I: Christian Mysticism:
A Short Orientation
Christian mysticism is an experience of Godís loving presence in the depths of our hearts, but as a practical goal of the Christian life it has been lost in a long, dark night since the end of the 17th century.
Critical Questions in Christian Contemplative Practice explores contemporary attempts to renew the Christian mystical life.
From St. John of the Cross to Us tells the story of how the treasure of Christian mysticism was lost, and of the scholars-detectives who tried to bring it to light again. But this is not simply a matter of history. It is history that can teach us vital lessons about the nature of contemplation, itself, and the contemporary attempts to renew the contemplative life. St. John of the Cross and Dr. C.G. Jung brings this story into relationship with Jung's psychology.
Volume II: Christian Theology:
A Short Orientation
Exploring the Christian Mysteries I:Can Christians Still Believe? The four chapters of this book are like four interconnected experiments carried out with the intention of discovering whether Christians can still believe today.
Exploring the Christian Mysteries II: The Bodily Resurrection of Jesus examines whether it is reasonable to believe in the resurrection of Jesus, and what a bodily resurrection means.
The Inner Nature of Faith tries to address the subjective side of theology by asking about the kind of knowledge that takes place in the act of faith. This is an extremely important question. If we detach faith from reason altogether, we fall into irrational assertions that are eventually destructive of both reason, and faith. If, on the other hand, faith is totally reduced to reason, Christianity disappears. It is not possible to be a theologian without faith, for it is not possible to be in living contact with the Christian mysteries without faith. The act of faith is central to all forms of Christian knowing from theology to mystical experience, and from inspiration to doctrinal development.
Mind Aflame introduces you to Emile Merschs Theology of the Mystical Body which is one of the finest fruits of a long theological tradition that stretches back through the medieval theologians to the Fathers and Scriptures before them. It deals with what was once called dogmatic theology and now often goes under the name of systematic theology, but could perhaps be called a contemplative theology of the central Christian mysteries. Mersch tries to see into their depths and their interconnectedness with one another.
Is There A Solution to the Catholic Debate on
Contraception? tries to address the intractible problem of
contraception, which is both literally and symbolically a roadblock that holds the Church
back from dealing with a whole constellation of important moral questions, including world
population. I have tried to show that there is a vital difference between a morality
solely based on the analysis of the nature of things, or natural law, and one that takes
into account, as well, the whole panorama of salvation history.
Volume III: Christian Philosophy:
A Short Orientation
By Christian philosophy I do not mean a philosophy that derives its subject matter or its distinctive way of proceeding from the realm of Christian faith. That would not be a philosophy at all. Rather, I have in mind a philosophy that has grown up over the centuries within Christianity. I have focused on the philosophy of Thomas Aquinas as expressed by Jacques Maritain, but this is not because of a slavish attachment to St. Thomas that places him in opposition to the other great Christian philosophers, or a Maritain Thomism that is at war with the other Thomist schools and the world in general. Rather, I see the work of St. Thomas as expressed by Maritain as a window onto a whole world of philosophy rooted in Christianity and the Greeks, a philosophy that developed during the middle ages, both in Islam and Christianity, and which possesses vast reserves of knowledge and wisdom despite how poorly it has been presented. Choose what window you will, as long as it allows you to come to grips with the central philosophical questions and some of the best attempts to answer them.
At the heart of this Christian philosophy is metaphysics, and at the heart of metaphysics is the intuition of being, a deep sense of the mystery of being that is expressed philosophically in the relationship between essence and existence. The intuition of being, taken in its widest sense that embraces both the philosophical intuition of being and various forms of Eastern enlightenment, is at the center of the metaphysical unconscious.
God, Zen and the Intuition of Being describes the intuition of being in light of a possible dialogue with the enlightenment to be found in Zen Buddhism.
The Mystery of Matter tries to breathe some life back into a Thomist philosophy of nature and gives a glimmer of the depths of the psychological unconscious and the unconscious of nature that is allied with it, and confronts the deep problem of the nature of matter.
Mysticism, Metaphysics and Maritain is an overview of the origin and development of the idea of the spiritual unconscious in the thought of Jacques Maritain, and explores what he has to say about mystical experience, our natural knowledge of God, and Eastern enlightenment.
Essays in Existential Thomism covers many of these same themes and the application of such an existential Thomism to theology and spirituality.
Volume IV: East-West Contemplative Dialogue:
A Short Orientation
Volume IV is closely allied with Volume III, and it centers on trying to see both the intuition of being found in the metaphysics of St. Thomas, and the various forms of enlightenment found in the East as inhabitants of the metaphysical unconscious. It would be hard to over-estimate the impact that the encounter with Eastern religions is having and will have on Christianity. At the heart of this encounter is the question of the relationship between Eastern enlightenment and Christian contemplation. If we say they are the same, it is hard to avoid making Christianity one more path leading to the universal goal of enlightenment. In fact, it will appear as a path encrusted with myths and lacking the sobriety of something like Zen. But if they are different, then we face a much more challenging dialogue, but one which has the possibility of enriching its partcipants to a much greater degree. In it Christianity will not only receive great gifts from the East, but has great gifts to offer in return.
A Short Orientation
Jungs psychology allows us to understand and encounter the psychological unconscious. His typology is a powerful and practical way in which to grasp his whole psychology. The work of William Sheldon on body and temperament types is a natural complement to Jungs psychological types.
Volume VI: Jungian-Christian Dialogue:
A Short Orientation
Christianity has a tremendous need for an empirical psychology like Jungs, but the dialogue between them has been flawed by deep misunderstandings coming from both sides. St. John of the Cross and Dr. C.G. Jung looks at the possibilty of a dialogue between Jungian psychology and Christian spirituality and mysticism, while Jungian & Catholic? considers the same dialogue from the perspective of Christian philosophy and theology. The Mystery of Matter looks at this dialogue from the point of view of a philosophy of nature, and Jungs ideas on synchronicity.
The Church, the Council and the Unconscious explores the psychological dimension of the theological divisions of the postconciliar church.
Volume VII: Simple and Sustainable Living:
A Short Orientation
A great deal of valuable information and experience exists about how we can create our homes inexpensively out of natural materials, grow gardens, set up solar electric systems, try to live more harmoniously with nature, and so forth. The real question is why do it? Why swim against the tide to search for alternatives to the modern American fast becoming global dream of owning an expensive home, luxury vehicles, etc. It is a dream in which our income is never enough for the things we desire. We are destroying the earth in order to buy things we dont need and which dont really make us happy. The earth would fare better, there would be more resources for those truly in need, and we would lead healthier and happier lives if we consumed less, did more for ourselves, and took time to develop our creative potential. We need to search for a way of life that is less destructive to the earth and more conducive to exploring the real depths of nature and ourselves.
This is a major study of the Guaycura Indians and their language and culture, the missions that served them, the rancho era that followed them, and the archaeology of this little-known nation. And it includes reflections about what this microcosm of human history can tell us about a more sustainable future.
The books that now appear here online are the expressions of our own inner explorations. They represent our attempts to come to grips with our Christian faith, and explore that faith both in the direction of prayer and contemplation, and theology and morality.
But this is a faith that should be in living contact with the best of the Christian metaphysical tradition and in open, vital dialogue with the natural sciences, especially a psychology like Jungs, Eastern religions, and a new sense of the earth.
This diagram illustrates how the books presented here online fit together as part of an overall vision. Inner Explorations is the exploration of three different dimensions of what could be called the spiritual unconscious.
There is, we believe, a psychological unconscious connected to an unconscious of nature which is expressed in depth psychologies like Jungs, and in certain aspects of the natural sciences.
There is a metaphysical unconscious that manifests itself on the one hand by the philosophical intuition of being found in Thomas Aquinas and Jacques Maritain, and on the other, in different forms of Eastern enlightenment.
And there is a mystical unconscious expressed in the Christian mystical and theological traditions, as well as in other relational love mysticisms.
These three dimensions of the unconscious are intimately interconnected and vitally influence each other in the depths of our minds and hearts, but they are distinct in themselves. The books that follow try to describe something of their natures and the interactions between them. We have tried to present these dimensions of the unconscious both speculatively by contemplating their inner natures, and relating them to some of the best of past scholarship, and practically by indicating that each of them is the goal of an inner journey and cannot be fully understood outside of the context of that journey.
The Historical Context
The work of the first part of Jacques Maritains life (1882-1973) culminated in 1932 in his masterpiece, The Degrees of Knowledge, or To Distinguish in Order to Unite in which he described in rigorous philosophical terms how the sciences of nature, philosophy, theology and mysticism could harmoniously live together.
But the publication of The Degrees served as a catalyst for the beginning of a new stage in his life in which he slowly began to reelaborate this synthesis from the direction of the depths of the person who experiences these different degrees of knowledge, or, in short, from the perspective of the spiritual unconscious. Mysticism, Metaphysics and Maritain tells the story of this long evolution of Maritains thought.
We would like to think that the books presented here complement Maritains vision, and even, at times, make its scope and direction more explicit. They dream of a Christianity renewed from its depths from the living waters of its metaphysical, theological and mystical wisdoms, as well as from vital dialogues with other religious traditions, the arts and sciences, and so forth.
The seven volumes that make up the Collected Works are deeply interconnected in us. They reflect our attempts, however imperfect, to search for meaning in our lives, for some wisdom that we could live by.
This search started with the question of God, and the Catholic faith we had both been brought up in. We each had to go through a long, painful struggle which lasted for years in order to make that faith our own. Part of Jims story is told in The Inner Nature of Faith. And this crisis of faith had a deeply metaphysical dimension to it, a taste of the mystery of existence that all things murmur if we could but listen to them. Later, these unformed philosophical intuitions found expression through the study of works of Jacques Maritain, one of the most creative 20th century followers of St. Thomas Aquinas.
But implicit in this basic experience that led to faith was a distinction between the metaphyscial knowledge of God to be found in philosophy and the mysterious knowledge through love that comes through faith. This faith expresses itself in different ways in the life of prayer and contemplation, and in theology.
Therefore, a good part of these books is devoted to the Christian life of prayer and contemplation under the inspiration of St. John of the Cross, to theology and morality, and the philosophy of St. Thomas.
But the Christian life is not meant to be lived out in isolation, but rather, in the midst of human life. It ought to try to enrich itself with whatever it can find of the true, the good and the beautiful. For us, this wider dialogue showed itself in three main ways.
The first was our discovery of Jungs psychology, not as a theory, but as a living journey into the depths of the psyche. The Catholic world we lived in simply didnt have an empirical psychology that is so vital to healthy relationships, as well as to Christian spirituality and theology. We immersed ourselves in Jungs psychology and found in his typology a practical summation of his whole psychology, and we eventually tried to bring that psychology into relationship with Sheldons study of body types. We also tried to articulate how Jungs psychology could enter into dialogue with Christian spirituality, philosophy and theology.
In a similar way, we were deeply attracted to Zen meditation, but always with the question in mind of how Eastern enlightenment could be related to Christian metaphysics and mysticism.
At the same time, one of our deepest desires was to have the time and physical and psychological freedom to explore these inner worlds, and this led us to try to create a simpler and more sustainable lifestyle.
For more of our story:Inner Explorations: The Story
We have put these books online so that they can find new friends. Enjoy them and
let us know what you think.