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Unteachable Lessons: Why Wisdom Can't Be Taught (and Why That's Okay)


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Why Christian spirituality must be "caught" rather than "taught."

We speak of spirituality as a “journey,” which implies not only a destination toward which we travel, but countless adventures encountered along the way. The journey is the destination—both at once. We may all be trying to get to the heart of God, but there are infinite ways to get there. 

Can wisdom collected along the pilgrim path even be captured in words, codified into a book? Probably not. And why do the wisest books refuse to offer glib formulas or step-by-step instructions for happiness or enlightenment? Why are the great spiritual classics mostly just an invitation to keep our eyes, ears—and especially hearts—open?

Because we’re often stumbling on miracles while we’re looking for something else.

Using engaging and disarming stories from his own life, Carl McColman, a leading author of books in spirituality, gently leads readers toward a recognition that although the wisdom of the past is worth reading, hearing or reading others’ experience of God is ultimately no substitute for opening our own eyes, ears, and hearts to God.

Richard Rohr, OFM
— author of The Universal Christ
Unteachable Lessons looks at many different journeys: the journeys into grief, into silence, into trust, and perhaps most of all, the journey into God. No one can take these adventures for us—but Carl McColman is a wise and caring companion on the path. Highly recommended.”

James Martin, SJ
— author of Jesus: A Pilgrimage
“Riveting, inspiring and beautifully written, a moving account of finding God amidst both the laughter and tears in life.”

Barbara Brown Taylor
— author of Holy Envy: Finding God in the Faith of Others
“Carl McColman’s first gift is his commitment to write about things that matter. His second gift is his ability to write about them with clarity and warmth, enticing his readers to go places with him that we might otherwise not have gone. In this book he leads us to the brink of lessons no book can teach, then frees us to go forward to learn them, trusting the God who meets us at every step on the unknown way.”

Marilyn McEntyre
— author of When Poets Pray
“These lively stories of loss, awakening, and moments of divine encounter and surprise offer invitations at every turn to recognize how the Spirit lives and moves in our own lives as well as in the author’s. Deft and funny, rich with spiritual insight and unpretentiously articulate, this book is one to be enjoyed, dog-eared, carried to retreats, and shared.”

Martin Laird, OSA
— author of An Ocean of Light
“We have come to expect inspiring and sure-footed guidance from the pen of Carl McColman. In this beautifully written memoir, McColman continues his sound guidance through wide learning, deep experience, and the humor of the truly wise.”

Margaret Benefiel
— author of Soul at Work and The Soul of a Leader
“This powerful little book inspires and instructs masterfully. A must-read for those interested in truths beneath the words.”

Product Details

  • Title : Unteachable Lessons: Why Wisdom Can't Be Taught (and Why That's Okay)
  • Authors:
    • McColman, Carl
    • McLaren, Brian
  • Publisher: Eerdmans
  • Publication Date: 2019
  • ISBN: 9781467456852

Carl McColman is the author of Befriending Silence, The Big Book of Christian Mysticism, Christian Mystics: 108 Seers, Saints and Sages, and Answering the Contemplative Call. He lives near Atlanta, Georgia, where he is the member of the Lay Cistercians of Our Lady of the Holy Spirit, a contemplative community under the spiritual guidance of Trappist monks.


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    Digital list price: $18.99
    Save $7.60 (40%)