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This spirited talk will consider aspects of the work of key mystics within the three Abrahamic traditions in examining questions such as: What is mysticism? How does it dig into and pull away from everyday religion? What are the dangers of the mystical enterprise and why has the mainstream religious leadership of the three traditions typically expressed opposition to its study and practice? What makes the search for the hiddenness of God similar and different among the three Abrahamic traditions? What does it mean to "empty one's self of self, in order to be filled with God?" And: is there still relevance to mysticism today? 

The class will consider aspects of the works of key mystics such as Hildegaard of Bingen, St. Francis of Assisi, Moses de Leon, Abraham Abulafia, Ibn Arabi, Rumi, and St. Theresa of Avila. Each of these experienced the goal of the mystic in a unique manner — a kind of merging of the spirit with God — with full awareness of the attendant dangers of not being able to return, fully alive and fully sane, to the world of the here and now.

Dr. Ori Z. Soltes is Goldman Professorial Lecturer in Theology and Fine Arts at Georgetown University. He is the former director and curator of the B'nai B'rith Klutznick National Jewish Museum in Washington, D.C. Dr. Soltes is the author of more than 130 articles, exhibition catalogues, essays, and books and is the writer, director, and narrator of more than 30 documentary videos. Among his most recent books are Fixing the World: Jewish American Painters in the Twentieth Century; Our Sacred Signs: How Christian, Jewish and Muslim Art Draw from the Same Source; and The Ashen Rainbow: Essays on the Arts and the Holocaust. Dr. Soltes has taught and lectured in more than 20 universities and museums nationally on subjects ranging from Symbols of Faith: Art as an Instrument of Addressing God to The Body in Ancient Art. Throughout the United States and overseas, he has guest-curated exhibitions that have focused on diverse aspects of Western art throughout the ages and art from across the world.

Learn more about Dr. Ori Z. Soltes → Learn more about the B’nai B’rith Klutznick National Jewish Museum →
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