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Switch to Forum Live View Theology Of Sensory Experience
7 years ago  ::  Feb 27, 2008 - 5:29PM #1
Spirit-Wind
Posts: 308
I'm looking for help.  I've been thinking alot about sensory experience as a spiritual, or meditative, experience.  I find, however, that often mysticism tries to liberate the travelor from desire.  I have come to believe that to truly appreciate God, and God's creation and grace, one should drink deeply and passionately from sensory experience.  For instance, instead of fasting, really appreciate that piece of cake.  Really appreciate the sound of a rainstorm.  Really appreciate the feel of sex.  etc etc etc......

Basically, live like you were given one week to live. 

I am asking you for help in that I'm not finding any material to read about the theology of sensory experience.  (Maybe I'll be the one to write it!)  :-)     
 
I hope that this makes sense.  Feel free to ask for clarification.  Thanks and peace be with you.
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7 years ago  ::  Feb 28, 2008 - 10:01AM #2
mattchapter25
Posts: 124
Chocolate is only ever chocolate. If you live more fully a sensory experience you become more fully sensual. A gourmet of physical sensations in the mundane world. If you only had one week to live would a frantic round of physical experiences and excitements really leave you able to face that last hour in peace of soul or tranquillity? The beauty of Creation and all that is perceptible points to a reality beyond itself, a transcendent and eternal reality. All sensations begin and then end. The Transcendent Beautiful One is forever.

Writing to artists Pope John Paul II said
[COLOR="Indigo"]
Every genuine artistic intuition goes beyond what the senses perceive and, reaching beneath reality's surface, strives to interpret its hidden mystery. The intuition itself springs from the depths of the human soul, where the desire to give meaning to one's own life is joined by the fleeting vision of beauty and of the mysterious unity of things. All artists experience the unbridgeable gap which lies between the work of their hands, however successful it may be, and the dazzling perfection of the beauty glimpsed in the ardour of the creative moment: what they manage to express in their painting, their sculpting, their creating is no more than a glimmer of the splendour which flared for a moment before the eyes of their spirit.

Believers find nothing strange in this: they know that they have had a momentary glimpse of the abyss of light which has its original wellspring in God. Is it in any way surprising that this leaves the spirit overwhelmed as it were, so that it can only stammer in reply? True artists above all are ready to acknowledge their limits and to make their own the words of the Apostle Paul, according to whom “God does not dwell in shrines made by human hands” so that “we ought not to think that the Deity is like gold or silver or stone, a representation by human art and imagination” (Acts 17:24, 29). If the intimate reality of things is always “beyond” the powers of human perception, how much more so is God in the depths of his unfathomable mystery!

...Beauty is a key to the mystery and a call to transcendence. It is an invitation to savour life and to dream of the future. That is why the beauty of created things can never fully satisfy. It stirs that hidden nostalgia for God which a lover of beauty like Saint Augustine could express in incomparable terms: “Late have I loved you, beauty so old and so new: late have I loved you!”[/COLOR]


http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/john_ … ts_en.html

And Hans ur von Balthazar reflecting on St John of the Cross noted
[COLOR="Green"]
The fragrance of God is lost in a soul not wholly concentrated on him, just as the fragrance of a salve is lost when it is exposed to the open air. 'Creature' here always has the meaning of that which is radically other than God, which for that very reason must transcend itself, if it is to attain that participation in the Godhead that God bestows upon it. From its tasting of the finite it must draw no 'conclusions' about how the Absolute may taste; what it must do is taste it at first hand. It must, by whatever means possible by its own utmost exertions, though knowing all the time that ultimately what it seeks must be experienced passively -- give God noetically and existentially the predominance in its own self that he always has ontically.

This can be only a work of love, for in terms of being, the creature remains eternally the 'other than God'. But in transfiguring, nuptial love, the mutual otherness of God and man makes possible exchange and reciprocal indwelling. Thus the idea of flight, of rapture, plays a decisive role, although ecstasy must be thoroughly purified and transformed from its present imperfection as a bodily or physiological state of rapture into a substantial, habitual state of being borne off.[/COLOR]


http://www.carmelite.com/saints/john/b4.shtml
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7 years ago  ::  Feb 29, 2008 - 4:39PM #3
Spirit-Wind
Posts: 308
I appreciate your thoughts Matt25.  Here's where I'm coming from:
     God has given us this amazing world and five (if we're healthy) senses.  The world offers a dazzling array of sensual experiences.  It seems reasonable (IMO) that God desires for us to take advantage of this brief existence by fully enjoying sensory experience.  I'm not talking about gluttony or any other extreme.  That is a risk.  There is also the risk of idolatry.  BUT...God has blessed us with this one chance to live in the world of sensory experience that is made by God's own hand.  Is not embracing these experiences, indeed seeking them out, an act of worship? 

I'm open for more ideas.
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7 years ago  ::  Mar 01, 2008 - 2:55PM #4
mattchapter25
Posts: 124
Christianity is an incarnated religion since Jesus was an incarnated person. We cannot therefore in any sense despise the material world and what flows as of necessity from it. Some of the early Gnostic heresies and other non-Orthodox trends did just that. The denounced all material and fleshy things as inherently evil and corrupt suggesting that spirit is all that is real and good and true. Since, however, God Himself took flesh for our sakes and for our salvation, as the ancient creeds put it, then it cannot be the case that all flesh and its experiences are necessarily wicked in and off themselves.

The essence of the mainstream position of historical Christianity though is not a one sided emphasis on flesh alone or spirit alone but a balanced system of living, moving and having our being as fully human creatures, mind, body and soul. The saying that man does not live by bread alone implies that the material needs, desires and pleasures of persons are not alone sufficient to meet the fundamental hunger of our whole being our whole personhood. We have a God sized hunger and thirst that only a God sized experience can assuage.

Incidentally you enjoy a slice of cake more if you have been fasting. In fact you enjoy a slice of buttered toast more if you have been fasting. You appreciate the great pleasure of little things after you have deprived yourself of them for a while. I call it Lent.
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7 years ago  ::  Mar 04, 2008 - 11:47AM #5
Spirit-Wind
Posts: 308
Your points are good.  I want to make sure it is understood that I'm not debating anything you say.  I'm not for going only with sensory experience.  I'm just thinking that it is an approach that is not dealt with very well in Christian writing...IMO.  If we focus on "living in the now", we will notice the so-called little things.  We will notice the feel of breath as it enters our nostrils.  We will notice the smells of winter becoming spring.  We will  really notice, and appreciate, God's gifts in the here and now. 

You are right, Matt, that fasting enhances sensory experience.  Basically, fasting is a form of sensory depravation, which makes our sensory experiences that much richer.  Lent is a time when, liturgically, the music is slow and meditative, the colors are muted, and fasting is common.  This makes Easter morning all the more glorious when the pipe organ cranks out bold and joyful (sometimes experimental) music, the ladies where colorful outfits, and we pig out on ham and deviled eggs. 

Anyway, thanks for joining me in this thought experiment.  Your views are appreciated.
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7 years ago  ::  Mar 05, 2008 - 1:56PM #6
seekerdrd
Posts: 98
The church I attend (when I can) believes in fully worshipping God with all the senses. Every service has candles, artwork etc. for the eyes; they incorporate touch through handshakes and hugs; smell is evoked through incense, candles, coffee etc.; music, drama, readings/sharing covers hearing; but most interesting have been the times when they've incorporated taste. One of the ways they did this was by baking fresh bread while we studied the concept of Scripture being our spiritual bread, and Christ being the Bread of Life. Then towards the end, they passed out pieces of the fresh, warm bread for everyone to eat while we meditated on the service. It was awesome. Another time the topic was the ascension. At this service, we looked at and meditated on the ascension from all points of view (i.e. what was God's view, Jesus's, the disciples, Satan, etc.), then we broke into small groups. Each group had a plate with a variety of food (dark chocolate, lemons, honey, popcorn, horseradish, etc.) and as we tasted the foods, we shared which point of view each one might represent. It was powerful.

David
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7 years ago  ::  Mar 06, 2008 - 9:02AM #7
Spirit-Wind
Posts: 308
David - That sounds like a great church.  It sounds "emergent".  I love how the emergent movement is intentional about being multisensory.  It is recognizing the beauty of the ancient churches....like the Orthodox.  They are multisensory.  I think Protestantism became so literary and word oriented that we lost that interest in spreading the gospel through the senses. 

I once attended a worship in which we planned alternative worship services throughout Holy Week.  This was done in January so that it could be done between the madness of Christmas and Holy Week planning in our congregations.  For the Good Friday service we each sipped vinegar from a sponge.  It tasted aweful!  Yet, it occured to me in that service that this aweful taste was the most comforting thing that our Lord experienced on that terrible cross.  It was a powerful experience.
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7 years ago  ::  Mar 06, 2008 - 10:32AM #8
Spirit-Wind
Posts: 308
[QUOTE=Spirit-Wind;336262]
I once attended a worship in which we planned alternative worship services throughout Holy Week.  QUOTE]


Error:  I meant to write that I once attended a WORK SHOP....not worship.....
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7 years ago  ::  Mar 16, 2008 - 10:35AM #9
Threein1
Posts: 278
[QUOTE=Spirit-Wind;318147]I'm looking for help.  I've been thinking alot about sensory experience as a spiritual, or meditative, experience.  I find, however, that often mysticism tries to liberate the travelor from desire.  I have come to believe that to truly appreciate God, and God's creation and grace, one should drink deeply and passionately from sensory experience.  For instance, instead of fasting, really appreciate that piece of cake.  Really appreciate the sound of a rainstorm.  Really appreciate the feel of sex.  etc etc etc......

Basically, live like you were given one week to live. 

I am asking you for help in that I'm not finding any material to read about the theology of sensory experience.  (Maybe I'll be the one to write it!)  :-)     
 
I hope that this makes sense.  Feel free to ask for clarification.  Thanks and peace be with you.[/QUOTE]

Basically your thread heading is, so far as Christianity is concerned, contradictory. You are wanting to permission to sin which is outside of God’s remit to us.

‘Theology’ is normally about Jesus  Christ who confirmed that the Ten Commandments have to be obeyed.  ‘Sensual’ is mostly to do with lusting after the physical, mainly  sex.

By thinking that “one should drink deeply and passionately from sensory experience” you are falling for the temptation of Satan to Eve. She accepted and we still suffer because she persuaded Adam to take evil unto himself.

God did not make us to enjoy sensory experience because the physical only came into existence after The Fall.  Since then the only sensory experience that God has sanctioned is Holy Matrimony for the pro-creation of children for Him.

Christians are advised to live as if today is their last on earth so they are always right with God. Sadly you advise the reverse.

Keith
My videos are now uploaded onto my Beliefnet profile and are accessed on the left hand side under 'videos'/ view Gallery/ Alternatively my testimony detailing my experiences of both God and the Devil can read at:
http://sites.google.com/site/phantomsofreality/Home
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7 years ago  ::  Mar 16, 2008 - 10:35AM #10
Threein1
Posts: 278
[QUOTE=Spirit-Wind;318147]I'm looking for help.  I've been thinking alot about sensory experience as a spiritual, or meditative, experience.  I find, however, that often mysticism tries to liberate the travelor from desire.  I have come to believe that to truly appreciate God, and God's creation and grace, one should drink deeply and passionately from sensory experience.  For instance, instead of fasting, really appreciate that piece of cake.  Really appreciate the sound of a rainstorm.  Really appreciate the feel of sex.  etc etc etc......

Basically, live like you were given one week to live. 

I am asking you for help in that I'm not finding any material to read about the theology of sensory experience.  (Maybe I'll be the one to write it!)  :-)     
 
I hope that this makes sense.  Feel free to ask for clarification.  Thanks and peace be with you.[/QUOTE]

Basically your thread heading is, so far as Christianity is concerned, contradictory. You are wanting to permission to sin which is outside of God’s remit to us.

‘Theology’ is normally about Jesus  Christ who confirmed that the Ten Commandments have to be obeyed.  ‘Sensual’ is mostly to do with lusting after the physical, mainly  sex.

By thinking that “one should drink deeply and passionately from sensory experience” you are falling for the temptation of Satan to Eve. She accepted and we still suffer because she persuaded Adam to take evil unto himself.

God did not make us to enjoy sensory experience because the physical only came into existence after The Fall.  Since then the only sensory experience that God has sanctioned is Holy Matrimony for the pro-creation of children for Him.

Christians are advised to live as if today is their last on earth so they are always right with God. Sadly you advise the reverse.

Keith
My videos are now uploaded onto my Beliefnet profile and are accessed on the left hand side under 'videos'/ view Gallery/ Alternatively my testimony detailing my experiences of both God and the Devil can read at:
http://sites.google.com/site/phantomsofreality/Home
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