Thursday, March 30, 2006

Varieties of Religious Experince

I have just finished reading the classic by William James and it was, indeed, a spiritual experience (the reading of it,that is). His writing style was (or is) inspiring, his human decency shows through in his writing, and his empirical approach to evaluation of religious experiences is interesting to say the least. I appreciated his closing statement of personal faith. It is obvious to me that he definitely took no back seat to tha great European Philosophers of the 19th century. If anyone else who contributes to this blog has read James, I would appreciate your assessment of his Theology/Philosophy. You certainly don't have to agree with me.



Blogger Andrew Harnack said...

Harry, I'm going to the EKU library today to see if I can get a copy of James' Varieties. I may have read it, but I don't remember. If I have, I'll have to confess with Flannery O'Connor that "I'm blessed with Total Non-Retention, which means I have not been harmed with a sorry education." After I read James, however, it'll be quite another matter if I can assess it. But I'll give it a try. And--o yes!--thanks for making your first post! I hope you post and comment often; and encourage others to do the same. See you at the Soup Bowl (or whatever it's called) in a few minutes.

Friday, 31 March, 2006  
Blogger Mason Smith said...

I have a copy of James on my bookshelf, but I've been intimidated by it. I know it's what my teachers used to call a "big book" (in more ways than one), and I thought I'd read it "someday."
Since I've read your review, perhaps I should take James down and give him a chance to speak to me.
Best wishes,
Mason Smith

Friday, 31 March, 2006  
Blogger Andrew Harnack said...

Harry, I've gotten myself a copy of Varieties via eBay for $.01 + postage ($3.95). Once I get it, I'll start on it with pencil in hand. What convinced me to buy it (rather than check it out of the library) is this comment by Jaroslav Pelikan, one of (if not THE best living church historian):

The old cliche that Henry James wrote novels as though they were philosophical treatises whereas William James wrote philosophical treatises as though they were novels, while unfair to Henry, describes William, including the William James of 'Varieties of Religious Experience', very well. Believers and unbelievers (and semibelievers) will continue to find in it both a resource and a challenge. Quaint though some of it may seem at first in language and approach, 'The Varieties of Religious Experience' can itself become for the contemporary reader not only an intellectual exercise and an aesthetic treat but a religious experience."

Inasmuch as you've "seconded" that observation, I will give it a try, along with Mason who already has it!

Friday, 31 March, 2006  

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