Showing posts from December, 2018

Are not all mystics dangerous?

When the distinguished scholar of Christian Mysticism, Bernard McGinn, arrived at London’s Heathrow airport in the 1980s, he was asked by the Immigration Officer why he was coming to England? “I am giving a paper at a scholarly conference on Meister Eckhart,” he replied. “Ah! Eckhart. I have always wanted to get a better understanding of ‘gelassenheit’. Can you explain it to me?” So Professor McGinn, by explaining one of Eckhart’s key terms, got entrance into the country whilst wondering if this was the state of interest in Eckhart in England need he have come at all!
This is in radical contrast to Eckhart’s currency shortly after his death in 1328. In 1329 certain of his propositions, though not the man himself, were condemned as heretical or suspect; and, though his two greatest followers, Henry Suso and John Tauler, bravely referred to him, in passing, both saw fit to adapt, amend and soften his radical stance for the audiences they now addressed. Eckhart sunk into obscurity until t…

Merry Christmas and a Light bearing New Year

The Three Kings arrive to adore; and, what we see is simply the light emerging from the cradle. We presume it is the light incarnate in the child but the indeterminacy, its overflowing, suggests a light transcendent to the child. It is the light that underpins all.

St. Augustine writes that a central feature of the Incarnation was to restore wisdom to sight. The wisdom that we all carry by virtue of being human had become overlaid by the darkness of sin and ordinary knowledge had been set free from its roots. We could believe only what we saw with an outward directed, calculating gaze. Christ came to reconnect this Scientia (knowledge reaped from observation) to Sapientia (truth gained through direct intuition, seeing the whole), peeling back sin, to reveal wisdom once more. The image of God that we all carry could now be reconnected in a living likeness to God. God became human so that humanity might be divinized and become God (to quote St. Athanasius). The three 'wise men'…

The Beckoning Land that is within

In spite of the fact that all three of Rowena Farre's books were in a certain measure autobiographical, she remains a mystery. The place of her birth, her real name and ancestry, whether her first book was autobiography, in fact, or fiction? It is, on reading her last book, a matter on which, beyond a certain notional interest, I find myself wholly and happily agnostic. Whoever she was, she was a person out of sorts with the world she was born into and on, an ever more consciously realized, spiritual quest. In this way, the book leads on from her earlier one about her life with Roma and Traveller communities. There she was following a nomadic impulse that ran in parallel to 'ordinary life' whilst here she is following a nomadic life that enfolds and transforms 'ordinary' life.

In this her third book, she returns to places associated with her childhood, Hong Kong, Ceylon and India, i…