Monday, February 06, 2006

What do Anglicans believe? Part 6

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Miss Evelyn Underhill--Anglican mystic, poet, and novelist

For a change of pace, I thought I would turn to a quote from a more "spiritual" writer on the Anglican faith. It is hard to find a piece of Evelyn Underhill's writing that is not worth being quoted. Here is an excerpt from a speech, titled "Sacraments and Mysticism," given to the 1927 Anglo-Catholic Congress in London. It answers some of the concerns of both puritanical protestantism as well as esoteric New Age religion and exhibits the Anglican and Benedictine value of moderation.

As, if we want to feed a living and growing plant, we must feed it through the soil in which it is growing and not root it up and shake it free of soil till it is "pure plant"--so it is dangerous and, indeed, impossible to shake the living soul free of all its bodily and physical attachments, and try to treat it as "pure" spirit. Our souls and our senses are closely allied, and the God who is the God of our most apparently spiritual experience is also the God of our sensory experiences . . .

Therefore, an arrogant refusal to recognize that God does come to us through things perceptible to the senses--here and not in some hypothetical "spiritual" world" only known in some abnormal state of consciousness--is bad mysticism and bad religion too. Just as bad as the opposite extreme, which distrusts all secret, inarticulate communion of spirit with Spirit--all invisible religion--and tries to limit God by his sacraments.

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