Quote for the Day

Paul never conceives Christ Jesus in us in a material manner, a concrete, physical way of existing within us. He, in so many ways, leads us into the indwelling presence of Christ Jesus by maintaining always the “mystery” of God’s perfect love for us and our return of that love to God in and through Christ and the Holy Spirit. If we wish to enter into Paul’s mystical vision of our unity in love with the risen Lord, we must strenuously avoid any “objectification” of Christ’s union within us.

— George Maloney, SJ, The Mystery of Christ in You:
The Mystical Vision of Saint Paul

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About Carl McColman

Author of Befriending Silence, The Big Book of Christian Mysticism, Answering the Contemplative Call, and other books. Retreat leader. Speaker. Professed Lay Cistercian.

  • zoecarnate

    Hmm, interesting. Probably my *least* favorite aspect of Christian mysticism is the apparent downgrading of the material, of the physical. While I technically agree with Maloney here, I’m not sure if I appreciate his emphasis. Of course, it could be that my concerns would be allayed if I but read the quote in context.

    In other news, here’s an interesting post titledMysticism, Evangelism, and Emergent.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/carlmccolman/ Carl McColman

    Thanks for your comment, Mike; interestingly, I hadn’t seen this passage as dualistic at all. I saw Maloney as using the word “material” here not in a sense of “that which is other than spiritual,” but rather in the sense of “that which can be objectified, and therefore is more easily subject to human control and/or manipulation.” In other words, as I saw it the distinction he is drawing here is not between low matter and high spirit, but between objectification of Christ and the Sacred Mystery which remains always outside our control.

  • Peter

    Great back-and-forth, Carl and Mike!

    I see as an operative word in the quote “concrete”: the living mystery informing and energizing our living physical bodies is something I think we can all live with. I share Maloney’s sense of caution regarding the “concrete” or “chunk” interpretation of Christ-in-us that is as far as many of my evangelical brethren are willing to go, for fear (I guess) of new-age style excesses that can accompany spiritual perspectives on the mystery. But Carl is right that this Mystery is always outside our control–thank God!

    I believe that the divine initiative manifested in the Incarnation of Jesus and in His choice to dwell in us by the Holy Spirit is an UPgrading of our material, physical lives, fulfilling their destiny as His house, His dwelling-place, His address—even as the clay pots He has decided to indwell (more: He has designed to indwell). This is an extremely honorable status for this old physical life and existence, redeeming its purpose and guarding me from the extremes of hedonism (creature worship) or the-wrong-kind-of gnosticism (only the spirit counts; the body is worthless) as Mike is showing concern about here. I do greatly enjoy living in this body; but at the same time my spirit is groaning (along with all of creation, Romans 8) for the redemption of the body which is still ahead of us according to the promise.

    Peace in Jesus,

  • http://abracazen.tripod.com Loretto Gubernatis

    Well what do I know I’m just a woman and we all know how Paul felt about that!


    Aradia Dane lived about five thousand years ago. She was first heard of in the land of Denmark but she originally came from another mysterious place she only referred to as her island. She longed much to return. The king of the Danes at that time was very much afraid of Aradia, as she was known to perform many enchantments. So he had her locked up in the tower of his castle. Aradia was very sad that the king reacted so. She began to use her powers of astral projection to enter his bedchamber at night and plead with him to release her. He became even more frightened of her and summoned his carpenters to build a coffin. He then had Aradia bound and placed within it. Then he had the coffin sealed and set adrift at sea.

    The coffin floated for forty days and forty nights. Aradia who was quite used to fasting had no problems with that. She passed her time thinking of new enchantments and putting herself in a state of suspended animation. When she awakened from it forty days had passed. She began to sing in the most melodious voice any sailor had ever heard.

    A Phoenician merchant ship saw the coffin adrift on its pallet and hearing the sweet melodious voice they pulled her aboard. When they opened up the coffin Aradia smiled the brightest smile any sailor had ever seen.

    They gave her fresh garments and food and she became the mascot of the ship. Whenever a storm blew hard Aradia would stand at the mast and sing. An artisan aboard carved a wooden likeness of Aradia and the captain had it mounted at the front of the boat. It was the first such figure ever mounted.

    The Phoenician merchant ship drifted off course and eventually hit the shores of the Americas. When Aradia stepped down the gangplank the natives hailed her as the white goddess. She was the first one ever called this and that legend exists in all native cultures. Aradia was very fair and had long blonde hair. She was quite beautiful but unfortunately always feared for her magic.

    The Phoenician ship set sail again. They wound up on a strange land directly in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. This was the continent of Atlantis. The Atlanteans were a soft gentle people who lived off the fruits of their plentiful land. However they were quite bored with themselves as they had all their needs met there was nothing to do. Aradia noticed that in the caves of Atlantis was an abundance of rocks of all variety crystals and loadstone magnesium and coal. Having a vast knowledge of alchemy she was able to show them how to refine and use these wonderful resources for the benefit of all. Since they had plenty of time and a great thirst for knowledge they were kept busy for many years. Aradia promised to return for a visit in the future.

    Unfortunately the Atlanteans became so powerful in weaponry and spectacular machinery that they were envied by many. Envy is not a useful emotion and sad to say the land was said to have disappeared a long time ago. Some say it sank others that it made itself invisible to evade the eyes of the envious. Some say it will reappear someday and that it is waiting for the return of Aradia.

    The Phoenician ship was tired of their adventures and wished to return to Phoenicia. So they set sail for their homeland. They said goodbye to all their Atlantean friends and set off to sea again. This time they drifted to far right and wound up on a small island just off the Atlantic Ocean. As Aradia set foot on the soil the birds began to sing a most beautiful melody. The sun shone more brightly than ever before. Aradia realized that this was her beloved island and knelt down to kiss the ground. The land had been dry and brown and cracked since she had gone but as soon as Aradia’s lips touched the soil it was turned into a lush green land which abounded with special type of three-leaf clover now called the shamrock. A brilliant light shone from the center of Aradia’s heart and it was witnessed by all present that a stream of fiery creatures of light proceeded into the earth. They found solace in the soil. They took up their dwelling there and have kept the land enchanted, to this very day. Aradia’s light from within shone across the land and she declared, “I do not compete I shine. If you shine too there will be more light

    A concession of the inhabitants came in greeting. They were great men of old and had lengthy beards. They said they were waiting for their high priestess to return to them as the island had suffered much since she had been lost at sea. They were called druids and Aradia was the lost high priestess. When she was rightly installed in the seat of the high priestess all the inhabitants of the island rejoiced. They had been under a long enchantment waiting for their beloved high priestess to return. Aradia blessed all the inhabitants and taught the druid high priests all her secrets. She swore them to a vow of secrecy, which they have kept to this very day. This land was none other than Ireland, the emerald island. It later was ruled by a queen named Mauve who was brave and beautiful and who took on three husbands to commemorate the clover shamrock. She kept the island free from all the invaders who although they seemed to conquer could never learn the secrets of Aradia Dane.

    Aradia took the name Dane in tribute to her time in the land of the Danes where she had perfected her talents. Aradia remained with the druids for a long, long time. All the magical and enchanted creatures were under her charge, this included all the fairies and the Tuatha de Danann whom Aradia created and put in charge of the enchanted. Aradia became the legend that queen mauve was based upon and was the personification of all the great earth goddess myths. She was one of the first Wicca and it is said that she got all her knowledge directly from the angel Uriel. She wrote the following hymn, which was sung at all high ceremonies about the legendary creatures that sprang from her heart and inhabited the earth.

    Lean on me oh Leanhaun Shee
    Give fire to my pen
    Write my soul on steed of coal
    Till come the Banshee when
    The Phouka rides the night wind tides
    Driven by the Dullahan
    My soul returns to old Lockhern
    Trampling in the Fear Dregs den

    My mind shall close my perfect prose
    And wrap it in the sepulcher
    My body bent my heart content
    To lie beside the House of Ur
    And all my tunes preserved on runes
    Will yeah impress you my good sir
    The house of wrath return to that
    And ashes make our lives a blur

    This ballad has within it the key to awaken Aradia Dane and restore her to her rightful place with the help of the magical creatures she gave birth to. The Devas of the earth have the power to rejuvenate and reanimate. They have founded a village at Findhorn Scotland were they have begun this work. It has been said that when the desert blossoms forth again the savior will emerge. At Findhorn a literally rocky and desolate soil was tilled to produce the biggest and best plant and fruit life ever exhibited. It was at first thought that Aradia Dane was mortal and had died. Then the wizard and magician Merlin reported that on a trip to Ireland he had found her coffin. He said that he was whisked off by the king of the fairies and taken into the bowels of the earth.

    There he witnessed a magnificent glass coffin that contained the body of Aradia Dane. The fairy king told Merlin that she was in a state of suspended animation and would return to this plane of existence as soon as her powers had been increased. He predicted that this would occur around the millennium in the year 2010. She would help mankind with her mystic powers and teach them the secrets needed for their future growth. Aradia will then become the queen of the earth and wear the crown of twelve stars. It is only then that the world will enjoy a peaceful and prosperous time!

  • judith collier

    If I would have had a horse today, I would have galloped into battle, conquered whomever and cast spells all over the place! So much for women.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/carlmccolman/ Carl McColman

    Loretto, to simply dismiss Paul as a misogynist is old news, and shows a lack of understanding of spiral dynamics or integral theory, let alone Christian theology (whether traditional or progressive). You might want to read Ken Wilber’s work (esp. Sex, Ecology, Spirituality and A Brief History of Everything) before you go around dismissing ancient writers because they aren’t 100% consistent with your own late-modernist values. Many exciting Christian thinkers (both men and women) have engaged constructively with the New Testament’s pre-modern ideas concerning gender and have been able to move through them and beyond them to a place where the liberating message of the Gospel — as well as the overall thrust of Paul’s teaching — remains relevant in our day, for all people (not just male chauvinists). Try Sara Miles, Anne Lamott, Shane Claiborne, and Anne Dickson Carr for starters.

    Meanwhile, having read through your myth of Aradia Dane, I remain utterly at a loss as to what point you’re trying to make or how it is relevant to the George Maloney quote about Paul.

  • http://abracazen.tripod.com Loretto Gubernatis

    I am feeling bad about writing my thing on Aradia as it continues to post on line and I never meant it to desecrate or be publicly disrespectful to the members of this site.

    Loretto Gubernatis