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The Mystic Way in Postmodernity

Transcending Theological Boundaries in the Writings of Iris Murdoch, Denise Levertov and Annie Dillard


Sue Yore

This book challenges experiential, esoteric and colloquial understandings of mysticism by bringing a fresh relevance to the term through an interdisciplinary dialogue between literature, mysticism and theology in the context of postmodernity. In order to achieve this, the author takes selected writings of Iris Murdoch, Denise Levertov and Annie Dillard, and incorporates them into various stages of a redesigned mystic way. The fourteenth-century mystic Julian of Norwich is invoked throughout as a role model whom these three writers seek to emulate as popular writers, contemplatives and theologians. As theologians who are concerned with the pressing issues of our age, Grace Jantzen, Dorothee Soelle and Sallie McFague are drawn on as conversation partners to complete the three-way discussion. The author maintains that understanding the writing and reading of creative texts in the context of practical mysticism facilitates an integrated approach to the use of literature for theological expression.
Contents: Practical and contemplative aspects of contemporary mysticism – Literature as a resource for theological expression – Contemporary theologians: Sallie McFague, Dorothee Soelle, Grace Jantzen – Dialogue with Iris Murdoch, Denise Levertov, Annie Dillard and Julian of Norwich – Theology, philosophy and literary criticism – Theological approaches to ethics, mysticism, the Bible and human creativity.