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Life Arts    H1'ed 4/23/14

The Theocons Are Coming! The Theocons Are Coming!

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In short, properly indoctrinated Roman Catholics tend to live a kind of mythic life -- an elevated life involving the church's understanding of the Christ myth. But their mythic lives tend to make it very difficult for them to recognize and deal with their own personal shadows (in the technical sense in which Jung uses this term). The same may be true, mutatis mutandi, for all other Christians in their respective traditions.


Incidentally, Nietzsche, the son of a Protestant pastor, was deeply enmeshed with the Christ myth -- in short, he had a kind of Christian imagination. Even though he famously declared that God was dead (to him), he also famously envisioned the Overman -- a vision based either on the imagined resurrection of Jesus in the Christ myth, or on the imagined Second Coming of Christ.


Now, it would be great if Christians of all kinds were to experience today a spiritual renewal (i.e., a renewal of the spirit) something like a personal experience of resurrection or like the Second Coming (the proverbial second wind in life?) -- or perhaps both, but at different times in their lives. Arguably Nietzsche had an inkling of Christians experiencing something like these possibilities, but he saw these possibilities only through a glass darkly in his vision of the Overman.


However, in the allegorical interpretation that I am suggesting here of the Christ myth for individual Christians and former Christians to experience in their psyches, Christians and former Christians would presumably have to experience something analogous to the crucifixion of Jesus, before they could go on to experience something analogous to the resurrection and the Second Coming. We could liken the encounter with one's shadow, as Jung describes this, to a kind of crucifixion. From the encounter with one's shadow, a Christian person might emerge to renewed life, which could be likened to the resurrection and Second Coming.


But this kind of figurative crucifixion would involve the analogous passion and death-like experience of ego-consciousness under attack by the non-ego-consciousness -- for example, in complicated grief or in clinical depression. Under such circumstances, Jung says that it is imperative to put up a fight to resist the onslaught of the non-ego consciousness (page 239). By putting up a fight to resist the onslaught, you can hopefully work through the ordeal and emerge to tell others to put up a fight to resist the onslaught of the non-ego consciousness when it occurs to them.


In any event, despite Jung's perceptive analysis, quoted above, Jung himself succumbed to the old Christian bias against atheists (e.g., Freud, a secular humanist).


But the experience of the sacred (i.e., the kind of experience that the historical Jesus proclaimed as the experience of the kingdom of God) is open to everybody -- to self-described atheists and to people who believe in the conceptual construct of the monotheistic deity. See Anthony de Mello's posthumously published book The Way to Love: Meditations for Life (2012).


As we wait to experience the sacred in our psyches, we live in the waste land that T. S. Eliot famously commemorates in his poem The Waste Land. Always and everywhere, this has been the human condition. Around the globe today, this is the human condition.


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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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