Karen Armstrong: Visions Of God Four Medieval Mystics and Their Writings



I donot recommend it I learned a lot about the English medieval mystics Very good Christianity s mystic tradition sometimes isn t talked about as much as that of Islam or Judaism but it s nonetheless an important part of the history of the religion running from Dionysus the Areopagite through St Teresa of Avila and St John of the Cross and on to such modern day challengers to the orthodoxy as Edgar Cayce and Joseph Smith In this volume Armstrong collects selections from the writings of four English mystics from the 14th century Richard Rolle the anonymous author of a text called The Cloud of Unknowing Walter Hilton and Julian of Norwich I thought this book worked well as an overview capturing the main points of each writer s thought Armstrong s notes were nice as well explaining the development of English mysticism and pointing out for example that even though Rolle is clearly a lesser writer and thinker than the other three much of what they have to say is in response to his actions and ideas My frustrations with the book have much to do with me than with the book itself I was for example disappointed that the works appeared in translation The selections from Rolle made sense as they were originally written in Latin but the other three wrote in Middle English It s helpful to have notes but Chaucer isn t unreadable to a modern English speaker willing to invest a bit of time in the reading and I wonder how much has been lost in an attempt to make these selections accessible to modern readersI also found that what I really want to do now is read the full texts Rolle and Hilton I can probably live without but The Cloud of Unknowing and Sixteen Revelations of Divine Love are works I think I d like to make my way through in their entirety But at any rate I enjoyed this volume and people with curios. The mystics of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries were writes Karen Armstrong like the astronauts of our own day They broke into a new religion blazed a new trail to God and to the depths of the self a trail far from the beaten pilgrimage paths of Chaucer and Langland Mysticism is a spiritual mystery shared in some form by all faiths; it has a supernatural uality that extends beyond the given boundaries of religio.

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Ity about England in the Late Middle Ages or the development of Christian mysticism would probably enjoy it too It should come as little surprise that I would read a book like this given my fondness for reading books by Christian mystics 1 but I found this book a surprisingly unpleasant read The best part of the book is when we get to read from the four medieval English mystics themselves but those selections are framed by a deeply unpleasant introduction from the editor who manages to give too little of the texts that I had come to read and give too many reasons why I feel deeply ambivalent about the popularity of mysticism in the contemporary world The author presents these mystics as representing a spiritual elite that strikes of gnosticism on the one hand while also playing up the similarities between the works based religion of these Catholic mystics and the works based mystical traditions among the Muslims Jews Buddhists and others In appealing to one world religion that is simultaneously the same around the world and also something that people apparently create for themselves the editor makes these mystical works far unappealing than they would otherwise be simply because she frames them as relevant and timely in all the wrong waysThankfully though the four English mystics whose works are excerpted here are far interesting and enjoyable than the editor herself who is apparently a lapsed nun The first of the selections is from Richard Rolle of Hampole whose Fire Of Love is a discussion of his own private and egotistical ourney into mysticism with all of the fervor of a bipolar solitary in the vein of the Gospel of Thomas This book sets the whole work off in a bad frame showing the need for discipline as well as charity towards others that the author does not have After this comes excerpts. Us creed and may be experienced by any lay person The thrilling intensity of a mystical experience as represented in this volume by the writings of four mystics of the Middle Ages can inspire other spiritual seekers with its insight into the limitless wonder of both human and divine experience Dissatisfied by the strictures of dogma and a religion that failed to uench the human thirst for knowledge of a mystical ord.

(READ ☆ Visions Of God Four Medieval Mystics and Their Writings) AUTHOR Karen Armstrong – immychooshoes.us

From the generally excellent Cloud of Unknowing 2 which shows a heavy influence of Greek mysticism and shows a considerable amount of humility from an author who has successfully remained anonymous despite the fact that many have tried to pin a name for the book The third work The Ladder Of Perfection by Walter Hilton has a feel similar to St Theresa of Avila with the progressive nature of the ourney of the mystic from reading and memorizing scripture and discipline in prayer to deeper explorations of the mystery of the psyche The fourth and final work Revelations Of Divine Love by Dame Julian or Norwich shows the fragile emotional state that many mystics had and the way that dreams and visions could serve both to bring people closer to God in their mind but also close to despair making an unusual ending to this bookThis book is clearly aimed at an audience that wants to read selections of work with a contemplative and ecumenical focus It seems very likely that the author wants the reader to believe that their interest in or skill in contemplation of the mysteries of God and the unconscious make them a spiritual elite in a world that has floundered in its attempts to live apart from God Yet as a reader who dislikes being pandered to I found that this book floundered particularly badly especially as it included so little of the works itself by the medieval mystics that I came here for This would have been a much enjoyable work had the editor written far less and attempted far less ambitiously to show the reader that she was an agnostic expert of the history of religion and included far the complete texts of the mystics rather than snippets of them which fail to satisfy the curious reader and only lead them to want to read of the original works and less writing by Karen Armstrong1 See for example. Er these four mystics Richard Rolle of Hampole Walter Hilton Dame Julian of Norwich and the unknown author of The Cloud Of Unknowing communicate an intense and passionate experience of faith rare in any time Because of their uniue beliefs and spiritual strength their knowledge and writings have proved timeless and in this beautiful volume show contemporary seekers important new insights into the nature of divine lov.

Karen Armstrong a comparative religion specialist is the author of numerous books on religion including The Case for God A History of God The Battle for God Holy War Islam Buddha and Fields of Blood as well as a memoir The Spiral Staircase Her work has been translated into 45 languages In 2008 she was awarded the TED Prize and began working with TED on the Charter for Compassion