Not too many years ago Celtic Spirituality was all the rage. It was, we are told, the Celts who preserved the best of ancient wisdom in carefully copied manuscripts. The Celts also bequeathed a life affirming, creation-friendly spirituality which promised to make us better pray-ers, better evangelists and more holistic Christians. Celtic Christianity also gave us a model of Spiritual Direction which was less hierarchical than the classic Latin confessor. The Celts had Soul Friends (Anamchara) who would walk with you on your journey of faith.
For all the beauty and wonder of Celtic spirituality, its appeal is often its other worldly mystique. The Celts inhabited an enchanted universe full of magic and life. They saw the world–including their natural surroundings–as interconnected. There was not a square inch of the world where God was not present. They practiced strict asceticism because belief in God was not mere intellectual ascent, but required the whole person. They cultivated routines–reading, praying, community life which enabled them to see where God was at work. They looked for Christ in nature and expected to see him work his miracles in their enchanted lands.
In Water From An Anceint Well, Kenneth McIntosh weaves story, history, folklore and theological musings to showcase the ancient Celts and their relevance for today. In a series of chapters McIntosh discusses how the Celts related to God–a sacred romance which involves daily routines and a keen eye to where God is at work in nature. He also discusses the value the Celts put on Solitude, Creation, Scripture, Art, Community and the Spiritual Disciplines. One major insights of the Celts is their affirmation of the supernatural. The Celts did not have our modern materialist suspicion of miracles. They believed in the reality of angels and demons and had a Christus Victor understanding of the atonement. They challenge our naturalistic assumptions.
I found this book beautifully written and really appreciated the level of engagement with the Celts from MacIntosh. This is a good read.
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