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This article is taken from PN Review 24, Volume 8 Number 4, March - April 1982.

Neither Mist nor Schism Martin Jarrett-Kerr

Andrew Louth, The Origins of the Christian Mystical Tradition
-from Plato to Denys (Clarendon Press) £12.50


We have had as guest this last week R., a mystical type. My mother does not suffer mystical types gladly. R. went outdoors to admire nature and Regina [Flannery's mother] came upon her lying flat on the ground in the back yard. It was about 50 degrees. 'Get up from there,' Regina says. 'You'll catch your death of cold. Can't you look at things standing up?' 'Yes,' R. says, 'but it's much more sacramental to lie on the ground.' In two days she had a cold. You can't get ahead of mother.
Flannery O'Connor, The Habit of Being (p. 498)


Well, this use of 'mystical' is the ice-cream view-same ingredients but it comes in different flavours, buddhist, hassidic, christian, sufi, etc. . And wasn't that disposed of by the barthians long ago (Emil Brunner, e.g., with his forgotten Die Mystik und das Wort on the 'fundamental opposition between mysticism and the Christian faith')? And the radical protestant can couple with the tough Catholic. Allen Tate, Roman convert, poet and literary critic, wrote of Paul Elmer More, humanist Platonist turned episcopalian:


What . . . is Mr More's religion? Is it Christian? It is possible that it is. He has written . . . about the insight afforded us by Christian writers. . . . There is also, according to ...


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