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

From: Wim Nusselder (
Date: Fri Dec 17 2004 - 08:12:52 GMT

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    Dear Sam,

    Thanks for your off-list forwarding of your warden's description of his
    experience with Quakerism and his choice for Anglicanism. It doesn't seem to
    fully justify your original statement of 12 Nov 2004 16:17:07 -0000:
    'Discovered - to my delight - that one of my church wardens is a former
    Quaker.' According to his description he never was one in a sense and still
    is one in another sense...
    Anyway, you mentioned it in the context of your agreement with my statements
    that 'It may be the movement up the ladder that is DQ ... The only
    justification for religious institutions is that they are springboards or
    trampolines to start upward from. The more flexible, the better.' (31 Oct
    2004 16:59:30 +0100) and that 'There are more routes up, but "up" stays "up"
    and there is no mistaking the general direction we should take...' (15 Nov
    2004 08:46:58 +0100).

    You agreed 15 Dec 2004 02:29:56 -0000 conditionally with my statement of 10
    Dec 2004 08:43:15 +0100 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 [and] ... that such canonization creates static patterns of
    value and stunts mysticism and "experiencing the music for yourself". Your
    condition is that the canonization must be exclusive to have this harmful
    I chose the word 'canonization' of course, because it implies for me -at
    least relative- exclusiveness and inflexibility. (Have there ever been
    saints de-canonized?) So we seem to be in agreement.

    So the only thing that's missing is your recognition that Quakerism is more
    flexible and less exclusive than Anglicanism (even though there is some
    flexibility and inclusiveness in Anglicanism too).

    You wrote 15/12:
    'I don't feel qualified to judge between the main religious traditions.'

    What DOES an Anglican academic theological education qualify you for,
    according to you? Not for judging religious quality?? Don't your
    appreciation of 'my' metaphor for heaven, hell and real life and your
    agreement that the Muslim image of 70 houris awaiting one in heaven is too
    exclusive of female Muslims imply such judgements??

    The Scholastic definition of theology you quoted, "Theologia Deum docet, a
    Deo docetur, ad Deum ducit", looks more like an exercise in Latin grammar
    and catching paradoxes in words than that is illuminative. It doesn't say
    much more to me than what the word 'theology' (because of its root 'theos')
    is saying already: it has something to do with God. It doesn't really
    restrict/define. Does it exclude the instructional aspect, the movement of
    DQ to sq in passing on religious experience that I object to?

    You asked/suggested:
    '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
    statement that religion and theology {understood as religious
    practice}should beware of canonization to the extent that it wants to play a
    role in the forward movement of evolution]. Is that right?'

    The very idea that any religion should try to play a role in the forward
    movement of evolution implies that it is part of that wider
    evolution/tradition/story. Tradition is ongoing story and movement for me,
    rather than static quality. The future IS gradually being separated from the
    past as time moves forward. Future truth (DQ) can never be contained by past
    truth (tradition/sq).

    With friendly greetings,


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