Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Evelyn Underhill 2012!

I am completely partisan in today's Lent Madness match-up between Monnica and Evelyn Underhill. Let's go Evelyn! I've gone so far as to bribe encourage voters by letting them know you can get a FREE Kindle download of Underhill's book, Practical Mysticism (with the great subtitle "A Little Book for Normal People").

One of the things I love about Evelyn is her insistence that mysticism is not about getting away from it all; instead, "Mysticism is the art of union with Reality."

"Because mystery is horrible to us, we have agreed for the most part to live in a world of labels."  In her view, mysticism is about getting beyond the superficial labels.

It's also about more than "the life of my own inside."  There's a great, but longish, quote from Underhill I wish I could have included in the write-up for today, but it was just too long.  (The last quote in the write-up is drawn from this passage.)  Here's an excerpt:
My spiritual life is not something specialised and intense; a fenced-off devotional patch rather difficult to cultivate, and needing to be sheltered from the cold winds of the outer world. Nor is it an alternative to my outward, practical life. On the contrary, it is the very source of that quality and purpose which makes my practical life worth while. The practical life of a vast number of people is not, as a matter of fact, worth while at all. It is like an impressive fur coat with no one inside it. One sees many of these coats occupying positions of great responsibility. Hans Andersen's story of the king with no clothes told one bitter and common truth about human nature; but the story of the clothes with no king describes a situation just as common and even more pitiable.
So vote Evelyn!  We need saints who encourage us to deal with Reality and not just labels. Practical Mysticism all the way!

Updated late afternoon: Someone in the comments on Lent Madness said "Generally, I have a difficult time with English mystics (yes, even blessed Julian!), but Underhill makes sense to me." This made me realize that most mystics write about "this is what I saw;" Evelyn writes, "Here is how you can look--and why it's worthwhile to do so."


Anonymous said...

I've been reading James Martin's My Life with the Saints. Do you know it? I think you'd like it!

Songs of a Soul Journey said...

Love it! Totally agree! Voted already.

Songs of a Soul Journey said...

Have to say that though I love Cranmer, I also love Columba and voted for him... (sigh)

LKT said...

I didn't know about Martin's book. I'll have to check it out.