Quote for the Day

Mystical writing was indeed the forerunner of today’s radical theology and deconstruction… Jacques Derrida can be described both as an intellectual subversive whose work leads to the view that any text may be interpreted to mean almost anything, and as a mystic. Well, yes, mystical writing is indeed politically and linguistically subversive and always was so…. The mystic seeks to create an effect of religious happiness by liberating religious language from the Babylonian captivity of metaphysics. When the writing does succeed in melting God and the soul down into each other, the effect of happiness is astonishing.

The Ethics of Sharing Mystical Knowledge: Meister Eckhart and the Cloud Author
Three Video Clips: Speaking of Mysticism in Portland, OR
Is Mysticism Genetic?
A shout out to Evelyn Underhill and her wonderful book
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.

  • http://naqsh.org/ned/ ned

    Carl, great quote. And I’ve added this book to my list! A lot of material has been written on Derrida as an expression of the “via negativa”. I think deconstruction is very similar to certain aspects of negative theology.

    Actually there are a lot of similarities between mysticism and postmodernism as I’ve pointed out in other comments on your blog. The only difference is that postmodernism, by itself, leads to nihilism. That is part and parcel of the limitations of the intellect. But when the intellect is guided by the heart and the soul, instead of nihilism we discover a profoundly purposeful universe where indeed universal meanings can be derived from virtually every metaphor and experience.

  • http://mikecrowlsscribblepad.blogspot.com/ Mike Crowl

    I’m finding it hard to figure out whether this quote has been added to your blog for its absurdity value or because you really believe it…??

  • judith collier

    Mike, I had to read this several times too.Jacques Derrida just proved his point as far as I could figure! What I got,as to the second part is the words take on life by the reader and bypass the intellect being taken in by the soul,where is god,and they become a living reality. Of course, this is my interpretation, I don’t know what captivity of babylon metaphyics being liberated means. judy

  • http://naqsh.org/ned/ ned

    Yes, I think Judy’s expressing it quite well — having deconstructed all human metaphors, we go from human words to the living, eternal Word beyond all mental/intellectual idolatory. The idea is to keep negating everything that is not real until we arrive at the Real, expressed so well in the Advaitin phrase “Neti, Neti” — “not this, not this”. (This is equivalent to apophatic theology in Eastern Christianity.)

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

    Mike, let’s just say I find Cupitt’s ideas both believable and absurd.

  • Peter

    The connection between apophatic theology and deconstruction is ok with me, but there is one observation I’d like to add here:

    Mystic (apophatic) writing is “subversive” only in that it challenges doctrinal and/or metaphysical assumptions about some pretty basic stuff, and causes us to re-think and re-imagine the foundation of our perceptions. But as has been noted many times in comments on mystic writings, many mystics whose writing has been considered subversive (Julian, Mme Guyon, M Eckhart, John of the Cross, Teresa to name just a few) have actually held extremely conservative, non-subversive ecclesiologies and have supported church structure to an extent that makes me (with an ecclesiology closer to that of Mike Morrell or Frank Viola and the alternative church crowd) uncomfortable!

    All this to highlight the limitations of subversiveness in mystical writing.