Saturday, January 18, 2014

Preoccupations

I apologise for having been somewhat neglectful of this blog. I can only plead the necessity of getting Silence: A User's Guide finished. It is wholly preoccupying, and I haven't had time or space for much else.

Also it is the armpit of the year, and the weather here in England couldn't be more dismal—and it's been this way since before Christmas. Not conducive to creative thinking!

Add in several deaths and one funeral, all of which cut very deep, and, well. . . 

But there is positive news: Wipf and Stock have agreed in principle to reprint The Fountain and the Furnace. I say 'in principle' because I haven't signed the contract yet (it's at the lawyer's). I am not sure when it will appear but I hope it will be before the end of the year. It will have a new jacket and a new preface. The idea to reprint was triggered by my friend and fellow-scholar Kevin Johnson, who informed me that it was being used in a university course, and that it had lost none of its impact in spite of the fact that my thinking has developed considerably since it was written. My thanks to Robin Parry, my editor at W & S, for shepherding it into the right hands. I have thought a number of times of doing a revised version but every attempt has failed, and I have finally bowed to the rule that it isn't a good idea to try to rewrite books published in a different time and place.

Also I am re-reading Sebastian Brock's The Luminous Eye. The book is as luminous as the eye it describes. This is an introductory account of the writing of Ephrem the Syrian (4th century). This book has lost nothing of its impact, only this time around I am picking up all sorts of images and thinking that shows up in the later Pseudo-Dionysius, who was a Syrian writing in Greek. Most studies of Pseudo-Dionysius emphasize his borrowings from Neo-Platonism, but reading Louth's book on this author, along with having just read the Pseudo-Dionysian corpus in its entirety, makes  it clear, at least to me, that he is equally indebted to his illustrious Syrian ancestors, Ephrem and John the Solitary. 

What comes through again and again is Pseudo-Dionysius' playfulness (which echoes Ephrem's playfulness), and he is playing several traditions off of each other: the surrounding Greek culture, the Syriac inheritance, and the Bible. For example, when he speaks of 'the One', the reader shouldn't jump to the conclusion that he means only the Neo-platonic 'One'. It could equally be the 'One' of the Hebrew Shema or the One alluded to repeatedly in the Gospel of John, many of which occurrences are themselves allusions to the Old Testament.

As Sebastian Brock pointed out in another context, we make some of these texts needlessly complicated. And I would add that in doing so we also miss some of the depth of their allusions.

Term begins on Monday so doubtless my feeble brain will find some new bones to chew on, but in the meantime, I can't recommend the above books highly enough!

Thank you, dear Readers, for your patience.

11 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for writing. As important as your blog has been to me, the news that you are moving along on the book is better than more frequent postings!

BR

5:12 pm, January 18, 2014  
Anonymous Abigail Ting said...

Thank you for responding to my comment. I have read two of your books and found them, well, enjoyable is not the word that best describes my appreciation, though I did enjoy them. Illuminating, compelling, disquieting at times. How wonderful that you have someone who can tell you that your "thinking has developed." And, at the same time, your admiration has grown towards simplicity, or towards uncomplicated interpretation. This is wisdom I think, to more than know, to know with God. Godspeed on new book. Abigail

4:56 pm, January 19, 2014  
Anonymous desertfisher said...

The Fountain and the Furnace for me is a major shift in "thinking" and "theologizing," rebellious in a sense against the debilitating, elitist dominant philosophical and theological discourse that plagued the Western mind. It makes me pray and that's why i immerse myself in it.

6:21 am, January 20, 2014  
Blogger Maggie Ross said...

Personal to Alison: I hope that Part 1 of the book will be published by the end of this year. If you will send me your email address in an email marked Do Not Publish, I will send you the draft (it's only a draft; still needs a lot of polishing, additions, etc)

Thanks for your interest.

10:14 pm, January 20, 2014  
Anonymous Hawkman said...

I was very pleased to get The Fountain and the Furnace some years ago from an internet dealer in Nashville.

12:45 pm, January 22, 2014  
Blogger An Evangelical's "Spiritual Beachcomings" said...

Also I am re-reading Sebastian Brock's The Luminous Eye. The book is as luminous as the eye it describes. This is an introductory account of the writing of Ephrem the Syrian (4th century).

Interesting. Maggie you are not going to like this but I find your work on the "Deep Mind" as Pneumatological or Spiritual Cognition to be "jumbled" - so convince me tell more about Deep Mind - it still sounds like a (Post) Psycho-Analytic (Gnostic) Category - in terms of Gnosis.

4:09 pm, July 16, 2015  
Blogger Maggie Ross said...

Dear Evangelical,

To answer your question, I suggest you read the book, now published in the USA by Wipe and Stock, and in the UK by DLT

Thanks

Maggie

5:04 pm, July 16, 2015  
Anonymous Mark Downham said...

I do not know what it is about you - you are not that Anointed - but the Holy Spirit will not leave me alone on this - alright I will read the book - but your ideas on 'Deep Mind' are still jumbled - scattered - not centered. So I have a Punk- Evangelical approach to pneumatological amnd phenomenological challenges - so?

Yes I am an Evangelical.

And a Holy Fool. I am the Real Deal and everything that comes with that.

9:35 am, July 17, 2015  
Blogger Maggie Ross said...

You might also want to read Ian McGilchrist's, 'The Master and His Emissary" part 1. Our research evolved in parallel, independently. There is nothing I have written that conflicts with the findings of modern neuropsychology. Enjoy both books.

10:00 am, July 17, 2015  
Anonymous Mark Downham said...

Maggie

The problem is in trying to link modern neuropsychology with Cognitive Pneumatology or Spiritual Cognition or Affective-Empathetic Cardiagnosis - modern neuropsychology does not recognise "Mind in the Heart" Pneumatological categories and if you add exposure to Thích Nhất Hạnh - what comes with that is the perceptual-phenomenological polytheism embedded in Buddhism -Spiritual Warfare even extends to the perceptual Noetic Communicative Cogniitve lens(es) that we use - I know, I know, I am going to upset you again - these Evangelicals. Terrible.

Mark

10:15 am, July 17, 2015  
Blogger Maggie Ross said...

You are hardly upsetting me, but you are not reading carefully. I said 'does not conflict' not 'prove'. Nor do I use the word 'cognitive', ever, nor do I use the categories you cite. All I can say is read the books. They are nothing like you have ever read before. I can safely say that because it is unique. I know, all authors say that, but in this case it's true. You seem to have a great stake in being 'evangelical'... pity, because it blinkers you to be locked into a category and a series of templates. Growth in God is marked by ungrasping and self-forgetfulness.

10:37 am, July 17, 2015  

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