Has Mysticism Become Bourgeois?

New York Times: Op Ed

Mass Market Epiphany
March 7, 2010
.....As society has become steadily more materialistic, Johnson (Luke Timothy Johnson, writing in the latest issue of the Catholic journal CommonwealLuke Timothy Johnson declares, our churches have followed suit, giving up on the ascetic and ecstatic aspects of religion and emphasizing only the more worldly expressions of faith. Conservative believers fixate on the culture wars, religious liberals preach social justice, and neither leaves room for what should be a central focus of religion — the quest for the numinous, the pursuit of the unnamable, the tremor of bliss and the dark night of the soul.....

Americans seem to have done with mysticism what we’ve done with every other kind of human experience: We’ve democratized it, diversified it, and taken it mass market. No previous society has offered seekers so many different ways to chase after nirvana, so many different paths to unity with God or Gaia or Whomever. A would-be mystic can attend a Pentecostal healing service one day and a class on Buddhism the next, dabble in Kabbalah in February and experiment with crystals in March, practice yoga every morning and spend weekends at an Eastern Orthodox retreat center. Sufi prayer techniques, Eucharistic adoration, peyote, tantric sex — name your preferred path to spiritual epiphany, and it’s probably on the table..............

This democratization has been in many ways a blessing. Our horizons have been broadened, our religious resources have expanded, and we’ve even recovered spiritual practices that seemed to have died out long ago. ........read more at New York Times

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Mystery Achievement said...

Yep. And since most of us have been around for several million turns of the wheel, as we brachiate through *this* lifetime, different branches of the Reality Tree come easily to hand. It's the NYTimes, I remind myself, congenitally-bound to snark.

God, I do wish someone would teach journalists how to think beyond the box without sarcasting.

dev said...

Great point! NYT luves the mask of sarcasm, but the real beauty, and power of online publications are found in the brilliant comments left after the article is published. The snarkier the article the more profound the comments....check it out! NYT's '
Mass Market Epiphany' article produced almost 300 thoughtful, intelligent, and diverse comments