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””
This weekend I had the fortunate opportunity to go to Fairfax, Virginia, to attend a seminar hosted by the Shalem Institute, an organization that fosters contemplative living and leadership. Their invited guest to present for their annual Gerald May Seminar was Bernard McGinn, who is Professor Emeritus of Historical Theology and of the History of Christianity in the Divinity School at the University of Chicago. McGinn is an American Roman Catholic Theologian and is considered one of the world’s foremost expert scholars on the history of Christian mysticism. He has written seven volumes outlining the history of Christian mysticism, and may write two more, bringing the history up to the present time. This series is known as The Presence of God. Continue reading “Notes on Christian Mysticism from a Seminar with Bernard McGinn”
I am not fond of much of the New Age movement. Sometimes my thoughts about mysticism may seem like the New Age, but I think that is because the New Age has adopted a lot of mystical language and concepts, not that classical mysticism inherently belongs to the New Age. They are two different fields, which have some overlap. The New Age developed just in the 1970s. Mysticism has been around for millennia, indeed, for all of human history, in every part of the world.
The word mystical is derived from the Greek mystikos meaning “secret,” and muo meaning “concealed.”
Why all the mystery? Why is it concealed? Why do people keep it a secret? This seems like shady business. But is it? Continue reading “The Meaning of the Word “Mystical””
Many ancient texts, including the Bible, note that seeing God brings death to the person (Exodus 19:21; Exodus 33:20; Judges 13:22; Moses 1:5, 11; D&C 84:22). But then we also read of some who claim they saw God and lived to tell about it (see especially Genesis 32:30; Exodus 33:11; Moses 1:2). What’s going on? Which is it? Continue reading “Does Seeing God Cause Death to the Person?”
Many mystical paths in the world’s spiritual traditions claim to lead one to a conscious merging, union, and a direct identification with Deity, the Sacred, Reality, the Universe, the Transcendent, with a first-hand experience of being God. Continue reading “We are Already God, We’ve Just Forgotten”