This space is where I (Mark Longhurst) explore contemplative spirituality and mysticism, social justice, the arts, and geek out about the Bible. I worked for social justice non-profits in Boston for nearly a decade, pastored churches in Western Massachusetts (United Church of Christ) for a decade more, and now am a managing editor at the Center for Action and Contemplation (views expressed at Ordinary Mystic are mine alone). I’m obsessed with reading, a longtime Centering Prayer practitioner, a husband and dad, a yoga enthusiast, and a lover of contemporary art.
My free newsletter the weekly (not so) ordinary is a lectio divina-style journey through the book of Revelation. Yes, that book. You can expect to hear from me in your inbox each week, usually Sunday mornings.
I'm well-aware of the checkered history of this strange and disturbing biblical book. It has enthralled doomsday prophets, street corner preachers and fundamentalist believers waiting for the “Rapture.” More progressive Christians simply pretend it doesn't exist. Instead of approaching the book of Revelation with disastrous literalism, I'm convinced we're meant to read it with imaginations stretched and hearts blown-open. What’s known as the apocalyptic genre in the bible—the writings in which suns fail and stars fall from the sky—most approximates what we know in popular culture as stories about alternative galaxies, futuristic devastation, colonization of space, and tales of unidentified objects or creatures. Science fiction with God mixed in.
Science fiction, like the biblical apocalyptic writings, is not really about what is literal or what happens later; it is a way of imagining an alternative future to reflect upon or tell truths about reality now. I feel compelled to read, pray with, and write about Revelation because we are living, I’m convinced, in a time of reality being uncovered. Systems of evil and injustice are being revealed and, for those who wish to perceive it, the presence of God is (always) at hand. The moment compels a revelation of our collective realities and the dimensions of our inner lives.
Admittedly, fire, end-times horsemen, and dragons are not what everyone needs right now. For those who’d like to step into an imaginative space of what is real, the world that is possible, and what our moment might be asking of us, I invite you to join me.
“I am not particularly Christian, and I am not particularly interested in the Bible, but I love Mark’s weekly contemplations because they make me think about what is important to me: the work of being human, of growing spiritually, of connecting to forces that are way bigger than I am. Plus I love Mark, so it’s always great to hear from him!”—Betsy B.
“Mark’s tumultuous undertaking to decipher Revelations for those of us wandering in the hinterland, I have found to be nettlesome, provocative and on point. Under his tutelage a restored confidence to revisit the surreal ambiguity of John of Patmos has opened up new spiritual horizons.” —Susan M.
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