Evelyn Underhill: modern guide to the ancient quest for the by Dana Greene

By Dana Greene

Evelyn Underhill was once a pioneer in revitalizing curiosity in mysticism and within the religious lifestyles as lived by means of usual humans. listed below are a few of her articles that exhibit the diversity and improvement of her proposal over 40 years. the topics of magic and mysticism, prayer and pacifism are all thought of, with specific emphasis on Underhill's specialize in own spiritual adventure, its nurturance in prayer, its security by way of institutional faith, and its implications for all features of lifestyles. jointly, the items remove darkness from the author's stream from Platonism to the incarnational spirituality lived out through the years among the area wars.

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To the contrary, the originality of her contribution, although not yet fully explored, has been hinted at by a variety of scholars. Page 19 For example, Richard Woods cites her contribution to a democratic, futuristic, and creative understanding of mysticism, 24 and Harvey Egan,25 as well as Horton Davies26 and Douglas Steere27 point to the connection she established between mysticism and social concern. Egan and Margaret Furse28 are particularly aware of her appreciation of mysticism as a total way of life.

It was von Hugel who helped move her from the theoretical Page 10 to the practical, from Neo-Platonism to a deeper incarnational understanding of reality, from a position where prayer and life in the world were separate to where they were joined. It was because of his influence that by 1925 she could write: ... (W)hen (God) becomes to us a living, all penetrating reality and not a theological statement, (it) is found to require from us a life which spends itself in love and service in the world, whilst ever in its best experience and aspirations, pointing beyond it.

Underhill's extensive participation in the retreat movement of the 1920s and 1930s either at Pleshey, the retreat house she loved most, or at others throughout England, was particularly directed to women and clergy in the Church of England. Although the number of persons influenced directly by this ministry were few, many of these retreats were published subsequently and hence reached a larger audience. Underhill's gift to her own time was an attentiveness to its real needs. She spent almost forty years attempting to meet those needs by writing in non-technical language about the human condition and its potentiality.

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