Mary, Martha, and Meister Eckhart

The story of Mary and Martha of Bethany — where Martha is busy serving the guests while Mary sits with Jesus, leading to the point where Martha complains about her sister not helping out with all the work that needs to be done, only to have Jesus defend Mary for choosing "the better part" (Luke 10:38-42) — has long been regarded as a story about how the contemplative life is "higher" than the active life. The Cloud of Unknowing forcefully makes this traditional argument. But in her book The Sil … [Read more...]

Reading and Recognition

The Greek word for "reading" means to have renewed cognition, to re-cognize. To read texts of mysticism is to have renewed cognition of one's self, of a being that is buried under rubble. Thus, the discovery of the mystical tradition also sets free one's own forgotten experience.— Dorothee Soelle, The Silent Cry: Mysticism and ResistanceIn The Wisdom Jesus, Cynthia Bourgeault describes Jesus "as a recognition event." In Jesus we recognize ourselves, but we also recognize God. Recognition and … [Read more...]

Mysticism and Human Dignity

As the experience of oneness with God, mysticism is the radical substantiation of the dignity of the human being.— Dorothee Soelle, The Silent Cry:Mysticism and ResistanceI think this one just about says it all. It's interesting to me that the most vocal critics of mysticism often seem to be those who have the most pessimistic view of human nature, stressing such ideas as the "total depravity" of humankind. It's almost as if the mysticism-haters are saying "we reject mysticism because, f … [Read more...]