The second international lecture of the pre-con events of the international conference on Theology of Pilgrimage was held online on October 17, 2023. At this session, Dr. Kurt Anders Richardson, President of Abrahams Bridge Institute, delivered his speech under the title “The Way of Pilgrimage: On Internalization of Sacred Journeying and the Way to the Heavenly Jerusalem”.
Here is the video of the session accompanied by the written abstract:
This paper reflects upon Abrahamic mystical practice oriented first to the biographical portrayals of the prophets in their miraculous journeying into the presence of the divine both terrestrially and celestially. These prophetic travelogues shape the mystical landscapes and purposes of pilgrimage in the history and contemporary accounts of pilgrimage spirituality. Noting particularly how the stories of such guidance to the Land of Promise and to the Mount of Sacrifice as with Prophet Abraham, to the Ladder of Heaven as with Prophet Jacob, to the mountain of the Lord as with Prophet Moses, to the cave of Refuge as with Prophet Elijah, to the Throne of Heaven as with Prophet Isaiah, to the Mountain of Transfiguration as with Messiah Jesus, to the Last Day and to the New Jerusalem as with Apostle John and Apostle Paul, often with an angelic companion to Jerusalem, as with Prophet Ezekiel and Prophet Mohammad. Whether celestial or terrestrial, these biographies are read as mystical experiences of journeying into a transcendent space to be emulated among all Abrahamic mystics and their readers where the narratives progressively portray an internalization of pilgrimage throughout a lifetime of faith and illumination seeking and realizing the intimate presence of God and God’s divine emissaries. While geographically defined ritual pilgrimage is perennially practiced, internalized pilgrimage with or without physical traveling is the distinguishing mark of Abrahamic mystical practice drawing upon the eschatological/apocalyptic languages and frameworks of the prophetic texts. This paper highlights these connections between prophetic and mystical texts suggestive of hermeneutical aspects linking the two dimensions of interfaith reading.