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

From: Sam Norton (
Date: Sat Dec 18 2004 - 15:53:38 GMT

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    Hi Wim,

    > 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 ...

    Yes, he wouldn't claim to be a born and bred Quaker, I got that wrong.

    > 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).

    Presumably if you are completely flexible and completely inclusive, there is nothing specific to
    which one adheres? Some of the things I like about Anglicanism are precisely inflexible and
    exclusive, so I'm not sure I'd completely agree with the hierarchy of values here. Is this different
    to what I've said before?

    > 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?...

    Knowing what 'christian mysticism' is ;-)

    > 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??

    Good points. I think I can distinguish between good and bad manifestations of a religious point of
    view, but not between what we might think of as the 'best representatives' of a tradition. Who is
    more closely connected to truth, Buddha or Gandhi? the mind boggles. But I really like your William
    Penn quote about the different clothes. I think a) those 'best representatives' tend to be humble
    about their own claims to truth, and b) are quite happy to recognise Quality in each other. I'm
    thinking of Thomas Merton's experiences, or Bede Griffiths. I just think I'm so far from being able
    to contemplate these things that it's embarrassing if I don't shut up. Doesn't mean that I do shut
    up, of course, but I'm a bit shame faced when my tongue (fingertips) run away from me... :o)

    > 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?

    Er... I took it to be supporting my point that the way of theology is prayer, and the source and
    terminus of theology is the enjoyment of God.

    > 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).

    I think we're agreed on this. We somehow just keep butting our heads together on it. Don't quite
    know why - maybe temperament?

    Best regards

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