Saturday, July 30, 2011

HUMANS AND INTIMACY Date unsure..note to Edward Fudge

Hi Edward.
Rarely, I'm convinced, do individuals share themselves on a deeply personal level. A larger part of social relationships are presenting oneself as consistently as possible to what we want people to think of us. It is a necessary thing for human survival to develop and present a 'persona' or 'mask' in most of our public life. That does not mean that there is no true and relevant relating happening but I think most of us rarely let another in on our deepest feelings, questions, fears and desires. Right or wrong, we are ashamed of or for other reasons do not want or fear others knowing. This is  true in  committed couple relationships as well as in casual relationships. This is a rather sad reality. It is a barrier to full intimacy. But it is an  indication we still have exciting challenges ahead and potentials to fulfill  as human beings.

This is one of the amazing and powerful things about genuine, responsible professional counseling relationships. Often there, more than in any of ones 'real' relationships, a person may reach a level of honest sharing that can become deeply therapeutic and thus, in my view, highly spiritual. I think such a level of deep and frightening honesty is at the bottom of  the most profound  spiritual experiences  of life. I keep in mind  to this day the few individuals that I have so confided in. And I feel blessed for having done so. I was not rejected or put down or judged. For the most part my choice of where to so confide has been well placed.

It could be accurately argued that such honesty  at times may  be unethical  because of the burden it can create for the other person in the  relationship. A well defined therapeutic relationship does not run as  high a risk since it is separate from our daily significant others and our statements do not affect the personal life of the therapist like they do loved ones. Such honesty might rightly be viewed as our 'pearls' and as Jesus said we should carefully choose where we cast them. But, I'm convinced, they are not to be forever kept to ourselves. All our deepest secrets are potential gifts, not only for ourselves but to others.

Ideally two humans could conceivably relate consistently  in such intimacy. It is my belief that such open and vulnerable sharing of oneself is the potential that marriage makes possible for  lovers. How often that actually happens I guess no one knows but I suspect it is rather rare. The more one has a need to be seen in a certain prescribed way(Often one's need to be seen as religious or superior in some way are such  barriers.)the more difficult it is to drop the mask and take the very real risk of being rejected or judged negatively. One is not likely to exercise such a self revelation unless he is quite sure nothing he reveals  will cause the other person  to think less of her  or to in any way reject her. Such trust is  uncommon and being capable of receiving the full story of another and accepting them 'just as they are' is likely not a common capacity. A well trained professional counselor aspires to such a goal and I think in the professional relationship many are able to find such safety to successfully let down their mask. I'm sure that a promise of agreed to confidentiality is essential for a healthy person to risk such honesty.
Professional Therapy

No doubt some friends and some lovers do provide such confidentially to each other.( There are always human limits to any confidentiality promise.) But such a capacity to accept another at such a level and to be that open in a non professional setting must be an infrequent treasure.

I think it would be a mistake to assume that religious groups share at a superior level than others. But religious groups, eg. churches and prayer groups, do provide an extremely important and effective emotional and physical support group to members. Unquestionably non-professionally led anonymous groups, such as AA,  have provided a level of confidentiality that has helped untold numbers of people to become stronger persons.  Such support does not require the kind of intimate friendship I am describing above.

I do not know how often marriage reaches such an intimacy level but that seems to me the greatest promise it brings. There is likely no human experience that could potentially be more intensely spiritual than that. It would likely be an experience of fully recognizing in oneself and the other the deeper meaning behind the saying that we are 'made in the image of God.'

It is important I think that such intimacy be understood to not only benefit the couple. Rather all relationships that aim for this goal will be a blessing to all  the people who live in its circle. This is one good reason that Western culture and the church should be more open  than thus far to LGBT couples  yearning to express their love in marriage. They desire and need  it for precisely all the same reasons; legal, social and spiritual, that straight people do. Marriage affords any committed love couple the highest possibility of and support for an intimate relationship that not only blesses them but the world. Marriage potentially is a place where intimate love expressed as  Agape, Phileo and Eros  is the  highest level of  anticipated  joy and delight. Why should  everyone not have that same opportunity and possibility for such a goal? There cannot be too much support in a culture for committed love relationships in the world. I believe the survival and the quality of  future human lives depends upon  the increase of such relationships.

Such thoughts remind me of a truth I once heard from a Church of Christ  preacher, that we should remember  instead of human beings, we are 'humans becoming.' We are all more capable of 'knowing even as we are known.'

God's peace all around you. Jim
The reader may want to read this blog post also:

HUMANISM Dec23, 2005.... note to Edward Fudge

Hi Edward.
To me it is regrettable that 'humanistic" has actually become a negative word to some Christians of all people. Are you suggesting Edward that you do not read the Bible as a human? May I ask in what capacity you do your reading? - As an alien?  I'm genuinely curious. I've never found a more appropriate fulcrum(though not as powerful as some people claim they have found) from which to operate than that of being first and always a human. I'm not likely a humanist in the philosophical meaning of the word but as Landon Saunders once said, "The only trouble with humanism is that it is not human enough." I think that may be true. The same I think can be said of much present day popular Christianity.  Orthodox Christianity has I guess finally managed to thoroughly give 'human' a bad name even though it gives lip service to that being the object not only of God's full love but of God's hope and even the place in which God chooses to dwell. My how we have managed to change that value around and to even say the word with strong  contempt. The key purpose and gift of the story of Christ with which we 'humans' have been entrusted should be, I believe, to help us arrive back at our full humanity and be at home for the first time as they say. This is indeed a way of defining the' peace that passes all understanding'- to be fully and spiritually at home in our own skin and to practice being what we are- humans carrying within us the very image of God. What a different world it would be if that is how we viewed ourselves and others. That is a way of describing what the hope behind the story of Jesus is all about..
Did you happen to see the CNN special last night on the 'Two Marys' ? It refers to some of the most recent information about the Bible and gospels that I sometimes refer to. Information that hopefully will some day be included commonly in Christian discussions of understanding the Bible. I was happy to see it being given at such a public level. I think God does sometimes use T.V. I have corresponded some with one of the presenters- Elaine Pagels, Biblical text historian, and have read her books appreciatively. Her personal Christian story to which she sometimes refers is a strong witness to the Spirit of Christ at work in a human life. Christians in general prefer to be very closed off to information, past and present, about their own texts to which they feel responsible. As a Christian I also feel that responsibility. Historic Christianity has not, from near its inception, been comfortable with Jesus' humanity which is 'a' if not 'the' central issue of the gospel This is obvious in a perusal of much Christian art through the centuries not to mention many of the edicts, creeds and dogmas of the church councils. I think orthodoxy has terribly clouded that central purpose for the larger part of Christendom not to mention for the world. I feel this with deep regret and sadness. Jesus' humanity, which is the only aspect of His that we can hope to personally identify with, has been hidden in the 'spiritual' language and dogma of the historical church.
But I wish to set such concerns aside this close to Christmas in the desire for Christ to 'be born in us(how truly human and genuinely spiritual) today'. God bless you. Jim H.
On Fri, 23 Dec 2005 08:52:48 -0600 "Edward ... writes:
I can appreciate some of your points but we part company with your thoroughgoing humanistic reading of the Bible.
Merry Christmas! Edward

ME AND MY SHADOW DreamAp25,2010(edited July2011)

This dream came through while I was attempting to sleep working the night shift at the hospital. I was in an extravagant suite of a mansion house. While filling the jacuzzi water began to run out onto the floor of the whole suite, soaking carpets and rugs. I was frantically trying to stop the water and look for ways to clean up the horrible mess. _______ came in. It was his house. He was very calm and not blaming me in the least. He said he had a special vacuum that would clean it up. He got the expensive high tech vacuum out and without any apparent upset or frustration began to suck all the water up. Even though _____ was not angry at me I was quite upset for the mess I had caused. On waking I also had a nauseous feeling to realize that Beverly is really dead. I did not want to get up and start the day.

REFLECTION: I think the dream source again uses ____, former Clearlake COC member and strong supporter of my ministry there, as a symbol for my shadow. (I noticed this morning that COC can stand for my present job of 'Chaplain On Call' or the denomination of my heritage, Church Of Christ. )Out of control water perpetually represents the negative and frightening aspects of 'collective unconscious' in my dreams. It being out of control symbolizes how threatening to ordinary life routine and relationships the unconscious can be as it creatively seeks to become more conscious.

I've had countless dreams where this is the case. It shows even a darker side of the unconscious when it is pictured underground. Here it is all above ground, in the open. Trying to bring water under control in my actual basement has been an ongoing project for me for 35 years. In the early years the water poured in and was often carrying dirt and red clay with it, making it look like blood at times. Gradually I have brought it under control more and more. During the past year I have put underground drain pipes to take more of the water far from the house. This weekend really tested the progress. I was outside during hard rains checking how the drains and gutters were working. I was pleased. The basement took in the smallest amount of seep water ever, and what came in came into a 'behind the wall' trough that takes it to a floor drain. (In Feb, 2011 I finally had all basement walls secured with steel and all seep water professionally channeled to the drain system, ending this 35 year battle.)

Now this dream pictures out-of control-water on an upper floor of a very extravagant home where I am visiting. I have felt I have been attempting, in my life, to 'clean up' the rupture of the unconscious into consciousness all the way back to 1985. The visions and continued experience of the unconscious certainly in many ways was upsetting and disturbing my ordinary life routine. It also was very disturbing to my family to never know if I were going to be OK as I handled various new and more responsible outer jobs. The worry was always that I might fall into serious emotional disruption or depression.

Like in the dream, I've always felt very sad about the negative experience my family has had due to my wrestling with the unconscious. I was always working to keep the disturbances of the unconscious 'cleaned up' and ' under control' as best I could. And I was apparently successful for, since the eruption in Aug. '85, I have led a reasonably ordinary outer life, fulfilling basic family, friendship and work responsibilities. I made continuous advancements in my employment and ministry. Now, in the past two years, everything has slowed down. Few are hardly aware were my life to be bothered by unconscious factors. And bsed on my long experience with such matters, I see no such trouble on the horizon. Regularly recording my dreams and thinking, and now sharing some publicly, is a great assurance that I am cooperating with and honoring the Collective Unconscious.  It seems, as in the dream, that all is rather 'cleaned up' and the stress of 'out -of-control', 'life-disrupting' unconscious elements have appeared subdued now for more than two decades.

I think the dream is symbolically expressing the nature of my outer life as it has been continuously under the effect of unconscious forces. Now any remaining trouble  is on the 'top floor', minor disruptions in an outwardly respectful, responsible 'normal' life. The threat of continuous damage to ordinary life that the unconscious potentially brings  to any of us is stated in the presence of my shadow. When one acts on formerly unconscious elements, it may make  some people suspicious or perhaps fear one  could 'go off some deep end.'  I am quite sensitive to that, as the dream depicts. So my shadow is showing a benevolent understanding and helpfulness in bringing the negative effects of the Unconscious under control, finding ways to help  me clean it all up, not blaming me for what is always a messy business, dealing with unconscious material. Just as ones shadow does its own kind of threats and harm to ones life and relationships, in order to accomplish a higher good, it also helps in ways, that are often unconscious, to clean up the messes and protect the ego from being harmed, permanently damaged or too much misunderstood. This is all a part of the dance of the process of individuation, a cooperative balance between the observing and refereeing ego-consciousness with the 'collective unconscious' and its various components and archetypes, including the 'shadow', 'anima' and the  all-in-all 'self.'

The dream pictures this well in symbolic language. It is overall encouraging for it shows that with the help of these sometimes negative unconscious forces my outer life is now able to be presentable to the outside world , even with the so-called higher class elements that put a lot of stock in things 'looking good and in order.' This continues to show that the outer life of each of us, as important as it is, is very much for show, of giving forth an acceptable persona in order help maintain an essential stability in outer life and surface relationships. The more deep factors and spiritual qualities that inspire life  are under the surface, hidden from those who simply do not 'see' or who would be motivated to harm the fragile existence of the ego-consciousness of the dreamer.

Beverly's absence hits me strong and I feel sick that she is not still here. As much positive life and love as Beverly and I shared , it was also through our relationship that we experienced much suffering, disappointment, and sadness. Our life together brought shadow aspects to the surface in our relationship, as well as those experiences we enjoyed. Now the dream shows my shadow in a positive and helpful light and I always enjoyed so much sharing something good with her. But she is gone and I can't. It leaves me sick at the Ego level.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011


Feathercraft Boat, Similar To One My Family Gave Me As Teen
1. I was in the rear part of my father and brother's store in Alabama. I was a young teen. I was in the area where boats were prepared with outboard motors, controls and steering. I was observing one that I liked. It was a modern 14 foot ski boat. It was aluminum and its color was yellow and brown. I noticed it was very wide and sat low in the water. They had arranged so that the back of the store opened up to a small lake. The worker took the finished boat for a quick spin around the lake. I was impressed and knew I would like to be driving this boat.

 2. I was a young student in dental school. But I was also going to regular school full time. I was sitting with classmates and  six professors. I was to soon be given an oral exam on the anatomy of the head. I felt confident at that moment. Then some time passed and I realized I had forgotten to study for the exam. I had left to attend to my other schooling matters. Then I became aware that I had not been studying at all for the dental school courses. I knew I would have failed that oral test if I had taken it. I realized that I had not even been getting clear assignments from the professors. I did not feel I knew what they expected at all. One other  student explained to me that he had regular private talks with the professors , and knew he had A's in every course. I believed I was as capable as he. I was rather panicked knowing I was so far behind now. I went to the professors, apologized and asked if I could make up the exam. I tried to find out where I stood in my classes. They gave me confusing and conflicting information. Before I left this unhelpful meeting I was told that Rush Limbaugh was going to join the faculty. They were not all pleased with it but not nearly as upset as I was. They said he had a political connection with the school and he just wanted the prestige of the position and would be giving lectures to us. I was disgusted with this and I told classmates about it. Some of them were Rush fans and embarrassingly admitted that it was O.K. with them even though he had no credentials and was doing it to boost his own image. (These negative impressions of Rush have to do with his kind of  'leadership role' not him as a person.)
Rush Limbaugh

3. I found two female purses on the ground. One had a lot of money in it. I attempted to announce it so the owners could be found. In handling the money I got confused and did not know which money went with which purse. One lady claimed a purse and I asked her to go through them both and to put the correct amount in each purse. I assumed the other owner would be found soon and all restored properly.

REFLECTION: This material all seems to primarily come from the personal unconscious, images that reflect experiences similar to what I have had and images that are contemporary with my actual life and time. There is nothing very ancient here.

1. I spent much time watching the men work on the boats in my family's store. When I was about 14  my Dad and brothers gave me a 12 foot aluminum boat with a 35 horsepower motor on it. How I loved that boat for the five years I had it on the lake. Even though I much enjoyed the mechanics and the atmosphere of the motor repairs I never  tried to learn the skill they were performing. I could have watched and  learned about the inner working and repairs of motors and the mechanics of boats. The same is true for the front of the store. I did do a lot of sales work for the store. I learned the inventory , was knowledgeable of all the products and how to ring up sales and charges. I think I learned how to be a welcoming clerk. But I never explored the bookkeeping or the behind the scenes  running of a business with some 15 employees. It just never occurred to me . I had no interest in that aspect of it. I don't think I  viewed myself as being an adult in this business even though I would have been in line to eventually be an owner. My brother sold the 25 stores he  created for more than a million dollars some 20 years go. I liked the atmosphere of the place. I liked to roam the store and I liked to help with anything I was asked to do. The first dream reminds me of my erotic type love and sense of the Sacred regarding beautiful waters.

2. I attended dental school for nearly a full quarter. I was doing well and getting along well with the competent faculty when I quit due to an irrational decision to 'prepare to preach' as we called it in the Church of Christ. The dream shows me distraught with academic authority. I have had in my life some excellent teachers. I assumed until well into adult hood that  authority figures and groups were reliable and to be trusted. But when I ran into a power struggle with my church elders in '84 I realized just how disappointing to me some in authority can be. (I was disappointed in them in their 'ruling group' role. I continued to appreciate them as individuals.) Since then I have seen this sad situation in most every kind of institution including the public schools, the churches and in politics at all levels. George Bush represents to me one of he most poorly prepared or capable of modern leaders in high office. He resorted to serious misrepresentation, stubbornness and an incapacity to re-evaluate. He exhibited  a dangerous level of unawareness regarding aspects of  the human global situation. In my opinion his leadership was overall unhealthy for the country. None of this criticism is about him as a person but  about his discharge of public leadership. He seemed to be significantly 'in over his head.'

The dream shows me not focused on the dental school education. It says I was going to 'regular school' also. I think in all my formal education I was unconsciously beginning to learn from another source. I was attending, however unconsciously, the 'school of the unconscious.' I had much training in science and teaching ending with an M.S. I was a reasonably competent and even excited teacher. But I realized later that all of that was a forced interest, it was nearly purely an intellectual interest. I understood the meaning of science and valued it but it simply did not touch me at the deepest level of my being. During all that time I was a Church of Christ preacher. I claimed  my religion was my highest value and I think was sincere in that. But time showed that interest also was far more at an intellectual level than my embracing it with my full being. I was a passionate preacher but my passion remained about being intellectually right and seeking to convince myself and others of that rightness. I could get emotional sometimes such as in telling the story of Abraham's willingness to kill his own son and of this being parallel to God allowing Jesus to be killed for us. These are emotional stories and served a temporary purpose for me(a way to feel some emotion, any emotion) but they are also violent stories and  are terribly misleading of how I now view human and divine love and justice. I am as repulsed as I was once turned on by such archetypes. Such interpretations of the Sacred-Human connection do not capture my emotion in the way they did then. I realize they had inspired very negative and dark aspects of my psyche.

Not until my first CPE(Clinical Pastoral Education) unit where for the first time I was exploring my inner self did I come to a point of totally embracing my work as a minister at an emotional and whole-person level. For the first time, at about 38 years old, I sensed I knew more clearly what I was attempting to do as a pastor and to some extent as an individual human being. I became more 'alive' to life than I had ever experienced. I was introduced to some excellent 'teachers'  and 'leaders' during this time and my learning continued to  deeper levels than they  had helped me to go. I think the learning path that was  connecting me to all aspects of my real life came to a climax on a mid August  early morning in a deserted N.W. Houston new housing parking lot. The 'visions' began; some veil was lifted so that a depths of the Collective psyche was much more transparent for me. I was experiencing  what I can still only call 'miracle' and 'ecstasy.'(Yet I think this was a fully natural, not super-natural happening.) I was fully consciousness of what was going on. My ego, through nearly overwhelmed, was functioning, even if primarily as an observer and certainly not a controller. I now believe that I was experiencing the result of about five years(in some ways a life time) of some of the most healthy intensive learning and human spiritual development that is possible in our day. This led to a coming together of the 'collective unconscious' and 'ego consciousness' in such a full way that could easily destroy a person. But I had been unknowingly  prepared to take the initial jolt and over some years to assimilate this surge from the Collective Unconscious. My life since then has been a process of continued assimilation, improved ways expressing the experience and being able to make a living doing the kind of work that I do most naturally....... not being a motor boat mechanic, or a businessman, a dentist or a focused science teacher. My work has been spiritual ministry, whether counseling youth or families, preparing and preaching sermons to small churches, providing pastoral care for church members, teaching math and science to kids at risk and being a chaplain for the sick.

I have missed since my teens being literally 'on the water'. Sailing along the surface of the water, on boat or ski, as well as enjoying being bodily in natural waters are both timeless symbols of being in good relationship to the unconscious and to the treasures and delights it seeks to bring to human life. I think that  implanted in the timeless 'Collective Unconscious' is a strong interest in every human being successful in their 'desire for joy'. The Sacred delights in the reality of 'human joy'. Scripture speaks of , 'joy unspeakable and full of glory'. Jesus was motivated to pass through suffering because of the 'joy set before him.' That joy should not be diminished to some intellectual other worldly time in the sky but should translate to a time of earthly ecstatic joy. Otherwise Jesus is  not like us at all and we can't really pass through our sufferings with a sense of ' the joy set before us.' Among other things my experiences with the unconscious have instilled in me an expectation of such joy, not only for myself but for others. That is a strong part of the spiritual hope that the continual message from the Collective Unconscious brings to light.

I have seen the peril of weakness and misuse of leadership roles. I have also experienced excellent human leadership.  Rush Limbaugh in the dream being accepted as a professor is an extreme example of what leaders with values that conflict with  my experience of the Collective Unconscious can mean for people. Talk radio has surfaced the most  culturally destructive leadership personalities imaginable for the country. And such people have been  given  full influence with some national political leaders. Rush likely has more influence in one of the major political parties now than any elected official.  These are one-sided, unbalanced voices that carry no responsibility for what they speak. They speak to the fears and lower ego-self interest of people, not to communal need and realities. I consider such  charismatic messages  a threat to the social, moral and psychological health of the country. Such messages are apparently attached to a very strong collective archetype so that many find them irresistible and enchanting. Any voice that is 'so wonderful' needs to always be questioned regarding its archetypal appeal and its offer to easy solutions to mass fears. An example of such is the slogan, 'Just say No!'  I believe the  balanced message from the 'collective unconscious' that is gaining traction in the American and World psyche will eventually bring balance to such misguided destructive influences.

3.The lost purses reflect a genuine honesty that I value. In matters of survival a human stealing is understandable and even justified.
 But a thing that drives me in general is a strong desire for environments and behaviors of fairness and justice in all areas of human life. The right thing being done for all people is the world I long for and would like for all persons to live in. This dream also implies  'the moral' response in any real life situation is not simple. A list of general rules like the ten commandments is not sufficient to gauge what it means in all situations to act with genuine human/divine morality. Jesus was clear about that. Paul was able to teach that there is a moral path that transcends any formal law. No 'law' can reach the depths of what is required to be truly a moral being. The purse dream also reflects the higher value my experience with the Collective Unconscious has taught me for the feminine principle and real women in the world. It shows the confusion I moved  through to reach such a strong and focused value. The dream recognizes the importance of the feminine and specifically , in our day, the economics of women. It implies the importance of women being treated fairly and as full equals of men. It shows me trusting the woman to be fair and just with the other woman. I don't recall in 1965 that there were any women in my dental school class. The dream depicts women as being very present when the theme of 'leadership' is being addressed.

DREAM- BENEVOLENT GOD dec 11/09(edited July 27/11)

DREAM: Three oriental persons wearing circle shaped hats were standing in a row dancing. It is not possible to tell if they are male or female. They seem to be introducing this 'water' dream.

The scene is a beautiful wooded creek. The water is clear and it is a fully forested area. I am flying down the creek just few feet above it in the air. I come to a place in the creek that has been turned into a safe swimming area. It appears that human technology has been used to pour concrete to make sides and a bottom for some distance in the creek.

Someone asks me 'who made this?' And I answer, " there is no simple answer to that question. It has been made by that which was not made."
Creek In Cherokee North Carolina
 I am now back on my feet in the creek enjoying the beauty and cleanliness of it with others. We are beginning to hike up the creek toward its source. I recall that Beverly and I had promised some friends we would rake their yard. There is now a sign in their yard saying that we had failed to do so. I felt badly and knew it had slipped my mind. I had forgotten to do it. But the time for that had passed and I knew they were very industrious and would find a way to get it done. A young male child was telling his father that the Old Man of the stream, who lives at its source, has given him word he would inherit a spot on the stream. I felt the son should get the Old Man's signature to make it certain. But the father said he was sure the Old Man could be trusted.

REFLECTION: This struck me more at first as collective and archetypal than personal. But I think many of the images reflect my personal experience of the Sacred. I think the imagery here is very rich. It is personal in that it reminds me how I have been strongly attracted to and influenced by bodies of water during my  life experience. I'll not go into how I have lived by major water sources all my life. Shoals Creek in north AL where I spent much of my teen years on the water I have often said was 'my salvation'. The sight, beauty and pleasantness of the water kept me anchored to life in a positive way helping keep hidden, for many years, the threatening depression of my mother's death.

I believe this dream is an image of the Sacred, of God. Jung stressed that water has always been an image of the unknown depths from which all that is has come. Humans are often pictured 'fishing' in waters hoping to bring some treasure or creature from its depths and sometimes they are not disappointed. The greatest gifts that humans have given to their peers, from religion, to science to literature have been through their being in touch with the 'depths', what we can now call the Collective Unconscious. This image of 'human and natural waters' is one of the human seeking to bring forth new life and advanced consciousness from the 'collective unconscious', the source from which all that is has come. The dream shows this water, this ultimate source, as now for me a place that is friendly and one offering up its beauty and pleasurable gifts to me and others. There is a safe place where humans can now fully enjoy being immersed in the water. It has been significantly humanized in the concrete pool. But this seeming 'human project' is not really the effort or plan of the human conscious mind. It cannot be easily answered as to who made this safe wonderful place. The answer is that it has been made by an ultimate Sacred, by 'that which has not been made.'

As frightening as the initial process of experiencing the Collective Unconscious, or of God is, it may eventually be a process where the raging, unbridled and wild aspects of God, of the whirling Godhead, of the Trinity( the three androgynous orientals) are tamed and benevolent. This would be an indication that the 'unconscious moral flaws and imperfection of the Godhead have been in some significant sense healed and transcended' by the mutual suffering that is always taking place with the human and the divine. The dream is suggesting that my experience of these things has moved, to some significant extent, through such changes.

The three androgynous dancing orientals with circular hats are presented as introducing me to the Sacred. The Trinity symbolism was a very significant hard-won treasure which many believe to be the single greatest gift of Christianity to humanity. Hegel's widely influential philosophy in Western thought is often described as a trinitarian one involving the change process related to "thesis, antithesis and synthesis." But the Christian Trinity it is not anymore a sufficiently total or whole way of imaging God. My dreamed 'oriental' expression of the Trinity is quite personal for me for I think the Chinese IChing book has been somewhat like a trinity experience for me. The IChing is considered the oldest product of human writing in the world. Its name can also be translated The Book Of Changes. It expresses what I describe as 'a wisdom for the moment' and knowledge(gnosis) that has been very much lost in Western experience. The best I suggest is that when used sincerely and seeking such knowledge, it assists in touching on appropriate archetypes of the psyche that apply to the specific concern. I think it opens the type of personification of wisdom described in the O.T. book of Proverbs. A wisdom that is best described by the feminine Sophia. It is not limited to cognitive head knowledge but is a whole reflecting knowledge sometimes sensed directly through burst of content from the Collective Unconscious into the consciousness of a person. Such wisdom is capable of connecting one to the depths. It is a 'whole' knowing not just an intellectual one. It 'knows' through the senses and through the body. It is Soul knowing.  This source of knowledge, I believe, is the original source of religious experience and can also be called the  direct presentation from the Collective Unconscious. There is much anecdote how this ancient IChing often seems to 'come' to a person who is in most need of its assistance. That is how it came to me, practically falling into my lap. Confucius is reported to have regretted near death that he did not give more attention to the IChing. The IChing is numerically based on the number six which is the first multiple of three that 'changes' it. This was my first, beyond by previous acceptance of the reality of the present day leading  of the Holy Spirit  from my religious tradition, more strong direct experience that the Sacred is fully present and active in the here and now of human life. It gave me the experience of God and Human being naturally connected and working mutually with each other. The IChing was still only an introduction to the Sacred, even as the Bible and the images Jesus and the Spirit  had been to me before that.

The Trinity image in the dream is healthier than orthodoxy offers for it is not so weighed to the masculine as the Christian Trinity. Neither sex is dominant in this image for the figures are androgynous. Present day Orthodoxy may not own it but the most traditional Western images of Jesus, the famous paintings and sculptures, are of a rather feminine Jesus. Jesus is pictured as very sweet, mild , tender and what to the Western mind is effeminate. More recent images of a more masculine image of Jesus have been demanded by our our masculine culture but these are very late arrivals. The long reigning  more feminine Jesus comes closer to an androgynous Jesus that , in spite of the darker skinned robust modern pictures of Jesus, still lingers in most of our imaginations.

The image of the Human and the Sacred as a hiking, taking a journey, on the creek offers also brings up a recognition of the imperfection of the human. I had forgotten to keep a promise. It was with good intentions but was an example of human weakness, forgetfulness. However such a mistake is self forgiven, confidence is not lost and no real harm is done to the relationship.

This last twist I think touches on the theme of 'afterlife' and of a kind of 'assurance' that a human can properly have. The source of the stream, the Old Man, which is perhaps one of the most common collective images of God in our culture(and throughout other cultures including Michelangelo's art.) has given the child an assurance that he has an inheritance, a reality to look forward to and it is presented as a welcoming on the Sacred stream. My first ego thought in the dream is, 'you had better get that in writing' to make it certain. My reaction may reflect my uneasiness of claiming any certainty of a personally conscious afterlife. I simply see it as an unknown and likely to remain that way until we die and find out. Perhaps this dream suggests that I reconsider. Then a friend of mine , the father of the child, has already come to know that ultimately the Sacred voice can be trusted. Or as the Biblical theme stresses, God's covenant to the human will be kept. The sacred will not disappoint the simple trust of a child. The Sacred as raging Power (and emphasized in the book of Job) as arrogant, non-mutual, dogmatic demands in Eden eventually becomes humane, and the Sacred is able to offer up its more disciplined, tamed, caring and more morally clear self which is the reason the Sacred is motivated to become Human in the first place. Jim

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

EDEN, A Story Of Human Development- a note to Edward Fudge

God is God and we are not.  Edward, you use this phrase a lot and I think I know what you are emphasizing, that humans need to be humble and not have an attitude that they know more than the source from which they come. I totally  agree. A human without genuine humility in terms of how little they know , or are conscious of, compared to what may be knowable is simply not being fully human. S/he is not keeping within human bounds and limits.  When we are without genuine humility we are 'outside ourselves' and should rightfully be viewed as an unholy spectacle. 

Garden Of Eden
But it is a tragic mistake, for example,  to view  Adam and Eve eating  the 'forbidden fruit' as an example of humans overstepping their appropriate boundary. They certainly did step into something new and different but  it was, if done in courageous humility, a move forward into becoming more human, not less. An important learning from this ancient story is to show that in order to become more than  'dreaming  partial humans not knowing the difference between good and evil' these humans 'had to'  take that step of independence. The orthodox  treatment of the story misses the 'truth of the whole'  meaning of the myth. This difference in interpretation leads a person, hopefully with great humility, down a very different road than orthodoxy alone has led us. I should emphasize  the  step of eating of the fruit may have been 'overstepping ' if the attitude was one of ego pride rather than courage born of  fearful humility. So I have to reserve judgment on the mythological couple for I don't know  their inner disposition. But  I do understand that unless  some humans make such similar choices  humanity does not and cannot become more of what it's obvious potential  is. For that story to not be our own personal  story, lived out in humility , is for us to not move toward higher consciousness which is mutually essential for both  Human and God.

Your  statement God is God and we are not is one that  needs to be discussed, questioned, amplified and processed.  It is not  wholesome  and  grounded when taken as a bumper sticker sermon(which i know is not how you mean it.)  It reminds me of the one  ' God said it. I believe it and that settles it.'  Such a statement does not exhibit an attitude of humility but one unwilling to take the risks of learning. Eve, to her great credit, demonstrates she does have that willingness.  Such statements are saying to one's fellows, 'leave your brain at the door' as if God did not intend for you to use curiosity, imagination and intelligence to the maximum.  Using one's fullest intellect  does not run the risk of  making him/her  less  humble but the opposite. 

Scripture says humans are made in the likeness and image of God. Jesus makes a statement that 'you are Gods.' The whole of N.T. writing stresses that we are 'to be like' or 'to become like God.' You know the passages. Central in the N.T. is the  very unusual idea, compared to the Old, that 'God becomes Human.'  It follows that in some way  the corollary of that is also  a potential and , in ways at first unimaginable,  'Human will become God.'  The first statement insists that the second be also placed on the table. This, I think, is where the N.T. really is leading when  humbly approached with heart and head fully opened and engaged.  In Christian orthodoxy this very thought is considered  an example of 'eating the forbidden fruit' rather than taking the risk of human learning as it should be.

As you know from other statements I have made I do believe the Sacred and its creation,humans, are moving forever forward in a process where they become more and more the same, for they are so mutually intertwined and mutually supportive and interdependent. Each is becoming, through mutual  conscious suffering of the opposites, more and more conscious.  So, to me, to state so emphatically , which is how I hear it, that  God is God and we are not, is to intentionally  underline a separation and to  emphasize  the difference in a 'set of opposites' These  like all opposites are in need of reunion(not clearer separation for  humans  already fully experience that, more than ever before due to increased consciousness of recent centuries.), of becoming one(reconciled) by the work  of the Spirit. It is only when all opposites:body-soul, heaven-earth, spirit-flesh, God-Human, male-female, Agape-Eros, power-meaning, name a few.... are united, as they once were before any creation or any form, that it can be said that God is 'all in all'.  Before creation all  opposites were united but none were yet fully conscious. All was as Adam and Eve are described--not knowing 'good and evil', thus unconscious of the opposites.  We are no longer like that as humans.  The opposites have become fully and now dangerously separated through objective scientific thinking processes. The need now has become to reunite the opposites  but  to do so consciously and responsibly. This is what can potentially  bring to higher reality all the qualities that  every religion prays for on earth.... peace, love,joy, unity, justice....( the fruit of the Age of the  Spirit.)  

Only in the relationship between Sacred and the Human are the opposites able to move toward reuniting in consciousness in both God and Human. This is where we are now, this is the meaning and the energy that drive individual spiritual development and human  history.  A more reliable statement might now be  God is God and Humans are humans, and each is becoming more and more of the same mind and consciousness. Cordially, Jim Hibbett

Sunday, July 24, 2011


This dream might  be rated R due to its horror factor. If  I'm to share the nature  of my dream life I feel I must share this type of dream as well as  easier ones. I suggest one read the blog post called 'dreams 101'  before reading this dream. The nightmare  portion of this dream was so jarring I could do nothing but try to absorb it and  tone it down so it did not continue to haunt me. In the end no one was harmed but it scared the shit out of me. I did not  want to think about it but knew it needed to be better integrated into consciousness if I were to benefit from it.

Dream:  The dream centers  on fishing. There were so many vivid details that I feel  unable to describe it very completely. Bev, I and others are on the water. I recall one time it was very cold waters in some kind of ocean harbor. There was an imaginary line described to me and I was told to not fish to the left of it. They said that water was too cold to have fish. But seeing no harm I cast my bait into the cold water. I quickly had a strong pull. It felt like a large fish. As I reeled it in it seemed my line was tangled with Beverly's. For a moment I thought we were both snagged up on something . But then we began to see the large fish. I was able to bring it safely to the surface. It was a good catch. Then Beverly hooked one and reeled it in. Her fish is a very vivid image to me now. It was a pretty bright 'blue fish'. I took it off the hook  and told her  it was a 'blue fish'. She was pleased with her catch.
 Then I and others were hiking our way through sand dunes with knee high water running through them. I hesitated to step down into the water. But when I did I was pleased to find that my leather lace up boots seemed to keep my feet totally dry. It seems there were other more challenging aspects to this dream but I am recalling no specifics.

Nightmare. This began with a voice saying, 'The Father will wake him at 6:00.' I barely awoke and saw the clock said 6 AM. Then I went back to sleep and had this nightmare. All of this was in this very house. I was in the bathroom. I pulled up the edge of the carpet on the South side by the toilet. There to my disgust was dirt and there lay a good sized dark colored snake. The head looked like it could be a viper. I was horrified. I went out of the bath and closed the door. I was imagining finding a frog gig and going in and trying to kill it but I had no such tool. At that moment a man knocked at the front door. He asked if an old woman could use the bathroom. Reluctantly I and others agreed. She came in and was very old , using a walker and not particularly nice. She seemed irritated. She had a 'witch' air about her. I told her I needed to prepare the bath room. I went back in . Now the snake looked larger. I covered it up with the carpet and let the woman go in. Then the dream switches to a man on a step ladder in the basement right below the bathroom. He may be the same man who came with the woman. He was working up high in the floor joists. Suddenly a huge black dirty python like snake dropped headfirst all the way to the floor. It appeared clumsy as being drunk. His body covered the whole span from the house floor to the basement floor with obviously much more body still upstairs. It calmly began to slither into an adjacent basement room. The full body was never exposed. Anyone who saw it was totally horrified. I had no response at all. Just struck speechless in horror. 

Reflection: I'm still frightened and have no thought of any meaning other than to scare me to death. I'm only relieved that no one was hurt. It being in my house makes it very personal and all the more disturbing. I've never been able to outgrow my basic negative reaction to snakes. I know the fear I and others have of the snake image is very irrational. An innocent garter snake in the yard brings forth the same intense emotion as a rattle snake cornered, coiled and ready to strike us. I know in most ancient cultures the snake was a positive symbol of wisdom and fullness of life. But the Eden story's negative image seems to have so much sway over the western psyche including mine.
 I'm pictured as 'fishing' in forbidden waters which is very much parallel to the Eden story and eating the 'forbidden fruit' which  was clearly stated as the source of deepest wisdom. Fishing is a strong symbol of a human's attempt to retrieve the contents of the dark unconscious. And there are always strong social voices, for good reason, discouraging such human wanderings. But only through the encounter of the ego consciousness with the deep unknown Collective Unconscious can the needed evolutionary steps of humanity be taken. My CPE(Clinical Pastor Education) was a formal move I made in that direction. At the time I had some awareness  I was stepping into 'deep water' but I had no comprehension as to how deep, and cold. I consulted with a trusted church deacon  about entering CPE and he felt it would broaden my perspectives. Was he ever correct! I just now read Shelby Spong's tribute to an old pastoral friend from St. Louis. Their lifelong friendship began with taking CPE together. So I was reminded that others who have drunk very deeply of forbidden unorthodox waters were , like me, first stirred by a strong CPE experience. For me that was 1980-81 and again 1983-84. My inner life began an enrichment process that has continued.

I am pleased that Bev caught a  beautiful fish. Blue was not her favorite color however. But in the dream she is pleased and well. I'm glad. I've always felt a strong desire that she be well and happy. Beverly and my lines being tangled as we wrestled with the deep things of life is a very appropriate metaphor of our relationship....strained because of the complexities we were given but very much a working team, caring about each others success and well being. The dream also shows my fishing effort in the deep cold ocean water to have been successful with no permanent harm coming to me. Tromping in the sand dune waters seems also to be more than a personal thing. It too pictures me in strange places that are not without danger. But thankfully my feet are protected and managing to find some solid ground even in the waters of the unconscious. The Biblical message warns about the shifting sands and prescribes the human get their feet to solid ground. There is no real solid ground in the sand dunes but the most needed solid ground can only be found by risking the trip through the watery dunes.

The nightmare begins with  an old woman who is clearly an 'anima' image. She invites herself into my most personal space.
I was invited into CPE indirectly through Bev's and my counseling experience. My very first awareness of the anima was a 'turtle dream' my second year of CPE. An absolutely  dazzling  female image emerged from a turtle shell. I was totally amazed and asked others to 'look at that'. But others could not see her. My dealings with the 'anima' have been going on  now more than a quarter of a century. I've felt  she has become a well integrated part of me in a very positive  and helpful way . But here she shows up all cranky and acting as if she does not know me. She goes straight to the center of  strongest instincts and deepest emotions imaged as the 'bathroom'. Her being old may reflect that for my mortal lifetime she is now old with me. She seems irritated in the dream at the slow progress of my life. She is impatient that my life has become  stuck. She intends to get my inner, and possibly outer,  life to a new place. She is coming to kick me out of my comfort zone. Is this another kind of  'wake up' image? It was in the living room of this house in 1984  during a group card game Beverly noticed me nodding and told a lady at my table,  " Wake Jim Up!"  This was  at my 40th birthday party. My literally falling asleep during that card game prompted her statement.  It seems in retrospect to have been the launching words for an extended mid-life crisis involving a classic Jungian type 'Confrontation with the Unconscious.' Since that incident me being 'awakened' has been a constant dream theme. In about three months after that I lost my ministry job which seemed like a personal and family tragedy that had a strong 'awakening effect' on me and drastically changed my life    And here the 'Father' promises to 'awaken me at 6.' This dream has  startled and awakened me .  I'm practically numbed by it. .

This is precisely how I feel about my life now. I am stuck. I have no capacity to deal with the giant snake that has become my inner life. The snake is in my instinctual personal life , the bathroom, but far more it is overwhelming the unconscious sources(the basement) that feed my conscious life. The snake is out of its natural environment. It is as bothered being in the house as I am for it to be there. It showed no signs of aggression, just looking for a place to go and reminding me that I too need a new place to go probably inwardly. Obviously the symbolism here is more than I can fathom.  A 'living symbol' always says far more than one can comprehend. It can't be fully rationalized.  Once that happens the symbol begins to die. It has served its life giving purpose. But some symbols we are exposed live throughout life and never lose their power over us. The snake had made its to my consciousness. It was 'upstairs'. But once upstairs I have not been able to bring it under control. I have 'bit off more than I can chew'. And what cannot be kept in consciousness must return to the unconscious which is a regression not progress. So the snake awkwardly falls back into my unconscious. Something in the dream made me think the snake was drunk. It is like the snake is even bewildered at being caught and pulled between human consciousness and unconsciousness. If it showed the snake successfully returning to the unconscious , the basement, then it would imply that I have not been able to successfully complete my task of integrating my experience of the unconscious into consciousness, my own but perhaps also  to the collective consciousness of my peers.( This blog that no one reads may be an effort to do some of that.) In the dream the snake does not unnoticed slip back to unconsciousness. Because my ego is pictured ready to meet him even though he has fallen into the 'basement'. The snake is 'known' now at least by me. So just my 'being there' was perhaps accomplishing much. He can no longer hide. Obviously there is still much work to be done to get the snake back upstairs and fully into the environment of collective consciousness in some kind of presentable way that I can't now comprehend..

The emotional impact on me of this dream is extreme. Positively, I do not see anything here as inherently evil. The old woman and the dark huge snake are images seeking to alert me that strong forces of the collective unconscious are being set free in my personal behalf and maybe for a broader human community to which I relate. It pictures a call for life's collective energies to move me forward into a more appropriate inner/outer  situation?  I have sunk deeper and deeper into life's entanglements to a danger point. This house of 35 years  represents all the factors and forces that have led me to be so 'knee deep' in the complex web of a life where I've been fully engaged in the  mortal possibilities of living, learning, loving, working and playing. But the dream seems to say, 'this is no way to end your pilgrimage'. This is not the end result of your 'fishing expedition'. Something more fitting is due. Don't get so settled in as you are prone to do.

“The father will wake him at 6” is a very strong  authoritarian voice. Six has long  been the number that is associated with the dark chaotic waters of the deep unconscious. Six is where I began my journey(accompanied by six older literal brothers) that was to lead me toward the very whole number 8(the double of four or square). My address here for 36 years is 608. From six I was reduced to zero in order to make progress toward 8. I was 'awakened by the father' some 26+ years ago from my  spiritual sleep. 'Father' was the most dominant image of God I knew at that time and His goal was to awake me to a  more complex and hopefully more adequate view of the Sacred. 'He' knew, in His own imperfection and one sidedness, that I needed to be far more acquainted with the   'She' aspects of Sacred life. I take it as an affirmation by the Father that He again would 'awaken me at six' to present me with this nightmare where the 'feminine' anima has the key role.

Finally , after these meandering thoughts, I am left with mostly the emotional impact of the dream. The forces of  the Collective Unconsciousness, the forces of the Sacred, are a frightening thing to  experience. Scripture reminds, " It is a frightful thing to fall into the hands of a living God."  I see nothing in the dream that implies that these forces are working against my well being. But are strongly alerting me to be open to whatever doors the powerful snake and the old anima are attempting to open. Also, these dreams are so filled with collective images and archetypes that it reminds me that whatever is good for me is also good for whatever human community or culture  I am related to. These experiences may be some day my gift to others?  My community for me is first my family. And  I also realize  I am gratefully connected and indebted to all my past church communities , my work with various institutions, my village and the public education system. I  have very strong patriotic feelings toward my native land America. I consider myself a grateful and concerned member of the total human family. I yearn for all fellow human travelers  to be encouraged by what we all might  intuit as being  the Sacred.

I have no idea what to do with myself today. I am so  blown over by this dream. It is far too much for the human ego to handle graciously. But I will try to handle it by not feeling obligated to handle it. I will attempt to just receive it, honor it by recording it, and trust that these forces are at bottom very  benevolent. 

Second Reflection: Snakes have been a recurring image in my dreams all during the past 25 years. Several times the snakes have been very threatening. The first 'big' snake dream and still vividly alive with me happened when I was very lost from any normal life path in the Spring of 85.  I was living alone in a Northwest Houston apartment and had not worked a regular job for several weeks. My family was counting on me for support.  My energy was needed to deal with a beginning flood of images from the Collective Unconscious. I was at the end of my tether in my outer life. The situation was bleak. Then this unforgettable dream. A  pile of precious jewels  were being  guarded by a  large intimidating coiled Cobra snake. The snake obviously would strike me if I moved toward the treasure. So in a sense from then on in dreams the snake has represented whatever my legitimate 'enemy' is. The treasures would represent whatever it is that I should value the most and need the most whether it's information, spiritual direction , relationship or material necessities. The snake represents whatever forces would work against me having the treasures so important to fulfilling  life's tasks and purpose. The snake may be various things whether people, patriarchal social systems, restrictions, outdated traditions or the apostle Paul's 'powers and principalities'.

If the snake in the present dream represents my enemy, the dream shows the enemy had gained a very strong foothold pictured as  living in the intimacy of my own home. And the enemy is big, strong and powerful. Without some kind of intervention on my behalf it appears the enemy would be able to make its final and effective strike against me. Then this dream shows an intervention being done by the anima and her buddy. It becomes significant that I escort her into my bathroom. I allow her into my most inner life.  I first attempt to 'prepare' it for her. I am likely  very concerned about who is going to win this battle that is taking place which determines my destiny. It is primarily a battle happening within me which is always where the real spiritual battle happens. And it can also spill into the meaning of my outer life. The snake appearing drunk may  imply that he has been weakened or wounded. The anima came into the bathroom, confronted the snake and drove him out of his strong position designed to harm me. (Keep in mind  that I understand all of these symbolic figures are a part of me.) The snake that guarded the treasure in '85' looked at me 'eye to eye'. This snake though large appears clumsy. It never looks at me and finally is trying to get away from me. Does the dream perhaps show that some  major battle has been won? That whatever the treasures are they are not under the control of the snake anymore? The  old cranky anima woman  is pictured here  for me as a hero and rescuer. That is how I've thought of 'her' for decades  but she really surprises me in this dream.

The unexpected image of the anima seems to me parallel  to how many people perceive Jesus the Christ related to them.  I'm led to this thought. Would it not make' the Christ' symbol  more accessible and a stronger spiritual influence today if it were recognized as a broad and inclusive symbol , not totally fulfilled by any one particular person, even Jesus of Nazareth? Then every human is potentially an incarnation of the Christ Symbol. Is this not what Paul means when he says, "It is not I but Christ who lives in me."  If the Christ is understood to be such an archetypal reality it implies that it can take limitless forms, just as the anima does, and it can mean somewhat different things to different people at different times in history. One likely could find a parallel image of the Christ in other world religions. What a positive connecting link to different peoples that would be.   Christ in Western culture has taken somewhat different forms even in the church  but unfortunately many such unique interpretations of the Christ are claimed to be the 'one and only' correct one, thus 300 + denominations. There are many pre and post  Jesus stories that are similar to the Jesus of Nazareth story including, miraculous birth, martyr death, resurrection and ascension. All of this  suggests that a finite number of archetypes in the collective unconscious come back into human consciousness in  different forms depending on the state of mind  of the social group that is needing a  change of  conscious attitude and improved spiritual/psychological balance. (This can be why it is true there is 'nothing new under the sun'.) When at any one time in history  the archetype attaches to a particular person and situation, as with Jesus of Nazareth,  and it is interpreted  as the 'one and only' or the 'one True' version of the archetype  negative things likely eventually happen. For one thing the once appropriate appearance of the archetype ceases to be appropriate when a new changed situation arrives. And while the collective unconscious begins to bring different archetypal structures to life in the population, people clinging to the details of a previous incarnation of the archetype  find themselves clinging to something that is no longer living but has become a relic.  Such people will make desperate  efforts  socially and politically  to keep it alive. Also to claim a 'one and only' Christ or similar symbol pushes people toward  defensive anger and violence when other  legitimate experiences of the Sacred begin to arrive.

This process( of archetypes seeking to become  uniquely conscious according to new human needs and circumstances) also works in the life of the individual. My dreams may give one example of how the collective unconscious effects and encourages change in the  attitudes and values of a person.  And this is done without destroying the deep psychological structures of the individual(S/he stays fully the same person.) Such a psychological/spiritual process calls for the active cooperation of the individual with the contents coming to consciousness. I would be delighted if my experience might some day contribute some small  piece  to such an understanding. Jim 

OBAMA... letter to the editor of the Illinois Times, March 2008

I recently received an email listing Obama's voting record, implying it makes him unfit for being president. For the most part,to me,  it makes him a breath of fresh air and a break from the policies that have squandered our national resources including money, troops and reputation as a caring, intelligent  and strong  leader in the world.  It also  breaks the trend of promoting the interests of some Americans while ignoring the needs and dreams of others, especially ones in lower economic  and higher risk situations.

Obama, unlike the other candidates, openly opposed the  Iraq invasion.  It was very clear to him then  that our  administration was determined and only looked for  excuses, including 9-11, to pursue its  irrational  desire. We have successfully broken a nation, quit counting innocents killed, sent millions from home as refugees and given  terrorists precisely what they need to raise their recruiting advantage.   We are paying a terrible price in an impossible  effort  to fix the damage we've done. 

Without leadership  who can deal honestly  and up front with these realities   we will continue to repeat the same mistakes and spiral deeper into the same national tragedies. We are being unfaithful to  future generations. We are leaving a situation that will be arduous to  overcome; a huge waste of financial  and other resources and an image that draws a negative  response from much of the world.  A truly significant change in attitude, policy and direction is needed. 

I see  Obama's stated positions and the wisdom he demonstrates as consistent with the moral call of the Christian story  and in line with the kind intelligent judgment  that is a deep part of the heritage of American  Christianity. I do not see this important parallel  being nearly as strong in the attitudes and positions of the other candidates. Jim Hibbett, Riverton


The NT documents were individually written primarily as stand alone texts 20-80 years after Jesus’ death.  There were no newspapers or significant records being kept of what was happening in Jesus’ daily life. Nothing of significance was being written about Jesus while he lived. So  the story of Jesus was carried by oral tradition in various Christian communities until these communities began producing written documents. Even as the documents were composed and circulated most teaching and story telling remained as oral transmission. Believers did not have individual documents to read and study. By the time the later books were written a central power structure had developed in the church. There were at that time conflicting interpretations regarding Jesus’ life and death among different Christian communities.

Some letters were written focusing on helping keep churches  unified, which meant  more rules and standards developed. Others reflect the human characteristic of some opposing others when different opinions arose in the various Christian communities. Much of this kind of material  appears in the later letters of the NT, with usually only one side of the difference being expressed. Equality of the sexes which Jesus undoubtedly practiced, in sharp contrast to the culture in which he lived, was one of the first things lost in Christian practice and writings. Soon those in power were calling others, such as the Gnostic Christians,  heretics. When the books, called the canon, of the NT were officially selected about 300 years after Jesus’ death, only the ones that fit the opinions of  the most powerful were included. The final choices of documents included were likely determined by a still extant letter from Emperor Constantine requesting that fifty ‘skillfully prepared copies of the divine scriptures’ be prepared to be placed in churches of Constantinople. ‘Church father’ Eusebius was authorized by Constantine to make any final politically approved decisions, such as whether to include Hebrews and the Revelation of John. This was in 331 CE. Documents circulating in Christian communities not included in this final canon were often burned. Some of these censored Christian writings of the first-third centuries were rediscovered in the mid twentieth century in Egypt and finally made available in the past two decades. Most writings ‘left out’ out of the NT are undoubtedly lost forever.

I keep seeing in the canonical gospels an amazing, highly developed and truly spiritual person, Jesus, who in his brief ministry made an indelible impression of the attributes of God on his closest friends and others. Particularly dominant in those attributes was love, that must have humanly personified the full range of the Greek words for love including Agape and Eros. This impression strongly lived on after his death in the hearts and psyches of those who were closest to him. It grew ever stronger as his followers reflected on their dazzling experiences with him. So it became inevitable that the only way they could find to explain his indescribable presence was to describe him as more than human.  They had experienced the presence of God in ways that present knowledge can somewhat explain, but even objective minded postmodern people may be struck that whatever happened, it seems nothing less than ‘miraculous.’ You may see how such a phenomenon could happen around such a qualified person, especially in an ancient culture that was religiously looking for and expecting such a person. 
The gospels, beginning with Mark about 70 CE, were written during or after two devastating Roman wars, ending also about 70 CE, had fully destroyed the  Jewish Temple and their religious, political and social  structures. Jewish Christians and other Jews alike had to begin 'reinterpreting'  why their shattered expectations of God  vindicating them did not happen. This was the devastation experienced for all Jews in the destruction of their Temple and culture.
The Destruction Of Jerusalem @ 70 CE.
The Christian Jews’ devastation was also the unexpected death of Jesus followed by failure of his anticipated physical return to vindicate his followers. Such times call out for extreme measures of reinterpreting a culture's  life meaning.  Such need  may be met by creative writers using highly symbolic language. This is what the gospel writers were doing.  From a Jungian perspective writers under such stressed circumstances can, to varying extents, unwittingly produce something that comes from the deeper levels of the Collective Unconscious.(Most of us are aware that sometimes something we are 'creating'  just seems to 'come', not from our direct thinking or intellectual process. Even scientists such as Einstein say  their greatest breakthroughs are moments of intuition.)

The gospel writers were producing something more profound than they were consciously aware of. This is truly the richest meaning of inspiration. These surely are ‘inspired’ writings and very symbolic, and thus the near perfect bearers of a truly ‘new’ religious communication. These events and the writings produced by them became the foundation for likely the most pervasive and powerful religious movement in human history. Each of the gospel authors used the religious metaphors of Judaism, the only ones they consciously had, to explain the nature of Jesus. Images of other cultures also made it into their writings and descriptions such as the way the Gospel of John begins by referring to the Christ as the Logos, a common Greek philosophical  metaphor for the Sacred.  They were saying that he was like Moses, Elijah and other Hebrew heroes but he was much  more. Much of the gospel narrative is a reinvention of the stories they already had at hand in their Greek translation of the Old Testament. They elaborated on them to create a story of Jesus that  showed how Jesus could not be explained but as the fullest ever  expression of God. They were truly  evangelists creatively and passionately seeking to convince others of their view of  what, in retrospect, Jesus of Nazareth was, nothing less than the promised Messiah of their Hebrew faith.

Jesus had been  so far ahead of others in spiritual development  that  he could later only be explained as being more than human.  They had experienced the presence of God in him. And so the symbols and accompanying myths(in the rich and powerful meaning of the term) of  nature miracle stories, bodily resurrection, virgin birth, bodily ascension, and expectation of his physical return were born into full outward expression.  None of these  were new ideas and all are ones that can  now be explained, without  necessarily being diminished in power or authority for individuals  touched at deepest levels, as being generated across all cultures by the archetypal  organs of the Collective Unconscious. . 

I think the gospel writers were aware  they were not primarily relating physical events in these powerful symbols describing Jesus as one who lived, died and was ‘resurrected’ by God. Though writing symbolically they were likely conscious that what they wrote was even ‘truer’ than physical and historical reality. These were not words of history primarily but words of the Soul, spiritual language, not materialistic language.. Their words claim  the kind of life and love that was in Jesus lives potentially in us all. And so the 'Spirit of Jesus' does  presently  bridge  the centuries and stirs up these qualities, timelessly alive  in the Collective Unconscious, into the conscious life of some individuals and communities.

 I think such a  community psychological process as this is  likely also the best explanation  I can find of what was going on in me individually(and many others through the ages), and the sufficient cause of rather extreme changes in my spiritual views, beginning some 27 years ago.

Passages like  Luke 15(usually called  the Prodigal Son but actually  more about a Prodigious Father -God image) strongly resonate with me and  I experience  it as a 'word of God'. Many religiously minded people today easily take some passages from the Bible, often as literal when they should be symbolic, and  use them to totally destroy or seriously water down the clear spiritual message of something like Luke 15.  Luke 15 contains stories that call for Jesus followers to ‘welcome and eat with sinners’ just as he did and  ' to celebrate, that a brother or sister who was lost from us has been found.’  If such  treasures of scripture were fully taken to heart nothing but good could come from the Bible but often  much less inspiring Bible content is focused on that creates distance and judgments between humans. In short, people use the Bible indiscriminately and frequently  in self purposed ways. When people use the Bible in such destructive ways, which I once did on an ongoing basis,  it may be because  the kind of message of Luke 15 has never captured their full being in the first place as their central  Christ- Image of God. So they are not aware  they are using one part of the Bible(usually an inferior and less soulful part of it) to weaken the impact  on their own souls of  the superior parts, such as the Luke 15 stories. And sadly some  are able to keep the self delusion alive that  they somehow are superbly  keeping 'all the commands  and teachings of the Bible.'

 I definitely have come to see some passages and  books of the NT as more  true to the original impression of Jesus than others. An important observation is that the synoptic gospels read chronologically show a gradual development of the Jesus story over time.  For example the first written Mark has no birth story and no witnesses to a bodily  resurrected Jesus, yet these are included and more elaborated as one moves to Matthew then Luke. The gospel of John  is obviously a symbolic  writing, so  recognized  by most authentic NT scholars, and it is recognized as having a strong Gnostic air about it. ( I am not by any stretch Gnostic but appreciate some of  their contributions to interpreting Jesus.) The gospel of John barely made it into the Bible due to its Gnostic flavor.  Other central books include the 'authentic' letters of Paul because they are the first written descriptions of the meaning  and impact of Jesus.
Paul Composing Letter To Church-Painting 13th Century
Paul shows no interest in any birth story, and can objectively be interpreted without  any physical  body resurrection or miracle stories*  the  gospels
describe. (People have always read these back into Paul because we have heard them in the gospels, but taking Paul alone as he was when first read, his statements regarding these can generally be seen as symbolic not literal.) He did speak of  'miraculous' types of personal  spiritual experience and I can I fully accept that as presently  and amazingly possible.  C.G. Jung’s work well explains such  psychological phenomena. Because such is psychological does not make it 'less true' or any less experienced as an authority of God.  (I think that such things happen occasionally, and perhaps frequently,  in human history.) So this strongly suggests  that these  other  external miraculous ways of interpreting Jesus came later than Paul.  A  significant fact I was very unaware of is that Paul  wrote and died by 68 CE, before any of the four gospels had been written.

This  kind of information changes what one learns from the NT and I think makes one appreciate it all the more. It is sort of like accepting a person, such as a parent, for who they really are than what we want them to be, which is what love is all about. My view and love of the Bible is like that. One has to, in a sense, lower his estimate of something(or quit making it a god) before he can appreciate it for what it actually is and it's the same with the Bible.  It  is possible for people to be taught of Jesus and the Bible  this way  and to more efficiently use the Bible as a tool for spiritual growth, but clergy and Christian teachers most often have yet to accomplish this. There is yet no widely accepted language to help get this communicated to the people in the pew. This is I think a present crisis in the Christian Church. Many seem to keep teaching and perhaps believing from a  literal interpretation of the Bible; even though they may have had exposure to information that could have stimulated change to, in my opinion, a more truthful and spiritual view of these matters. God bless us all. Jim H. Sept. 22, 2007(edited December 30, 2011)
*The reader may be interested in this  post about the nature of miracles:;postID=8341199713600037895

Addendum  June 29, 2014:  (Based on a Facebook post describing a book Notes From (Over) The Edge.. by outstanding progressive Christian writer Jim Palmer.) I think there is a need to find words as Christians that do not make the name of Jesus the center and end-all  of the human path to fuller love,  joy and  meaning of life so needed today. I think it is closer to the truth to say  that the archetype of Jesus and 'The Christ' is an example of the first fruits of humanity's evolved capacity to receive and give love in a more extensive way than ever before. Jim  Palmer's message is a great resource to those suffering the throes of Christian dogma but Jesus is only part and one opening to the path to a more embracing, inclusive human life and love. This may be missed  in Palmer's continuous Jesus emphasis? But  I am indeed very grateful for his voice and the attention it receives by those suffering deep religious transformations. It is a good and loving voice born of real experience.                                                                                                                                                

The Jesus story must surely be a great leap forward  in the unfolding  process of God becoming human , not the completion of it. Because by the time the gospel writers have finished writing about  him he is truly no longer a representative of the  pure empirical human .... but one born miraculously, existing with God from eternity, living beyond nature at his willing, whereas nature and its principles is the only true and full  home for all humans.  So the incarnation of God in man, in the Jesus story,  had its start in one who became, in the minds of the collective who followed him, far more than a human. 

The Jesus story describes what was a profound  leap  in history toward more and more truly ordinary humans  (not of unnatural miracle making  or 'eternal with God' humans ) to be the place of God becoming fully human. I think such did happen in the real and limited human Jesus of Nazareth. But the "darkness(the collective consciousness of Jesus' day) could truly not comprehend that light" and the drastic change it heralded in the meaning of direct connection and interdependence of God and Human. And so the collective human psyche protectively  backed away from  such bedazzlement by producing, in the gospels,  the archetypal hero Jesus, the claimed 'one and only ' place where God has "dwelt among us." (It's like humanity could only bear the consciousness of its evolving  mutuality with God by approaching it in historical stages, Jesus thus  being interpreted as only half human. This way humans could indirectly approach the dazzling light of the Sacred.  That light was just too bright to contain at first  for the mortals who surrounded Jesus).

The latest evolution of  God and Human drawing near to each other  is what  could be a dazzling 'numinous' image for some, otherwise quite materialistic and/or past  believers in an orthodox anthropomorphic(human like being) god, people today..... that God incarnate in the human Jesus was such a bright light psychologically  it could only be tolerated by creating Jesus into something  more than human. The split moment a person first  realizes, becomes conscious,  today that God seeks to become fully human in  ones own self can be such a leap into the beyond-space-and-time world that it calls forth in today's human consciousness an authoritative non-negotiable experience of the 'numinous' or bedazzlement  of the reality of  God. One at such a moment may become a 'believer' in the richest and most comprehensive meaning of the word. This potentially could parallel and transcend  the experience behind any  'miracle' story we read about in ancient religious texts. Jesus is  clearly  presented in the gospels  as only perhaps half human and the rest god.  But  now, two millennia  later, we are more psychologically prepared  to 'see' just what the expression 'God becoming Human' is actually saying about us all and our mutual connection to the Divine.   

 Hopefully we are beginning to see more clearly the continuation of what the Jesus story shows us in its natural  mythical symbolism, not historical recording, as the first fruits of the emerging capacity of the creature-human, in a mutual cooperation with the eternal creator God principle, to experience personally being extensively  more fully loved and loving.(The gospels have not become mythical and  symbolic in our day, they have been that from the beginning. We are just rediscovering it. ) This to me is the nature of the hope that is now available , not just to the individual but to collective humanity with all of its hostilities and threats to end itself.  

This can be a sound psychological/spiritual  understanding for the next great step for a third millennium new unfolding of the meaning of the Jesus story, making it more transparently not self-serving but collectively relevant and meaningful for our day and for humanity's  most urgent needs.