The Experience of God: A Postmodern Response

The Experience of God: A Postmodern Response

The Experience of God: A Postmodern Response

The Experience of God: A Postmodern Response

Synopsis

The book provides a series of approaches to the ancient question of whether and how God is a matter of "experience," or, alternately, to what extent the notion of experience can be true to itself if it does not include God. On the one hand, it seems impossible to experience God: the deity does not offer Himself to sense experience. On the other hand, there have been mystics who have claimed to have encountered God. The essays in this collection seek to explore the topic again, drawing insights from phenomenology, theology, literature, and feminism. Throughout, this stimulating collection maintains a strong connection with concrete rather than abstract approaches to God.

Excerpt

The essays in this collection had their first life at a conference, “The Experience of God,” held at Villanova University in the fall of 2001. the conference took place in the shadow of the 9/11 attacks on the United States. Those events were nothing if not an experience, an exposure to peril, and the decision to go ahead with the conference in November on a campus that had been deeply shaken in September was an affirmation of the possibility of another sort of experience, one that can be no less perilous but that is rooted in hope. in taking “the experience of God” as our guiding figure, we invited our speakers to rethink what “experience” might mean when placed near that wild word “God” and to try yet again, after so many earlier attempts by philosophers and theologians, to understand the conjunction of “experience” and “God.” That the conjunction crudely bespeaks the impossible is acknowledged: God does not offer Himself to the senses, and the finite cannot experience the infinite. Yet the Bible and the works of many mystics challenge us to make the conjunction speak in a subtler manner, and even to entertain the possibility that an encounter with God discloses itself in counterexperience or nonexperience. Our speakers reflected on the theme by way of their expertise in philosophy, theology, literature, and feminist theory. We are thankful to them for coming to Villanova and for their intellectual generosity while there.

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