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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 Three Loder and Christian Mystical Spirituality 139


Chapter Three: Loder and Christian Mystical Spirituality 1. Introduction In the previous two chapters, I explored first Loder’s theory of transformation, the theological and psychological components that he interweaves in the ‘logic of transformation’ (chapter one), and second mystical spirituality as represented in selected texts by four contemporary investigators, Andrew Louth, Bernard McGinn, Denys Turner, and Mark McIntosh (chapter two). Both chapters laid the foundation for this chapter. This chapter focuses on the specific connections between Loder’s theory and the four authors’ Christian mystical spirituality. My assertion of connections does not imply that the four authors necessarily would agree with all Loder argues, or vice versa. But all five focus on deep, transforming engagement with God and Loder’s inter-disciplinary theory does not, on the one hand, reduce this engagement purely to experience, or on the other, reduce human participation to a passive receptacle for grace. Loder’s theory illuminates in contemporary terms what has been articulated historically as classic mystical spirituality. 2. That Loder investigates what the four authors present as Christian mystical spirituality My analytical locus between Loder and the four authors’ portrayal of mystical spirituality is my summary phrase: ‘deep, transforming engagement with God.’ In his theory, ‘deep, transforming engagement with God’—through Christ, in the power of the Holy Spirit—is (1) 140 The generative source and telos of the insight of the ‘logic of trans- formation’ in a Christian context,1 (2) The living referent of a trans- forming vision supported by the neurological intensification process,2...

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