Tuesday, May 18, 2010

ECM, Day 6: The End of the Beginning

Mystical experiences should be transformational. Hell, worship should be transformational, according to a sermon I heard nine days ago. God does not change, but God can change you, you can change yourself, and you can help change one another.

McGinn on Transformation, p. xvii:
"One thing that stands out in the accounts of all the Christian mystics is that their encounter with God transforms their minds and their lives. God changes the muystics and invites, even compels, them to encourage others by their teaching to open themselves to a similar process of transformation."

Okay, we're finally to a point where we can outline the content of McGinn's book. The introduction was interesting enough, but it's time to get into specifics.

Overview of ze book:
Part One: Foundations of Mystical Practice
- 5 key themes concerning the preparation for the encounter with God
Part Two: Aspects of Mystical Consciousness
- 8 essential ways mystics have spoken about their meetings with God
Part Three: Implications of Mystical Life
- "two important effects of mystical consciousness"

McGinn adds the caveat that this list is not exhaustive and the texts in his book do not represent the complete gamut of Christian mystical experience.

Personally, I am interested in the aspects of mystical consciousness and curious about what the implications might be. We'll get there.

To close his Introduction, McGinn quotes part of a poem, "The Dry Salvages," by T.S. Eliot, and I really like it, so I thought I'd transcribe it here. Please feel free to comment on it. It would be interesting to discuss more deeply, but I don't even know where to start, and at least for now I don't want to influence your reading of the poem snippet.

                                    But to apprehend
The point of intersection of the timeless
With time, is an occupation for a saint -
No occupation either, but something given
And taken, in a lifetime's death in love,
Ardour and selflessness and self-surrender.

Tomorrow we'll dig into Biblical Interpretation as a theme of preparation, and I'll actually lay out a piece by Origen. He's not one of my favorite mystics, but he's sort of necessary from a foundational standpoint, and it's really interesting to see how much of what we take for granted in even the most standard sects of Christianity is influenced by him.

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