I am writing about mysticism in a Bach cantata. While researching for my last paper I came across Isabella van Elferen’s book Mystical Love in the German Baroque: Theology, Poetry, Music where she categorizes mystic experiences and descriptions. I think Elferen’s discussion of passion mysticism, communion mysticism, and mystical desire for death are especially interesting and I would like to incorporate her ideas into my next paper.
While an analysis of Elferen’s idea’s in Bach’s cantatas could suffice, I started thinking about Baroque mysticism in relation to modern theologies of sexuality. More specifically, I have been thinking about the possible relationship between Bach’s mysticism and Sarah Coakly’s theology of sexuality. I recently read Coakly’s article “Living into the Mystery of the Holy Trinity: Trinity, Prayer, and Sexuality” where I encountered the idea that human desire for God is necessarily related to human sexual desire. I suspect that Coakly’s explanation of sexuality and faith might shed light on Baroque (and Bach’s) mysticism for modern readers/listeners who are uncomfortable with relating God and sex.
Elferen and Coakly’s ideas intrigue me and I would like to provide a modern theological explanation for mysticism, but I am not sure if this a wise choice. I might disproportionately focus on theological analysis instead of musical analysis and I would need to quickly familiarize myself with Coakly’s essay “God, Sexuality, and the Self” which I have not been able to find on Catalyst.