Michael Stoeber

Michael Stoeber

B.A.; M.A.; S.T.L.; Ph.D.

Professor, Director of Advanced Degrees

m.stoeber@utoronto.ca
Room 309; ext. 255

Teaching Level: Basic Degree, GCTS Full (Regular Faculty)
Specializations: Spirituality
Departments:
Cross-listed to Theological and Pastoral Theology

Michael Stoeber is Professor of Spirituality and Philosophy of Religion at Regis College, with special interests in comparative mysticism and theodicy.  His current research explores comparative issues in meditation, prayer, and yoga as well as topics on the intersection of spirituality and art.

  • Research Interests and Expertise

    • Philosophy of religion and comparative spirituality (especially Christian and Hindu forms)
    • Religious experience
    • Comparative mysticism
    • Evil and suffering
    • Theodicy
    • Afterlife beliefs
    • Theological anthropology
    • Intersections of spirituality and art

  • Courses

    • RGP3210H Comparative Mystical Traditions
    • RGP6210H Comparative Mystical Traditions
    • RGT3745H Issues in the Philosophy of Religion and The Brothers Karamazov
    • RGT6745H Issues in the Philosophy of Religion and The Brothers Karamazov
    • RGP3281H Religious Experience in the World’s Religions
    • RGP3207H Spirituality and Suffering
    • RGP6207H Spirituality and Suffering
    • RGP3206H Classics of Christian Spirituality
    • RGP6206H Classics of Christian Spirituality
    • RGT5729H Theology and Spirituality of Dorothee Soelle
    • RGP5209H Spiritual Theology of Evelyn Underhill
    • RGP3273H Prayer and Meditation Through Pencil, Pastel, and Ink Sketching

  • Selected publications

    Articles and Chapters

     

    • “Mystical Concepts, Artistic Contexts”, in Mystical Landscapes: From Vincent van Gogh to Emily Carr, ed., Katharine Lochnan with Roald Nasgaard and Bogomila Welsh-Ovcharov, (Toronto and New York: Art Gallery of Ontario and Prestel, forthcoming 2016).
    • “Mysticism in The Brothers Karamazov,” Toronto Journal of Theology 31.2 (Fall 2015): 249-271.
    • “The Comparative Study of Mysticism”, The Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Religion (Oxford Press, September 2015). 
    • Co-authored with Christina Labriola, “Art as a Medium of Theological Imagining and Spiritual Transformation”, in Complex Identities in a Shifting World: one God, many Stories, Pamela Couture and Robert Mager, eds. (Berlin, LIT Verlag, 2015): 255-268.
    • “Exploring Processes and Dynamics of Mystical Contemplative Meditation: Some Christian-Buddhist Parallels in Relation to Transpersonal Theory”, European Journal for Philosophy of Religion 7.2 (Summer 2015): 35-57.
    • “Tantra and Śāktism in the Spirituality of Aurobindo Ghose”, in Situating Aurobindo: A Reader, Peter Heehs, ed. (New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2013): 253-286. Also in Studies in Religion 38.2 (2009): 293-321.
    • “Inter-Religious Contexts and Comparative Theology in the Thought of Evelyn Underhill: Symbolic Narratives of Mysticism and the Songs of Kabīr”, Hindu-Christian Studies 26 (2013): 91-106.
    • “Re-Imagining Theosophy through Canadian Art: Theosophical Influences on the Painting and Writing of Lawren Harris”, in Michael Hawley and Pashaura Singh, eds., Re-Imagining South Asian Religions: Essays in Honour of Professors Harold G. Coward and Ronald W. Neufeldt (Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 2013): 195-220.  Also published in Toronto Journal of Theology, 28.1 (2012): 81-103.
    • “3HO Kundalini Yoga and Sikh Dharma”, Sikh Formations, 8.3 (2012): 351-368.
    • “Mysticism in Ecumenical Dialogue: Questions on the Nature and Effects of Mystical Experience”, in Teaching Mysticism, William B. Parsons, ed. (New York: Oxford University Press, 2011): 224-245.

    BOOKS

     

    • Reclaiming Theodicy: Reflections on Suffering, Compassion, and Spiritual Transformation (London and New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2005). Website.

    This book proposes a narrative of life within which one might understand suffering in relation to a personal God of ultimate power and love. It seeks to interpret suffering within a fundamentally compassionate and redemptive understanding of the Christian God. It explores various themes of theodicy — theology that defends God in the face of evil – creatively developing a distinction between transformative and destructive suffering. Some suffering has positive effects on people who struggle with it, but certain kinds of suffering are bitterly destructive. In response to such suffering, the book analyses the dynamics of human and divine compassion. It suggests basic principles toward developing a politics of compassion and illustrates how various spiritual experiences of God are healing and life-giving. Within a religious view that stresses compassion, healing, and spiritual growth, the book also explores the relevance of the ideas of heaven, hell, purgatory and rebirth in responding to suffering.

     

    • Co-editor with Hugo Meynell, Critical Reflections on the Paranormal (Albany, N.Y.: State University of New York Press, 1996). Website.

    The anthology is a collection of essays that discuss various aspects of paranormal phenomena, such as telepathy, psychokinesis, trance-mediumship, near death experiences, and past-life memories. In response to recent research and studies, both critical and supportive of the subject, they reflect on what is reasonable to believe about this phenomena, and why, Also, the essays suggest what changes might be demanded in our worldview, if these phenomena are accepted as genuine. The collection includes essays by Susan Armstrong, Heather Botting, Stephen Braude, Don Evans, David Ray Griffin, James Horne, Terence Penelhum, and the editors.

     

    • Theo-Monistic Mysticism: A Hindu-Christian Comparison (London: Macmillan Press; New York: St Martin’s Press, 1994). Website.

    In response to contemporary accounts of mystic phenomena, this book proposes a creative interpretive framework for understanding mysticism.  It postulates and explores various kinds of mystical experience, illustrating how they might be related and integrated within a narrative of spiritual movement and transformation.  In this view, radically apophatic, monistic experiences of oneness or unity, are connected with “theo-monistic” realizations—experiences which include dynamic and personal elements that are creative and moral, and to which other kinds of mysticism might also be related.  This view of mysticism is illustrated through a comparative study of Rāmānuja, Aurobindo, Śankara, Ruusbroec, Eckhart, Boehme, and other Christian and Hindu mystics.

     

    • Evil and the Mystics’ God: Towards A Mystical Theodicy (London: Macmillan Press; Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1992). Website.

    Theodicies are systems of philosophy that attempt to rationalize the existence of evil in a God-centered world. They do not normally take into account the responses to evil by mystics – people who speak of encountering divine reality in an immediate or direct fashion that transcends normal categories of experience. Evil and the Mystics’ God analyses the contribution that mystical thought makes towards establishing a reliable theodicy. Major subject figures include F. Dostoevsky, J. Hick, E. Underhill, J. Boehme, Eckhart, Shankara, and Aurobindo Ghose.

  • Currently Teaching