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Old 08-19-2002, 09:02 PM   #37
Stormdancer of Doom
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Maril, about Catharsis.

First, my primary association with the word is with the sense of release of tension involved. But I'd like to work with your definition for a bit.

(I hope this doesn't get "too religious", but I don't know quite what your threshhold is... here we go.)

Your dictionary definition:
Cartharsis: b) a purification or purgation that brings about spiritual renewal or release from tension.

I would argue both from my reading and my experience that this is a common mystical and disciplinary outlook, found for instance in many highly respected catholic mystics (Teresa of Avila, John of the Cross.)

However, I would argue that there is also another (and for certain schools, more common, and for certain schools, more highly valued) order, and that is, revelation produces spiritual renewal which produces purification which produces release from tension.

And I also argue that this order is also found in many highly respected mystics-- including St. Teresa, and John of the Cross! They embrace both. And in fact, they say that although one usually starts with the purgations first, that later, the experience that begins with revelation is the more pure work of God. (If so inclined, feel free to refer to Inner Mansions by Teresa, or Dark Night of the Soul by JOTC.)

In my opinion, the purification and spiritual renewal which begins with revelation is (a) at least equally valid and (b) often produces more lasting results. Of course it depends on the reaction of the disciple.

I would also argue that Tolkien would also embrace the second definition, without ruling out the first. I would refer to his letter to Michael (regarding women & friendships) at the end of which he discusses communion. He clearly intends to show Michael that the revelatory experience of taking communion in a community you do not enjoy, will produce a purification in him. The mystical experience of partaking in communion produces the purifying effect of mystic fellowship in the community that one would not otherwise enjoy on a societal level.

Of course, a good catholic would have gone to confession first... purgation. Round and round we go. I do agree that they are intertwined. Point being, I do not agree with the dictionary that the purification always preceeds the spiritual renewal. I think often the revelation, and the renewal, comes first, causing purgation and thence producing the emotional sense of relief.

In the charismatic, pentecostal, and "third wave" movements of the late twentieth century, the experience which begins with revelation and proceeds to purification is valued far more highly than the experience which begins with the purification. The simple reason is that experiences which are held to have originated by God's initiative (revelation) are trusted more, because God's motivations aren't in question, whreas the human's motivations might be.

Why all this isn't off-topic, is because if one believes that a eucatastrophe is a vision of the truth, a glimpse of the truth, then there's the revelation (revealed truth.) So, in the usual order of things, I would expect truth to be revealed (revelation); to be received in the inner being of the perciever (spiritual renewal);
as a result of perceiving and recieving, then follows purification (forsaking doubt and sin) and then follows emotional release.

Quick example of the progression we're all familiar with (whether this qualifies as a eucatastrophe or not, I won't go into here, lets focus on the progression): Sam sees the star above the Ephel Duath. The revelation is that its purity is untouched by the shadow (the beauty of it smote his heart; the thought pierced him that in the end the Shadow was only a small and passing thing: there was light and high beauty forever beyond its reach). Following that revelation was the spiritual renewal (his own fate and even his master's ceased to trouble him (because he sees the bigger picture.)). The purgation is his choice to no longer despair or be discouraged (putting away all fear). And the release is the emotional peace and freedom he feels afterwards (cast himself into a deep untroubled sleep).

Well, Maril, I hope I didn't overdo it. Grace and peace. --Helen

[ August 19, 2002: Message edited by: mark12_30 ]
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