RE: MD On Faith

From: David Buchanan (
Date: Sun Oct 24 2004 - 18:46:15 BST

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    Sam and all MOQers:

    Sam Norton said:
    My position is:
    (i) the mystical element of the Christian faith is *the* essential core and
    what it's all about;
    (ii) I don't think it is profoundly misleading to talk about mysticism as an
    (iii) the intellectual tradition that sees it as an experience (within which
    DMB unreflectingly
    situates himself; derived through William James, and which dominates - and
    vitiates - most
    contemporary discussion of the subject) is a SOMish distortion of Christian
    mysticism, as it has
    been understood and practiced through the centuries.

    dmb says:
    You don't think its misleading to talk about mysticism as an experience, but
    the traditon that sees it as an experience is a SOMish distortion? This
    contradiction could be removed by changing (ii) to "I DO think", but then
    you wouldn't be able to deny the charge that you've "basically dismissed the
    mystical experience as unnecessary", which you described as a "self-serving
    falsehood". (I guess Sam is a graduate of the I'm-rubber-and-you're-glue
    school of debate.) What shall I do? I don't see how to remove the
    self-contradiction without saving the admission. Sam looses either way, so
    I'll leave that up to him. But since you mentioned "self-serving
    falsehoods", I should remind you that I already explicitly told (off-line)
    you that William James has nothing to do with my point of view on mysticism.
    As you know already from the "systemic about the sophists" thread,
    philosophical mysticism goes back to Plato and even the pre-Socratic
    philosophers, so your vague and unexplained assertion that such a view is "a
    SOM distortion" makes no sense.

    But I think the main problem here is that you are talking about mysticism as
    it is seen WITHIN theistic religious traditions. This is quite different
    than what I'm talking about, which is what Pirsig is talking about. He's
    saying that one has to cut through the clap-trap and low-grade yelping and
    your reply seems to be a defense of the clap-trap and low-grade yelping.

    Have you ever had a mystical experience, Sam? Do you know what you're
    talking about in any first-hand way?

    Sam said:
    Christian mystics truly are a rare breed - they are otherwise known as
    saints, people like John of the Cross, Meister Eckhart, Teresa of Avila,
    Julian of Norwich and all the other 'doctors of the church' (in other words
    they are the people acknowledged as the main teachers of the faith). ...So
    you are claiming to be one of their number, despite, to my awareness, never
    once displaying any
    familiarity with their work. Wow.

    dmb says:
    Right. I wasn't describing my point of view. I was claiming to be a Saint.
    That's plausable - in the twilight zone. But seriously, I think its obvious
    to any honest reader that I was NOT claiming to be an acknowledged teacher
    of the faith, but in fact the opposite because, like Pirsig, I think faith
    is crap. Thus my emphasis on experience and evidence.

    DMB also said, in another post:
    Philosophical mystics do not believe in a personal god with whom we can have
    a relationship, while theists do.

    Sam replied:
    Which is why you're a philosophical mystic (at best) and not a Christian
    mystic. I'm astonished that you feel the need to claim otherwise. I look
    forward to you sharing your insights from the Way. ..."And the one who
    exalts himself shall be humbled, and the one who humbles himself shall be

    dmb says:
    Astonished? Well, obviously that's because your idea of a "Christian mystic"
    has little to do with what I was saying. The esoteric core of all the
    world's religions contain this same non-theistic mysticism and it is
    depicted in their myths. Since I am an english speaking Westerner, it only
    makes sense that I would turn to the christian mythology first. That how I
    read the christian myths. Its and interpretation shared by philosophical
    mystics. You may recall that I presented that view to you, Sam, and you
    dismissed it. Anyway, I'm a christian mystic only because adopting a
    mythology from outside my culture feels like a bit of a put-on to me, an
    affectation. Of course I wasn't saying that I'd been cannonized by the
    church or otherwise talking about grandiose personal achievements. We're
    talking about "faith" in the MOQ and I'm sorry if that doesn't work for you
    Sam, but Pirsig is clear on this. There is no way your brand of religion can
    be justifed in the MOQ.

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