Re: MD Static and dynamic aspects of mysticism and religious experience

From: Sam Norton (
Date: Wed Dec 15 2004 - 02:29:56 GMT

  • Next message: Phaedrus Wolff: "MD "Children's eyes - children's mouths""

    Hi Wim,

    I've got a response to the terrorism thread brewing, but it'll take a bit longer to send that
    through to you. In the meantime...

    > By the way: does the academic community (of theologians) you refer to happen
    > to describe its key terms in dictionariies? Could you quote a typical
    > definition that supports your understanding of theology? Are they less
    > compromised by Subject-Object thinking than the wider philosophical culture?

    I don't actually possess a dictionary of theology, but "Theologia Deum docet, a Deo docetur, ad Deum
    ducit" (Theology teaches of God, is taught by God, and leads to God) - this was the definition
    accepted by the Scholastics, as I understand it. Plus the quotation I used before from Evagrius. I
    would argue that theology IS less compromised by SO thinking, but that's partly because I see SO
    thinking as primarily a Modern phenomenon (the whole Platonic theory of participation, for example,
    would seem not to qualify as SO thinking).

    > To what extent do you agree with me that canonization of those fruits of
    > other people's journeys with/into God, telling others 'this will/can
    > illuminate your path', can be a problem, by shifting the balance between DQ
    > and sq in people's lives towards sq? Do you agree that such canonization
    > creates static patterns of value and stunts mysticism and 'experiencing the
    > music for yourself'?

    If the canonisation is exclusive it is harmful. If it is inclusive (ie 'you could try these' as
    opposed to 'only try these') then I see it as positive and beneficial.

    > We do need static patterns of value, of course, but do you agree that
    > religion and theology (understood in your way) should beware of canonization
    > to the extent that it wants to play a role in the forward movement of
    > evolution?

    The thing is, I don't believe that it is possible to have a religion that is separable from a wider
    tradition, and I suspect that you do, that this underlies the question above. Is that right?

    > It is a test of Pirsig's claim that a MoQ can found
    > a 'scientific' ethics, that can grade all patterns of value in an
    > evolutionary hierarchy, even if only in hindsight. If competition is
    > essential in biological evolution, why not at the higher levels?
    > I don't buy your: 'Surely these things are unknowable and unprovable this
    > side of heaven, so they're not that productive a topic to pursue?'

    Let me put it like this: I don't feel qualified to judge between the main religious traditions. If I
    succeed in climbing the Christian mountain, I'll let you know ;-)

    > In my theological undestanding both heaven and hell are right here and
    > nowhere else. It's up to us to make our life and that of others into one or
    > the other.
    > Do you know the metaphorical explanation of heaven and hell as a long table
    > laden with food at which everyone is sitting unable to bend their arms and
    > thus unable to bring the food to one's mouth?
    > In hell people go hungry because of that, which is even more painful because
    > of all that food laid out before them. In heaven they serve each other...
    > When I was teaching economics for a while, I tought my pupils that real life
    > can be even worse than hell: people throttling those opposite them forcing
    > the other to feed them...

    That is a truly marvellous image. Agree with you about the virgins.

    > We CAN know 'this side of heaven' that "The humble, meek, merciful, just,
    > pious and devout souls are everywhere of one religion; and when death has
    > taken off the mask, they will know one another, though the divers liveries
    > they wear here makes them strangers." (William Penn, 1693). We can even get
    > to know each other and the Quality that connects us this side of the grave,
    > realizing that the 'divers liveries' DO matter also, in a world in which
    > Quality is BOTH split AND recognizably the same (a contridictory identity)
    > in static patterns and in change for the good. Some 'liveries' ARE better
    > than others, even if they clothe kindred souls. What's wrong with clashing
    > (s)words about Anglicanism or Quakerism being better as long as we are aware
    > of our underlying agreement?

    That sounds much more like the Wim I'm used to! I was worried that we were losing sight of the
    underlying agreement. I'll send (off list) something from my warden friend.

    Warm regards

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