Christian Mysticism Class at Evening at Emory begins October 13

There’s still time to register for the Introduction to Christian Mysticism class being offered through the Evening at Emory program. Continuing education credit is available for this 5-week class. To register, click here.

Here’s the course description from the Emory website:

Introduction to Christian Mysticism

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Evening at Emory
Humanities and Cultural Studies

The renowned twentieth century German theologian Karl Rahner said, “The Christian of the future will be a mystic or will not exist at all.” What could he have meant by this? In the popular mind, mysticism is associated with eastern spirituality, like Yoga or Zen. But there is a little-known tradition of meditation and spiritual awakening even within Christianity. This non-sectarian class will survey the history of Christian mysticism from Biblical times to the present, explore the meaning of mysticism and why Christians often view it with suspicion, and consider the role that mysticism might play in Christianity of the present and future. Textbook not included.

The Big Book of Christian Mysticism: The Essential Guide to Contemplative Spirituality

Instructor: Carl McColman, MA in Professional Writing and Editing, author of The Big Book of Christian Mysticism
5 session(s): Thu: Oct 13-Nov 10 / 7:00-9:00 pm
Registration fee: $210   CEUs: 1      

After this class, you will be able to:

  1. Understand what mysticism is, and how its meaning has evolved over time;
  2. Survey the key Christian mystics from Biblical times to the present day;
  3. Learn the reasons why mysticism is controversial within Christianity;
  4. Understand mysticism’s relationship with monasticism, and what kinds of spiritual practices mystics have engaged in over the centuries;
  5. Speculate on how mysticism can remain vital to Christianity in the future.

What will be covered:

Class 1: Introduction

  • Defining mysticism
  • How the concept of mysticism has evolved over time
  • Distinctive qualities of Christian mysticism
  • How mysticism differs from occultism, esotericism, gnosticism and piety

Class 2: History of Mysticism through 1200

  • Mysticism in the Bible
  • The Alexandrian Mystics
  • The Desert Fathers and Mothers
  • Pseudo-Dionysius, Augustine, and the Greek tradition

Class 3: History of Mysticism from 1200 to the present

  • High medieval mysticism: Cistercians, Franciscans, and Dominicans
  • Northern European Mysticism
  • Southern European Mysticism
  • Protestantism and Modern Mysticism

Class 4: What Mystics Do

  • Ascetical Practices: Monasticism, Celibacy, Austerity
  • Lectio Divina and Biblical study
  • Meditation and Contemplation
  • The Relationship Between Mysticism and Works of Mercy/Social Action

Class 5: Understanding Mysticism

  • Mysticism and Heresy: Why have so many mystics been rejected by the Christian mainstream
  • The Protestant Reformation and the Marginalization of Mysticism
  • The Twentieth Century Renaissance (Christianity encounters eastern mysticism)
  • Thoughts about how mysticism will evolve in the future

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  1. Looks like a great class; wish I were less than 3 hours away.

  2. I looked at your blog for the first time just last week. While checking out the older entries, I was excited to see your recommendation and review of “Writing the Icon of the Heart” by Maggie Ross. I will admit that the name Maggie seems to me a bit incongruous and humdrum for a respected mystic, especially when mentioned in the same sentence with such revered and noble names as Hildegaard, Catherine, Julian, Scholastica and Theresa. To me, Maggie’s last name is Mae, and she is a woman of questionable character who broke Rod Stewart’s heart (I know — it’s a pseudonym). Anyway, the reason I got excited is because I now know about “Writing,” and I would not had I not visited your blog. By the way, I learned about your blog from your “Big Book.” I also made a brief and meaningful visit to the Monastery of the Holy Spirit while my wife and I were passing through the Atlanta area on our way home to Florida in June.

    Nigh unto 30 years ago I came across a book in the local bookstore called The Fountain and the Furnace: The Way of Tears and Fire, by a hermit named Maggie Ross, which, in a nutshell, and according to the blurb on the back “explores the significance and effect of tears in the spiritual life.” I had just started feeling the tug toward the mystical back then (I am a Lutheran pastor who at the time was increasingly specializing in working with the dying and grieving). As soon as I saw the book, my interest was piqued. I bought it immediately, took it home, began reading and was absolutely blown away. I still have my well marked copy, and have referred to it over and over and over through the years. I cannot count how many times I have told the “to want to want” story she recounts in the book, either in sermons, classes, to individuals or in other presentations. I bring “The Fountain and the Furnace” up, because in your review of “Writing” you never mention it, even in your last paragraph where you speak of Maggie’s eloquence on the subject of tears. I cannot imagine that you have never heard of it, but I decided to send this comment just in case. It must be out of print, because I looked it up on Amazon. Through one seller, there is one new copy available for over $300, and several others offer used copies that are more reasonably priced. If you have not seen or heard of it, I recommend it as highly as you do her latest offering.

    Let me also say how much I appreciate your “Big Book of Christian Mysticism.” Although I am not finished reading it yet, I am working through it slowly, as time permits. I find it very accessible, down to earth, and thorough. Even after 30 years of studying, loving, and hopefully living the mystical life, I am learning a lot from your “Big Book.” I also find your blog very informative and useful as well, and will look at it often. Thank you.

    BTW, sorry I had to send this comment under a different subject than Ross’s book, but it appears that you are not accepting new comments under that review.


    Ed Scott

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