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Between the 'Mysticism of Politics' and the 'Politics of Mysticism'

Between the 'Mysticism of Politics' and the 'Politics of Mysticism'

Copyright Date: 2014
Published by:
Pages: 325
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  • Book Info
    Between the 'Mysticism of Politics' and the 'Politics of Mysticism'
    Book Description:

    Between the Politics of Mysticism and the Mysticism of Politics traces the dialectic of ‘the mystical’ and the political’ from both a theological and an historical perspective. It presents the dialectic as a hermeneutic for the rise of the new ecclesial communities within the Roman Catholic Tradition and suggests it as the framework by which a trajectory for Christian holiness might emerge in the 21st century.

    eISBN: 978-1-922239-37-2
    Subjects: Religion

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-viii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-x)
  3. Introduction: The ‘Ascent of Lay Consciousness’ and the ‘Descent of Holiness’
    (pp. xi-xxxii)

    The twentieth century dawned with the expectation of social and political emancipation. The growth of both industrialization and urbanisation throughout the nineteenth century, the rise of the masses against political exclusion, and the threatening fragmentation of the imperial order brought the world to a new threshold in 1900. There was every sense of the dawn of a new era.¹ The threshold, however, was turbulent and violent, as it was fragile. Imperialism unravelled in the First World War. Unresolved tension from this bloody conflict, bitter ideological divisions between the subsequent rise of communism and fascism, the emergence of mass nationalism, uneven...

  4. Chapter One What Is ‘The Mystical’? What Is ‘The Political’?
    (pp. 1-12)

    In suggesting that the central evangelical command to love both God and neighbour presents today with spiritual immediacy the proposal of a tensive relationship between ‘the mystical’ and ‘the political’ is not without complexity. Indeed, what I will go on to propose is that in the attempt to achieve a relationship between ‘the mystical’ and ‘the political’ a tendency arises toward a further polarity—that of a ‘politics of mysticism’ and a ‘mysticism of politics.’ In various ways a ‘politics of mysticism’ is what emerges when what might be initially described as pertaining to the trajectory of ‘the mystical’ is...

  5. Chapter Two ‘The Mystical’ And ‘The Political’ As Dualities
    (pp. 13-28)

    Not only are the terms, ‘the politics of mysticism’ and ‘the mysticism of politics’ saddled with the complexity of defining words, but the historical tendency to view ‘the mystical’ and ‘the political’ as pure dualities also places questions on the dialectic that is being proposed. In these dualities mystical experience and political action are intimated, most often, as in a certain opposition one to the other. In particular, this chapter will identify the following antecedent dualities: Augustine’s ‘two cities’ and Luther’s ‘two kingdoms’; the religious ‘mystical’ and ‘prophetic’ typology of Friedrich Heiler; and the mystical and political divide as found...

  6. Chapter Three ‘The Mystical’ as Social Experience and Social Critique: Initial Considerations from the Tradition of Christian Spirituality
    (pp. 29-50)

    Though it is a relatively recent allusion in theological discourse the mutual intimation at the heart of the proposed tensive relationship between ‘the mystical’ and ‘the political’ is not without its evidence in the tradition of Christian spirituality. That ‘the mystical’ implies ‘the political,’ and that it stands in a specific relation to ‘the political,’ can be traced through a number of key studies in the history of Christian spirituality.

    Several recent studies have detailed the experience of a lay asceticism in history.¹ In the contrast between Heloise, Abbess of the Paraclete (d 1164) and Bernard of Clairvaux (d 1153),...

  7. Chapter Four ‘The Mystical’ and ‘The Political’ in Tension: Recent Considerations
    (pp. 51-78)

    More recent studies in religion further these alternative frameworks to earlier dualities. Indeed, in these studies, too, we see how the duality is transformed into a tensive relationship.

    As an example from recent studies of religion that suggests how the duality between ‘the mystical’ and ‘the political’ might be considered more in dialectic terms, let us firstly explore the work of Paul Ricoeur (1913–2005). Ricoeur identifies how spiritual experience itself can be categorized along two fundamental trajectories. He identifies the most basic two as ‘proclamation’ and ‘manifestation’. However, importantly, he enunciates these as a ‘polarity or tension’ that he...

  8. Chapter Five ‘The Mystical’ and ‘the Political’: Theological Perspectives
    (pp. 79-110)

    Cavanaugh only alludes to the work of Johannes Metz (b 1928).1 However, it would seem that the political theology of Metz provides a counterpoint to Cavanaugh and an alternative perspective on how the Maritainian dilemma might be addressed. In so doing, it protects against Cavanaugh’s tendency for ‘the political’ to dissolve into ‘the mystical,’ though it does, itself, open to the specter of the very opposite ‘the mystical’ dissolving into ‘the political’ which was, precisely, the Maritainian dilemma.

    Let us turn to an exploration of Metz’s position by firstly recounting a German parable that he was fond of retelling a...

  9. Chapter Six Insights from the ‘Age of Mobilization’
    (pp. 111-144)

    The major insight, overall, of these contributions is that ‘the mystical’ need not be thought of as antithetical to ‘the political’ and vice versa. On the other hand each runs the risk of one dissolving in the other, as possibly in the case of Maritain and Metz, or one being used over and against the other, as in the case of Cavanaugh. And though Schillebeeckx amongst them all has sought to respect a genuinely tensive relationship between ‘the mystical’ and ‘the political’ the tension is not without its stress. This difficulty underscores the way in which the dialectic, though celebrated...

  10. Chapter Seven Twentieth Century Lay Movements
    (pp. 145-182)

    The nineteenth century provides both background to, and valuable insight into, the tension between ‘the political’ and ‘the mystical’ as they then coalesce in the experience of developments throughout the twentieth century which gives rise to new forms of ecclesial community. In these new forms we also see evidence of how ‘the mystical’ and ‘the political’ form alliance into illustrations of either a ‘politics of mysticism’ or a ‘mysticism of politics’. This chapter explores those lay movements, intrinsically spiritual in character, which develop in the twentieth century. As spiritual movements that are lay and, thereby suggesting the possibility of Christian...

  11. Chapter Eight Agents of ‘The Politics of Mysticism’ and the ‘Mysticism of olitics’: The New Ecclesial Movements
    (pp. 183-216)

    In the exploration of the emergence of a ‘mysticism of politics’ and a ‘politics of mysticism’ through developments in the nineteenth century a number of conclusions were suggested. It was proposed that the ‘mysticism of politics’ appears to gain currency precisely at times of political and social innovation in which there exists the experience of the potential of human agency according to an evangelical vision. Secondly, it was suggested that in a modern, liberal society in which it discovers itself as one voice amongst others the Church will tend towards a ‘politics of mysticism’ for social identity. In this sense,...

  12. Conclusion
    (pp. 217-244)

    This has been a study of the mystical-political dialectic as it has emerged in theological reflection and through historical practice within the modern Roman Catholic period. I have suggested that such a reflection is necessitated by the universal call to holiness articulated at the Second Vatican Council. This proposes the secularity as a significant locus for the pursuit of the spiritual life. In this context a negotiation between ‘the mystical’ and ‘the political’ and the attempt to live a particular integration between them will only increasingly become apparent. It is, perhaps, the spiritual challenge of the legacy of Vatican II....

    (pp. 245-294)
  14. Scripture Index
    (pp. 295-295)
  15. Subject Index
    (pp. 296-299)
  16. Author Index
    (pp. 300-303)