Sunday, August 7, 2011

THE DEVIL AND THE COLLECTIVE UNCONSCIOUS...may 16, 2010(edited Aug 7, 2011)..response to Edward Fudge

Hi Edward. I'm sure you get discouraged to see the church institutionalized as you describe.(Edward's essay is below.) I fully identify. Regarding the reality of 'The Devil' and its implications in our culture I wish to share some thoughts. A way to understand 'good and bad' religious phenomena is that when religion is really 'alive' it is because people are under the influence of an archetype( A working definition of the archetypes: The eternal psychological structures at the very base of the collective human psyche. They bring forth images to human consciousness throughout history that produce all creative ideas and images including those that spawn our religions.) that has captured the mind, most often at an unconscious level. The subject 'feels' the result of the archetype but has no consciousness of it  origins.You are right- such is an experience of passion rather than planning, a matter of emotion(heart) rather than intellectual  knowledge. So being highly charged religiously, for good or bad, is a state of the human psyche. And many can agree such religious passion is sorely needed in ways that are positive and promote human community. The passionate religious state of mind is one in which the Unconscious archetypes are actively engaging  human life and bringing the experience of Spirit into consciousness.

This is a highly motivated experience accompanied by strong feeling. Any such a religious person feels motivated from deep within. And it is a motivation that can be powerfully good(of love) or one that can be just as powerfully destructive of the goals of love, joy and global human community. In general the person so influenced will absolutely not be able to distinguish the difference. S/he is only sure something far greater than 'themselves' is powerfully effecting them. A 20th century  theological word to describe the conversion, life-changing, experience, often accompanied by visions and dreams is 'numinous.' Both kinds of conversion sense the presence and working of 'a god' and for both this can be an unconscious experience which 'seems' for sure coming from a Source far greater than themselves and from outside themselves

Dangerously, more often than not the religious experience is happening without any conscious concrete idea of its source and without the questioning and thinking of the critiquing conscious- ego being intentionally involved. So the 'bad'  or destructive archetype is able to do its damaging and destructive work just as well as another archetype does its work of generating, in the individual and community, something very positive. Under the 'spell'  of religious archetypes the person or influenced community experience that life has meaning and purpose, one of the most deeply felt human needs in our day. And, in reference to your essay, I think this is often felt more strongly under the archetype's command to 'go' than it is the one 'to come.' For 'to go' in our culture is far more exhilarating whether the impulse is healthy or destructive. We are not people who know well how to 'wait' and ponder. Our rally is 'Just do something.' There surely is a time to act but also a time, more than  most would prefer, to wait, to pull back, to give the unconscious forces behind life the  time  to do their work under at least some awareness of them by the discriminating conscious ego. To be in harmony with such forces is the more appropriate goal of spiritual living. If these forces move  toward some kind of  unimagined change of church or politics as we now know them, are we able to accept that and anticipate something genuinely new? You referred me once to the idea of the 'emerging church.' I like the phrase  for it implies something with a life of its own that we are too be in harmony with, not something to primarily go out and 'do.'  In the spiritual realm timing is everything and that is not a lesson we Westerners, Christian or not, have learned well. We prefer to panic and 'just do something, anything' to assure ourselves we are not being lazy or missing out on the action.

'Meaninglessness' Scene From Hamlet

The greatest psychological/spiritual threat to post modern living is a growing sense of  the feared purposelessness and meaninglessness of individual human life. The individual looks around at the secular and technological powers  that run our daily life, at the chosen wars where humans kill each other and each others children, at the ongoing pollution and warming of the planet. A growing number of well intentioned Western people then sigh something like: " being 'just one' with so little actual power to change any of this. So what if thousands of human brothers and sisters in a foreign land are starving or whole cultures are the victims of genocide or the gulf of Mexico is being destroyed. There are too many people on earth anyway and I have absolutely no control. I will resign somewhat guiltily to enjoying the local domestic relatively tranquil present with plentiful food, even if it does contain many technologically induced poisons."

The downside of the archetypal system that drove the early church(and also most organized communities) has always been present. It very early viewed people of 'different faith' as the enemy. I do not think  that Jesus was captivated by that kind of  negative 'evangelism' archetype(except it some truly 'good news' to every human) that became central to official Christian doctrine and action. Very soon, as the church gained the cultural power you speak of, it used that power to kill the enemy if it could not convert him. The horrors of the archetype were very alive soon after the beginning. The excitement of 'going' easily becomes the excitement of 'controlling.' Jesus did also say 'come'. He invited people to 'a way' of spiritual life without coercion. He respected persons without condoning their weaknesses semi conscious awareness. His was a peaceful and harmless, yet powerful, presence among people. He warned about 'seeking converts and making them as much a child of the devil'  and as greedy and controlling as they had become, without being conscious of it.  He told people to pray to find the way to 'love the world' instead of controlling it, to 'heal' the world instead of using, judging and raping it.  To 'respect the world' and its diversity instead of looking at it as the 'other' that needs to be 'just like us' and to 'confess such a redeeming belief.'

European Missionaries Plan To Convert These  Native People.

Thank goodness there are creative generative archetypes and ones of wholeness also living today in parts of the church and the secular society. There are people who are passionately swept up in genuinely caring for the essential needs of others and the empowerment of the sick, downtrodden and oppressed. When such people are also blessed with an understanding of the source of their motivation, as coming from the positive features of a reality we can call the Collective Unconscious, that they are under the influence of truly redeeming archetypes, then they are somewhat protected from the archetype's downside. Such a downside can quickly become one of 'fear or control of the other'  or 'lets get the other to join us to increase our power in the world' or that 'our archetypal revelation' is the one and only, completely true one.'

Yes there are powerfully good archetypes that come forward and effect human beings. Some of them are those that create ecstatically positive emotions and actions in human beings. I believe that such archetypal forces were alive in Jesus of Nazareth, and have been so in other highly spiritually developed humans such as Martin Luther King, Gandhi and Abraham Lincoln. They also make their positive presence in all of us to some degree. These are archetype of healing, wholeness and respect for all humans and the Earth.. These are the archetypes of love.  But they remain so only to the extent that the  conscious ego can come to recognize the Unconscious Inner Source and reality of such powers, rather than projecting it as coming from only one  person, or a book, or a  theistic powerful  human-like god outside ourselves. Only with the Grace of Consciousness of such a source will the horrific downside of such revelations be better avoided.

Humanity can't survive yet another strong  revelatory archetype entering the collective psyche of any great world power unless it is also accompanied by  a conscious understanding of where such strong influences come from.  Because now the destructive power that is available  is truly world destroying.  Suicide bombers are under the influence of strong archetypal energy. They have experienced the capacity through such a strong archetype , often representing 'underdog' and poor cultures of the world,  to exercise horrendous  murdering power. Unconscious archetypal 'possession' , such as happened in Nazi Germany, the more recently discovered pedophilia among some Catholic priests, and the religious/political homophobic forces so alive in our culture can seize the most powerful  political/religious systems  resulting in great human harm.  Human systems are all formed by the same archetypal unconscious processes. So our political and religious systems are always at risk of negative archetypal influences. The archetypal forces that precipitated the Holocaust are an example of 'religious-like' mass psychological dynamics capturing a political system. When fully developed those so captivated by the archetype will do most any horrible thing and never ask why. Natural intelligence alone is never an adequate bulwark against the power of  such unconscious influences.
Civil Intelligent (yet possessed) Germans Saluting Hitler 1936 Olympics

 Also perceived now as a threat to America are its 'illegal' immigrants who are here primarily to work to support their families. Many are several generations into their American life. They pay taxes and sometimes serve in our military. There is a strong part of the 'religious' archetype of  America that is now gaining momentum which sees such people as generally unwelcome and are perceived as an 'enemy.' This attitude is coming after decades of these same 'immigrants' hearing the strong invitation of American corporations and businesses to 'come over and work for us.' This does cry out for federal attention. Do our federal institutions have the moral underpinning to take on such a task is a pressing question for our nation right now.
Immigrant Fears During 1930's Depression

The real  existence and power of the unconscious sources of religious impulse in both the positive healing, loving ways and the most sinister and destructive is now a matter of psychological fact. Even if it has not yet consciously registered with the typical American. It is real and it breeds in all the ways that humans become alive and engaged emotionally' through a sense of being connected to the Sacred, to God.    

By the way, it's an entirely another kind of question to ask, "Is there a completely transcendent 'other' God, that lies behind the archetypal structures that expresses itself into human consciousness? We do not have to know the answer to be positively 'religiously' (archetypcially affected) minded  people. The archetypes  can affect a person, for good or ill,  who is not formally religiously affiliated.

The Collective Unconscious, first named that my Carl G. Jung,  is the best psychological  metaphor to explain  the source and dynamics of the very real 'gods' that affect us for good or bad. It is important that more humans become conscious, to 'wake up' to this reality so that the seemingly weak, by comparison, 'ego consciousness' be able to interact, to question, to choose which archetypes are worthy of our service and surrender.  For surrender we will, one way or the other.  The conscious capacity to choose which aspects of an archetypal system are the  ones that promote genuine love( The Greek concepts of agape, phileo, Eros)  of humanity and of  the natural environment is only what can redeem our present era from self destruction. This is the leverage for good that is possible with the present knowledge of the  Collective Unconscious and what it has given to us as some of its Sacred secrets. What comes from the Collective Unconscious contains the thoughts and ideas to find creative solutions to the threatening problems of our time. This is true simply because it is the COLLECTIVE Unconscious. It is the source from whence we have all come and have been shaped as the collective human race from our beginnings.
Edward, I think I am presently too serious minded to think of the devil as the caricature that you use above as did the creative C.S. Lewis. The  'devil', if you choose to describe the meaning of evil with such a anthropomorphic metaphor, is likely more real than we imagine. It's important that it be seen as a force that each of us, and especially our religious/political institutions and systems, are just as capable of supporting as much as any suicide bomber. Jim

Note: A  book which I believe can help any sincere reader along the learning curve regarding the subject of 'The Devil' is one by Early Christianity and Bible Scholar Elaine Pagels entitled The Origin Of Satan, how Christians demonized Jews, Pagans and Heretics.

On Sun, 16 May 2010 05:00:00 -0400 "Edward Fudge" < > writes:

Edward Fudge

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Legend has it that sometime during the Fourth Century, in the reigns of the Emperors Galarius and Theodosius I, the devil convened an emergency meeting of his minions to discuss ways to stop the gospel's spread. "Kill the Christians!" cried one demon. "Wipe them off the face of the earth!" The devil shook his head. "When Nero killed Peter and Paul," he replied, "converts multiplied. More recently, Diocletian murdered 20,000 Christians by the most horrible tortures, but their faith simply would not die." Many suggestions and dismissals later, a certain junior demon, freshly graduated as a Doctor of Diabolica, raised his hand. "I have it!" he ventured confidently, "but the solution is counter-intuitive. First, we will make Christianity popular," he said, "and then we will make it prosperous. Next, we will invite believers to abandon the catacombs, and to stop meeting in private houses." His voice grew louder with excitement. "We will encourage them to build elegant edifices, as fine as any government building in Constantinople. And then -- heh-heh, here's the genius -- when they all go inside, we will simply lock the doors and their influence will be no more."
Jesus instructed his followers, "Going, make disciples." But somewhere the charge was changed. "Come to us," we now say, "to the security and comfort of our church buildings." Right before our eyes, "Go" has turned into "Come." And the magic (or was it mischief?) did not stop there. A heavenly Kingdom became a carnal church, a fellowship morphed into an institution, and maintenance replaced mission. Passion in the heart gave way to knowledge in the head. If we doubt it, we need only read the congregation's budget and calendar to be convinced. In most places in America, most of the time and most of the money goes to seek and to serve . . . the saved? Instead of divinely-empowered fellowships marked by much prayer and few plans, we often find religious corporations run on human power, with many plans and little prayer.
God's business has become lost in church busyness, the great commission buried under a great commotion. Why do we even exist as an ekklesia, an assembly of faith? What is our ultimate goal and purpose? What is the essence of our mission? What is our passion? Is the original vision somewhere even yet alive? Have we forgotten entirely that God called us -- not to be comfortable, but to send us on his mission? What do you think? Has that crafty devil enticed us into our fine buildings and locked the doors?

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