March 04, 2006

Dostoevsky, Hick, Underhill, Boehme, Eckhart, Shankara, and Sri Aurobindo

MICHAEL STOEBER, Director, Advanced Degree Programs Associate Professor, Spirituality Publications Home
Reclaiming Theodicy: Reflections on Suffering, Compassion, and Spiritual Transformation (London and New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2005). This book proposes a narrative of life within which one might understand suffering in relation to a personal God of ultimate power and love. It seeks to interpret suffering within a fundamentally compassionate and redemptive understanding of the Christian God. It explores various themes of theodicy -- theology that defends God in the face of evil – creatively developing a distinction between transformative and destructive suffering. Some suffering has positive effects on people who struggle with it, but certain kinds of suffering are bitterly destructive. In response to such suffering, the book analyses the dynamics of human and divine compassion. It suggests basic principles toward developing a politics of compassion and illustrates how various spiritual experiences of God are healing and life-giving. Within a religious view that stresses compassion, healing, and spiritual growth, the book also explores the relevance of the ideas of heaven, hell, purgatory and rebirth in responding to suffering.
Co-editor with Hugo Meynell, Critical Reflections on the Paranormal (Albany, N.Y.: State University of New York Press, 1996).The anthology is a collection of essays that discuss various aspects of paranormal phenomena, such as telepathy, psychokinesis, trance-mediumship, near death experiences, and past-life memories. In response to recent research and studies, both critical and supportive of the subject, they reflect on what is reasonable to believe about this phenomena, and why, Also, the essays suggest what changes might be demanded in our worldview, if these phenomena are accepted as genuine. The collection includes essays by Susan Armstrong, Heather Botting, Stephen Braude, Don Evans, David Ray Griffin, James Horne, Terence Penelhum, and the editors.
Theo-Monistic Mysticism: A Hindu-Christian Comparison (London: Macmillan Press; New York: St Martin's Press, 1994). In response to current explanations of mystic phenomena, this book proposes a novel interpretive framework for understanding mysticism. It explores various kinds of mystical experience, suggesting that they are not wholly determined by subjective categories of interpretation and illustrating how they can be related and integrated within a narrative of spiritual transformation. In this view, radically non-dual experiences of unity or oneness are understood to culminate in 'theo-monistic' realizations - experiences which include dynamic and personal elements that are creative and moral - and to which other kinds of mysticism might also be related. This position is illustrated through a comparative study of Ramanuja, Aurobindo, Shankara, Ruusbroec, Eckhart, Boehme, and other Christian and Hindu mystics.
Evil and the Mystics' God: Towards A Mystical Theodicy (London: Macmillan Press; Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1992). Theodicies are systems of philosophy that attempt to rationalize the existence of evil in a God-centered world. They do not normally take into account the responses to evil by mystics - people who speak of encountering divine reality in an immediate or direct fashion that transcends normal categories of experience. Evil and the Mystics' God analyses the contribution that mystical thought makes towards establishing a reliable theodicy. Major subject figures include F. Dostoevsky, J. Hick, E. Underhill, J. Boehme, Eckhart, Shankara, and Aurobindo Ghose.

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