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  • 7/31/2003

1-The Fullness of God:

 Frithjof Schuon on Christianity

Edited by James Cutsinger

Book Size: 6" × 9"
# of Pages: 240

Details: The Fullness of God is the first in a new series of titles featuring the essential writings of Frithjof Schuon. Here for the first time in one volume are the most important of Schuon’s chapters on the Christian tradition.
The book has been organized in such a way as to guide the reader from matters of metaphysical principle, through various theological and hermeneutical issues, to “operative” questions of spiritual practice and method. Specific topics include the relationship between Christianity and non-Christian religions; the divergence within Christianity between its main branches, Orthodox, Catholic, and Protestant; the place of reason and faith and their connection to spiritual knowledge or gnosis; the principles and applications of a mystical exegesis of Scripture; the central dogmas of the Trinity and Incarnation, as well as Eucharistic and Marian doctrine; and Christian initiation, contemplative practice, and “prayer of the heart”.
The volume concludes with a short appendix of previously unpublished material, including samples from Schuon’s correspondence with Christian seekers. Editor’s notes, a glossary of foreign terms, and a comprehensive index are also included.

Excerpts: The following excerpt is taken from the beginning of the first essay in
The Fullness of God, and can also be found in Schuon's earlier book
Roots of the Human Condition (World Wisdom, 2002).
Outline of the Christic Message

If we start from the incontestable idea that the essence of all religions is the truth of the Absolute with its human consequences, mystical as well as social, the question may be asked how the Christian religion satisfies this definition; for its central content seems to be not God as such, but Christ—that is, not so much the nature of the divine Being as its human manifestation. Thus a Patristic voice aptly proclaimed: “God became man that man might become God”; this is the Christian way of saying that “Brahma is real; the world is appearance”. Christianity, instead of simply juxtaposing the Absolute and the contingent, the Real and the illusory, proposes from the outset a reciprocity between the one and the other: it sees the Absolute a priori in relation to man, and man—correlatively —is defined in conformity with this reciprocity, which is not only metaphysical, but also dynamic, voluntary, eschatological. It is true that Judaism proceeds in an analogous fashion, but to a lesser degree: it does not define God in relation to the human drama, hence starting from contingency, but it does establish a quasi-absolute relationship between God and His people: God is “the God of Israel”; the symbiosis is immutable; however, God remains God, and man remains man; there is no “human God” or “divine man”.
Be that as it may, the reciprocity posited by Christianity is metaphysically transparent, and it is necessarily so, on pain of being an error. Unquestionably, once we are aware of the existence of contingency or relativity, we must know that the Absolute is interested in it in one way or another, and this means first of all that contingency must be prefigured in the Absolute, and then that the Absolute must be reflected in contingency; this is the ontological foundation of the mysteries of Incarnation and Redemption. The rest is a matter of modality: Christianity proposes on the one hand an abrupt opposition between the “flesh” and the “spirit”, and on the other hand—and this is its esoteric side—its option for “inward- ness” as against the outwardness of legal prescriptions and as against the “letter that killeth”. In addition, it operates with that central and profoundly characteristic sacrament which is the Eucharist: God does not limit Himself to promulgating a Law; He descends to earth and makes Himself Bread of life and Drink of immortality.
In relation to Judaism, Christianity comprises an aspect of esoterism through three elements: inwardness, quasi-unconditional charity, the sacraments. The first element consists in more or less disregarding outward practices and accentuating the inward attitude: what matters is to worship God “in spirit and in truth”; the second element corresponds to the Hindu ahimsa, “non-harming”, which can go so far as to renounce our legitimate rights, hence deliberately to step out of the mesh of human interests and social justice; it is to offer the left cheek to him who has struck the right and always to give more than one has to. Islam marks a return to Mosaic “realism”, while integrating Jesus into its perspective as a prophet of Sufic “poverty”; be that as it may, Christianity itself, in order to be able to assume the function of a world religion, had to attenuate its original rigor and present itself as a socially realistic legalism, at least to a certain degree.

If “God became man”, or if the Absolute became contingency, or if Necessary Being became possible being—if such is the case, one can understand the meaning of a God who became bread and wine and who made communion a condition sine qua non of salvation; not, to be sure, the sole condition, for communion demands the quasi-permanent practice of prayer, which Christ commands in his parable of the unjust judge and the importance of which is stressed by Saint Paul when he enjoins the faithful to “pray without ceasing”. One can conceive of a man who, prevented from taking communion, is saved by prayer alone, but one cannot conceive of a man who would be prevented from praying and who would be saved through communion alone; indeed, some of the greatest saints, at the beginning of Christianity, lived in solitude without being able to take communion, at least for several years. This is explained by the fact that prayer takes precedence over everything, consequently that it contains communion in its own way and does so necessarily, since in principle we bear within ourselves all that we can obtain from without; “the kingdom of God is within you”. Means are relative; not so our fundamental relationship with the Absolute.

2-A History of God: The 4,000-Year Quest of Judaism, Christianity and Islam

Karen Armstrong

Editorial Reviews
Armstrong, a British journalist and former nun, guides us along one of the most elusive and fascinating quests of all time--the search for God. Like all beloved historians, Armstrong entertains us with deft storytelling, astounding research, and makes us feel a greater appreciation for the present because we better understand our past. Be warned: A History of God is not a tidy linear history. Rather, we learn that the definition of God is constantly being repeated, altered, discarded, and resurrected through the ages, responding to its followers' practical concerns rather than to mystical mandates. Armstrong also shows us how Judaism, Christianity, and Islam have overlapped and influenced one another, gently challenging the secularist history of each of these religions. Gail Hudson
From Publishers Weekly:
This searching, profound comparative history of the three major monotheistic faiths fearlessly illuminates the sociopolitical ground in which religious ideas take root, blossom and mutate. Armstrong, a British broadcaster, commentator on religious affairs and former Roman Catholic nun, argues that Judaism, Christianity and Islam each developed the idea of a personal God, which has helped believers to mature as full human beings. Yet Armstrong also acknowledges that the idea of a personal God can be dangerous, encouraging us to judge, condemn and marginalize others. Recognizing this, each of the three monotheisms, in their different ways, developed a mystical tradition grounded in a realization that our human idea of God is merely a symbol of an ineffable reality. To Armstrong, modern, aggressively righteous fundamentalists of all three faiths represent "a retreat from God." She views as inevitable a move away from the idea of a personal God who behaves like a larger version of ourselves, and welcomes the grouping of believers toward a notion of God that "works for us in the empirical age."
About the Author
Karen Armstrong spent seven years as a Roman Catholic nun. After leaving her order in 1969, she went to Oxford University.
She is the author of the bestselling A History of God. Her other books include Through the Narrow Gate, Beginning of the World, The Gospel According to Woman, Holy War, and Mohammed.
Armstrong is one of the foremost commentators on religious affairs in England and is well on her way to similar status in the United States. --This text refers to the Audio Cassette edition.

3-Muhammad: A Biography of the Prophet

Karen Armstrong

Editorial Reviews :

From Publishers Weekly:
In a meticulous quest for the historical Muhammad, Armstrong first traces the West's long history of hostility toward Islam, which it has stigmatized as a "religion of the sword." This sympathetic, engrossing biography portrays Muhammad (ca. 570-632) as a passionate, complex, fallible human being--a charismatic leader possessed of political as well as spiritual gifts, and a prophet whose monotheistic vision intuitively answered the deepest longings of his people. Armstrong (The Gospel According to Woman) refutes the Western image of Muhammad as an impostor who used religion as a means to power, an attitude encapsulated in a psychotic dream episode in Salman Rushdie's The Satanic Verses. Denying that Islam preaches total intransigence, she finds in the Prophet's teachings a theology of peace and tolerance. The "holy war" urged by the Koran, in Armstrong's reading, alludes to each Muslim's duty to fight for a just, decent society. She draws significant parallels between the spiritual aspirations of Judaism, Christianity and Islam.
From Library Journal:
This portrayal of the prophet of Islam and the setting from which he emerged will captivate and enlighten general readers with a newfound understanding of modern events in the Middle East. Armstrong, a former Roman Catholic nun, has shown much insight and sensitivity in her well-researched biography. She interweaves sections on the Western response to Islam and the controversy over Salman Rushdie's The Satanic Verses ( LJ 12/88) within her detailed account of Muhammad and the monumental, unifying religion that he introduced to the backward tribalArabia of the seventh century. The book was first published inGreat Britain in 1991 under the title Muhammad: A Western Attempt To Understand Islam . Highly recommended.
- PaulaI. Nielson, Loyola Marymount Univ. Lib.,Los Angeles

4-Happiness without Death:  Desert Hymns

Assad Ali

110 pages, PaperbackHappiness without Death makes available in a lucid and clear poetic rendering a genre of contemporary Arabic poetry which reflects the long tradition of classical Arabic Sufi poetry concerned with the soul enflamed by the love of god. -- Dr. Seyyed Hossein Nasr

Dr. Assad Ali is one of the most respected and prolific writers in the Arab world. Yet his literary accomplishments, which include more than a hundred titles in literary criticism, poetry, and the philosophy of Sufism, are but the rich harvest of a deep spiritual life.

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