Cynthia Bourgeault is an Episcopal priest, teacher, retreat and conference leader. She is the author of many books, including The Wisdom Way of Knowing. Bourgeault is a Living Spiritual Teacher on our website. She believes that "the great cultural monolith that we call Christianity" is breaking into pieces as denominations lose membership and communities are being split by differing views of homosexual unions, women's ordinations, and abortion rights.
It is a propitious time to ask some hard questions about the Christian way and the radical ministry of Jesus of Nazareth. Bourgeault is convinced that we should now see this agitator first and foremost as a wisdom teacher of the inner transformation of the whole human being. He stood in the tradition of Hebrew teachers such as Ecclesiastes, Job, and Proverbs with his pithy sayings and personalized questions. Bourgeault quotes Lynn Bauman referring to Jesus's parables as "spiritual hand grenades" aimed at changing people's consciousness. Or they could also be seen as Buddhist koans conveying the many paradoxes of life.
Bourgeault discusses Jesus's ideas about the kingdom of God, the path of metanoia, the Beatitudes, and the "hard teachings" from the Gospel of Thomas. She concludes that Jesus is "the first truly integral teacher to appear on the planet." She also marvels at his path of self-emptying love and his Tantric mastery. In a section of the book titled "The Mysteries of Jesus," the author celebrates his life as a sacrament — a spiritual force in its own right. Here she covers the incarnation, the passion, the crucifixion and its aftermath, and the great Easter fast. Bourgeault rejoices in the mystical body of Christ present in our daily lives. She concludes the book with five Christian Wisdom Practices (Centering Prayer Meditation, Lectio Divina, Chanting and Psalmody, Welcoming, and Eucharist). These practices deepen our encounter with Jesus as the wisdom teacher and enable us to walk the talk of transformation, love, hospitality, and compassion.