Dr Jane Shaw, Dean of Grace Cathedral in San Francisco, explores the revival of interest in mysticism and religious experience generally - at the end of the 19th and in the early 20th century.
The late 20th and early 21st century have witnessed a decline in churchgoing with an increased scepticism about institutional religion. At the same time, there has - paradoxically - been an increased desire for spirituality - for God "outside" religion. This is usually regarded as a post Second World War trend, but in this week's Essay series, Jane Shaw explores the late 19th and early 20th century roots of this phenomenon - in what she calls the "mystical turn".
In the first programme in our series, The Mystical Turn, Jane Shaw examines the role of the "gloomy Dean" - Anglican priest and academic WR Inge. His book, Christian Mysticism - published in 1899 after Inge had spoken on the subject at Oxford University's prestigious Bampton Lectures the previous year - had a profound influence on Christian thought and practice, and gave rise to a deluge of books on the subject, the most famous being William James's Varieties of Religious Experience and Evelyn Underhill's Mysticism.