Sunday, May 27, 2012

Excursus: Comments Foregrounded

Please, if you want to communicate with me privately, send a comment with DO NOT PUBLISH at the top, with your email included. At the age of 70, I can't always remember the person behind the on-line use name—there are a lot of you! 

The following comment was from Cloud-Hidden, Whereabouts Unknown but it was buried in the  post labelled 'And Don't Forget'. I would very much like to be in touch with you, but I can't find an email for you and there are several Cloud-Hiddens using this name!

He/she writes:

"Ross warns in the introduction of the book against the facile use of the words “mystic” and “mysticism,” and indeed, one of her most consistent targets is the idolatry of experience that characterizes so much spiritual thinking and activity in our day."

I am so glad we are in the same ship. What do you think of the word "spiritual" today? Was Jesus "spiritual?" And the word is so very seldom seen in the NT, at least in the Greek and when it does it means contextually "in the [person of the] Holy Spirit," not just some "spiritual" thingy it seems to me. What do you think? I don't think of you as "spiritual," if you know, see, what I am trying to say...

p.s., you don't have to publish this comment, but I wouldn't mind an email. I'd really like to know your thoughts after all these years.

 Dear Cloud-Hidden,

I'd be happy to send you an email but I don't have your email address! If you will send it in a comment headed DO NOT PUBLISH that would help!

I have come to LOATHE the word 'spiritual' almost as much as I abhor the word 'mystic'. To give you an example: I was recently invited (it will become obvious why I refused) to participate in a kind of spirituality/prayer fun-fair that is being held at our local theological college. Here is the ad from the diocesan rag:

'The Festival of Prayer 2012 is a day conference for those who would like to taste or delve deeper into different ways of praying. It builds on the success of the first festival last year.' 

'Taste?' even worse, 'success'? 'Festival'? Clearly it is not God who is being celebrated!!! These words caused my imagination to shift into its most satirical key:

'Hur-ry. hur-ry, hurry! Step right up ladies and gents; try being a Carmelite. You'll never believe what you are about not to see. Here, Lady, maybe you'd like to flirt with Ignatian spirituality instead? Some of the fantasies will surpass your most lurid dreams. And you, sir, perhaps you'd like to be fitted on the procrustean bed of a so-called spiritual director?' Or maybe you'd like to walk our little labyrinth that leads to the beer stand....'


PS I am very honoured that you don't think of me as 'spiritual'. I don't think Eckhart or Pseudo-Denys would have like the word, and Jesus would have cast it out with his shoe.

Yes to 'in the person of the Holy Spirit' or how about 'manifesting the Holy Spirit'? or 'in the presence of the Holy Spirit' (which is one of the reasons all the debates about who can celebrate the Eucharist are absurd as anyone can be in that presence if they open themselves, but a lot of the ordained most certainly are not open!).


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