MICHAEL STOEBER, B.A.; M.A.; S.T.L.; Ph.D.

Professor, Spirituality
m.stoeber@utoronto.ca
Room 206; ext. 255

Michael Stoeber was born in Calgary. He received a BA in philosophy (1980) and an MA in religious studies (1986) from the University of Calgary, as well as Alberta Permanent Teaching Certification (1983). After studies at McMaster and University of Toronto, he received a PhD in philosophy of religion through the Centre for the Study of Religion at the University of Toronto (1990) and a SSHRCC Post-Doctoral Fellowship (1990-1992). He is professor of Spirituality at Regis College and cross-appointed to the Department for the Study of Religion, University of Toronto.

Research & Teaching Interest

Areas of Research

comparative spirituality and philosophy of religion (especially Christian and Hindu); religious experience, comparative mysticism, evil and suffering, theodicy, afterlife beliefs, theological anthropology, intersections of spirituality and art.

Current Courses

  • Classics of Christian Spirituality
  • Comparative Mystical Traditions
  • Issues in the Philosophy of Religion and The Brothers Karamazov
  • Prayer and Meditation Through Pencil, Pastel, and Ink Sketching
  • Religious Experience in the World's Religions
  • Spiritual Theology of Evelyn Underhill
  • Spirituality and Suffering
  • Spirituality and Sexuality
  • Themes in Hindu Spirituality

Publications

Recent Essays and Articles 

Inter-Religious Contexts and Comparative Theology in the Thought of Evelyn Underhill: Symbolic Narratives of Mysticism and the Songs of Kab?r?, Hindu-Christian Studies, Vol. 25 (2013 forthcoming).

“Tantra and Śāktism in the Spirituality of Aurobindo Ghose”, in Situating Aurobindo: A Reader, Peter Heehs, ed. (New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2013) pp. 253-86.  Previously published in Studies in Religion vol. 38, no. 2 (2009) pp. 293-321.

“3HO Kundalini Yoga and Sikh Dharma”, Sikh Formations, Vol. 8, No. 3 (December 2012) pp. 351-368.

“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) pp. 195-220.  Previously published in Toronto Journal of Theology, Vol. 28, No. 1 (2012) pp. 81-103.

“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) pp. 224-245.

"Reflections on the Virtues and Dangers of Sexuality and Celibacy in the Roman Catholic Tradition", Journal of Inter-Religious Dialogue, Issue 2 (2009) pp.11-32. http://irdialogue.org/journal/issue02/reflections-on-the-virtues-and-dangers-of-sexuality-and-celibacy-in-the-roman-catholic-tradition-by-michael-stoeber/  (accessed on February 18, 2013)

“Amoral Trickster or Mystic-Saint? Spiritual Teachers and the Transmoral Narrative,” in G. William Barnard and Jeffrey J. Kripal (eds), Crossing Boundaries: Essays on the Ethical Status of Mysticism (New York: Seven Bridges Press, 2002) pp. 381-405.

"Evelyn Underhill on Magic, Sacrament, and Spiritual Transformation", Worship, vol. 77, no. 2 (2003) 132-151. Reprinted in the Evelyn Underhill Association Newsletter (November, 2003): http://www.evelynunderhill.org/articles/2003_spiritualtransformation.pdf    (accessed on February 18, 2013).

Books

Reclaiming Theodicy: Reflections on Suffering, Compassion, and Spiritual Transformation (London and New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2005) http://us.macmillan.com/reclaimingtheodicy/MichaelStoeber (accessed on February 18, 2013).



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) http://www.sunypress.edu/p-2414-critical-reflections-on-the-par.aspx (accessed February 18, 2013).



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) http://www.palgrave.com/PRODUCTS/title.aspx?pid=567784 (accessed on February 18, 2013).

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, Śaṅkara, 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).



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. http://www.utppublishing.com/product.php?productid=970&cat=0&page=1 (accessed February 18, 2013).

Noteworthy & Regis Connections