The Self in Postmodern Thought: A Carmelite Response

By Vilma Seelaus, O.C.D.


This article was conceived at the end of the Carmelite Seminar of 1997 at St. Mary's College in South Bend. I had an opportunity to browse in the Notre Dame book store, and two titles in different sections waved for my attention. The first was The Thought of the Heart and the Soul of the World, in which Jungian author James Hillman takes archetypal psychology in a new direction. He claims that, with the soul of the world sick as evidenced by violence and corruption, individuals become sick at heart and suffer heart attacks. To restore the heart's courage and its imaginative power, therefore, the soul of the world needs the same attention that we have been giving to the soul of individual persons. Situating the individual self within the heart of the world challenges the rugged individualism of the modern self.1

The other book that caught my attention was Anthony Thiselton's Interpreting God and the Postmodern Self, in which he offers a hermeneutic of selfhood. Thiselton compares and assesses both modern and post- modern interpretations of the self in relation to Christian theology. Postmodern interpretations, he acknowledges, perceive the self as trapped within a network of role performances imposed on it by the power interests of others, but he argues for a deeper understanding of the self and its destiny. Postmodernism de-centers the self; it denies any permanent, integrated reality to the self. It claims that identity is socially constructed and that people in different kinds of societies have quite different identity-forming experiences. Thiselton accepts the force of this, but argues for a deeper understanding of the self in relation to the biblical vision of reality and Christian theology.2

Reading Hillman and Thiselton enticed me into further study of postmodern thought in relation to the self. Before long, the complexity of the topic had my head spinning.3 Furthermore, postmodern debates about the very nature of reality challenged beliefs that shape my life as a Carmelite. And yet, the more perplexed I became, the more firmly did an inner conviction stand its ground: that our Carmelite mystical tradition has perennial values and insights for our postmodern world and perhaps for many worlds yet to come.

In these reflections, therefore, I place the biblical God-related understanding of the self, on which the Carmelite tradition rests, in conversation with the postmodern self. I do this in two parts. Part One brings together important insights from both the modern and the postmodern movements, showing a shift in understanding the self. Part Two looks into the writings of Teresa of Avila and John of the Cross for what they offer by way of challenge, expansion, or depth in regard to the self and in regard to our own spiritual journey as we enter the new millennium.

Part One

Walter Truett Anderson's insightful and witty book titled: Reality Isn't What It Used to Be helped me to realize that the self in particular is not what it used to be. What did the self use to be that it no longer is? What are the shifts in self-understanding, which, for better or for worse, postmodernism names for us? How might we as Christians respond appropriately to the challenge of post- modernism?

First, what do we mean by postmodern? Postmoderns claim to have superseded, to have gone beyond, previous ways of thinking, feeling, and behaving which developed in the so-called modern period. It deconstructs them, to use the "in" term. At the same time, postmodernism is far from a developed, coherent social theory. Scholars dispute whether or not it is a form of radical modernism or something distinctive after modernism, or some of each. According to Philip Endean in his foreword to an issue of The Way dedicated to postmodernism and spirituality:

As the structure of the word implies, the postmortem cannot be understood for what it is in itself, but only in terms of what has preceded it: the postmodern is a gamut of reactions to the modern, swinging between two moods: a mood of disillusionment, as previously unquestioned assumptions and standards are found wanting, and a mood of exhilaration, as new and better alternatives are explored, developed, and advocated. Postmodern thinking draws on a wide range of sources: from cybernetics to feminism, from literary theory to the new physics, from cultural history to psychoanalysis and linguistics. Perhaps for this reason its expression can be, notoriously, opaque.4

Although the philosopher Kant back in the 18th century paved the way, the 1960s are considered the true beginning of the post-modern era. At that time everything came into question, and all belief systems, with their traditional values, came under attack. People in the '60s began to question what they called the myth of objective consciousness: that, when you looked at things, what you saw and described was what was actually there. (At the scene of an accident, eyewitnesses often give conflicting accounts of what happened.)

Today constructivists hold that the "real world" is an ever changing social creation. In the 1960s, thoughts about the self were also changing. As Anderson5 points out:

In the '60s, people assumed that, if you developed enough contempt for your old socially adapted self, a new True Self, unsullied by any conformity, would magically appear, that a True Culture and a True Politics likewise stood in the wings-and that when they appeared they would not have to coexist with old selves, old cultures, old politics. Things didn't work that way.6

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Though the '60s were the time of eruption, postmodernism continues and radicalizes trends that actually began during the Enlightenment, at the dawn of what philosophers call the "modern period." Descartes (1596-1650), the classical modern philosopher of clear and distinct ideas, attempted to provide clear and certain criteria against which our knowledge can be tested for truth. He was also intensely preoccupied with the subject who knows these ideas: the knowing person.

For today's radical deconstructionists, like Derrida, such Cartesian objectivity is anathema. Derrida holds all reality to be socially constructed. Reality is simply the interpretation of the perceiving subject. Derrida insists that we cannot grasp reality because it slips by before we can catch hold of it. Everything, then, is interpretation. Nevertheless, Derrida and the other deconstructionists are in a way Descartes's descendants. Descartes understands the self as an active agent, whereas for Derrida the self shifts from active agent to passive situatedness. Instead of a core something (called self) determining how it will respond to different situations, the situation creates the self. Different situations call forth a different self to be expressed.7

On the whole, postmoderns recognize the importance, for its time, of the modern movement. It brought new values to the fore. We benefit from the knowledge that scientific objectivity makes possible. From it come the many technological wonders that are integral to our everyday life. In the moral and political spheres, modernity made room for personal autonomy and liberty and for the development of a liberal society wherein diversity is possible. Religion, too, has been enriched by modernity. Most Jewish and Christian believers, for example, no longer subscribe to a literal understanding of the Bible's story of creation in six days.8

But the improvements of modernity have a dark side: the exploitation of nature and its resources, the emergence of individualism and the consequent collapse of the sense of community, the divorce of technology from moral values, and denials of the worth of ethnic, tribal, and religious traditions. While the modern period gave us universal abstract systems and scientific "metanarratives," accounts of the origins and development of the universe, these often denied the existence of God or denied that God could be discovered by the conscious self. As a result, in today's world many lives are governed by efficiency, profit, success, and the will to power without regard for ultimate human values. Talk of love, truthfulness, belief, loyalty, and so forth has little meaning.

Further, advanced technology, the offspring of the modern period, has introduced a world of ceaseless change. New models quickly replace the old. Things are made not to endure, but to be consumed and replaced. Think of how quickly appliances need replacement or upgrading. Indeed, today we struggle with both the benefits and the dark side of the modern period.

As science enabled the modern self more and more to carve out and control its own destiny, the self tended to be assured and optimistic. But today, as postmodern thinkers become increasingly aware of the self's arrogant, power-hungry dark side, the self appears to be, in fact, de-centered--no longer an active agent, but instead taking its identity from the variable roles imposed upon it by society and by its own inner drives and conflicts, conflicts which the communications media keep in constant motion. The media, especially the advertising world, tell it who it should be, how it should look, what it should own, and where it needs to travel in order to feel good about itself. Postmoderns see our opinions formed for us by the collective perceptions of the media. Under such conditions, notions of a true self give way to the self as wearing different masks to suit the occasion, with little sense of a solid identity underneath. We tend to become who we think others want us to be.

In theory, the will of the individual is still supreme, but often it has no strong center, no belief system to serve as anchor. When everything is up for grabs, the self lacks the support of collective meaning. There is too much to choose from; this can leave individuals feeling alone in a sea of options. Many people today feel estranged from others and even from themselves. When people see no value to their lives other than the imperatives of efficiency, success, or serving the power interests of others, when their "reality" depends on what the TV screen says is real, no wonder there are high rates of suicide and physician-assisted death.

Veronica Brady, in an article in The Way, describes it well: "Caught in this ceaseless flow of images, the self almost ceases to exist, breaking into fragments, identifying only with the flow. Right and wrong become a matter of personal taste, depending not so much on what is done but who does it. The center does not hold because there is no center."9 A character in Salman Rushdie's Satanic Verses says: "Information got abolished sometime in the twentieth century, can't say just when, stands to reason, that's part of the information that got ... abolished. Since then we've been living in a fairy-story... Everything happens by magic. [We] haven't a ... notion what's going on. So how do we know if it's right or wrong? We don't even know what it is."10

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Rushdie's world of illusion hangs within the "actual" world of extremes of rich and poor, with millions dying of starvation as nations invest billions of dollars in developing new and deadlier weapons that are then sold to warring ethnic and tribal groups intent on destroying each other. In this context the theories of deconstructionists like Derrida and Lyotard begin to make sense. The absurdity of human confidence in its power to rule the world is becoming more and more apparent as the products of the human mind threaten to destroy us.

At the same time, on the positive side, the modern period highlighted one of the deepest urges of the human heart: to be someone. The drift of cultural change is in the direction of human rights, of wanting everyone to be free to create personal identity and experience, even though, for many in our world, resources are not available. No wonder people become dishonest-seeking to have and be and do what the TV ads say they should have and be and do. The struggle to be someone is now a global struggle.

Some years ago I had occasion to live in Israel for three months. The incongruities of the struggle became vivid for me when I saw, above Bedouin tents in the desert, TV antennas connecting them with the modern/postmodern world. As Walter Truett Anderson puts it: "Every morning billions of pairs of eyes open, and billions of societies of mind set forth on the adventures of selfhood. For many the adventure only rarely rises above the level of a struggle to keep the body alive, but even the most miserable among us also hear the aspirations of the self--the 'me' craving reassurance that it exists and is good and the modern me that pursues happiness and believes that, whatever happiness it finds, will be what it has taken or created and not what has been handed down by fate."11

To add a further dimension, the global struggle to be someone is seen with fresh and deep insight by postmodern psychologists who have been influenced by Buddhism. Psychologists Robert Rosenbaum and John Dyckman hold with Buddhism that self/others are empty. This does not mean that they are void; it means they have no existence other than in relationships that are constantly arising in the immediate experience of the moment. To say that the self is empty means that the self is not a thing and therefore has no unchanging core characteristics or essence. It is a way of indicating that self is always completely connected to its immediate experience, that in the immediacy of the moment, unconstrained by past residue or future expectations, self is always free. As the Buddhist Diamond Sutra notes, the past is gone, the future is not here, and the present cannot be grasped. This is perfect freedom.12

As the authors point out, freedom here is not to be confused with a pseudofreedom that seeks to abandon all constraints. Instead, to understand emptiness as being connected to immediate experience can lead to greater generosity and compassion toward the self and others. Past experience no longer has the last word. The empty self, actualized in immediate experience, binds together apparent opposites: the dynamic interchange of oneness and separateness. These are not mutually exclusive. The empty self is the connected self which is actualized in context and in relationships. Observation reveals self-identity to be fluid and constantly changing according to context and relationships. As the Rosenbaum-Dyckrnan article puts it, "At work we may be decisive and authoritative; when out to dinner with our spouse, we may be hesitant and deferent about what to order for dinner. Yet we believe ourselves to be the same person."13

Postmordern psychologists repeatedly make the point that our person is not encapsulated by our skin, but exists in relation. The self is always self in relation, in action, and as such is always contextual. They hold that emotions are always a reliving in the present rather than a recall from the dead past. If we do not need to be attached to an unchanging self, and can see change as the only constant, it becomes somewhat easier to image change in problem behaviors.14

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Although the self may be fluid and constantly changing, it must nevertheless have a boundary, but, according to Rosenbaum and Dyckman, a boundary with infinite length enclosing a finite, definable area, different from the rigid boundaries of lines on a map. Human boundaries are not abstract, conceptual schemas, but are always embodied in constant interaction with a world from which they are not separate. World and self mutually influence and create one another. Such mutual influencing has the potential to stretch present definable boundaries and give glimpses into the infinite.

Here the parable of the Pharisee and the Publican comes to mind. If our attitude is one of self-righteousness that places us over against the rest of the world, we will be unable to hear the challenges that postmodern psychologists offer us for continued growth in our postmodern world. Our boundaries become sealed in finitude, and the infinite capacity that is ours becomes rigid, like the lines of a map. Psychologists in increasing numbers address the postmodern shift in regard to the self, and they offer valuable insights for living healthily in today's changing world. At the same time, postmodern philosophers and psychologists do not have the last word, and so now we turn to the mystics for their insights into the self.

Part Two

Since human boundaries are not abstract, but are embodied and are in constant interaction with the world from which they are not separate, precisely here does the biblically based Carmelite tradition offer timeless help. Back in 16th-century Spain, Teresa of Avila wrote a book to help her daughters of the reformed Carmel relate to one another and to the world, from which they were not separate even in their cloister. In her Way of Perfection, she gives her daughters some advice that flows with meaning into our post- modern age: "I shall enlarge on only three things ... for it is very important that we understand how much the practice of these three things helps us to possess inwardly and outwardly the peace our Lord recommended so highly to us. The first of these is love for one another; the second is detachment from all created things; the third is true humility, which, even though I speak of it last, is the main practice and embraces all the others."15

Many centuries separate us from Teresa and the particularity of her issues, but the interrelated dynamic of love, detachment, and humility are integral to spiritual growth in today's confusing world. Postmodernity challenges much of what we cling to by way of values and beliefs and, in particular, our self-understanding. To understand the self as fluid and constantly changing invites a deeper penetration into the Christian, Carmelite understanding of detachment. It would have us be attached to nothing, not even the most innocent of things, for in time of need they fail us completely. John of the Cross insists: "To come to the knowledge you have not, you must go by a way in which you know not. To come to the possession you have not, you must go by a way in which you possess not. To come to be what you are not, you must go by a way in which you are not.... This places us in our center of humility."16 Detachment and humility go hand in hand. They create an openness to new ideas, a willingness to let go of the past and let the context of the present create us anew. The contextual present is the place of encounter with God. The past, while it may continue to influence present behavior, is in fact nonexistent, and the future evolves out of each passing moment.

Detachment opens up roads less traveled; but, if we feel attached to our current road, we may all too readily say, "This is me; this is my self." We have heard people say, "I'm a one on the enneagram or an INFP on the Myers-Briggs, so you have to take me as I am." With such a self-fixated attitude, we will less likely hear God's invitation into the infinite realms of potential self-realization. If we conceive of the self as determined by the pathways already taken, a composite of past experiences, it will be hard to let go when unknown paths beckon us onward. As Rosenbaum and Dyckman put it, "The self, as an accumulation of experience, is a prison; the self as empty, as shimmering potentiality, is a prism that, depending on its positioning, gives forth many different colors."17

In his Spiritual Canticle, John of the Cross reminds us that the woods and thicket in which we find ourselves today have been planted by the hand of the Beloved.18 God's self revelation continues right within the human story. The density and darkness of postmodernity-which holds that there is a multiplicity of perspectives in the search for truth, which denies a stable foundation of self and of knowledge-can generate extremes of uncertainty. But the de-centered self of postmodernity has its own gift to offer. It invites us, beyond the limits of what can be known and controlled, into a self that is mystery, into God as ultimate Mystery. The temptation is either to stay blinded in self-righteous clinging to the limitations of human knowledge, or to despair before the uncertainties of life. Detachment itself can be the void of despair, unless it is grounded in faith and in the experience of God.

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The Dutch theologian Frans Jozef van Beeck, in his contemporary Catholic systematic-theology series titled God Encountered, reminds us that "the human subject ... is naturally and radically 'de-centered': the mature person's true center does not repose in the person. Authentic persons live on the strength of unfulfillable desire.... Grace graciously enables human persons, along with their world, to that most natural, yet most divine of all things: freely to move toward God in total faith and abandon."19 In the midst of alternative versions of reality, and many different ways of being in the world, with the postmodern tolerance for a plethora of possibilities, choosing to believe in something is vital. We can be respectful of others with differing beliefs and still stand firm in the faith that is ours, a faith that centers the self in God.

According to the philosopher Kierkegaard, faith is the passionate embrace of objective uncertainty.20 Faith bypasses the postmodern self that interprets, even creates, its own reality. It bypasses human reason to plunge us into mystical depths where being and nonbeing are held in creative tension by God's abiding presence to human life. At this level Rahner rightly speaks of the experience of God and the experience of self as one.21 In his insistence upon the possibility open to all of an immediate experience of God, Rahner writes: "I am convinced that such an immediacy between God and the human person ... is of greater significance today than ever before. All the societal supports of religion are collapsing and dying out in this secularized and pluralistic society. If, nonetheless, there is to be real Christian spirituality, it cannot be kept alive and healthy by external helps, not even those which the church offers ... but only through an ulti- mate, immediate encounter of the individual with God."22

The Harvard psychologist Charles Verge names this place of encounter "the divine self."23 Here the self and God mirror each other. 24 The longing of the human heart to be someone issues from God, in whose image we are made and whose love holds us in being. "Beloved of God" defines the self. The Spiritual Canticle of John of the Cross is a text that writes the self of each one of us. In the Canticle, God's passionate love for the soul, enfleshed in Christ, stirs a passionate response and gives meaning and direction to life right within the extremes of uncertainty that surround us. To be transformed into the image of Christ, to become like Christ, constitutes the heart of the divine promise.

Faith enables us to embrace, with passion, the ultimate objective uncertainty that the mystery of God revealed in Christ is. Christ lifts the self out of its predefined situatedness with its selfinterest, into love for God and love for others. God's love transforms the will to power, to possession, to lust, into will to love. The detachment that faith calls forth issues in genuine love even for those who differ from us. Postmodernism stretches our capacity to love. Life today beckons toward a global embrace of love; love for those who may look different from us, love for those who may think differently from us, and love for those whose values may be different, even opposed to ours.

Today, in the face of our differences, love holds the special challenge of intense, respectful listening, which can only happen if the heart is humble. A humble heart is a heart detached from preconceived ideas and personal prejudice. According to Teresa, humility is truth, and our truth is that we are all, without exception, finite, fragile creatures capable of sin and that as such we always stand on the threshold of ongoing conversion. At the same time, integral to truth is that each one of us is always infinitely loved and possessed by God. Insofar as we fall short, God invites us to continued conversion and, even more, to divine transformation. Our challenge is to live Christ's gospel of love. Such love dissolves the disharmony of suspicion and distrust, it detaches us from selfinterest, and it opens us to others in humility and genuine concern. As Rahner sagely asks, "Why should there be any need for deception, which serves to protect the self, if the self is loved, welcomed, accepted, and reconciled-as-one with the Other?"25 Receiving the self from God in Christ, giving the self to others in love, and serving the other's interests as one's own are mirrorings of God, the divine self-giving Trinity, in whose image we are. In trinitarian theology, love constitutes the ground of selfhood.

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The gospel account of Jesus at table, encircled by the outcasts of his time, symbolizes the self today cast out from itself and in need of re-centering in Christ. From the horizon of Christ, we see the incompleteness of all that is human in relation to our total commitment to Christ, but in Christ we also see ourselves connected with the heart of all that is.

The archetypal psychology of James Hillman invites us to this from a psychological perspective. He would have us see ourselves and others as intimately connected with what he calls the soul of the world. Today conversion extends to claiming our part in what Hillman rightly names the sickness of the soul of the world. He claims that the world, because of its breakdown, is entering a new moment of consciousness by having its attention drawn to itself by means of its symptoms. It is becoming aware of itself as a psychic reality. We now encounter pathology in the psyche of politics and medicine, of language and design, of the food we eat. Sickness, says Hillman, is now "out there" as well as "in here."26

To situate our individual self within the heart of the world not only challenges the rugged individualism of the modern self; it also invites a deeper awareness of our connectedness with others and with planet Earth, whose beauty and balance are today oppressed by our violent consumer world. The world itself is now a patient in need of healing. Postmodernism offers a broader understanding of the redeeming mission of Christ. The entire cosmos becomes the locus of redemption. Like us, our church and civilization and even planet are all in need of Christ's redeeming, healing, transforming love. Postmodernism is globalism; as such it is the half-discovered truth of the one unity that transcends all our differences.

The language of postmodernism would be alien to Teresa, and yet, as she increasingly experienced herself as centered in God, her self became increasingly fluid. She seems astonished as the boundaries of the self continue to expand. There are many examples, but in her Autobiography, her Vida (chap. 15, para. 7), Teresa, experiencing herself infused with the light of God, comments: "And I, though being what I am, seem to be another person." In 23.1, recalling how God freed her from herself, she writes that "here begins another new life." In 2 7. 1, having placed herself completely in the hands of God, she says, "I saw that I was a completely different person." In 27.9 she says, "One of these graces is enough to change a soul completely. "In the context of these remarks, Teresa specifically mentions that she is growing in either love, detachment, or humility.

At the height of her mystical life, Teresa has a profound experience that, on the level of the divine self, reflects the empty, decentered, but relational, contextual self of postmodernity. In 40.5 of her Vida, she writes:

Once, while I was reciting with all the sisters the hours of the divine office, my soul suddenly became recollected; and it seemed to me to be like a brightly polished mirror, without any part on the back or sides or top or bottom that wasn't totally clear. In its center Christ our Lord was shown to me, in the way I usually see him. It seemed to me I saw him clearly in every part of my soul, as though in a mirror. And this mirror also-I don't know how to explain it-was completely engraved upon the Lord Himself by means of a very loving communication I wouldn't know how to describe... . I was given understanding of what it is for a soul to be in mortal sin. It amounts to clouding this mirror with mist and leaving it black; and thus this Lord cannot be revealed or seen, even though he is always present giving us being.

In God, Teresa is connected with the world's sin, even as she affirms the ever present graciousness of God always giving us being within the darkness of sin. God is present in Teresa, not with power and might, but in love and with an invitation to self-transcendence that is as pertinent and penetrating for us today as it was for Teresa.

In 37.11 of her Vida, Teresa sounds as though she is living in our present age. After lamenting the foibles of her honor-bound society, with its elaborate system of etiquette, she says, "I don't know how it's all going to end up; even though I'm not yet fifty, I've already seen so many changes I don't even know how to live anymore. What will they do who are now being born and will live for many years?" What will we do, we who have been born in this postmodern era, this era in which we live for many years, often into our nineties? Like Teresa, we do not know where it is all going to end up.

Many would say that dark night engulfs our entire world and the times in which we live. The Carmelite tradition, however, assures us that God is in the night. John of the Cross eloquently describes the meaning of the soul's journey into the night of God. In this night of faith, we discover that love is the eye of God and we in turn are to see and interpret all things through the eyes of God. From this perspective we see that we are all one in God's love and that we bear one another's burdens. By the quality of our lives, Christ would have us be bearers of hope for all who suffer the travails of poverty, violence, injustice, and oppression. Right within the many forms of death that surround us is the seed of resurrection impatient for new life.

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As we work with our differences in families, in our civic and church communities, we can dare to hope that our graced struggle will energize efforts toward understanding, toward finding common ground within the extremes of diversity that characterize our postmortem world. What we see in Teresa's writings is a development in her understanding of herself and of Christ, who companions her journey. Today, as we find the self anew, we also find new ways of seeing Christ and the Christian mysteries right within our postmortem world, without getting caught in nostalgia for the past.

Again, like Teresa, we do not know where it will all end up. What we do know is that the future is present, like a seed, in today's disconcerting moment. Our challenge is to live now, to live fully (but with humility, detachment, and love) what we say we believe. The sufferings of our time are not meaningless, as secular postmodernity might see them. They are integral to the groaning of creation in labor until it brings forth redemption, the final triumph of God's love. At its deepest level the self is caught up in the incomprehensible mystery of Love we call God.

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1James Hillman, The Thought of the Heart and the Soul of the World (Woodstock, Connecticut: Spring Publications, 1995).

2 Anthony C. Thiselton, Interpreting God and the Postmodern Self. On Meaning, Manipulation, and Promise (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1998).

3It also leaves me with a little anxiety that the many authors that I read be given due credit. As I prepare this paper for publication, I realize that much of what I read merged in my thinking as I internalized the material.

4See The Way 36, no. 3 (July 1996): 175.

5According to Anderson, Kant's work in the 18th century began with a problem that was as divisive in its time as the objectivist-constructivist one is in ours-in this case a conflict between the British empiricists such as Locke and Hume, who saw thought as merely an instrument for understanding or using "real world experience," and the Continental philosophers such as Descartes and Leibniz, who saw the mind as the supreme organizer and discoverer of all reality. This was not a postmortem debate. All parties assumed that people could apprehend unchanging and universal truth. Kant's attempt to resolve the conflict was his own contribution to the search for "foundational" knowledge or reality-beyond historical and cultural relativism-but it pointed toward a view of the mind as a creator of reality. Kant describes the mind as an active organ that orders and forms the raw data of experience, imposing upon them its own structure; we do not experience things in themselves but rather representations of them. See Walter Truett Anderson, Reality Isn'tWhat It Used to Be (San Francisco: Harper, 1990), pp. 59-60.

6Anderson, Reality, p. 48.

7 See Robert Rosenbaum and John Dyckman, "Integrating Self and System: An Empty Intersection?" Family Process 34 (March 1995): 26- 27, and Kenneth J. Gergen, "The Social Construction of Self- Knowledge," in Daniel Kolak and Raymond Martin, Self and Identity: Contemporary Philosophical Issues (New York: Macmillan Publishing Company, 1991), pp. 372-403.

8 See Max Charlesworth, "Postmodernism and Theology," The Way 36, no. 3 (July 1996): 188-202, for an interesting summary of the development of modern to postmortem thought.

9Veronica Brady, "Postmodemism and the Spiritual Life," in The Way 36, no. 3 ouly 1996): 181.

10Salman Rushdie, The Satanic Verses (London: Viking, 1988), P. 313, quoted in Brady, "Postmodernism."

11Walter Truett Anderson, Reality, p. 132.

12Rosenbaum and Dyckman, "Integrating," pp. 28-33.

13Rosenbaum and Dyckman, "Integrating," p. 26.

14According to Rosenbaum and Dyckman, "Integrating," pp. 3 5 - 3 7, acknowledging memory as constructive, as a present contextual experience, rather than as retrieval of the past, helps to avoid difficulties such as the controversies over recovered memories of trauma and abuse, which are a sensitive contemporary issue.

15Teresa of Avila, Way of Pefection (Washington, D.C.: ICS Publications, 1980), chap. 4, para. 4, p. 54.

16The Collected Works of St. John of the Cross, trans. Kieran Kavanaugh OCD and Otilio Rodriguez OCD (Washington, D.C.: ICS Publications, 1991), p. 150.

17Rosenbaum and Dyckman, "Integrating," p. 37.

18See his Spiritual Canticle, stanza 4, in Collected Works, p. 494.

19Frans Jozef van Beeck, God Encountered: A Contemporary Catholic Systematic Theology, Vol. 211 (Collegeville: Liturgical Press, 1993), p. 238.

20Soren Kierkegaard, "Truth Is Subjectivity," in Concluding Unscientific Postscript, ed. and trans. Howard V. Hong and Edna H. Hong (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1992), pp. 169ff. "Truth is precisely the contradiction between the infinite passion of the individual's inwardness and the objective uncertainty. If I am capable of grasping God objectively, I do not believe, but precisely because I cannot do this I must believe. If I wish to preserve myself in faith, I must constantly be intent upon holding fast the objective uncertainty, so as to remain out upon the deep, over seventy thousand fathoms of water, still preserving my faith....

21See Karl Rahner, "Experience of Self and Experience of God," in Theological Investigations, vol. 13 (New York: Crossroad, 1983), pp. 122- 132.

22 See "The Immediate Experience of God in the Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius of Loyola," in Karl Rahner in Dialogue, ed. Paul Imhof and Hubert Biallowons, trans. Harvey D. Egan (New York: Crossroad, 1986), p. 176.

23 See Charles Verge, "Foundations for a Spiritually Based Psychotherapy," in Religion and Family, ed. L. Burton (Hayworth Press, 1992), pp. 41-59.

24 See also her Autobiography in Collected Works of Teresa of Avila, Vol. 1, trans. Kieran Kavanaugh OCD and Otilio Rodriguez OCD (Washington, D.C.: ICS Publications, 1976), chap. 40, paras. 5 and 10. Teresa here recounts two visions in which God and the soul mirror each other. See also Spiritual Canticle, stanza 12, in Collected Works of, John of the Cross, pp. 515-519.

25Quoted in Thiselton, Interpreting God, p. 160.

26Hillman, Thought of the Heart, pp. 96-99.

27With only a quick glance, I found chap. 20, paras. 23, 25, and 26- 28; chap. 21, paras. 8-9; and chap. 25, paras. 18-19-all referring to Teresa experiencing herself as a different person.

Vilma Seelaus OCD made this presentation in June 1998 at the Carmelite Seminar at St. Mary's College in South Bend, Indiana. It is being published also on audio and videocassette by ICS Publications and the Carmelite Institute. Her address is Carmelite Monastery, Barrington, Rhode Island 02806.

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