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Image by Ron Smith

“Being Spiritual But Not Hierarchical,” in Being Spiritual But Not Religious: Past, Present, Future(s), edited by William B. Parsons

(New York: Routledge, 2018)

The rising tide of “nones,” people who disavow explicit affiliation with religions, especially the cresting wave of those who speak of being spiritual yet deny being religious, flows in part from the history of mystics, or those who speak of an interconnection with a “More” yet disavow that any words or concepts can capture that reality. Historically, the uses and meanings of mystical and spiritual have been inextricably entwined. Though people who seek to be "spiritual but not religious" get accused of resisting communal constitution and ethical responsibility, this essay argues, instead, that myriad SBNRs want to deepen mystical interconnection but avoid the harmful hierarchies that have so defined those cultural systems that we call religions. Far from individualistically going up and out, many endeavor to deepen communal awareness within and around. Through embracing vulnerability as otherwise than a threat, they hope for us to move toward a more equitable future that values eco-systemic interrelations of all.

“How the Story of Job May Help Us All Get Along,” in Intersections: Faith, Church, and the Academy, edited by Mark E. Hanshaw and Timothy Moore

(Nashville: Board of Higher Education of the United Methodist Church, 2018)

Pevateaux draws upon the biblical story of Job as a metaphor to discuss ways to encourage people to carefully, critically, and compassionately consider the relationships that bind diverse religious systems. Pevateaux draws parallels between the suffering of Job and the many tragedies that have become the backdrop of life for modern students. Further, he reminds us of the fact that so many of these tragedies have some religious dimension. In light of such suffering, he argues that helping people to develop an interfaith perspective can be critical to providing resources to mitigate the fear that arises when one confronts such vulnerability. Further, he argues that we can create a common path forward through working together to form a more perfect union.

Praying Together
Image by Patrick Selin

“Mysticism Emergent: The Beginning of the Study of Mysticism in the Academy,” in Religion: Secret Religion, volume edited by April DeConick, Macmillan Interdisciplinary Handbooks: Religion series

(Farmington Hills, MI: Macmillan Reference USA, 2016)

Mysticism is a recent construction with ancient roots. First referring to hidden dynamics of ancient cultic practice, the adjective mystical was taken up by early Christians to refer to the presence of Christ at work in hidden dynamics of the Bible, the liturgy, and creation. The modern study of mysticism began to develop with the shift from an adjective to a substantive in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, and then from a pejorative to a positive in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. These shifts involved a dislocation from the particular Christian narrative to a universal application that focused on enigmatic language and inner experience. The modern study of mysticism emerged most prominently with William James at the turn of the twentieth century, focusing on our interrelation with whatever may be more or other than normal, rational consciousness. This universal, ahistorical construction of mysticism arose to meet particular social and personal needs of the scholars who pursued its study.

“Mystery Matters: Embodiment and African American Mystics,” in Esotericism in African American Religious Experience: “There is a Mystery” . . .,

edited by Stephen C. Finley, Margarita Simon Guillory, and Hugh R. Page, Jr.

(Leiden: Brill, 2014)

This essay seeks to correct the neglect of African American mysticisms through comparing those of Howard Thurman and Langston Hughes, the former more exoteric and transcendent focused, the latter more esoteric and mundane. For Thurman, the mystery of life involves a mystical relation with the transcendent as found in the Spirituals, whereas for Hughes it roots us more in the earthiness of the Blues. Both, however, suggest that the study of Africana mystics requires an emphasis on embodiment. Embodied and visceral, yet preceding and exceeding bodily limitation, a mystery exists between Thurman’s Spirituals and Hughes’s Blues that reveals a both/and, neither/nor, a/theistic aspect to much African American religious experience. Moreover, this analysis of embodied African American mysticisms illuminates the (in)capacities that we share with nonliving matter, and how this matters.

Image by Matthew T Rader

“Christianity,” Religious Tradition Summary for companion website to textbook Comparing Religions: Coming to Terms, by Jeffrey J. Kripal

(Malden: Wiley-Blackwell, 2014)

From the hope and fear of the early Jesus movement, through desert fathers, gnostics, mystics, empire formation, reformations, reactions to the rise of science and Darwinism to today's global religion, the history of Christianity has such rich complexity that rather than speaking of a singular monolithic whole we might more accurately speak of the many Christianities. Although differing wildly in construal, one constant, however, spans the diverse Christianities and sets them apart from all other traditions, namely, the central relation to the Jewish rabbi named Jesus (Hebrew Yeshua) who was deemed by his followers to be the chosen or “anointed” one (Hebrew Messiah or Greek Christos). Executed by the Romans in the early first century of the common era in Jerusalem as a political criminal and reviled by some of his fellow Israelites as a religious heretic, Jesus one way or another marks the way that all Christians follow, however differently.

“Widened Awareness: Allen Ginsberg’s Poetic Transmission of a Blakean Inflected Esoteric Dream-Insight,” in Aries: Journal for the Study of Western Esotericism,

Vol. 8, N. 1


Allen Ginsberg, the American poet who became an icon of the Beat Generation, took his inspiration from ancient esoteric sources passing through William Blake. According to Ginsberg, Blake’s poetry catalyzed in him an altered state of consciousness carrying a dream-insight of the illusory nature of the material and socially-constructed world. Accessible through poetry, drugs, and chant, Ginsberg’s Blakean and esoteric “cosmic-demonic consciousness” consisted of a widening of awareness to the point of encompassing its own death. Cultivating this consciousness in himself and others remained his goal throughout his life.

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