On the Lived Theology Reading List: Dangerous Mystic

Dangerous Mystic: Meister Eckhart’s Path to God Within, by Joel F. HarringtonMeister Eckhart’s Path to the God Within

Meister Eckhart was a medieval Christian mystic who was one of the most learned theologians of his day, but was also a man of the world who had worked as an administrator for his religious order and taught for years at the University of Paris. In this book, Joel Harrington traces Eckhart’s path from conventional friar to professor to lay preacher, culminating in a spiritual philosophy that combined the teachings of pagan and Christian writers, as well as Muslim and Jewish philosophers. This “dangerous mystic’s” teachings challenge the very nature of religion, yet the man himself never directly challenged the Church.

In the modern era, Eckhart’s writings have struck a chord with thinkers as diverse as Heidegger, Merton, Sartre, John Paul II, and the current Dalai Lama. A variety of Christians, as well as many Zen Buddhists, Sufi Muslims, Jewish Cabbalists, and various spiritual seekers, all claim Eckhart as their own. He was not always this influential, however. Eckhart preached a personal, internal path to God at a time when the Church could not have been more hierarchical and ritualistic. After his death and papal censure, many religious women and clerical supporters, known as the Friends of God, were forced to keep his legacy alive underground until his modern rediscovery. Then and now, Eckhart’s revolutionary method of direct access to ultimate reality offers a profoundly subjective approach that is at once intuitive and pragmatic, philosophical yet non-rational, and, above all, universally accessible.

Reviews and endorsements of the publication include:

“In this engrossing and compelling book, Joel Harrington offers a profound, moving, and accessible portrayal of one of the greatest yet most enigmatic figures of medieval Christianity. Meister Eckhart gave expression to humanity’s yearning for union with God, and for a pure and selfless knowledge of the divine. With a masterful touch, Harrington places the Dominican mystic in the changing, febrile world of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries and guides the reader through the development and expanse of Eckhart’s sublime thought and interior spirituality. We encounter the men and women to whom Eckhart preached, his teachers, his friends and enemies, and popes and inquisitors, all of whom are cast in bold profile in the author’s stylish and vivid prose. Eckhart’s life was filled with visions, charity, politics, and controversy, and ended with papal censure. His legacy continues to be debated. This life of one of Western Christianity’s great mystics is an astonishing achievement.”—Bruce Gordon, author of CALVIN, Titus Street Professor of Ecclesiastical History at Yale Divinity School

“A rare combination of sweeping historical narrative, penetrating biography, and profound spiritual elucidation. Joel F. Harrington elegantly shows why Meister Eckhart is reclaimed as a touchstone of humane holiness in every era – especially ours. This is a book to read, to save, and to give.”
― James Carroll, author of THE CLOISTER

For more information on the publication, click here.

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