Christian Spirituality Studies Blog

Essay: Paul Baynes and Richard Sibbes, by Tom Schwanda

This essay appears in Protestants and Mysticism in Reformation Europe, a multi-author collection of essays described as “an expansive view of the Protestant reception of mysticism, from the the beginnings of the Reformation through mid-seventeenth century.” Tom Schwanda begins his essay by saying that he will be using the language of “contemplative-mystical piety” which he defines as “the grateful and loving beholding of God through God’s mighty acts and Scripture, in which one experiences union and deepening communion with Jesus Christ through the power and guidance of the Holy Spirit.” The...

Article: Spirituality & the Social: Some Reflections on the Basics, by Marc De Kesel

Central to this article’s discussion about the development of modern spirituality is the notion of “the social.” According to the article’s author, Marc De Kesel, a modern understanding of “social” emerged when the term “subject” became more identified with a human being than with the divine subiectum. Here is an excerpt from the opening paragraphs:

What then is ‘spirituality’? And why has it, despite its obvious connotation with religion and religiosity, a generally more appreciated place than religion? What grants spirituality, contrary to religion, such a positive fame within the...

Article: Urban Parks as Sacred Places: Pilgrimage, Solitude, and Access to Nature, by Chad Thralls

photo ofCentral Park
The Ramble in Central Park
CC BY-SA 3.0

Many of us would agree that green spaces in urban environments offer a welcome respite from the often hectic pace of city life. In Chad Thralls‘ article, we find an argument for considering a city park as a setting for a spiritual pilgrimage. Here is his article’s abstract:

The paper begins with an appreciation of the ‘turn to nature’ seen in recent scholarship in Christian spirituality, and then proceeds to offer a suggestion how this rich literature might be made relevant to those who connect with God through the natural world, yet live in cities far removed from wilderness areas. An...

Article: The Praxis of Spirituality: Experiencing God and Responding to that Relationship, by Janet K. Ruffing

Janet Ruffing begins her article by describing some of the questions facing Christian spirituality studies today. For Ruffing, practice begins with an inner experience of God followed by reflection and interpretation to discern its meaning. She then shows how mystical texts, theology and scientific disciplines can inform our understanding of spiritual practices. Here are the essay’s opening paragraphs:

As we reflect on the field of Christian spirituality over the last twenty-five years, . . . . methodological and definitional questions, philosophical questions, theological questions, and...

Article: Abbot Suger: A Trinitarian Space, by Dale M. Schlitt

Dale Schlitt’s article describes a particular medieval church’s history, showing how its architecture was designed to express a trinitarian spirituality. Here is the article’s abstract:

This article is a study of and reflection on the spiritual, indeed Trinitarian, significance of the Royal Chapel of Saint-Denis, located in the suburbs of Paris. The chapel was renovated around 1140 under the leadership of Abbot Suger, who commented at length on its architectural meaning and spiritual message. So renovated, the chapel marks the beginnings of Gothic architecture. The study notes the chapel...

Article: The Ascetic Life of the Ultrarunner, by Miriam Díaz-Gilbert

Miriam Díaz-Gilbert’s article describes how her experience training for a highly rigorous sport can be compared to Christian ascetic practices. Here are the article’s introductory paragraphs:

The early Christian ascetic body. The modern-day ultrarunner body. What kinship do they share? This personal narrative explores the similarities between the two and how the ascetics’ treatment of the body resonates with my spiritual ritual as an ultrarunner.

The early Christian ascetic experienced a demanding and difficult life of self-discipline, self-denial, prayer, fasting, repentance, and...

Essay: Apocalypses and Mystical Texts: Investigating Prolegomena and the State of Affairs, by Pieter G. R. de Villiers

In this essay which introduces a volume of essays exploring the nature and origin of Jewish mysticism and its relation to Christian mysticism, Pieter de Villiers describes modern developments in the study of Jewish and Christian apocalyptic and mystical texts.  Here is his summary of the essay:

Early Jewish and Christian apocalyptic and mystical texts have a complicated history of interpretation. Eventually, many were discarded or neglected by faith communities, only to resurface and, ironically, to become a central theme of research in Jewish and Early Christian studies in modern times...

Article: Mimesis: The Substructure of Hermeneutical Methodology in Christian Spirituality, by David B. Perrin

Following up on an earlier article about research methodology in Christian spirituality, David Perrin focuses on the need for research to go beyond phenomenological description of the object being studied (e.g., a text or a work of art) and explore the object’s effects on a person’s life in ways similar to what the Christian tradition has called transformation or conversion. Here is the article’s abstract:

This article, based on the philosophical hermeneutics of Paul Ricoeur, proposes a theoretical model that helps explain the substructure of hermeneutical methodology used in research as...

Article: Mimesis: The Substructure of Hermeneutical Methodology in Christian Spirituality, by David B. Perrin

Following up on an earlier article about research methodology in Christian spirituality, David Perrin focuses on the need for research to go beyond phenomenological description of the object being studied (e.g., a text or a work of art) and explore the object’s effects on a person’s life in ways similar to what the Christian tradition has called transformation or conversion. Here is the article’s abstract:

This article, based on the philosophical hermeneutics of Paul Ricoeur, proposes a theoretical model that helps explain the substructure of hermeneutical methodology used in research as...

Article: Reading Ruusbroec in Argentina: Darkness, Loss and the Common Life, by Douglas E. Christie

After Douglas Christie visited La Perla, a site in Argentina infamous for its role as a place of torture and death during that country’s “Dirty War”, he turned to the writings of  Jan van Ruusbroec and Michel de Certeau to help him reflect about his experience. His essay is an exploration about the deep sense of darkness, loss, and absence he encountered there. Instead of reacting with despair and hopelessness, Christie found the experience “unexpectedly fruitful.” Here’s a paragraph from the essay’s concluding section:

I began these reflections at La Perla, standing before the black door...

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