continue reading
Posted Nov 24, 2014 at Justluckie
The Scottish Episcopal Church, to which I belong, is engaging in a process of conversations around same-sex relationships, with a particular focus on the forthcoming debates we will have about permitting clergy of our church to solemnise marriages between people of the same sex. I have hesitated in writing anything... Continue reading
Posted Nov 18, 2014 at Justluckie
My eye was, unsurpisingly, drawn to an article in the Guardian last week which was about a poll commissioned by the Folio Society for people to indicate the books they considered to be most influential to 'humanity'. I put that last word in quotation marks because the list appeared to... Continue reading
Posted Nov 17, 2014 at Justluckie
Faith is not an idea. It is not a proposition and it is not simply a weak form of knowledge. Indeed, it seems that the whole process of believing has more to do with our bodies than our thoughts, or at least as much to do with our bodies as... Continue reading
Posted Nov 13, 2014 at Justluckie
This was the title of William Johnston's second-last book on Christian spirituality and it remains an unusual work in the realm of modern Christian spiritual writing in that it takes seriously the idea that the work of theology is fundamentally the work of the soul's journey into God. Much modern... Continue reading
Posted Oct 21, 2014 at Justluckie
Christian theology found its earliest expression in letters and Christian theologians and spiritual guides continued to use this medium as a primary mode of communication from the beginnings of the faith until our own day. Of course, St Paul was the first to write letters, many of them very personal,... Continue reading
Posted Oct 14, 2014 at Justluckie
For many Western Christians, the iconostasis in Eastern churches looks very much like a barrier, something solid separating 'us' from 'them', the 'holy' from the 'profane'. It seems to carry a virtual 'no entry sign' and be designed for the primary purpose of keeping the unworthy out of the place... Continue reading
Posted Oct 2, 2014 at Justluckie
St Bonaventure's masterly work of mystical theology, The Soul's Journey Into God, gives a beautifully simple picture of the end of that journey. In his seventh and final chapter, he draws heavily on Pseudo-Dionysius but also includes some vivid images of his own. He compares his six 'considerations' which lead... Continue reading
Posted Sep 9, 2014 at Justluckie
Of course it is! Is it not dangerous to step out of line with the usual run of things? Is it not dangerous to pay attention to reality rather than find ways of avoiding it? Is it not dangerous to wake up? There have been recent reports about the difficulties... Continue reading
Posted Sep 1, 2014 at Justluckie
It is very tempting to spend a lot of energy on making other people behave better. How can I stop that person behaving badly and make them change their ways? One useful bit of advice St Francis gave to one of his Ministers (the brother or sister with responsibility for... Continue reading
Posted Aug 28, 2014 at Justluckie
The word 'hagiography' is now used to denote an exaggerated and inaccurate rendering of someone's life - it is a conceit and probably also a deceit which glosses over faults and magnifies what meagre virtues may have been present in the life of the person thus eulogised. The genre is... Continue reading
Posted Aug 26, 2014 at Justluckie
As it is St Bernard's feast day, it seems right to say a few words about what one of his most famous modern 'sons' said about him. Thomas Merton had an uneasy relationship with his order's most prominent early leader. There is no question that Bernard was a towering figure... Continue reading
Posted Aug 20, 2014 at Justluckie
Yesterday saw one of those 'I wish I had thought of that two months ago' moments when I listened to two excellent poets at the Edinburgh International Book Festival who were exploring very different kinds of journey which are both represented in the medium of embroidery in the Cathedral's exhibition... Continue reading
Posted Aug 19, 2014 at Justluckie
This post is little more than an excuse to share some holiday snaps. We visit my in-laws around Geneva fairly regularly and I always enjoy the simplicity of the Reformed churches in the cantons of Geneva and Vaud. There are some lovely historic churches that have had fairly recent makeovers... Continue reading
Posted Aug 18, 2014 at Justluckie
On Sunday evening, Rowan Williams introduced his new collection of poems, The Other Mountain, at the Edinburgh International Book Festival. After his reading, one questioner asked about how he managed to combine his poetry writing with his previous onerous duties as Archbishop of Canterbury. Among other things, he responded that... Continue reading
Posted Aug 12, 2014 at Justluckie
Today is the feast of St Clare of Assisi, founder of the Order of Minoresses (Poor Clares) and associate of St Francis. For too long, Clare was only considered in relation to Francis but it has become clear in recent years the extent to which she stands very much on... Continue reading
Posted Aug 11, 2014 at Justluckie
Today is the feast of St Clare of Assisi, founder of the Order of Minoresses (Poor Clares) and associate of St Francis. For too long, Clare was only considered in relation to Francis but it has become clear in recent years the extent to which she stands very much on... Continue reading
Posted Aug 11, 2014 at Justluckie
On the whole, I try to offer a cool, reasonable view of religion on these pages. But every now and again, I feel the need to do something that comes more from the gut than the head. The Franciscan tradition that has formed me has shown me that a faith... Continue reading
Posted Aug 2, 2014 at Justluckie