Thursday, May 28, 2015

Judaism and the Mystical Christ: Table of Contents, and About

"Judaism and the Mystical Christ" is a blog series (that should really be a book) I have been working on for over a year.  This post will serve as the table of contents for the series, as well as providing an "About" section below, describing the project, how I came to write it, and a Bibliography of sorts.

You will note that I have divided the posts up in, what I think is a good outline.  You will also note that I have divided the project up into two "Books" - at the time of the original publishing of this post, the first "Book" will have been completed, but the second will be ongoing.  I will probably not release anything from the second "Book" until I am far enough into writing it that I can be confident that publishing at a regular pace will not result in overtaking myself.

I will keep this table of contents up to date as I publish more sections.

Table of Contents
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Book I - Mysticism and Judaism

Part I - The Paradigm Shift of Mysticism
Chapter 1: On Paradigm Shifts
Chapter 2: The Bible and Communication Theory
Chapter 3: What is Christian Mysticism?
Chapter 4: Mysticism, Fundamentalism, and Judaism
Chapter 5: Pardes, the Garden of Jewish Biblical Interpretation

Part II - Judaism's Mystical View of Creation
Chapter 6: Creation
Chapter 7: Beginning
Chapter 8: The Image of God
Chapter 9: Let There Be Light
Chapter 10: The Tree of Life

Chapter 11: Concluding Thoughts for "Book I"

Book II - The Mystical Christ

Part III - The Jewish Background of Christ

Part IV - The Mystical Christ in the Gospels


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About the Project
I have put more work into this project than anything else I've written on here, and while I am very proud of it, in many ways I feel like it is just so inadequate.  There is so more more I could have written about, so much I had to summarize, and there are parts I really struggled to write.  

I'd like to explain here how the project happened, and what I'm trying to do here.

In the last few years, I have become a high volume reader, consuming over a hundred books a year.  About a year ago, I happened to be reading, simultaneously, two books that seemed to almost be talking to each other - it was a profound and moving experience for me, especially considering the fact that the two books were coming from separate traditions. Those two books were: "God Is a Verb: Kabbalah and the Practice of Mystical Judaism", by Rabbi David Cooper, and "The Fourth Gospel: Tales of a Jewish Mystic", by Bishop John Shelby Spong. 

I found so many parallels between the mystical view of Judaism that Rabbi Cooper wrote about so beautifully and poetically, and the mysticism that Bishop Spong pointed out within the Gospel of John so magnificently.  My imagination had been captured.  As I read the two books, I had been taking notes - and when I was finished, I decided that for a larger blog project, I wanted to work the notes I had taken on these two books in with a few other things.

The first thing I wanted to do was to try to combine these mystical views with the amazing scientific discoveries of Quantum Physics.  Prior to reading the aforementioned books, I had read a mind-bending book entitled: "The Self-Aware Universe", by theoretical quantum physicist Amit Goswami.  Every chapter of this book was like finding out I lived in the Matrix - it was truly mind blowing.  Goswami combines quantum physics (which he explains very well for a layman like myself, even though it is truly complex stuff that was difficult to grasp) with a masterful knowledge of philosophy and mysticism (he comes from a Hindu background, but seems quite knowledgeable on the mystics of other traditions).  And he even writes about the science and benefits of meditation.

So I decided that I need to read up in three areas for this project: science (specifically searching for books that outlined the intersection between science and religion), Judaism, and mysticism (both Jewish and Christian).  

I would like to note here that I found writing about the science of Quantum Physics to be the hardest part of this project.  I did not want to over explain - I wanted to keep my explanation at a level that any layman could understand.  At the same time, I wanted to be very careful, because I recognize that I am largely ignorant in this area and am merely going off of the word of experts that I have only half-understood.  So my explanations felt, to me, like I was leaving out too much - like I was over-summarizing.  And I felt very inadequate.  But perhaps my readers will find them helpful, and my fears and feelings of inadequacy will be misplaced.

The following list of books I read in preparation for this project will serve as a bibliography of sorts (minus the books I've already mentioned).  I will break this list up into categories of Judaism, Mystical Christianity (and other Christian and Mysticism resources), and Science.  Note that I am sure this is not a "proper" bibliography - I may miss a book or two that I used somewhere in the series, and might list a few that I read but did not use (but which helped me conceptualize for this project, nonetheless).

Before I even go into the Bibliography, I must mention one name not listed: Thomas Merton.  I can't even list a book by him, because he has so influenced my thought that he just seeps through.  I have a document with pages and pages of quotes by him.  He was my first introduction to mysticism, and may have influenced me more than any other author.


And one final note on the "Book" format of the table of contents above - if you happen to be reading this and have connections in the publishing industry, and if you like my writing and think any publishers would too, please do let me know.  I would love to publish a book, but I do not want to self-publish.  I simply do not know where to start when it comes to looking for a publisher.

Bibliography

Judaism

"The Secret Life of God: Discovering the Divine within You" - Rabbi David Aaron

"The Essential Kabbalah: The Heart of Jewish Mysticism" - Daniel C. Matt 

"Kabbalah: A Brief Introduction for Christians" - Tamar Frankiel

"The Meaning of the Bible: What the Jewish Scriptures and Christian Old Testament Can Teach Us" - Douglas A. Knight and Amy-Jill Levine
This is written a Christian Professor and a Jewish Professor who have neighboring offices on campus - this is an excellent resource.


"The Messianic Idea in Judaism: And Other Essays on Jewish Spirituality" - Gershom Scholem

"The Jew in the Lotus: A Poet's Rediscovery of Jewish Identity in Buddhist India" - Rodger Kamenetz

"Restoring The Jewishness of the Gospel: A Message for Christians Condensed from Messianic Judaism" - David H. Stern Ph. D.

"The Art of Biblical Narrative" - Robert Alter

"Tales and Maxims from the Midrash" - Samuel Rapaport
 

Mystical Christianity (and other Christian and Mysticism resources)
"The Big Book of Christian Mysticism: The Essential Guide to Contemplative Spirituality" - Carl McColman

"The Essential Mystics, Poets, Saints, and Sages: A Wisdom Treasury" - edited by Richard Hooper

"Eternal Life: A New Vision", "Liberating the Gospels: Reading the Bible with Jewish Eyes", "Resurrection: Myth or Reality?", "Why Christianity Must Change or Die" - Bishop John Shelby Spong

"The First Christmas", "The Last Week" - Marcus J. Borg and John Dominic Crossan

"Reading the Bible Again For the First Time: Taking the Bible Seriously But Not Literally", "Jesus: Uncovering the Life, Teachings, and Relevance of a Religious Revolutionary" - Marcus J. Borg

"Dynamics of Faith" - Paul Tillich

"The Coming of God: Christian Eschatology" - Jürgen Moltmann
 

"The Myth of a Christian Nation: How the Quest for Political Power Is Destroying the Church" - Gregory A. Boyd
I did not expect to use this book for this project, but it proved useful anyways.

"Inspiration and Incarnation: Evangelicals and the Problem of the Old Testament", "The Evolution of Adam: What the Bible Does and Doesn't Say about Human Origins" - Peter Enns

"The Lost World of Genesis One: Ancient Cosmology and the Origins Debate" - John H. Walton

"God's Word in Human Words: An Evangelical Appropriation of Critical Biblical Scholarship" - Kenton L. Sparks


"Did the First Christians Worship Jesus?: The New Testament Evidence" - James D.G. Dunn

"How Jesus Became God: The Exaltation of a Jewish Preacher from Galilee" - Bart Ehrman

"Prophetic Imagination: Revised Edition", "The Practice of Prophetic Imagination" - Walter Brueggemann 

"Christ in Evolution", "The Emergent Christ", "The Unbearable Wholeness of Being: God, Evolution, and the Power of Love" - Ilia Delio

"The Power of Parable: How Fiction by Jesus Became Fiction about Jesus" - John Dominic Crossan

"Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life", "Immortal Diamond: The Search for Our True Self" - Richard Rohr

"One Minute Wisdom" - Anthony De Mello

"Did Moses Exist?: The Myth of the Israelite Lawgiver" - D.M. Murdock
Another resource I hadn't expected would be useful for this project, but this proved very useful when dealing with the Exodus stories.

Science
"Biocentrism: How Life and Consciousness are the Keys to Understanding the True Nature of the Universe" - Robert Lanza, M.D.

"The God Theory: Universes, Zero-Point Fields, and What's Behind It All" - Bernard Haisch

"Erasing Death: The Science That Is Rewriting the Boundaries Between Life and Death" - Sam Parnia, M.D.


"At the Hour of Death: A New Look at Evidence for Life After Death" - Erlendur Haraldsson Ph.D and Karlis Osis Ph.D

"Rational Mysticism: Spirituality Meets Science in the Search for Enlightenment" - John Horgan

"From Science to God: A Physicist's Journey into the Mystery of Consciousness" - Peter Russell

"You Are the Placebo: Making Your Mind Matter" - Dr. Joe Dispenza

"The Future of the Mind: The Scientific Quest to Understand, Enhance, and Empower the Mind" - Michio Kaku

"Brain Wars: The Scientific Battle Over the Existence of the Mind and the Proof That Will Change the Way We Live Our Lives" - Mario Beauregard 

"Quantum Physics and Ultimate Reality: Mystical Writings of Great Physicists" - edited by Michael Green 

"The God-Shaped Brain: How Changing Your View of God Transforms Your Life" - Timothy R. Jennings M.D.

"Is There Life After Death?" - Anthony Peake

"Questions of Truth: Fifty-one Responses to Questions About God, Science, and Belief" - John Polkinghorne and Nicholas Beale
I actually did not use this one in the series, but it really helped me to see the intersection between the Christian faith and science, as well as to understand some of the scientific concepts.

2 comments:

  1. I've really been looking forward to tour next series and I am thrilled it is finally here!

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    Replies
    1. So glad to hear that - thank you!

      I still have a ton of notes for the "second book". But I'm going to take it easy for a while before delving into writing that part. But hopefully, it won't take another year for that project. ;)

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