Friday, July 9, 2010

Marcus Borg on the mystical experiences of God

One of my favourite theologians Marcus Borg writes on the mystical experiences of God::

My experiences were what scholars of mysticism call “extravertive” or “eyes open” mystical experiences (the other type is “introvertive” or “eyes closed”). I saw the same visual “landscape” – a forest, a room, the inside of an airliner – that I normally see. There were no extra beings, no angels.
For a minute or two (and once for the better part of an hour), what I was seeing looked very different. Light became different – as if there were a radiance shining through everything. The biblical phrase for this is “the glory of God” – as the book of Isaiah puts it, “the earth is filled with the glory – the radiance – of God. The world was transfigured, even as it remained “the same.” And I experienced a falling away of the subject-object distinction that marks our ordinary everyday experience – that sense of being a separate self, “in here,” while the world is “out there.”

Interestingly Borg's experiences are similar to my own. What I find interesting is from my Charismatic/Pentecostal background the interpretation put on these experience. For starters Charismatic/Pentecostal would not label them 'Mystical'. Maybe a 'Prophetic' dream or vision, then an interpretation would be sought.  Often for those that received it or for others.
It would be interesting how Borg had these experiences, the background the culture he was in. For me it was usually outside the 'Church' in strange places like the shower or just going for a walk. When it did happen in the Church. I always felt there was a certain amount of hype. Which now I believe is just the same as going to a great concert. (Yes this happened to me quite distinctly at the MCG during U2's Zooropa tour).