Explores the relationship between the mystical and the political dimensions of religious existence, beginning with the thirteenth-century Franciscon movement and ending with a feminist opproach to the norralives of African Americons who serve in the ministry. From the thirteenth-century Franciscan movement of African American mystics, this wide-ranging volume of essays considers exemplars of Christian mysticism (including Teresa of Avila, lgnatius of Loyola, the Quakers, and the Society of Friends) whose practices and influence brought about social change. Linking major conceptual issues and social theory, the essays examine the historical impact of mysticism in contemporary life and argue for a hermeneutical approach to mysticism in its historical context. The contributors look at how mystical empowerment can serve as a catalyst for expressing compassion in acts of justice and long-term social change. We learn how Sojourner Truth and Rebecca Cox Jackson, driven by mystical experiences to take up lives of preaching, faced the same misogynistic religious environments as did women mystics throughout history, which has submerged this key area of women's experience. The final two essays describe the development of socially engaged Buddhism in Asia and America and the mystical roots of deep ecology.