Karen Armstrong: Visions Of God Four Medieval Mystics and Their Writings



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I donot recommend it I learned a lot about the English medieval mystics Very good Christianity s mystic tradition sometimes isn t talked about as much as that of Islam or Judaism but it s nonetheless an important part of the istory of the religion running from Dionysus the Areopagite through St Teresa of Avila and St John of the Cross and on to such modern day challengers to the orthodoxy as Edgar Cayce and Joseph Smith In this volume Armstrong collects selections from the writings of four English mystics from the 14th century Richard Rolle the anonymous author of a text called The Cloud of Unknowing Walter Hilton and Julian of Norwich I thought this book worked well as an overview capturing the main points of each writer s thought Armstron. The mystics of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries were writes Karen Armstrong like the astronauts of our own day They broke into a new religion blazed a new trail to God and to the depths of the self a trail far from the beaten pilgrimage paths of Chaucer and Langland Mysticism is a spiritual mystery shared in some form by all faiths; it as a supernatural uality that extends beyond the given boundaries of religio.

G s notes were nice as well explaining the development of English mysticism and pointing out for example that even though Rolle is clearly a lesser writer and thinker than the other three much of what they ave to say is in response to is actions and ideas My frustrations with the book ave much to do with me than with the book itself I was for example disappointed that the works appeared in translation The selections from Rolle made sense as they were originally written in Latin but the other three wrote in Middle English It s The Ecology, Exploitation and Conservation of River Turtles helpful toave notes but Chaucer isn t unreadable to a modern English speaker willing to invest a bit of time in the reading and I wonder Medicine and Religion how muchas been lost in an attempt to make these selections accessible to mode. Us creed and may be experienced by any lay person The thrilling intensity of a mystical experience as represented in this volume by the writings of four mystics of the Middle Ages can inspire other spiritual seekers with its insight into the limitless wonder of both The Hockey Saint (Forever Friends, human and divine experience Dissatisfied by the strictures of dogma and a religion that failed to uench theuman thirst for knowledge of a mystical ord.

Rn readersI also found that what I really want to do now is read the full texts Rolle and Hilton I can probably live without but The Cloud of Unknowing and Sixteen Revelations of Divine Love are works I think I d like to make my way through in their entirety But at any rate I enjoyed this volume and people with curiosity about England in the Late Middle Ages or the development of Christian mysticism would probably enjoy it too It should come as little surprise that I would read a book like this given my fondness for reading books by Christian mystics 1 but I found this book a surprisingly unpleasant read The best part of the book is when we get to read from the four medieval English mystics themselves but those selections are framed by a deepl. Er these four mystics Richard Rolle of Hampole Walter Hilton Dame Julian of Norwich and the unknown author of The Cloud Of Unknowing communicate an intense and passionate experience of faith rare in any time Because of their uniue beliefs and spiritual strength their knowledge and writings ave proved timeless and in this beautiful volume show contemporary seekers important new insights into the nature of divine lov.

Karen Armstrong a comparative religion specialist is the author of numerous books on religion including The Case for God A History of God The Battle for God Holy War Islam Buddha and Fields of Blood as well as a memoir The Spiral Staircase Her work has been translated into 45 languages In 2008 she was awarded the TED Prize and began working with TED on the Charter for Compassion