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Cardinal Kasper explains where Pope Francis is coming from (REVIEW ESSAY)

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Duluth, Minnesota (OpEdNews) April 1, 2015: For understandable reasons, progressives and liberals should be concerned about the American Catholic conservatives that Damon Linker describes in his book THE THEOCONS: SECULAR AMERICA UNDER SIEGE (2006). It is still too earlier to tell if the American Catholic theocons will change their view of secular America and adopt Pope Francis' view instead.

Now, Walter Kasper is a German cardinal in the Roman Catholic Church. He is steeped in Christian theological thought, as he shows in his short new book POPE FRANCIS' REVOLUTION OF TENDERNESS AND LOVE: THEOLOGICAL AND PASTORAL PERSPECTIVES, translated by William Madge (Paulist Press, 2015). This short book contains 95 pages of text followed by 23 pages of endnotes. Make no mistake about it, Cardinal Kasper has done his homework. So if you are interested in where Pope Francis is coming from, as they say, you will probably find Kasper's book informative.

However, in my estimate, Christian theology can be likened to alchemy by Christian alchemists. Both Christian theological thought and Christian alchemical thought involve fanciful terminology such as the theological personifications known as the supposedly heavenly Christ and the supposedly heavenly Blessed Virgin Mary, which approximate the alchemical personifications of Sol (the sun = the supposed heavenly Christ) and Luna (symbolically represented by the supposed heavenly Blessed Virgin Mary).

Now, C. G. Jung, M.D. (1875-1961), the Swiss psychiatrist and psychological theorist, was a Swiss Reform Protestant, whose father was a Swiss Reform pastor. Dr. Jung massively researched his learned book MYSTERIUM CONJUNCTIONIS: AN INQUIRY INTO THE SEPARATION AND SYNTHESIS OF PSYCHIC OPPOSITES IN ALCHEMY, 2nd ed. translated by R. F. Hull (Princeton University Press, 1970; German orig. ed. published in two parts, 1955 and 1956). From 1941 to 1954, Jung worked on this magnum opus. In it he centered his attention of Christian alchemists.

Jung makes an important contribution to our understanding religious faith such as the religious faith of self-described Christians that is relevant for considering Kasper's discussion of Pope Francis' understanding of Christian religious faith.

To establish Jung's framework of thought, I need to explain that he works with the opposition of modern rationalism versus religious faith.

Kasper distinguishes what he refers to as secularism (as understood and advocated by Pope Francis) and "a secularization that is inimical to religion or the church" (page 116).

So what Kasper refers to as secularization that is inimical to religion or the church is equivalent to what Jung refers to as the spirit of modern rationalism, and vice versa.

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According to Kasper, Pope Francis thinks that "the religious dimension of human beings does not stand in opposition to the legitimate secular character of culture and state. He knows that the time is past when the church was society's only point of reference for culture [as it was in European Christendom for centuries]. A new kind of Christian presence is needed [in European and elsewhere]" (page 85).

Now, in Jung's psychological theory, modern rationalism involves ego-consciousness only and exclusively. In his terminology, modern rationalism is not open to inputs involving the unconscious.

In effect, Jung sees religious faith as being open to inputs involving the unconscious.

Modern Rationalism = Closed-Systems Thinking.

Religious Faith = Open-Systems Thinking.

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In addition, Jung works with the opposition of rational insight versus illumination by and from the unconscious.

Rational Insight = Rational Consciousness = European and American Enlightenment.

Illumination = Enlightenment from the Unconscious = Mystical Experience (Optimally).

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Thomas James Farrell is professor emeritus of writing studies at the University of Minnesota Duluth (UMD). He started teaching at UMD in Fall 1987, and he retired from UMD at the end of May 2009. He was born in 1944. He holds three degrees from Saint Louis University (SLU): B.A. in English, 1966; M.A.(T) in English 1968; higher education, 1974. On May 16, 1969, the editors of the SLU student newspaper named him Man of the Year, an honor customarily conferred on an administrator or a faculty member, not on a graduate student -- nor on a woman up to that time. He is the proud author of the book (more...)

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