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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 Six Conclusions 273


Chapter 6: Conclusions In ‘connecting the dots’ among Loder’s theory, mystical spirituality as presented by Louth, McGinn, Turner, and McIntosh, and Hillman’s theory, I have argued the following: First, that Loder’s theory fills the interdisciplinary lacunae in the study of mystical spirituality noted and bemoaned by Louth, McGinn, Turner, and McIntosh. All five authors focus on ‘deep, transforming engagement with God’ as a mediated immediacy in which experience and interpretation, spirituality and theology, are inter-twined. However, my assertion of this shared focus does not deny the many differences among the analyses of these five authors and their personal theological matrices. I place my assertion in the public domain to invite consideration and discussion. Second, I have argued that Loder’s theory can contribute to the debated issue of particularity and universality in spirituality discourse in at least two ways. The first way is as a view from below. Loder’s logic provides a conceptual framework for understanding the movement of human knowing as relational and transformational; this movement can be understood as the locus of what is referred to as human self-transcendence and can facilitate discussion among diverse human spiritualities without synthesis or reduction. For example, Hillman’s theory can be understood through the logic without violation of terms or concepts. The second way is as an approach to Christian spirituality that unites views from below and above, valid across Christian traditions. The transformation of transformational and relational knowing (‘transformation transformed’) places all human knowing within a four dimensional Trinitarian reality that transforms...

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