‘Mysterium Secretum et Silentiosum: Praying the Apophatic Self’, in David Lewin, Simon D. Podmore, and Duane Williams (eds.), Mystical Theology and Continental Philosophy: Interchange in the Wake of God

Podmore, Simon D. ‘Mysterium Secretum et Silentiosum: Praying the Apophatic Self’, in David Lewin, Simon D. Podmore, and Duane Williams (eds.), Mystical Theology and Continental Philosophy: Interchange in the Wake of God. In: Mystical Theology and Continental Philosophy: Interchange in the Wake of God. Routledge. (Accepted for Publication)

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Abstract

Apophatic communion takes place “in the brilliant darkness of a hidden silence”, in a silence “beyond assertion and denial” ; in other words, in secret. But where is it that this union ‘takes place’? It is a ‘place’, metaphorically speaking, which is beyond all affirmation and denial of ‘place’. This ‘place’ is the desert, the abyss, the place where there is no-thing, nothing but God beyond ‘God’. It is beyond place, and beyond experience; and yet the union within apophasis and contemplative prayer takes place, metaphorically, in a secret interior sanctum, unknown to both self and other. A sanctuary in which God dwells but which “no door is required to enter.” Yet while this ‘place’ of union may lie beyond all creatureliness, I suggest that there nonetheless remains significant affirmation of a ‘centre’ or ‘ground’ to the self (albeit de-centred and ungrounded). While the self-will is emptied out to the point of death, there still remains a ‘place’, somehow ‘apart’ from the world, in which the restless soul, the apophatic self, is able to find itself resting in God. While I take this as an affirmation of attention to a form of interiority which is dangerously disregarded in much of contemporary post/modern culture, I am also mindful of the scandal and threat (even offense) the secret of such interiority poses to exteriority. In light of this, one might ask to what extent is it possible to affirm such mystical interiority in the face of post/modern philosophy’s privileging of alterity? Or might apophasis actually offer, as I intimate here, a potent resource for disentangling the problematic divisions between ‘self’ and ‘other’ which render the notion of the secret, particularly a ‘religious secret’, such a threat?

Item Type: Book Section
Faculty / Department: Faculty of Arts & Humanities > Theology, Philosophy and Religion
Depositing User: Simon Podmore
Date Deposited: 19 Apr 2017 15:26
Last Modified: 19 Apr 2017 15:26
URI: http://hira.hope.ac.uk/id/eprint/1918

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