Thursday, September 24, 2009

Living on the edge of the map -- who are the modern day mystics and heretics?

The word heresy comes from the Greek word for choice, Barbara Taylor Brown notes in her book Leaving Church.

"Early on, before the Christian church had a solid center, a wide variety of people who all called themselves Christian understood the Christ in a variety of ways. ...

"For almost three centuries, these choices existed in wild disarray. Then the emperor Constantine, in his imperial wisdom, understood that a faith with no center would never anchor his crumbling empire. ... When the bishops had finished crafting a central confession of Christian faith, those who did not choose this option became known as heretics."

To be called a heretic is to join a great, dynamic collection of souls. As Taylor collects them, Matthew Fox, Hans Küng, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, Martin Luther, Menno Simons, Meister Eckhart, Joan of Arc, Francis of Assisi, Hildegard of Bingen, Galileo, Copernicus, Peter Abelard, John Scotus Erigena, Tertullian, Origen, Jesus.

Taylor highlights that while heretics chose a life outside of and challenging the established church, they all were later venerated as leaders and mystics. "Given their amazing comebacks, might it be time for people of good faith to allow that God's map is vast, with room on it for both a center and an edge? While the center may be the place where the stories of the faith are preserved, the edge is the place where the best of them happened."

Leave a comment — who are our modern day mystics and / or heretics? Practicing spirit outside the norms / rules of the religious establishment? Living at the edge of the map, challenging the accepted thinking? Unknown or (in)famous?

(Photo: Temple of Honor, Burning Man - from

1 comment:

Lucius said...

I count myself among the modern-day mystics, and have written extensively on the subject. My MySpace page and blog contain some of my more polished musings on the modern-day movement of people exploring the further reaches of the human potential. Web site coming soon!