Publisher by The Johns Hopkins University Press for the Society of Christian Spirituality of which I am a member.
An expansion of the highly regarded Christian Spirituality Bulletin, Spiritus covers a wide range of disciplines within the field of religious studies: history, philosophy, theology, and psychology. Ecumenical in its approach, Spiritus explores the connections between spirituality and cultural analysis- including literary and artistic expression, social activism, and spiritual practice. Filled with lively insightful articles, reviews, and new translations of important texts, Spiritusappeals not only to scholars and academics, but also to general readers such as pastors, practitioners, and those in the helping professions. The journal's goal is to promote research in the field of Christian spirituality while fostering creative dialogue with other non-Christian traditions.
Spiritus: A Journal of Christian Spirituality
Volume 8, Number 1, Spring 2008
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Douglas Burton-Christie pp. vii-ix
(In) Famous Spirituality: Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom
Irene Visser pp. 1-22
This essay explores the interrelatedness of spirituality, manhood, and race in Harriet Beecher Stowe’s most famous character Uncle Tom. While Uncle Tom has become a cultural type with many negative connotations, recent studies have re-evaluated Stowe’s achievement. This is the context to this essay’s central question: whether—and to what extent-- Stowe’s fictional creation achieved the ideal of a “fullness of self,” as formulated by W.E.B. Du Bois’ in his Souls of Black Folk (1903). In exploring this question, parallels are drawn with thoughts on the interrelations of gender and spirituality by Ralph Waldo Emerson and William James.
Backpacking with the Saints: The Risk Taking Character of Wilderness Reading
Belden C. Lane pp. 23-43
The lives of the saints are full of stories about the life-changing experience of reading classic texts in provocative, wilderness places. The author of this essay points to his own practice of taking classics of Christian spirituality on wilderness backpacking trips as a metaphor of the risks involved in spiritual reading generally. Drawing on Augustine’s understanding of the dynamic relationship between the reading of a text and the place in which one reads it, he examines the reading process in light of the “two-books” tradition (reading scripture and nature together), offering three vignettes from his own experience of wilderness reading.
Mystical Consciousness: A Modest Proposal
Bernard McGinn pp. 44-63
Much of the recent literature on mysticism has taken mystical experience as a central theme. The term itself is not only recent, but also involves complexities both of a theoretical and historical character. The proposal advanced here is that mystical consciousness, understood as the meta-conscious co-presence of God in the entire process of experiencing, understanding, affirming, loving, and deciding, may provide a more adequate way to deepen our understanding of claims to have attained the direct presence of God. Calling upon resources from the transcendental method of Bernard Lonergan, the essay applies an approach based on consciousness analysis to the writings of three classic mystics: Meister Eckhart, Nicholas of Cusa, and John of the Cross.
Spiritual Arborescence: Trees in the Medieval Christian Imagination
Sara Ritchey pp. 64-82
Trees abound in the manuscripts, visions and prayers, on the walls, altars and vestments of the Middle Ages. Their presence indicates a spiritual arborescence, a profound proliferation of arboreal imagery constituent in Christian devotion. Spiritual arborescence is the process of conjuring Christ in the imagination through contemplation of trees. It is a practice that mediates the individual meditant’s relationship with the larger religious community and with Christ. The examples of medieval spiritual arborescence explored in this essay demonstrate profound concerns about accessing divinity in the material world.
Lost in the Mystery of God: Childhood in the History of Christian Spirituality
Stephanie Paulsell pp. 83-96
At the heart of much scholarship on religion, there is a child hiding, however unacknowledged. How might scholars of Christian spirituality contribute to a theological account of childhood that resists the tendency to essentialize? How might we take seriously children’s experience in all its complexity and uncontrollability? This essay finds in Augustine a way of understanding theological reflection on childhood as a spiritual practice that can only be appropriated through attention to the specificity of childhood experience. Our childhoods, according to Augustine, are lost in the mystery of God. For him, our struggle to understand childhood cannot be uncoupled from our search for God.