F.C. Bauerschmidt’s “Julian of Norwich- Incorporated” argues for a distinctly political and therefore, ecclesial, reading of Christian mysticism.  Using Lady Julian as a fulcrum point for his argument, Bauerschmidt counters the seemingly prevailing modern trend of individualistic readings of the so-called ‘mystic’ tradition and attempts to expose the hidden apparatus of such readings.  In truth, “mysticism becomes a way of locating a haven in a heartless world, the invulnerable space of interiority that makes tolerable the apparatus of the modern state…Mysticism is thus the refuge into which we recoil as we become progressively disillusioned by the various ‘external, socially oriented ideologis’ of modernity” (97).

After spending some time with the Number 9 issue of The Baffler, it all came full circle to Theology.  In “The Guady and Damned” Tom Vanderbilt discovers a similar phenomena happening with the peculiar genre of ‘business literature.’  In speaking about Chicken Soup for the Soul at Work, Dilbert and not to mention the rise and fall of corporate “Successories,” Vanderbilt highlights how the typical American workforce is becoming increasingly benumbed to its own exploitation by the these very niceties, masking themselves as a salve for the painful realities of outsourcing and corporate downsizing.  This peculiar remedy, as Vanderbilt notes, is distinctly American (and therefore hyper-modern?).  As he writes, “in South Korea, in Russia, and in Europe…the big changes of recent years have bred massive protests in the streets by those whose lives are scheduled to be destroyed.  Here [in America] we line the barricades with greeting cards and Fortune 500 faith-healers” (17).

Instead of facing political engagement head on, the modern individual retreats in a self-enclosed space of happy narratives and the opiate of optimism.  And these very narratives, whether they be the New Age flavor of spiritual isolation or “corporate incentiana” and “management chicanery” (Vanderbilt, 16) amount to the same effect: an overall fear of social vulnerability and the patient work of communal engagement.

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