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Christian Mysticism and Australian Poetry By Toby Davidson

Chapter :  Introduction
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Christian Mysticism and Australian Poetry

Introduction

Traditions and Definitions

This volume explores the Western Christian mystical tradition in Australian poetry, following shifts and convergences through the works of Ada Cambridge, John Shaw Neilson, Francis Webb, Judith Wright, and Kevin Hart, beginning with an overview of parallel voices to these five mystical poets and concluding with new indigenous approaches. It is the first book-length study of Australian Christian mystical poetry.

Mysticism of any tradition can prove a precarious topic, subject to distortion and contradiction. Western Christian mysticism scholars of the early twentieth century, such as William Ralph Inge and Evelyn Underhill, strove to wrest mysticism and mystical from their appropriations by theosophy, esoterism, exoticism, and spiritism. Twenty-first-century scholars, including Bernard McGinn and Kevin Hart, prefer multilateral engagements of such terms in order to embrace Western Christian mysticism’s own histories of pluralism well apart from the populist versions of mystical found in television shows such as Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Mighty Morphin Power Rangers Mystic Force. There seems no end to obtuseness in using the “m” words to signify the unknown or otherworldly. The reigning champion in my experience is a