The Cloud of Unknowing: and The Book of Privy Counseling

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9780385030977: The Cloud of Unknowing: and The Book of Privy Counseling
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William Johnston--an authority on fourteenth century spirituality and specifically on the writings of this unknown author--provides a substantive and accessible introduction detailing what is known about the history of this text and its relevance throughout the ages. Also included here is the author's other principal work, The Book of Privy Counseling--a short and moving text on the way to enlightenment through a total loss of self and consciousness only of the divine.

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"God can be loved but he cannot be thought. He can be grasped by love but never by concepts. So less thinking and more loving."

This is William Johnston's summary of the message of The Cloud of Unknowing. Nobody knows who wrote the book, or exactly where he lived, or whether he was a member of a religious order, or even, really, whether he was part of any church at all. The text first appeared in Middle English in the 14th century, and it has inspired generations of mystical searchers (from St. John of the Cross to Teilhard de Chardin). The mysterious conditions of its composition, however, focus the reader's attention squarely on the book's message--an almost Zen rendering of Christianity, which has a great deal to teach our querulous, doctrine-obsessed churches: "And so I urge you," the author writes, "go after experience rather than knowledge. On account of pride, knowledge may often deceive you, but this gentle, loving affection will not deceive you. Knowledge tends to breed conceit, but love builds. Knowledge is full of labor, but love, full of rest." --Michael Joseph Gross

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Originally written in Middle English by an unknown mystic of the fourteenth century, The Cloud of Unknowing represents the first expression in our own tongue of the soul's quest for God. A literary work of great beauty in both style and message, it offers a practical guide to the path of contemplation. The author explains how all thoughts and concepts must be buried beneath a "cloud of forgetting", while our love must rise toward God hidden in the "cloud of unknowing". William Johnston - an authority on fourteenth-century spirituality and on the writings of this unknown author - provides a substantive and accessible introduction detailing what is known about the history of this text and its relevance throughout the ages. Also included here is the author's other principal work, The Book of Privy Counseling - a short and moving text on the way to enlightenment through a total loss of self and consciousness only of the divine.

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9780006280255: The Cloud of Unknowing

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Publisher: Zondervan, 1997
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