Reason, Mysticism and Christianity – Part 1

So, what do I mean when I say I am a reasonable mystic? And then, in what sense can I be a reasonable mystic and a Christian?

Such descriptions are open to many interpretations, and misinterpretations, depending on your perspective on the nature of mysticism, the role of reason, and the validity of Christianity as a worldview.

When I coined the term “reasonable mystic” I was unaware of its having been used before. Since then a quick Google search throws up a number of references, many of which are my own websites. A few websites on the Beguines have it refering to William of St. Thierry (1085-1148), a friend of Bernard of Clairvaux. William described in emotional terms the human desire to know God in perfect love, and was also known as the “learned lover“.

Some other references were to a site by Douglas Muder called Tips for a Reasonable Mystic. It was interesting, but contained many ideas with which I could not agree. His characteristics of the next religion sound too much like humanism for my liking. However his definition of a “reasonable mystic” is thought provoking: “someone who wants to be open to the Infinite without losing touch with the Earth under your feet”. I can relate to this approach to life even when I don’t like some of the conclusions. We might come back to Muder later.

There were many in history who, while perhaps not being called “reasonable mystics”, were reasonable and mystical in outlook, and we will encounter some of these in our journey.

In another vein, I found references to being “a reasonable mystic” in discussions of Dumbledore and Shamanismin in Harry Potter, and I’m sure if I dug further that Getafix, the Druid in Asterix would also appear out of the mist.

I guess the point that I am making here is that no matter how anyone else has used the term before, when I speak about being “a reasonable mystic” it means what I mean it to be. Any reading of another meaning into it will just lead to a loss of communication – it is not the term that is important but the content it references. In addition, it will not just be what I say in these articles that makes my definition clear. Rather, as being a reasonable mystic requires, it will be my actions and experiences that determine the truth of what I say. Some evidence for these actions and experiences can be found in other websites – for example at Listening 2 God, Prayer Ministries Network, and others that I will mention later.

Having said that, I cannot lay claim to the components of the term. The words “reasonable” and “mystic” have been around for a long time and it is their accepted content that will require me to justify my juxtaposing them as I have done.

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