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Life Arts    H4'ed 4/1/15

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

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But the illuminative input from the unconscious must be carefully considered by reflection and rational insight to be productive (pages 248-249). In effect, Jung is describing what is known in the Christian tradition of thought as discernment of spirits.

Kasper says, "The discernment of spirits is talked about already in the New Testament (Rom 12:2; 1 Cor 12:10; 1 Thess 5:21; 1 John 4:1)" (page 11).

Perhaps I should also mention that Jung discusses three stages of illumination (pages 504-505).

But Jung does not think that religious faith always leads to illumination. He thinks only that religious faith can help people be open to possible illumination from the unconscious.

Now, according to Kasper, Pope Francis claims that "Christian faith is not . . . a flood light that illuminates the entire path of our life. Rather, it is like a lantern that shines for us on the path of life as far as we ourselves are advancing" (page 21).

Kasper also quotes Pope Francis as saying that "[f]aith admittedly is 'not a light that dispels all of our darkness, but rather a lamp that guides our steps in the night and that is sufficient'" (quoted on page 20).

Now, Jung points out that the full moon is radiant, but the non-radiant part of the moon is dark from our standpoint -- so its fullest and most illuminating radiance also includes darkness (page 25).

Incidentally, because Pope Francis likes to say that the church is feminine, I should mention that Jung says that the early church fathers constructed an ecclesiastical allegory of Sol (the sun = the Christ) and Luna (the moon = the church) (page 25). That ecclesiastical allegory parallels the Christian allegorical interpretation of the Song of Songs with the heavenly Christ as the Groom and the earthly church as the Bride. (A parallel Jewish allegorical interpretation of the Song of Songs made God in heaven the groom and Israel on earth the bride.)

The view of Christian faith that Kasper is attributing to Pope Francis is a refreshingly humble view of Christian faith.

Kasper calls attention to what he refers to as the "multicultural world" and claims that Pope Francis himself refers to "polyhedral reality" (page 20).

According to Kasper, "The pope names two fundamental challenges of plurality [to the emergence of a new Christian presence in Europe and elsewhere]: 'The challenge of multipolarity and the challenge of transversality.' With the concept of multipolarity, he pleads for a Europe of unity in diversity, which excludes hegemonic supremacy and respects the cultural diversity of peoples and of religions. Again he harks back to the image of the polyhedron, in which the unity of the whole preserves the distinctiveness of the different parts. Transversal communication means an open, respectful, and enriching exchange between generations, between people and groups of disparate ancestry and different ethnic, linguistic, and religious traditions in a spiritual of mutual understanding and mutual respect. In this transversal communication, Christianity today can find its place anew [in Europe]" (pages 85-86).

In a lengthy discussion note, Kasper further explains the concept of transversality:

"The concept of transversality, which derives from mathematics and geology is found nowadays also in economics (the theory of exchange rates), sociology, political science, and psychology as well as in the aesthetics and theory of modern media. In philosophy the concept of transversality has become fundamental in view of the ineluctable plurality of our globalized world. It stands for a theory of rational communication and creative interaction between different ethnic, cultural, religious, and other kinds of groups. In the process, it seeks to avoid the relativism and the mutual indifference of a postmodern anything goes attitude as well as the neocolonial, Eurocentric exclusiveness and one-sided normativity of Western modernity. It has to do with a transmodern concept of reason, which creatively links identity and plurality and thus enables a creative coexistence and cooperation, in which the identity of each respective culture and religion is cherished and, in the encounter with other cultures and religions, is simultaneously enriched. In Latin America, this way of thinking is found above all in Enrique Dussel, who comes from Argentina [as does Pope Francis]" (page 116).

Your guess is as good as mine as to whether or not the American Catholic theocons that Linker writes about will endorse this concept of transversality.

(Article changed on April 2, 2015 at 07:25)

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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; Ph.D.in 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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