InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove Illinois, 2005
David C. Downing
Reviewed by Ron Dart
There are a variety of portals into reading and interpreting the life and varied publications of C.S. Lewis. There has been an unfortunate tendency to equate Lewis with variations of evangelical Christianity (such a misread), but Lewis was much more a catholic Anglican. Then, there are those who argue Lewis is more of a rationalist (makes for a good Christian apologist). Or, there is Lewis the romantic or the rationalist-romantic. Is there more to Lewis, though?
There sheer beauty and strength of David C. Downing’s Into the Region of Awe: Mysticism in C.S. Lewis is the way he convincingly highlights how Lewis is much more than a rationalist or romantic or some combination thereof—in short, Lewis is at core and centre a mystic. And, to the pertinent … Read more
By Jane Shaw
Many people today think of themselves as ‘spiritual but not religious.’ What riches and resources does the Anglican tradition have to offer to those who are spiritually curious but on the margins of, or outside, the church, as well as to those inside the church?
Pioneers of Modern Spirituality introduces four Anglicans who identified the ways in which people were disaffected with institutional religion across the twentieth century, and yet remained on a spiritual quest. All four sat at the edges of the church – sometimes even outside it – at moments during their own spiritual journeys. Each called the church to an engagement with the world and a rediscovery of the depths of its own tradition. Each, in their own sphere, encouraged a revival of spirituality, and a renewal of the great Anglican heritage of prayer, … Read more
Reviewed by Carl McColman
March 12, 2018
Evelyn Underhill, Ordinary Mystic
It’s no secret that I consider Evelyn Underhill one of the most important Christian mystics of the twentieth century.
She’s nowhere near as well-known as Thomas Merton or Simone Weil or Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, but her contribution to Christian spirituality is as great as each of those more renowned figures. Evelyn Underhill’s biographer Dana Greene has called her an Artist of the Infinite Life. For Underhill, Christian mysticism is shaped by two key characteristics: artistry and ordinariness.
She recognized that one of the essential features of the contemplative life is beauty: we are drawn to God not only because God is good, and true, but also because God is beautiful.
If God’s truth inspires philosophy and God’s goodness inspires ethics, then God’s beauty inspires art — and mysticism, … Read more
ed. Robyn Wrigley-Carr
London: SPCK, 2018
Reflections: Ann Loades
Robyn Wrigley-Carr wrote her doctoral thesis in the Divinity School, St Andrews University, having discovered there the primary location of books and other materials relating to Friedrich von Hügel, focussing on his work as a ‘spiritual director’. It was almost inevitable that she would also develop a focus on the work of Evelyn Underhill, and some familiarity with the work of Evelyn’s friend, Lucy Menzies. The latter became Evelyn Underhill’s collaborator as writer, researcher and co-‘retreat director’ at Pleshey in the Chelmsford Diocese from 1924 onwards (p.8). It is all too easy to overlook the importance of what they achieved together given the long- standing discomfort in Christian institutions about women as authoritative teachers and guides, notwithstanding the unambiguous evidence provided by the publication of Evelyn’s major work on Mysticism in … Read more
Deborah Smith Douglas
Have you ever had the opportunity, maybe at a wedding or a folk-art festival, to observe or take part in a traditional circle dance?
From outside the circle, the dancers appear to be moving in opposite directions: those in the foreground moving to the right, those on the far side moving to the left.
Only by being part of the circle can one see and experience the unity and shared direction beneath the external appearance of opposition and contradiction.
So it is with the life of Evelyn Underhill.
Viewed from the outside, Underhill’s life can be seen as having two different patterns and trajectories, both of them partial, superficial, and misleading.
One of these errant perspectives on her life suggests that it was one of smooth unruffled professional and public success amid privileged circumstances. That view goes … Read more