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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 Five Loder and Hillman 219


Chapter Five: Loder and Hillman 1. Introduction In chapter three, I discussed the dilemma of particularity and universality in spirituality discourse and in Loder’s theory. Every spirituality asserts an universality that in some way negates the spirituality of all other spiritualities. A spirituality that affirms the validity of all spiritualities contradicts the assertion of unique validity from another spirituality. There is no way to prevent disagreement or contradiction among competing world-views. Simply removing these universal assertions fails to respect the particularity of each spirituality and does not solve the dilemma. To bring Hillman’s theory into the discussion, although he focuses his theory on the human (and world) soul and not spirit, I argued in chapter four that it could be considered a human spirituality. Relating Hillman’s theory with Loder’s provides a test for my methodological assertions in spirituality discourse. That is, I do not avoid their competing world-views. The created dialogue between Loder and Hillman, located in the context of mystical spirituality, also responds to the criticisms of Christianity of which Hillman is a representative voice. The theories of both Loder and Hillman argue for personal transformation that recognizes the role of the imagination and enables people to live in light of their connections with all of creation (to use Christian terms). To create the dialogue between Loder and Hillman, this chapter is organized by three of the same section headings from the separate chapters on their theories: Ego, Ego-relativization, and Results. The Ego section includes the concepts that clarify...

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