I’m not a mystic, but I’m pretty convinced there’s a world behind/within/beneath the material world we live in, a world we can recruit and make use of as we stumble through mundanity.  I describe in brief the story of how I came to this conviction here. My experiences with Lansing, my forthcoming novel, my study of Barfield are all parts of that continuing saga. (There are some sessions at the upcoming 2016 sunstone Symposium on Mormons and mysticism I can’t wait to attend--see Friday and Saturday mornings.) 

As you know if you’ve read Pigs and my brief outline of the novel under construction, I like to write stories where very earthly people grapple with evidence of a beyond-earthly realm. I repeat: I’m not a mystic—I’m way too impatient and irritable to ever claim that moniker—but I acknowledge and embrace whatever elements of mysticism might come my way. So when Martin Ovens wrote me this email, I jumped on board right away:    

May 2, 2016
Dear Julie,

Not to overburden you with work commitments, but I was wondering if you have any unpublished papers relating to Christian mysticism, given your interest in Mormon theology etc.?

I'm doing a project on Christian mysticism, collecting papers to be published in the theology journal Perichoresis.

If interested please let me know.

Best,
Martin Ovens


Hi, Martin--

I don't have any such papers written, but I'm very interested, especially as "mysticism" relates to literary art and artists. Barfield approaches such a connection in "Poetic Diction." Right now I'm reading the American poet Li-Young Lee, whose take on the relationship between art and God (or godliness or "the first body" or "universal law") actually uses the very Barfieldian term "participation" (though I doubt he knows anything of Barfield). I've also done a certain amount of research on both William Blake and W.B. Yeats, two poets who have been called "mystical" (though Northrop Frye argues that Blake is a prophetic poet rather than a mystic), their respective brands of Christianity far more otherworldly than grounded in daily practice.

What's your time frame with this project for Perichoresis?  If there's time, would you like me to draw up a paper along these lines? (I would probably need at least a couple of months.)

Thanks for all you're doing! I'm delighted to have been invited to participate.

Julie