SKU (ISBN): 9780809141982
Binding: Trade Paper
Published: May 2003
Madeleva Lecture In Spitituality
Publisher: Paulist Press
Print On Demand Product
More than a few people today scoff at the notion of “religious experience.” What the believer accepts as God acting in human lives, the skeptic attributes to delusion or hysteria-especially when the believer is a woman. Indeed, the possibility of self-deception in the realm of religious experience is sufficiently great that even devotees tread softly around it. At what point does mindless enthusiasm come to an end and actual, transcendent reality begin?
Sidney Callahan, a psychologist, author and Christian ethicist, describes authentic religious experience as the work of “a creative God of love who gives totally and renounces coercion.” Human beings, she says, “are wired for relationship.” They move instinctively toward a dynamic presence who abides within the world and in human affairs. In this Madeleva Lecture delivered at Saint Mary’s College in Indiana, Callahan affirms not only the reality but the usefulness of private religious experiences, especially those of “women barred from hierarchical authority,” which, she says, “can be a rich source of strength for the church.” Beginning with the insights of William James and Rudolf Otto, and borrowing from contemporary theologians Karl Rahner and John E. Thiel, Callahan describes the way religious “signals” emerge into society through the attentive reflection of individuals. And the world is better for it. “Women who hear voices and see visions and have prophetic and intimate religious experiences,” she states, “have given witness to God’s justice and equality while affirming God’s maternal love.”