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Getting Started on Bruno Barnhart’s “The Future of Wisdom”

For the next five months Northeast Wisdom will be posting responses to Bruno Barnhart’s new edition of The Future of Wisdom in conjunction with the ‘Year of Bruno Barnhart’ and the Northeast Wisdom study groups that will begin this month. These groups will meet monthly, the first group on the Second Friday evening and the second on the fourth Wednesday morning, from February through June. There are a number of local study groups that are happening simultaneously, community organized, and we welcome any sharing that comes out of these groups on Breaking Ground.

We hope to bring a different voice each month to these blog posts, addressing the five chapters in conjunction with the study groups. The first contribution below is Bill Redfield’s response to the Introductory first chapter. Enjoy!


While maintaining that a Sapiential or Wisdom Christianity has been an integral part of the Christian tradition from the beginning and generative through the first twelve centuries, Barnhart cites our present age as the time of its restoration and renewal. In this introductory chapter Barnhart illuminates the essential inner movements of a Sapiential Christianity (an Eastern turn, a Western turn, and a global turn) as well as the contextual and historical positioning of Christian Wisdom (in Patristic Wisdom and in monastic Wisdom). But it is in describing the essential element of Wisdom as “participatory knowing” that Barnhart invites us up to a deeper level of reading and understanding.

Rather, then, than Barnhart creating a roadmap that merely lies flat on the page, I read here an urgent invitation. Our calling in this present age is to work in our bones and our being to make Wisdom conscious of itself. More than walking the path of Wisdom as an established and existent path, this may actually mean helping to forge the Wisdom path and contribute to its unfurling by our own walking. Can you sense the difference…?

What might it mean to make Wisdom conscious of itself? Barnhart briefly suggests in this chapter that the eclipse of Sapiential theology may well have been a necessary phase of evolution. Indeed, Barnhart’s good friend and collaborator Richard Tarnas (in Passion of the Western Mind) has suggested that the rise in the West of the dominant masculine at the cost of the repression of the feminine may have been necessary for their differentiation. As much as this has been a difficult price to have been paid for the post-Axial West, we now have the opportunity to intentionally link the dominant masculine with the recovered and arising feminine to create a more fully conscious wholeness.

In each of us as individuals and in our communities, Wisdom becoming conscious of itself may include the conscious and intentional integration of the long-held masculine with the restored feminine. When we can see and know with all three centers, when we can tune into life with the full vibrational bandwidth of an open heart and a participatory body Wisdom as well as with the rational discernment of our intellectual mind—we will have given birth to that which is within us (The Gospel of Thomas, Logion 70). Moreover, we will have contributed to Wisdom’s unfolding and the forward movement of creation to its ultimate fruition.

If any of this comes even close to hitting the mark, the Future of Wisdom is not just a book—it is you and your own authentic Wisdom unfolding…

Comments (4)

  1. How wonderful that Northeast Wisdom is reading this book. Our small Wisdom group in Greensboro, NC read this book last year. I’m looking forward to all your posts and comments.

  2. A sense of urgency, yes, and yet…
    It seems that what is required appears, before the need is even known.
    This, I think, is grace indeed.

  3. Yes, Susan! Love the both and.. of your response! Timely and urgency….learning to live within those tensions. The Divine and the Human moving toward ever greater Unity. A Law of Three (Trinitarian) Movement.

    I’m loving this book and looking forward to the group exploration!

  4. Yes, Susan…timely and urgent,and learning to live within these tensions. The Devine and the Human ever moving us to Greated Unity. A Law of Three/Trinitarian Movement.

    Loving this book and looking forward to our group exploration,

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