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James Loder, Mystical Spirituality, and James Hillman


Eolene Boyd-MacMillan

Transformation is a desired outcome of Christian spirituality. Christians pray, trust, and hope that their responsive embrace of God will transform them. Interdisciplinary study of this process, as journey and as significant movements, hits upon key philosophical, theological, and psychological debates. Are all spiritualities the same core with an overlay of traditional practices and beliefs? How is the Holy Spirit involved in human life as the potential for this transformation process unfolds from birth? Can psychological theories of transformation that do not affirm divine reality have explanatory and descriptive power for Christian understandings of transformation?
These areas of focus and related questions encompass broad landscapes. This book places a magnifying glass on one piece of the terrain by engaging the work of philosopher, theologian, and psychologist James Loder, mystical spirituality scholars Andrew Louth, Bernard McGinn, Denys Turner, and Mark McIntosh, and archetypal movement founder James Hillman. Without denying differences, this work is the first analysis to identify connections among these thinkers. The significance of the connections is both substantive and methodological for intra- and inter-faith (broadly understood) spirituality discussion, as well as for the engagement of the Christian church with the culture of the twenty-first century.


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Introduction 11


Introduction James Loder died suddenly of a heart attack on 9 November 2001. However, he had died every year for almost two decades. He began all of his courses at Princeton Theological Seminary with a description of his death and the continued functioning of the world in his absence. It was an entry into the void, nothingness, what every human being must face at some point: their own non-existence. Loder wanted his students to face the void so that they could face God. As people realize on some level their human limitations, finiteness, they are ‘open’ to deep, transforming engagement with God as both an on- going process and at particular turning points. Loder developed his transformation theory over forty years. His doctoral dissertation examined the nature of ‘reality consciousness,’ understood as consciousness of God, by comparing the theories of Sigmund Freud and Søren Kierkegaard.1 He examined Freud’s theory of reality consciousness (non-neurotic, non-pathological conscious- ness) as relational image. A person’s consciousness responds somat- ically and creatively to something outside herself through images that relate body and mind, object and subject. Consciousness is the relationship. Loder found that Freud’s non-pathological consciousness agreed with Kierkegaard’s consciousness when responding to a ‘bestowal’ of the ‘Paradox,’ the God-man of Jesus Christ. This consciousness was free of illusions, neuroses and pathologies. From that initial research came what Loder later termed the ‘logic of transformation,’ a five-phased process that can occur in any order, in a moment or over a life-time...

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