The Silent Cry: Mysticism and Resistance

The Silent Cry: Mysticism and Resistance

The Silent Cry: Mysticism and Resistance

The Silent Cry: Mysticism and Resistance

Synopsis

"Mysticism, in the sense of a "longing for God," has been present in all times, cultures, and religions. But Soelle believes it has never been more important than in this age of materialism and fundamentalism. The antiauthoritarian mystical element in each religion leads to community of free spirits and resistance to the death-dealing aspects of our contemporary culture. Religion in the third millennium, Soelle argues, either will be mystical or it will be dead. Therefore, Soelle identifies strongly with the hunger of New Age searchers, but laments the religious fast food they devour. Today, a kind of "democratized mysticism" of those without much religious background flourishes. This mystical experience is not drawn so much of the tradition as out of contemporary experiences. In that sense, each of us is a mystic, and Soelle's work seeks to give theological depth, clarity, and direction. This, her magnum opus, conjoins Soelle's deep religious knowledge and wisdom with her passion for social justice into a work destined to be a classic of religious literature." Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Excerpt

Why, when God's world is so big,
did you fall asleep in a prison
of all places?
RUMI

For many years I have been drawn to and borne by mystical experience and mystical consciousness. Within the complex phenomenon of religion, they appear to be central. All living religion represents a unity of three elements that, in the language of the great Catholic lay theologian Friedrich von Huegel (1852–1925), we may call the institutional, the intellectual, and the mystical (see chapter 3). The historical-institutional element addresses itself to mind and memory; in Christianity it is the “Petrine” dimension. The analyticalspeculative element is aligned with reason and the apostle Paul. The third element, the intuitive-emotional one, directs itself to the will and the action of love. It represents the Johannine dimension. The representatives of all three elements tend to declare themselves to be absolute and to denigrate the others as marginal; however, without reciprocal relationships among the three elements, religion does not stay alive. Reciprocity between institutional, intellectual, and mystical elements of religion may take the form of polarization, or the exchange may be dialectical.

What enticed me to the lifelong attempt to think God was neither the church, which I experienced more as a stepmother, nor the intellectual adventure of post-Enlightenment theology. I am neither professionally anchored nor personally at home in the two institutions of religion—the church and academic theology. It is the mystical element that will not let go of me. In a preliminary way, I can simply say that what I want to live, understand, and make known is the love for God. And that seems to be in little demand in those two institutions. At best, what Protestant theology and preaching articulate in what they designate as “gospel” can be summed up as follows: God loves, protects, renews, and saves us. One rarely hears that this process can be truly experienced only when such love, like every genuine love, is mutual. That humans love, protect, renew, and save God sounds to . . .

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