Two Worlds are Ours: An Introduction to Christian Mysticism – By John Macquarrie

Download Two Worlds are Ours: An Introduction to Christian Mysticism – By John Macquarrie

Post on 21-Jul-2016




1 download

Embed Size (px)


  • Volume 32 Number 1 / January 2006 Religious Studies Review / 25

    ably limits its readership to scholars andadvanced students.

    Titus HjelmUniversity of Helsinki


    Edited byJenny Blain, Douglas Ezzy, and Graham Har-vey. The Pagan Studies Series. Walnut Creek,CA: AltaMira Press, 2004. Pp. viii


    273.Cloth, $75.00, ISBN 0-7591-0522-7; paper,$29.95, ISBN 0-7591-0523-5.

    A good example of the recent boom in thestudy of contemporary paganisms is the launch-ing of AltaMiras Pagan Studies series, ofwhich

    Researching Paganisms

    is the first title.As an opening of the series, the book is anintroduction to the study of paganisms and, assuch, a definition of the field. The book isdivided into four parts which all more or lessdiscuss the researchers position in ethno-graphic research. Delivered in personal narra-tive, the book is a powerful legitimation of theinsider position in ethnographynot a verysurprising detail considering that most of thecontributors subscribe to some form of pagan-ism. At the same time, it is a powerful delegit-imation of what is expressed as worship ofobjectivity or the myth of objectivity. As anintroduction to new ways of understanding eth-nographic fieldwork, both in pagan studies andmore generally, the book is invaluable. As anintroduction to Pagan Studies it is more ques-tionable: The representation of proper fieldmethods is one-sided at best, and I dont havedifficulties in imagining that the book mightdiscourage many students who are not inter-ested in embracing pagan beliefs as an insider.After all, different questions require differentapproaches and not all approaches require oneto take a stand regarding the reality of the objectof worship. It is my sincere hope that, with thisimportant opening, Pagan Studies is not shut-ting out many other important approaches to thestudy of religion.

    Titus HjelmUniversity of Helsinki


    Edited by Iva Dole


    alov, Luther H.Martin, and Dalibor Papou


    ek. Toronto Studiesin Religion 27. New York: Peter Lang, 2001.Pp. 336. $59.95, ISBN 0-8204-5151-7.

    A collection of conference papers address-ing national and regional differences in thestudy of religion and ways that it is shaped byideology. It offers useful but uneven and limitedcoverage of national variation (Czech andSlovak Republics, Poland, China, the formerSoviet Union, Holland, Germany, and theUnited States). Individual contributions varywidely, with some valuable thumbnail sketchesof national trends in scholarship but with much(e.g., autobiographical narratives) of little gen-eral interest. The book makes a solid case forthe enduring value of many studies of religion

    in communist block nations, despite Marxismsscientific atheism. (M. Pye argues that thewestern surprise at, or continuing ignorance of,this work is itself an artifact of ideology.) Somecontributions address causal relations betweenthe ideologies and political structures of theCold War and the academic study of religion:funding and the rise of area studies (L. Martin);the Cold War fear of reductionism and theprivileging of Eliadean/

    sui generis

    approaches(W. Paden; cf. Martin, Wiebe, and Waarden-burg); Nazi and Cold War uses of religioushistory to construct ethnic/national myths(Gustavo Benavides); relations to colonial andimperial attitudes (J. Waardenburg and D. Y.Mikulskiy on Islam). D. Wiebe soberly callsattention to the lack of solid evidence for spe-cific effects on the study of religion in theUnited States. A valuable volume on the studyof religion in its modern global context: essen-tial for libraries and specialists.

    Steven EnglerMount Royal College

    Psychology of



    By John Macquarrie. Minneapolis, MN: For-tress Press, 2005. Pp. viii


    287. $20.00, ISBN0-8006-3710-0.

    Yet another volume from a theologian muchappreciated by readers for his pellucid purvey-ance of theologys profundities. In this perhapsoverly ambitious book Macquarrie traces twomillennia of Christian mystical experience,from its biblical roots to the early ChristianPlatonists, and on to the classic medieval mys-tics, the great Spanish mystics, the


    and some twentieth-century mystics


    Macquarrie moves through a gallery of thirty-one men and four women mystics, from Mosesand Paul to Maritain and Merton. One maycavil at his selection, de Chardin but notAquinas, Woolman but not Weil or Stein. Selec-tion, however, entails exclusion. Macquarrieschosen, which includes Protestants and Catho-lics, give evidence, he thinks, of the ten distin-guishing traits of the God-intoxicated mysticthat he lucidly maps out in his opening chapter.Moreover, and perhaps decisive for Macquar-ries selection, they exemplify a variety of life-styles. This is important to Macquarrie, whosees mystical experience linked to ordinaryreligious experience, which varies in intensityfrom the quotidian to full-blown mysticism, inwhich, however, visions and locutions are, ifanything, secondary phenomena to be dis-trusted, or creations of later reflection. Nor aremystics locked in themselves, cut off from theordinary world. No person, says MeisterEkhart, can reach the point at which he may

    be excused from outward service. While Mac-quarrie intends to expound the teachings of hismystics mainly in their own words, this hedoes not and cannot do. The best this ambitiouswork can do given the space allotted is to pro-vide an informative introductory sketch of eachmystic. Thus an introduction to mysticism thatwill need supplementing by primary sources incourses on mysticism.

    Stephen DuffyLoyola University, New Orleans


    By R. A. Herrera. Grand Rapids, MI:Eerdmans Publishing 2004. Pp. 166. $16.00,ISBN 0-8028-2495-1.

    This brief work attempts to introduce thelife and writing of St. John of the Cross, a tallorder for such a slim volume. The introductionoffers a bare-bones survey of Christian mysti-cism. The author wisely avoids the mysticismas exotica approach, understanding the histor-ical particularity of mystical experiences asrooted in canonical texts and communal prac-tices. Chapters 1 and 2 present the historicaland ecclesiastical contexts of Johns life, alongwith a brief biographical sketch. Chapters 3-7explicate Johns writings, focusing on

    The Spir-itual Canticle


    The Dark Night

    , and

    The LivingFlame of Love

    . These chapters, while brief,offer clear and helpful summations of eachworks overall structure and themes. They alsocomprise the strongest section of the book.Chapters 7 and 8 attempt to bring thingstogether, reflecting on Johns relevance for thepresent. These chapters are less successful. Theauthors choice of themes in this section reflectsa background in philosophy, and makes littlecontribution to understanding Johns relevancefor contemporary spirituality. Finally, the help-ful appendix includes Spanish versions of

    TheLiving Flame of Love


    The Spiritual Canticle



    The Dark Night

    along with the authorsEnglish translations. Herreras work will serveas an accessible introduction to those unfamil-iar with John of the Cross. However, thoseseeking a more thorough introduction or newinsights are advised to turn to other recent andmore challenging works on John of the Cross.

    Timothy Hessel-RobinsonGraduate Theological Union

    Sociology and Anthropology of



    Antnio Flvio Pierucci. SoPaulo: Editora 34, 2003. Pp. 236. N.p., ISBN885-7326-278-8.