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Document Details :
Title: The Dark Night of the Soul, Yesterday and Today
Subtitle: Revisiting John of the Cross's Classic Text and Symbol
Author(s): PAYNE, Steven
Journal: Studies in Spirituality
Volume: 31 Date: 2021
Without always knowing its source, contemporary commentators often invoke some variant of the expression ‘dark night of the soul’ in trying to characterize the multiple crises of our times, including the COVID-19 pandemic and its economic consequences, global warming and environmental degradation, a renewed reckoning with systemic racism, and political unrest of all sorts. This paper recalls the origins and understanding of the ‘dark night’ symbol and terminology in the writings of John of the Cross. After presenting an overview of the relevant Sanjuanist texts, especially the treatise known to us as The Dark Night of the Soul, as well as a concise summary of John’s main teachings therein, this paper looks at how these have come to be applied (and perhaps sometimes misapplied) today, raising several critical questions and paying special attention to the ways in which John’s sixteenth-century message might help us weather our 21st-century storms.