Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Toward a new mystical poetics of God in the post -mortem age: From God as the Supreme Being to God as the one -and -only being
by O'Neill, John F., D.A., State University of New York at Albany, 2009, 2197; 3379871
Abstract (Summary)

At certain axial moments in history new religious worldviews emerge to replace prior perspectives that are no longer adequate or persuasive. A new worldview opens new possibilities for the human religious quest for meaning, being, and salvation. A fundamental conviction underlying this dissertation is that we are living in a "post-mortem age" – that is, an era defined by profound challenges to the centuries-long dominant religious worldview, culminating in the twentieth century experience of the "death of God." While disturbing and disruptive for many, this historical condition can also be seen as a liberating and even providential event, opening the way to a new experience and symbolization of God.

The fundamental thesis I will support through the empirical data of this study is that there is what I term a "new mystical poetics of God" emerging which provides an alternative religious worldview to answer the need of the current age. One way to articulate the new religious worldview is as a shift from seeing God as the Supreme Being to experiencing God as the One and Only Being. This new vision of God brings with it a new vision of human wholeness and makes ethical demands on how we relate to each other and to the world.

Part 1 of this dissertation begins by identifying and analyzing the historical phenomenon of the death of God, especially as understood and articulated by Nietzsche and Heidegger. The discussion then turns to a consideration of the human experience of existence and the quest for meaning, being, and salvation, which is at the heart of every religious worldview. This is followed by a historically structured discussion of the experience of transcendence, especially as it has developed in the Hebrew/Jewish, Greek, and Christian traditions. The historical survey culminates in the twentieth century response to the experience of the death of God, especially in the religious, philosophical, and artistic areas.

Part 2 of this dissertation considers the outlines of an emerging new mystical poetics of God as discerned in contemporary science, deep ecology, feminist thought, religious and mystical reflection and practice, and poetry. While these fields may appear largely unrelated, they do, in fact, share profound realizations and articulations that define a new way of understanding and imaging God. In the course of investigating this phenomenon, I have identified common perspectives among these disciplines – perspectives that have not, I believe, been noted by other commentators. The central premise of this work is that the emerging story about God is mystical in its core and poetic in its expression.

I consider this a work of theology, that is, a theo-logos – a questioning, seeking, and speaking about God. This work combines many years of intensive investigations in philosophy, religion, history, and literature as they illuminate the topic at hand: our post-mortem age of the death of God and the emerging new mystical poetics of God.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Winn, Mary Beth
Commitee: Garvin, Robert, Webb, Eugene, Winn, Mary Beth
School: State University of New York at Albany
Department: Humanistic Studies
School Location: United States -- New York
Source: DAI-A 70/12, Dissertation Abstracts International
Source Type: DISSERTATION
Subjects: Religion, Philosophy
Keywords: Deep ecology, God, Mysticism, Religion, Science, Spirituality, Supreme Being
Publication Number: 3379871
ISBN: 978-1-109-49571-3
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