Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
×
Home

The Dark Knight of the Soul: weaning and the problem of divine withdrawal

  • JOSHUA COCKAYNE (a1)

Abstract

If God loves us and so desires union with us, why is it that so many, who once felt close to God and who have subsequently done nothing to precipitate separation from him, now experience only his absence? A metaphor which has been used repeatedly to answer this question is that separation from God is a kind of spiritual weaning process in which God uses the experience of his absence in order to bring about maturation and greater union with him. After discussing the use of this metaphor in Kierkegaard's Fear and Trembling and John of Cross's poem The Dark Night of the Soul, I discuss the question of how someone's absence could be good for their maturation. I argue that separation has an important role to play in deepening relationships of love – drawing on research in de-adaptation in the psychological and sociological literature, I argue that in order for there to be a union of love, there must be an experience of both dependence and independence. This position can explain why God allows people who engage in the spiritual life to suffer the pain of separation from him.

Copyright

Corresponding author

References

Hide All
Bloom, Anthony (1970) Beginning to Pray (New York: Paulist Press).
Coakley, Sarah (2016) ‘Divine hiddenness or dark intimacy? How John of the Cross dissolves a contemporary philosophical dilemma’, in Green & Stump (2016), 229–246.
Conway, Daniel (ed.) (2015) Kierkegaard's Fear and Trembling: A Critical Guide (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press).
Draper, Paul (2011) ‘Review of wandering in darkness: narrative and the problem of suffering’, Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews, 27 July 2011, <https://ndpr.nd.edu/news/24772-wandering-in-darkness-narrative-and-the-problem-of-suffering/> [accessed 8 February 2016].
Efird, David & Worsley, David (2015) ‘Critical review of Eleonore Stump's Wandering in Darkness: narrative and the problem of suffering’, Philosophical Quarterly, 65, 547558.
Evans, C. Stephen (2004) Kierkegaard's Ethic of Love (Oxford: Oxford University Press).
John of the Cross (2002) The Dark Night of the Soul, Starr, Mirabai (tr.) (New York: Riverhead Books).
Green, Adam & Stump, Eleonore (eds) (2016) Hidden Divinity and Religious Belief (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press).
Havergal, Frances (2010) The Hymns of Frances Ridley Havergal, compiled by Doe, Charles J. (Minneapolis: Curiosmith).
Honneth, Axel (1995) Struggle For Recognition (Cambridge MA: MIT Press).
Howland, Jacob (2015) ‘Fear and trembling's “attunement” as midrash’, in Conway (2015), 26–43.
Kierkegaard, Søren (1849/1980) The Sickness Unto Death , Hong, Edna H. & Hong, Howard V. (trs), Kierkegaard's Writings, VI (Princeton: Princeton University Press).
Kierkegaard, Søren (1843/1983) Fear and Trembling , Hong, Edna H. & Hong, Howard V. (trs), Kierkegaard's Writings, VI (Princeton: Princeton University Press).
Kierkegaard, Søren (1843/1987) Either/Or, Part 1 , Hong, Edna H. & Hong, Howard V. (trs), Kierkegaard's Writings, VII (Princeton: Princeton University Press).
Mooney, Edward (1991) Knights of Faith and Resignation: Reading Kierkegaard's Fear and Trembling (New York: State University of New York Press).
Oden, Thomas (1989) Parables of Kierkegaard (Princeton: Princeton University Press).
Podmore, Simon (2013) Struggling with God: Kierkegaard and Temptation of Spiritual Trial (Cambridge: James Clarke & Co. Ltd.).
Quinn, Philip L. (2006) ‘Moral obligation, religious demand, and practical conflict’, in Miller, Christian B. (eds) Essays in the Philosophy of Religion (Oxford: Oxford University Press), 8391.
Rumble, Vanessa (2015) ‘Why Moriah? Weaning and trauma of transcendence in Kierkegaard's Fear and Trembling’, in Conway (2015), 247–262.
Scrutton, A. P. (2015) ‘Is depression a sin or a disease? A critique of moralizing and medicalizing models of mental illness’, Journal of Disability & Religion, 19, 285311.
Stump, Eleonore (2010) Wandering in Darkness (Oxford: Oxford University Press).
Stump, Eleonore (2012) ‘Atonement and the cry of dereliction from the cross’, European Journal For the Philosophy of Religion, 4, 117.
Teresa, Mother (2007) Come Be My Light: The Private Writings of the Saint of Calcutta, ed. with commentary by Kolodiejchuk, Brian (New York: Doubleday).
Tolstoy, Leo (2007) War and Peace, Pevear, Richard & Volokhonsky, Larissa (trs) (New York: Vintage Classics, Penguin Random House).
Wesley, Charles & Wesley, John (1981) Selected Prayers, Hymns, Journal Notes, Sermons, Letters and Treatises, Whaling, Frank (ed.) (New York: Paulist Press).
Winnicott, Donald W. (1965) The Maturational Processes and the Facilitating Environment: Studies in the Theory of Emotional Development (London: Karnac Books).
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Religious Studies
  • ISSN: 0034-4125
  • EISSN: 1469-901X
  • URL: /core/journals/religious-studies
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *
×

Metrics

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed