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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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Chapter Two Four Contemporary Authors on ChristianMystical Spirituality 81


Chapter Two: Four Contemporary Authors on Christian Mystical Spirituality 1. Introduction In the last chapter, we explored the transformation theory of James Loder. In that exploration, I used some phrasing that will re-appear in this chapter. However, the conceptual connections that I assert to exist between Loder and Christian mystical spirituality (as it is explored in this chapter) is not one of simple ‘semantic connections.’ Neither is it a suggestion of ‘one-to-one conceptual correlations that disregard differences between the conceptual fields.’ Recall Loder’s protest against both these types of interdisciplinarity as being superficial. I am not using Lder’s theory for the very kind of inter-disciplinary analysis that he decries. Rather, I assert that the conceptual fields of Loder’s transformation theory and of mystical spirituality (as considered below) are the same: human response to God’s sustaining presence that simultaneously invites deep, transforming relationality. I will explore this assertion of identity in conceptual fields between Loder and the four authors more fully in the next chapter (three). The following sections examine the contemporary investigations of classical texts in mystical theology representing three Christian traditions in selected texts by Andrew Louth (Orthodox),1 Bernard McGinn (Roman Catholic),2 Denys Turner (Roman Catholic),3 and 1 Louth, A. The Origins of the Christian Mystical Tradition: From Plato to Denys. 2 McGinn, B. The Presence of God: A History of Western Christian Mysticism, a five volume series: 1. The Foundations of Mysticism: Origins to the Fifth Century; 2. The Growth of Mysticism: Gregory the Great...

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