Monday, March 28, 2016


Thomas More's book Utopia has given to the English language and imagination the idea of an ideal. In it, this Humanist scholar invents a place, necessarily on an island, where exists a perfect society. The details are irrelevant. What is relevant is the word utopia itself. It is based on a Greek word meaning 'not or no place' - More's little joke being that there can be no perfect place here in this broken world. More was, of course, more than a Humanist, he was a devout Catholic Christian. Only paradise was perfect as one was in the near presence of God who is perfection and perfect love. Thus no place (utopia) could exist on this earth. To all Christians, since Adam and Eve were expelled from the Garden of Eden this world is and will be, imperfect.

This is a roundabout introduction to a podcast I have just finished listening to called Brother XII (for those who are Roman numeral challenged, that is Brother 12). The documentary details the attempt to find utopia on the coast of Vancouver Island in the 1920s by Edward Wilson, who called himself Brother XII. He was a retired sea captain who became a theosophist, a mystical belief system that mashed together various bits and pieces of eastern and Egyptian mysticism with personal mystical experiences. Wilson himself branched off into his own alternate universe, described in the podcast.

My interest was captured by the Canadian connection and by a general interest in the various forms mysticism has taken, often in Protestant countries. I probably don't have enough years remaining to add another research interest, but I have indeed been interested in mysticism for many years and now my interest makes me ask what need is fulfilled by the mystical impulse.

I have no answers here, only questions....

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