“Canticle of the Sun,” by St. Francis of Assisi, and Joseph Smith’s “Olive Leaf”

One of the last things we did at the seminar with Bernard McGinn this past weekend was read through and discuss Saint Francis of Assisi’s poem and religious song Canticle of the Sun. McGinn considers this to be a very mystical text from Francis, as Francis seems to see God powerfully in and throughout the whole of creation, including in the sun, moon, stars, Earth, etc. McGinn noted that it is a kind of nature mysticism. Francis wrote most of it in the year 1224, and the last few lines in 1226 just before his death. Continue reading ““Canticle of the Sun,” by St. Francis of Assisi, and Joseph Smith’s “Olive Leaf””

What does it mean to be “a god”?

There are stories, legends, mythologies, folklore, traditions, histories, scriptures, and texts from all around the world which tell us of humans who have reached the stature of the gods. They have, in essence, become “a god.” Some recognizable examples are people such as Jesus, Siddhartha Gautama (Buddha), and Muhammad. The process that these went through has been called theosis, deification, divinization, realization, awakening, and enlightenment. What does it mean to become or be “a god”? Continue reading “What does it mean to be “a god”?”

What is “Eternal Life”?

“Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life.”

—John 5:24, NIV

Eternal life is not eternal if it doesn’t exist right now, because that which is eternal has no beginning or end. We either have eternal life now, or we don’t have it. Because you are reading this now, you can be sure you have it, even if you don’t know it for yourself. Continue reading “What is “Eternal Life”?”

Fyodor Dostoevsky’s “First Vision” Account

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Fyodor Dostoevsky, 1876

Fyodor Dostoevsky (1821-1881) was a Russian novelist, writer, and philosopher. He often explored questions of psychology, philosophy, and religion. He wrote many acclaimed novels.

He published a short story in the 1870s in a collection called A Writer’s Diary with the title “The Dream of a Queer Fellow,” also published as The Dream of a Ridiculous Man. As Maria Popova points out, “the story sheds light on Dostoyevsky’s personal spiritual and philosophical bents with extraordinary clarity — perhaps more so than any of his other published works.” As with so much so-called “fiction,” it is perhaps a true reflection of his own deepest intuitions, spiritual experiences, and understandings. Continue reading “Fyodor Dostoevsky’s “First Vision” Account”

Joannes Stobaeus’ “First Vision” Account

Joannes Stobaeus was a 5th-century AD compiler of Greek texts in Stobi, Macedonia. He likely read widely, and recorded many of the most interesting passages he came across from Greek authors, including poets and prose writers. The following seems to be a reference to the ancient Mysteries, religious rites, secret ceremonies and initiations, and what took place in them, perhaps a reference to the Eleusinian Mysteries. The reference may have come from Plutarch. Continue reading “Joannes Stobaeus’ “First Vision” Account”