Our Love is God: CW’s “Romantic Theology” theme

Charles Williams’ imaginative theology and creative writings revolve around
eight interrelated themes or topics:

1. Co-Inherence
2. Romantic theology
3. The Two Ways
4. Ritual Objects
5. The Crisis of Schism
6. Mystical Tranquility
7. The City
8. Arthuriana and the Holy Grail
Last week, I wrote about Co-Inherence. Today’s post is about Romantic Theology, next week’s will about The Two Ways, and so on through the list. Please drop me a comment if you think I am leaving out any essential themes.
__________________________________________

Throughout his life, Williams worked on developing a Theology of Romantic Love. This is most clearly expressed in a posthumously published work, Outlines of Romantic Theology, and in his final work of synthesized theology/literary criticism, The Figure of Beatrice.

St. Silas the Martyr

St. Silas the Martyr

Williams was an extreme sacramentalist who took the Church’s teachings about “an outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace” quite literally. He believed that if the Church said something was a sign of grace, it was, exactly and precisely, grace manifested in some human activity or object. The Roman Catholic Church has seven sacraments: baptism, confirmation, eucharist, penance, anointing of the sick, holy orders, and matrimony. The Church of England, of which Williams was a member, recognizes either just baptism and the Lord’s Supper as sacraments, while granting to the other five (confirmation, penance, anointing of the sick, holy orders, and matrimony) the status of “sacramental rites,” or recognizes all seven as sacraments. Charles Williams attended St. Silas, a high Anglo-Catholic church. All this is to say: Williams would hold a high sacramental view of marriage.

As a side note, in my American reformed/evangelical tradition and in most “mainstream” Protestant churches in the U.S.A., we either don’t have any sacraments (we have “ordinances,” “memorials,” and “symbols”) or we have just two: baptism and the Lord’s Supper. We tend not to take them very literally: they are often said to be either mere metaphors, or at most the focus of a spiritual operation without any physical effects. I realized recently that this is part of what makes CW seem so strange to readers like myself: not having been brought up in an atmosphere of sacramentalism, mysticism, or contemplation, and removed by distance and history from the great monastic and contemplative traditions of the European church, we find his embodiments of doctrine too real for comfort.

Procession from St. Silas

Procession from St. Silas

I say all this not to alienate any particular class of readers, but to offer perhaps another way in for readers who find his works frightening at first. This may be one reason, but stick with him: if Christianity is anything at all, then it is real. If it is operative anywhere, it is operative here, in our times, places, rituals, and bodies. So give him a chance.

Now, on to this “Romantic Theology,” then.

Romantic Theology is the idea that lovers can get to know God by means of loving each other. To put it more technically, sexual love between a man and a woman is a form of “General Revelation.”

Williams believed that falling in love is a kind of Incarnation and that the lifelong interactions of a couple correspond to the events of Christ’s earthly life. Each individual romance tends to follow more or less the same pattern: ecstasy, rejection, agony, despair, a kind of death, and a kind of resurrection. To him, romance was more than an analogy for Christ’s Passion; it was an embodiment of that Passion. The events of Christ’s life are lived over in the lives of human beings.

On the one hand, part of the divine beauty of falling in love is that it makes the beloved appear as she really is (as God sees her). Falling in love with someone means that the lovers sees her as if she is perfect—unfallen, sanctified, or glorified—or as she was meant to be, or as she IS in God’s eyes through Christ. When a lover is in that first madness of obsession, thinking about the beloved’s perfections every minute of every day, Williams believes, that is not blindness or self-deception: it is seeing with God’s eyes. The lover has a vision of the “real” woman (ideal, essential—in a Platonic sense) and grows to love her nature more as that vision is clarified.

On the other hand, falling in love should not mean that the lovers stands gazing fixedly at the beloved: instead, he must use the beloved as a rung on a ladder to climb up to God. Since there is someone so beautiful and perfect in the world as my beloved, the reasoning goes, there must be Someone so much more beautiful and perfect who created and sustains her. The kinds of self-sacrifice and selflessness that love inspires can also be service to God. The lovers dedicate themselves to Love, which is actually another name for God, and follow it as their vocation and as their salvation. This leads to a glorious, sacrificial, heavenly renunciation of self. Love is the cause of all action, the union with all life in earth and in heaven.

Marital sex, Williams believed, re-creates a sense of order and meaning. Two separate individuals come together and unite their potentialities, restoring the single image of God that was divided by their separation. Sex is an act of co-inherence in which the lovers renew their mutual vigor through the most extreme intimacy of physical relationships. Even more than that: sexual union restores the single image of God and is itself an image of the mystical body of Christ.

Outlines of Romantic Theology

Outlines of Romantic Theology

I will be blogging more about Romantic Theology as it comes up in CW’s books: I’ll be posting a summary of Outlines of Romantic Theology in its proper chronological place, and then I’ll follow that with a post on the potential problems with this theory, and another on its positive aspects. In the meanwhile, feel free to start a discussion or to leave questions in the comments, and I’ll be happy to engage with you on this beautiful, peculiar topic (but not get engaged to you—sorry, I’m already married).

 

 

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About Sørina Higgins

Sørina Higgins is a writer, English teacher, and Inklings scholar. Sørina serves as Chair of the Department of Language and Literature at Signum University and teaches English at King's College and Lehigh Carbon Community College. She has published two books of poetry, "The Significance of Swans" and "Caduceus."
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43 Responses to Our Love is God: CW’s “Romantic Theology” theme

  1. Ann Ahnemann says:

    Thank you for this. I never really understood the concept. This distillation is so very helpful! I will read CW’s treatise with clearer eyes!

    Like

    • Istina Philse says:

      Amazing! I’ve often wondered if and why romantic love is what all the novels make it out to be. Now, you’ve proven and explained it! (if that is not too crude; ‘explained love’) but, thank you!
      Excellently quotable lines: “if Christianity is anything at all, then it is real. If it is operative anywhere, it is operative here, in our times, places, rituals, and bodies.”

      Like

      • Sørina Higgins says:

        Well, thank you, but all I’ve done is explain CW’s view! As you will see as I proceed, I am quite skeptical of his literal identification of stages of love with Christ’s life, of the sexism inherent in his male-centered view, and of the objectification necessary in using the Beloved as a rung on the ladder to God. So I will post about all those concerns in due course — but I will also write about the beauties in his theory, and all the aspects of this Romantic Theology that I think we can learn from now-a-days. Thank you for the comment!

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        • Andrew Stout says:

          Concerning “the objectification necessary in using the Beloved as a rung on the ladder to God” – I again think of the influence of CW on Lewis. In “The Four Loves,” Lewis uses the phrase “the higher cannot stand without the lower,” in order to distinguish his notion of the ascent of love from that of the view articulated in Plato’s Symposium. That is, the “images” cannot be discarded once the “form” is achieved. Instead, each stage carries the lower loves with it into the higher loves. I think this is a very defensible version of the ascent of love in that it combines a Platonic ascent with the Christian doctrine of creation. So Lewis recognizes the danger of objectification (whether or not he truly avoids it is another matter I suppose) and I’ve always thought of his statement when thinking about CW’s “romantic theology.” Clearly Lewis was working with concepts influenced by CW.

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          • Sørina Higgins says:

            That is well said. It is important to remember that the Beloved does not get left behind, as you correctly point out. But the Lover could still be using the Beloved as Thing, even if that Thing is utilized to get to know God better. I think there must be a way to have a profound HUMAN relationship between lovers that leads both of them to know God better, without either using the other like a mere stepping-stone. Lois Lang-Sims accused CW of not having normal human relationships, and apparently he was astonished by her charge, but had nothing to say to defend himself. Interesting.

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  2. Sørina Higgins says:

    Thanks, Ann! If you see things I missed, or points to nuance, as you reread, please let me know.

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  3. Jonathan Himes says:

    Great and helpful stuff! Your explanation of why CW’s ideas seem so alien to American evangelicals is a good one. I forget: did CW work on his ideas of romantic theology before he had the emotional affair at work, or during it, or both? Does his theory/theology have room for extra-marital unconsummated passions, or was that just something he slipped into? Even if he didn’t give it official Xian slant, I guess he believed it could be redirected and channeled for power to accomplish other things–writing, for example, which worked for CW at least to the degree that he felt “inspired” and driven creatively by his extramarital passion. But am I talking about 2 different things — an ideal and what he actually experienced? It seems that redirecting is different from pursuing and courting someone in the office with love letters, poems, etc. Sorry if I’m getting ahead of your very excellent sequence here with my rambling. I definitely see some beautiful ideas in Romantic Theology, but within the confines of marriage. One more question: Did CW see the aspects or stages as happening in a strict chronology (even if repeated)? I.e., does “falling in love” always come first? I am thinking of CS Lewis’s stages of romance with Joy.

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    • Joe R. Christopher says:

      Jonathan, If I remember correctly, Williams wrote his _Outline of Romantic Theology_ before he fell in love with Phyllis Jones. It was based on his reading of his marital love of Florence Conway. I have read that several publishers turned it down. But the love of Phyllis Jones was an “impossibility” (among other comments); if I read things correctly, the _Outline of Romantic Love_ does not allow for a second image. But no doubt Sorina will clarify these things. (I wish a full edition of Williams’ poems to Jones would be published; as it is, we have only ten of “A Century of Poems for Celia” [in the back of _The Masques of Amen House_], for example.)

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    • Sørina Higgins says:

      Thanks very much, Jonathan. As the comments below pointed out, CW wrote “Outlines of Romantic Theology” before he fell in love with Phyllis, but right before. His meeting her may have had something to do with his dropping the book and not pursuing a publisher after the first few rejections. But then, yes, he worked the “Second Image” into his later revision of Romantic Theology. Joe and Stephen are quite correct in their comments below.
      I’ll be posting on “the crisis of schism” (which is the “Impossibility” Joe mentioned), then later on each of the relevant books in turn: “Outlines of Romantic Theology,” “Religion and Love in Dante,” and “The Figure of Beatrice.” I’ll also post specifically about Phyllis in the right place (d.v.). Thanks!

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  4. Stephen Barber says:

    Williams deals with the issue of the ‘second image’ in The Figure of Beatrice, written towards the end of his life. What the ‘lady at the window’ was to Dante, Phyllis Jones was to him. He did not have a sexual relationship with her. But I think any reasonable person would say that he did have an affair, although unconsummated. Of course Florence found out and of course she was bitter, as she had every right to be. But Williams does deny facts: he did fall in love with Phyllis, as he had fallen in love with Florence, and he needed to try to work out what the meaning and value of such love was.

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  5. Sørina Higgins says:

    Thank you both, Joe and Stephen, for answering when I couldn’t get to a computer for a couple of days. Your comments are accurate and helpful. I am much obliged. Please point out to me any errors I make in these posts going forward; I need your able assistance. Cheers.

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  6. Andrew Stout says:

    I gave the best man speech a couple of weeks ago at my brother’s wedding, and I included this quote from in of CW’s letters to Michal: “It is perhaps the only certainly wise thing I have ever done, marrying you. The whole effect of You on me will only be known on the Day of Judgement.” CW certainly gives a wonderful sense of the sanctifying, and indeed sacramental, effect of marriage.

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  7. Andrew Stout says:

    Sorina,
    I definitely take your point about the risk of objectification, especially when it comes to Lang-Sims. My concern is simply that the failures (and it sounds like abuse in some cases) of CW’s relationships with women are not allowed to discredit the notion of love as an ascent from the lover to God. That is to say, objectification of the beloved is an abuse of the type of ascent that CW and Lewis articulate, not its natural consequence. I was looking through some notes I took recently, and I found this passage from John Heath-Stubbs on CW’s romantic theology which I think is interesting and relevant:

    “There is, of course, much in common between this view of love, and that set forth by Plato in the Symposium. But the aim of the Platonic lover is to pass from the contemplation of phenomenal beauty in the person of the beloved to a purely intellectual and abstract ideal. Charles Williams’s thought, however, is Christian, and not Platoninst. The aim of the Way is not the exaltation of eros to a transcendent plane, but its transfiguration into Agape – Christian love within the framework of Christian marriage. Williams is bound by his belief in the Incarnation, which implies an affirmation of the importance of particular, and of material experience.”

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    • Sørina Higgins says:

      Right. Excellent point. Abuse of a doctrine is not disproof of the validity of the doctrine. Perhaps my problem is more person: I don’t actually know what it means to use the beloved as a ladder to God. I know that God does, frequently, reveals aspects of His personality through the ways my husband acts, and through our relationship, but is that the same thing? I don’t really know.

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  8. Valerie Wilkinson says:

    Hello! Maybe it’s not so strange to say that I suffered an hiatus due to physical/mental collapse. Years of rehabilitation. I haven’t had time to get back up to speed, though I’ve long been a member of the Williams Group, maybe since 2004. So this is a first cut. Reading here about the sacramental approach is a “wake up call” and also makes precisely clear to me what divides me and my dear friend about “being fed” at church. Singing the hymns in corporate worship, sharing the liturgy, meeting at the table of the Lord for the divine feast — is meat and drink and substantial. Her kind of places have song and word and fellowship – lively worship. That doesn’t “do it” for me and where I go doesn’t “do it” for her. Then one day I said something about “being in love” with students, and it is not in any way that I should apologize to angels or God or my family, even though I am married, it has nothing to do with secular affiliations or earthly relations, it is altogether something else. It is “having a glimpse” of celestial grace, truth and beauty in a mortal being, breathtaking, solid, I see but did not make or invent, neither can I dictate how this child shall grow. Maybe, “as he or she really is” or “as he or she can become” but either or both, it is holy and true. But I guess I used the wrong words and should find other words because the glimpse and vision of reality breaking through into the mundane world as a guide and confirmation — well, the conversation ended then. It wasn’t going anywhere because for her it was about falling in love and getting married once, not as a path in the present tense of meeting souls in this sublunary realm and a practice. Long, and possibly garbled, but thank you and thank you and thank you. I have been too long away from Williams and everything is in Taliessin and Region of the Summer Stars, too. Thank you. I came here by chance after a long, long absence. VAW

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    • Sørina Higgins says:

      I am glad you stumbled upon this site and that the material is helpful to you. Please do keep reading!

      Like

  9. Giacomo Berchi says:

    I think CW’s Romantic Theology deserves a profound study, in order to find its lacks and its real and great blessings. So thanks Sorina to have started this possibility in the way you can.
    I think that The Figure of Beatrice represents the final and most complete form of Romantic Theology at all: although I am a Catholic (and thus I completely adhere at the sacramental and incarnational way of seeing at God’s actions towards us) I find hard to agree with some passages of Outlines. Or well, maybe I’m just too young. But I truly think that the best achievements of CW are to be found in his work on Dante: in fact, the main course there is the way represented by the vision of the glory through the beloved (if someone is complaining about being considered a mere ‘object’, have a look at the dialogue between the husband and the wife at the end of Lewis’ The Great Divorce: I do not need you anymore, thus now I can truly love you), either the Way to which one is called is to ‘affirm’ the beloved or the ‘reject’ her (not forgetting that the final goal is the fruition and affirmation of every images in God). What matters is that the Glory reveals herself, that Christ shines through men and women. That’s the Incarnation.
    That statement (the vision), already present in Outlines but as marginal, is central in The Figure of Beatrice, and I think it to be a great legacy for us, simply true. To put it more plain: The Figure of Beatrice stands as a final and more accurate view of the role of falling in love in God’s call to each man and woman, having also a much stronger link with the actual experience than Outlines in my opinion.
    In the end, never forget what CW himself said: Romantic Theology is a Christology, that is to say that the real centre is the Person of Christ, the real centre of every human experience. He uses everything (I would say sacramentally) in order to affirm every man in Himself.

    Good job Sorina, and thanks for having star up such a conversation. Looking forward for more

    PS one more think: I find Lewis’ summary of CW’s view of love in Arturian Torso very very useful and clear.
    Cheers.

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    • Sørina Higgins says:

      Thank you for these thoughts! I feel as if many of my readers sympathize with CW’s view of love far more than I do — so it is very good for me to read all your ideas. I look forward to posting the following in due course:
      1. a summary of “Outlines of Romantic Theology”
      2. a discussion of problems I see with his early formulation of Romantic Theolgy
      3. a discussion of the GOOD parts of Romantic Theology and how it is needed in our times
      4. later, a summary of “The Figure of Beatrice” and perhaps similar follow-up posts on pros and cons.

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  10. David says:

    It is worth noting that Outlines of Romantic Theology was preceded by the fruits of Williams’s thinking about ‘romantic experience’ found in his first four published books, all poetry: the sonnet-sequence, The Silver Stair, and the collections, Poems of Conformity, Divorce, and Windows of Night. Also ‘in the background’ is his thinking about this in relation to the Arthurian stories, with the Grail Quest – and Achievement – as central, in his Arthurian Commonplace Book, some of which shows in the treatment of Malory in Outlines of Romantic Theology. It is tantalizing to think how close the first drafting of the novel eventually published as Shadows of Ecstasy was to the time of writing Outlines of Romantic Theology – tantalizing because it is not yet clear (if it ever can be) how much the revised novel differs from its first version. Also worth mentioning is the little poetic sequence, “Any Amazement”, as yet unpublished, if I am not mistaken, which dates from the very earliest period of his ‘romantic vision’ of Phyllis Jones, which Williams later tells someone (I think it was Raymond Hunt) he had shown his wife at that point.

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    • Sørina Higgins says:

      Yes, right: thank you for this contextualization. (Who are you, by the way, O Learned One? Is this David Mahon, by any chance? — don’t answer if you want to remain anonymous, of course, but I do like to know a good CW scholar).
      I don’t know about “Any Amazement”! Do tell me everything you know! Where is it cited? Where is the MS?

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      • David says:

        Have a look at the Williams manuscripts as catalogued online at the Wade Center site for “Any Amazement” (I think there may even be different copies, but have not re-checked). I am not sure what references there are in print to it, either – so far, I have only quickly tried to check A.M. Hadfield’s Exploration, without finding it.

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        • Sørina Higgins says:

          Hm, I’ve just been through the Wade’s list of CW manuscripts, without finding it. I see these:
          CW / MS-167 List of poems (mostly on Celia). 8 pp.
          CW / MS-176 Misc. Poems (mostly about Celia). (7 May 1943) 23 pp.
          Then there are MSS 6, 109, 137, 139, 142, 172, 319, and 401, “Misc. Poems.”
          I don’t know my way around the Bodleian catalogs well enough to see if it’s there.
          Laura Schmidt, if you’re reading, can you help?

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          • Laura Schmidt says:

            I’ve checked our holdings as well as the Bodleian’s and can’t find anything titled “Any Amazement.” We’ve just recently gone through the Wade CW manuscripts and typed any decipherable titles into our listings, so I feel fairly confident if it were an obvious title within one of the folders you’ve listed here it would’ve popped in the search I just did. I’d be very curious to know where the reference to “Any Amazement” comes from, and if it was viewed at the Wade for sure I could dig a bit deeper. Let me know if you learn anything!

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          • Laura Schmidt says:

            Spoke too soon – a tweaked search (capitalized “Amazement” – picky PDF search box!) had the phrase “Any Amazement” turn up in manuscripts 6, 172, and 205. The first 2 instances are visible in our listing here: http://www.wheaton.edu/wadecenter/Collections-and-Services/Collection-Listings/~/media/Files/Centers-and-Institutes/Wade-Center/RR-Docs/Manuscript%20Listings/WilliamsMS.pdf

            The last one for 205 has the following note not in the online listing: “P. 12 of copy folder is Raymond Hunt note regarding No. 1 of sequence Any Amazement.”

            So next time somebody’s at the Wade they can look up these three MSS! 🙂

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  11. Well, this makes Anthony’s relationship with Damaris make a little more sense (mind you, I’m not 1/2way through).
    I don’t share Williams’ view, precisely. But I move toward sacramentalism. My church community believes that baptism and the Lord’s Supper are symbolic, metaphorical, and ordinands. But we also believe they are sacramental.
    I don’t think, though, these are the only means of grace. It has to do with my view of ritual (embodied response). I think that when we are baptized, time shifts–it fold from the horizontal to the vertical–so that we are are baptized with all who have been baptized. Worship, the Lord’s Supper, prayer works this way. So does eating together, and making love. We don’t just believe beliefs, but dance them–and we dance in the great circle of all who have danced that dance.
    I don’t think, in this sense, embodied response is ever “merely” one thing or another, but a complex, multidimensional array of experiences.
    Perhaps I’m a bit on Williams’ line in this. But not quite, I think.

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    • Sørina Higgins says:

      Oo, lovely poetic way of describing this! Right, I think you are very close to CW on this. He would certainly agree that the means of grace is never one thing, nor a short list of items/actions/rituals, but that grace can be carried in antyhing or everything. Have you come across CSL’s letter about communion yet? You must have done — it’s 1930, I think (but of course I can’t find it now). Anyway, CSL writes (and I paraphrase): I don’t have any trouble believing that the Lord’s Supper is sacramental, but that he has a hard time believing that every other meal isn’t!

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      • It has taken me a long time too to feel I can make a comment & actually don’t feel too confident about making one now. I admire CW’s attempt to make a theology of erotic & romantic love but it feels to me that the very effort is like trying to make sense of how it feels to have a wave that just crashed over your head and left you lying flat on the beach gasping for breath. The danger will be that you will always be searching after a language that will make the experience less than it really is. Maybe that is the danger with all theology. I read an interview with Stanley Hauerwas this morning where he comments that he finds learning to use the imagination as C.S Lewis did is maybe the best gift he gave. Is that true for CW as well? Perhaps all that I am saying is that I don’t think I even got close to understanding erotic/romantic love and its place in everything yet.

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        • Sørina Higgins says:

          Maybe the danger is with all LANGUAGE! The putting of things into words limits the experience by narrowing it down to those words. Then even the memory can be fooled into remembering the experience via the description, rather than via the sensory or emotional experience. I did a bit of writing on that topic in grad school and find it fascinating. The Poststructuralists have a lot to teach us Biblical Christians, methinks.
          But yes, CW (like CSL) is (in my opinion) stronger in his poetry and fiction than in his “nonfiction” prose. But that’s so much just my taste that I don’t know whether I’m making an accurate critical judgement.
          I also think that CW exaggerates the experience of Romantic Love — I certainly never felt that anyone was perfect, unfallen, sanctified, and don’t think any he felt that of me! But again, that might be my limited experience rather than any fault on his part.

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          • David says:

            I have the impression that C.W. really had this experience, and then tried to explore and understand it. (Might it be appropriate to bring St. Anselm in here, with “fides quaerens intellectum” – ‘faith seeking understanding’?)

            With respect to language and experience, Williams’s “This also is Thou, neither is this Thou” is probably relevant, as is Lewis’s attention to the making and breaking of images and God as the great iconoclast in this context.

            And Eric Voegelin has interesting things to say about the complementarity of dialectics and myth in discussing Plato.

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  12. David says:

    About another book in the background, Anne Ridler wrote, Michal Williams “compiled a book on Christian Symbolism to which Charles contributed some passages (notably a definition of the difference between emblem and symbol)”: it was published in 1920 and its style seems very like C.W.’s on the whole. It is well worth reading, but copies are unfortunately not easily accessible.

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  13. Sørina Higgins says:

    Wow, Laura, you are good! You do know your stuff. I am impressed. Yes, I’ll have to take a look at that sequence next time I’m at the Wade. Or, David, if you get there first, let us know what you find. Cheers.

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  14. Sørina Higgins says:

    David:

    I don’t know Eric Voegelin. Do you want to tell me more about his work?

    Yes, I’m sure CW faced the dilemma of the impossibility of true description. He thought it was possible, in some deep sense beyond even Tolkien’s beliefs, but never thought he got there.

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  15. J.D Stenner says:

    This has been a fantastic article that I have really found helpful for future academic considerations as well as for personal fulfilment. But perhaps this subject of Romantic Theology is something far bigger than we first thought; that CW has just begun something of a greater study to which the Church has been missing and to which much more can be added? God’s pursuit of Man is a Christological claim in view of revelation. Thank you Sorina!

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  16. Sørina Higgins says:

    Thank you for this comment. The subject of Romantic Theology has (arguably) been discussed throughout the history of Christendom, but not so clearly nor specifically as CW wrote about it. Indeed, there is much, much more work to do on the topic. I hope you contribute to thought on this matter.

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  23. Tim says:

    Sørina , I just found this post through a link Crystal Hurd provided in a Facebook comment. I love part where you said Williams sees spouses as rungs to God. Not exactly a modern view of marriage!

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  24. David Orth says:

    Such an evocative conversation. Full of CWs potential for weirdness and insight – all in there together. Just making some quick connections here. The hermetic refrain “as above, so below” seems so crucial for understanding CW or CSL. The wisdom-craft is to understand “how so.” I am drawn more to Jung’s version of conjunctio or circulatio – as an alchemical expression of how new things are created out of the interaction of opposites – of all sorts, not just romantic. I see this happening in Genesis 1:1-3 where the spirit of the lord is hovering over the waters, over the chaos. You have here this intimate, waiting, listening, (perhaps even teasing) interaction between God and the prima materia – perhaps a whole age passes in 2 verses. In my uneducated reading of the same passage, I do not find the absolute physical power of God (as in the common reading) as much as this delicate longing “let there be light” – an invitation, and invocation, more than a manipulation. As if God is awakening something that is already there. A very romantic passage in my thinking – from which new worlds are unfolded – perhaps still.

    Another connection is to Cynthia Bourgeault’s theology especially in the “Meaning of Mary Magdalene”, but even more in the her book on the Trinity – as a fuller expression of not just an interaction between two (certainly that), but between three – that creates worlds – and layers upon us the fractal generosity of creation. And not just once, back then, but always.

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