by Fr Von Hugel, 1923
Book Condition : Very Good
New York : EP Dutton and Co. Cloth, 2 Volume set. Sturdy and bright, ex-lib with minimal markings. Minor shelf wear to extremities, binding firm, no major blemishes.
Hügel’s The Mystical Element of Religion is a critical but largely appreciative philosophy of mysticism. Yet, in many ways throughout this work Hügel counsels the reader of mysticism’s potential dangers. The mystical impulse is but one of the three elements that together with the other two constitutes the rich complexity of existence.
Hügel cautions: “…mysticism would never be the whole of religion; it would become a dangerous error the very moment it claimed to be this whole; but, at the same time, it would be an element essential to religion in the long run and upon the whole, although it would… possess its own dangers, its own besetting sins, as indeed also the primitive, naïve type of religion possesses its own different dangers and different besetting sins.”
Hügel’s most enduring contribution to theological thinking is his “three elements”. The human soul, the movements of western civilization, and the phenomena of religion itself he characterized by these three elements: the historical/institutional element, the scientific/intellectual element, and the mystical/experiential element. This typology provided for him an understanding of the balance, tension, and ‘friction’ that exists in religious thinking and in the complexity of reality and existence. While this typology occasionally digressed into a forced Trinitarianism, it is an organizing paradigm that remained central to his project. The effort to hold these sometimes disparate dimensions together is structurally and theologically dominant throughout his writing. His friend George Tyrrell observed, “All life, according to [von Hügel] consists in a patient struggle with irreconcilables—a progressive unifying of parts that will never fit perfectly.”