While some categories favored by recent spiritual authors, such as religious experience and community, do not figure as key notions in Aquinas’s writings, both his philosophical and theological treatises provide rich sources of insight about the human experience of transcendence and man’s mystical bond with God. It is customary to identify three strains of mystical teaching that appear in the works of Thomas Aquinas: Being-mysticism, Bridal-mysticism, and Knowledge-mysticism.
What I would like to do today is to honour my compatriot, Julian of Norwich, by attempting to boost something which was dear to her heart: contemplation. I want to do this by taking a long way round to indicate that monotheism without contemplation is dangerous, and to ponder why this should be so. To put it in a nutshell, my claim is that monotheism is a terrible idea, but a wonderful discovery. So I am going to ask you to bear with me as I attempt to fly a series of kites with you, and see if, when they are all up there, we can make any sense of them.