In this short video (and transcripts), Dr Rebecca Stephens explains what the Christian mystics offer to the contemporary world and more specifically about her talk on Meister Eckhart on 23rd April 2024, in conversation with Professor Bernard McGinn.
What do Christian mystics offer to the contemporary world?
I think one of the great gifts of all the mystics is their clarity.
We can sometimes feel bombarded and befuddled by labels and distinctions definitions. But mystics bypass all of this to the heart of the matter, taking a direct route to the truth and value of human life, its participation in divine love, a full existence available to us in an eternal now.
John Main called this ‘the call to leave the shallows and enter into the deep, direct knowledge that marks a life lived in the mystery of God. Then everything in our life acquires this depth dimension of divine presence.’
We may associate this stepping beyond the ego into a participatory interbeing with everything around us, with eastern spiritualities.
But this message can also be found at the core of Christianity, from the neoplatonic theologians through to contemporaries like Thomas Merton or John O’Donoghue.
The Christian mystics, whether you’re reading Julian of Norwich or Søren Kierkegaard or John Main, are inviting us to a life quite simply lived in and out of love. The beauty of the mystical tradition is its breadth. You’ll find such an array of voices, but the core message of them all is a stepping out of our small self into the full possibility of our humanity.
Meister Eckhart: A contemporary mystic
I’ve been involved in the Eckhart Society now for nearly 30 years, and I still find no end of excitement and challenge and solace reading him. He’s probably shaped my own spiritual thought more profoundly than any other writer.
His writing can dazzle us. In his own lifetime he was known as a lesemeister, a teacher of great theological insight, but also a lebemeister, someone who can help us in our daily life; as both a scholar and teacher of young Dominicans but also someone who walked to preach in parish churches. Both sides are intrinsic to Eckhart
One of the things I most admire about him is that he was no less profound speaking in German to his congregations than he was writing in his Latin commentaries on the Bible.
I hope from my talk on Meister Eckhart, you’ll also come away with a sense of Eckhart’s fun as well as his profundity. He is hugely fun to read.
To finish with a small taster from the sermon “I know a man in Christ“. This is maybe my favourite image of the Trinity in union with the soul.
“God laughs into her and she laughs back into him.
This laughter breeds liking and liking breeds joy and joy begets love”
I look forward to sharing him with you.
Curious to find out more ?
Dr Rebecca Stephens will talk about Meister Eckhart in conversation with Prof Bernard McGinn as part of the Into the Mystics series starting January 2024.