Deep Jesus, Us?

The HPR June 9th editorial Save Jesus, Us! by Ryan Gustafson caught my attention – for sure it is “scary” to hear the Rev. Jerry Falwell’s call to “blow them [terrorists] all away in the name of the Lord?” It was equally scary to earlier learn what Billy Graham had to say about Jews to President Nixon and then to hear what Graham’s son, heir apparent, thinks about Muslims. These are examples of what is defined as “close-minded” individuals – those existing with little or no awareness of the importance of their unconscious. Unconsciousness is when a person does not listen or fails to properly understand his or her inner voices – and especially the voice that says, “you are a work-of-art in process – so experience, reflect, abstract, and experiment with each new experience because you are the source of new revelations.”

In reading Gustafson’s editorial, I was reminded of another scary event. It was when fire-and-brimstone preacher, Jimmy Swaggart, interpreted one of his dreams that God had given him an important glimpse of the future. Time magazine (March 7, 1988:46) reported that in his dream, “Jimmy and wife Frances attend a large meeting, where an Assemblies of God stage show is being promoted with magazines that contain obscene pictures in their center­folds. Jimmy cries out in protest but is ignored. He bows to weep, and when he looks up again, the auditorium is empty. The floor is littered with debris, which Jimmy starts to collect. When someone asks him what he is doing, the evangelist responds, ‘I am trying to clean up the church. I am trying to clean up the church.’

Swaggart apparently didn’t have the wherewithal of Nebuchadnezzar who summoned Daniel to interpret his dream of a tree. Daniel’s interpretation was that Nebuchadnezzar was the tree in his dream that would be cut down to a stump if he did not change his attitude and ways. Nebuchadnezzar did not heed Daniel’s interpretation and for seven years Nebuchadnezzar was “wet with the due of heaven, ate the grass of the animals as his hair grew as long as eagles’ feathers and his nails were like birds’ claws.” It was rather disappointing to learn that Swaggart’s rehabilitation and resurrection from his failure to understand his dream and change his behavior took only three months.

Nebuchadnezzar Tree Dream

Swaggart was forever attacking sin, sexual immorality, pornography, and the devil’s rock-n-roll music. He also was the inquisitor against Jimmy Bakker and Marvin Gorman in their sexual downfalls. Jimmy was aware of the scrutiny he lived under and told Time that it was impossible for him to stray sexually because his wife Frances “is with me all the time. She goes to every crusade we go to. And if she doesn’t go, I have several people who go with me. I’m never alone. I’m never by myself.”

Shortly afterward Time reported “Prostitute Debra Murphree said she had a yearlong series of motel meetings with Swaggart during which no intercourse had occurred. She added that she customarily posed naked for him, and on one occasion, he asked her to wear a dress but no under­wear and drive around with him. She said he ‘was kind of per­verted to talk about the kinds of things they talked about – I wouldn’t want him around my children’”.

Swaggart’s sad and scary failure was misinterpreting that his dream was telling him to clean up the Church when it really was telling him to clean up himself. This kind of failure could be in our midst as we wonder about President Bush’s “messages from God”. What if Bush is also misinterpreting? And this is highly likely for someone who sees evil out there in an “evil triad.” Bush’s projection of evil out onto others is a clear indication that as Gustafson suggests, Bush is a person “religious by word only.” Matthew Chapter 7 is a key to understanding deep Jesus.

Matthew Chapter 7

This conclusion is drawn from the fundamental teaching of Jesus, Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye with never a thought for the great plank in your own eye?  In order to Love thy neighbor as thy self, one has to learn how to love thy Self. Loving one’s enemy and turning the other cheek follow on actualizing Self-love and removing the dark shadow plank in our eye is the first analytical step. Edinger in his interesting book, Ego and Archetype, suggests that these teaching clearly indicate that Jesus was the first depth psychologist nineteen hundred years before the unconscious was empirically established.

Gustafson asks if these “people religious by word only…. really follow the teaching of the Bible.” He asks this question in the context of the Sermon on the Mount and the Beatitudes and selects one to support his query, Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Gustafson then elaborates this Beatitude by writing this about several religious/political leaders including President Bush, “They’re righteous, all right. Steeped in righteousness. So righteous, in fact, that they are the only people righteous and just enough to judge others to be unworthy of heaven. Never mind Jesus’ warning to judge not least ye be judged.

Sermon on the Mount The Beatitudes

Gustafson’s elaboration does not advance our understanding of this Beatitude as Higher Law.  However, if we change our interpretive paradigm and apply a subjective method of interpreting the Beatitudes, Edinger argues, “the teaching of Jesus yields a host of insights that are remarkably similar to the discoveries of depth psychology.” Edinger’s comment on the Righteous Beatitude is this: “The ego needs to endure pain and hurt without succumbing to bitterness and resentment in order to be related to the objective inner law. Such an ego attitude is rewarded by contact with the archetypal psyche and its healing, life-giving images.”

Another Beatitude, Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the sons of God, ties the Beatitudes together and on it Edinger comments, “It is the appropriate role of the ego to mediate between the opposing parties of an intrapsychic conflict. If the ego identifies with one side of the conflict, no resolution leading to wholeness is possible. The dissociation becomes permanent. If the ego serves the reconciling function of peacemaker, it is acting in the interest of totality, the Self, and hence as the ‘son of God.’” The Beatitudes understood psychologically lead to the goal of wholeness and are in praise of an emptied or non-inflated ego.

I agree with Gustafson that “Religion can play a powerful, beneficial, and uplifting role in politics and policy making” provided it still embodies meaning for its followers. And it seems increasingly apparent, as Gustafson argues, that many Christian followers have lost touch with “the morals and spirituality inherent in Christianity.” And the key word here is inherent – which suggests that we look within for our names have been written a priori in heaven. Jesus give us this understanding in Luke 10:20 when the people rejoiced in seeing that they had power over demons to which Jesus responds, “do not rejoice in this, that the sprits are subject to you: but rejoice that your names are written in haven.”  Nineteen hundred years later, Jung (Psychology and Religion) puts it this way, “The Self, like the unconscious, is an a priori existent out of which the ego evolves. It is, so to speak, an unconscious pre-figuration of the ego.” The important point for us is realizing that our individuality has this a priori unconscious existence and that our quest is to discover its meaning – paying attention to one’s dreams and meaningful external events is essential.

Carl Jung – The Self

As Medieval Christians came to terms with Plato and Aristotle, the Catholic Church had to come to terms with Copernicus, Galileo, and Newton. The challenge today for modern religious thought is coming to terms with Marx, Einstein, and Jung. Dourley in a penetrating book, The illness that we are: A Jungian Critique of Christianity, suggests that “a modern philosophy unaware of the unconscious basis from which living philosophies arise, and a theology unaware of the unconscious origins of the myth on whose behalf it labored, would both be victims of unconscious possession and so unwittingly dedicated to the spread of their own unconsciousness.” What is so worrisome, especially in today’s weapon infested world, is having leaders and a president still believing that Adam and Eve were real people.

An important Edinger point is that we are not expected to live Jesus’ life but to live our own lives with the same awareness of our individual connectivity to a personal cosmological meaning. We are connected a priori to a personal cosmological meaning that calls out for Self-discovery.  Jung (Psychotherapists or the Clergy), sets the task thus: “We Protestants must sooner or later face this question: Are we to understand the ‘imitation of Christ’ in the sense that we should copy his life and, if I may use the expression, ape his stigmata; or in the deeper sense that we are to live our own proper lives as truly as he lived his in its individual uniqueness? It is no easy matter to live a life that is modeled on Christ’s, but it is unspeakably harder to live one’s own life, as truly as Christ lived his.”

If dreams are important to understand and to heed, is it not appropriate to ask our leaders, “What are you dreaming, are they being analyzed, and are they being heeded?” Where in Bush’s cabinet or on corporate and church boards of directors is the analytical psychologist? This is the paradigm shift required to address the illness that we are and find the Deep Jesus in Us!

Kapitalism on the Couch to continue….

Scherling, S.A. (2005, November 24). Deep Jesus, Us? High Plains Reader, 12(12), p. 5.

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