Wednesday, December 14, 2011

SALVATION BY FACT & BLACK SWAN January 11, 2011, note to Edward Fudge

Edward, to say that our assurance of  God is primarily  based on 'fact'  seems to me to undercut the whole 'religious' and 'spiritual' aspect of the God-Human encounter. 'Salvation'  has to do with for sure  'faith' and  it also is congruent and in part rests on  'feeling.' But it has nothing foundationally to do with 'fact' if used in the objective  'physical verification'  of outer reality  or 'authoritative pronouncements' regarding the 'inner  world' by outer authority. Your example supports of these kinds of facts as the basic of spiritual faith.. My faith in a bridge or even my doctor are hardly to be compared to my faith in the Sacred. They are very different indeed. Your model makes them the same, a matter of  ever accumulating physical evidence, which certainly has its place in the physical world. You are far more a scientist  and materialist with this approach to faith than a spiritualist. I too use that part of my brain capacity to 'describe' my faith but not to receive it.
Painting Reflecting  The Salvation Experience
It is received with the heart and described with the head. These are two very different functions of the human psyche or mind, the first is far less under our direct control than the latter. That is why 'salvation' in all its forms and descriptions is an experience of 'grace.' The  'trooper faith' you describe  ultimately is one I think Paul would refer to as 'of the flesh only' which may be successfully  used to enter the surgery room with more calm assurance. And that is good but it is not  the basis of spiritually based  religious faith.  I believe the writer had a correct  insight saying,  'Faith is the assurance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen.'  This 'evidence' here is not  physical evidence  but 'inner/spiritual'  evidence and it goes without saying that 'hope' is an internal reality.  
You are prescribing, what I hear as,  an assurance of God based on external authority. This is where we all began as children by the assurance coming from parents and teacher, sources we eventually came to realize were not perfect and must be 'let go' of as our inner source of transcending confidence and ultimate objects of trust. Such faith is based on assurance we hear from a literalistic/materialistic  interpretation of the spiritual materials of the Biblical text( represented by your trooper). I think we may be a good way apart on this  if I hear your model correctly.

My personal faith includes a trust in Jesus but not Jesus, or certain 'factual' words about him, that any external authority would assure me of. Although it began there perhaps by opening my mind to consider spiritual realities actual spiritual faith is based on an  experience of his living Spirit (psychologically a living archetype) which has at times  produced  profound ' feeling' and ' internal perceptions'  consistent with world wide timeless descriptions of  religious experience. I think most of us have such moments and these can be authentically used as ongoing sources of personal faith.  This makes such  faith an 'internal/psychological fact' which is always its proper place. This I think is a different category of 'fact' than the one in your trooper model or one that would require a person to 'believe in' the physical fact of spiritual statements such as 'the literal bodily resurrection of  Jesus of Nazareth.'  I can't imagine spiritual faith being any other way and I think from your life example and interests,such as you share in your book- Beyond The Sacred Page, that yours is more like mine than the  'external authoritative fact'  model you suggest here. I realize it is arrogant for me to suggest I may see the basis of your faith more than you do at times. You likely think you see mine as well?   We should both be careful.

 I wish you had stuck by  your book's first, and likely Spirit informed, title  - Beyond The Sacred Page. I think you  were talked out of that more accurate  description of  your faith in order to give more honor  to the 'trooper' type model of faith which many of your readers are more comfortable with. That model is based on objective reasoning of the 'flesh'(All objective reasoning is of the 'flesh' so it is not a bad thing but simply not the function of spiritual faith..) and based on literal physical texts as the basis of  faith  rather than what I trust is the more  actual one.  Your change of title to The Sound Of His Voice I imagine was no reasoning accident anymore than the original and more spiritually based was an 'inspired' one. I prefer the emphasized spiritual  'authority' implied  in your first and less reasoned title, although the Sound of His Voice could  also refer to spiritual experience and not only to the Bible text. To me this shows two aspects(Outer material reasoned  facts vs inner spiritual experience) of your and each of our  being-  our flesh and  our spirit. Both are essential but I think it is best to not confuse them or to give flesh the upper hand that both our culture and religious orthodoxy  are happy to do.    Blessings Always, Jim

P.S. Edward, two other thoughts. Paul's inspired and eloquent  statement   regarding the 'more excellent  way' (I Cor 13)did not include physical  'fact' of any kind, but only 'faith, hope and love.'   You seem to have made  'reported authoritative fact' and belief in it a cornerstone for salvation and religious experience. God's assurance to my understanding is much more imminent and personal than accepting someone else's  report. I think the personal  salvation stories of spiritual texts throughout the ages affirm this.

I went to see the movie  Black Swan today not really knowing anything to expect. It strikes me that this movie could be seen as an adult  attempt to answer the question 'How does one have assurance of 'salvation' or from the final words of the movie of  'being perfect?'  We should not expect it to be  an easy answer to find or to describe. The movie shows it can only be adequately approached with the language of symbol, the language of religion, of the Collective Unconscious, of the immediate  voice of God. That is why such a movie is truly art and a religious statement.   It is not for the faint of heart and deserves its R rating as well would many Biblical stories.  

Here is how  I have reported on it to another  friend.... The Black Swan is truly a psychological, and to me spiritual , work. The sweet loving  sincere mama's girl who is a great white swan for the ballet  Swan Lake  is pressed to find her  inner counter part, the black swan, and so she does.  Or it finds her as she becomes more open to it.  It is hard to discern what scenes are real outward happenings versus the inner ones.(much as  with spiritual texts and story.) She has to discover her sexuality more fully  and also her capacity for violence toward her enemies, including if necessary her doting mother. She masters, with much trans-personal help like any hero story, the task by 'letting go' and entering the dark and dangerous aspects of what I would call the Collective Unconscious. (I think the dreams I've shared   contain most all the kinds of elements of the dangerous inner terrain the movie  presents her transiting.) In doing so she receives a great personal wound but also finds her more full transcending 'self'  which is able to perform both the White and Black Swan. In the end she discovers the real meaning of 'be ye perfect.'  I’m struck she had to be 'truly good' (but not complete) before she could take on the challenge of finding , owning and challenging her dark shadow side.  That goodness never escapes her. Perhaps only a  truly good, sincere  but incomplete conscience  can take on such a  full  night journey(of individuation) without  it resulting only in chaos and real  outer violence? This is Jungian to the core but I think it is likewise  a picture of psychological/spiritual development of the human personality to the core as well.  To me it is very Christic in both its tragedy and its victory.  It also is a suggestive spin on the  'death, burial and resurrection'  archetype.  It could be an answer to the question you raise  in today's gracemail that requires significant meditation and reflection as one walks out of the theater.  Blessings, Jim

On Sun, 30 Jan 2011 03:59:00 -0500 "Edward Fudge" <> writes:

Edward Fudge

Click here for 100 popular topical links to 1100 past gracEmails.

Why do some people have strong assurance of salvation and others do not? How can you have stronger assurance of your right standing with God?It can be summed up in three short words: Fact, Faith and Feeling. Imagine that you are on a driving trip in a remote and deserted area, when you suddenly come upon a very old wooden bridge stretching over a river. The bridge creaks, the paint is nearly gone, it looks very ancient indeed. Fear takes over and you almost hesitate to cross over the bridge. Just then a state trooper steps out from somewhere and tells you to go ahead. The state highway department recently inspected this old bridge, the officer says. Its structure was reinforced with steel and its foundations with concrete. Next week it will get new wood trimming, sanding and fresh coats of paint. The objective reality is that the bridge is strong, safe and secure (FACT), and if you trust the report of the bridge's safety (FAITH), your fear will disappear and be replaced by calm assurance (FEELING). Faith determines feeling but well-founded faith depends upon fact. Strong faith produces good feelings, whether or not faith is based on fact. This means we cannot depend on FEELING, or even on FAITH, but on FACT.
The FACT is that Jesus has made atonement for sin, the Father is pleased, and the world is reconciled to God. If you will trust that report and rely on Jesus' work for you (FAITH), you will enjoy assurance of right standing with God (FEELING). If you do not trust the gospel report (NO FAITH), the FACT it declares does not change, but your LACK OF FAITH will forfeit the FEELING or assurance of safety that could have been yours. One other thing . . . if you do trust the officer's report, don't you agree with me that you will drive across that bridge?___________________
(c) 2011 by Edward Fudge. You have permission to reprint, republish and redistribute this gracEmail by any lawful means, if you give proper credit and make no financial profit.

Monday, December 12, 2011

DREAM: CHAOS AND IGNORANCE...September 13, 2009

My dreams of last night have led me temporarily  to a most irritated, discouraged and hopeless state of mind. It is the feeling that there is nothing worth pursuing with the human mind and inner experience. That what really reigns in our human environment is at best wishful thinking and at worst very destructive ignorance. I awoke with the fear that all my valuing of dreams is not one bit different than the ignorance I feel when I hear a ranting T.V. preacher or the claims of an untested 
This Painting Might Symbolize Chaos And Ignorance.
 pill to cure my arthritis. There are glimpses of what does 'seem' like truth but there are all kinds of shades of half truth, reasonable intuitions and there is obviously an ignorance that claims to know with all certainty what it is doing. There are proclaimed certainties that appear as statements pulled totally out of a hat or written on an ancient document. Does a human have any right to believe anything really? Is there a way to approach our very relative experience and genuine sense of being here in what we call a 'real world' that can give us a sense that we are being true to ourselves and to a genuine higher power? Can we be true to the very hard won human capacity to reason in a rational scientific type way and also true to our inner life that presents to us strong intuitions and untestable beliefs that strongly compel us to confess  a  sense  of  God? Is there a way where with integrity a human can rightly claim both reason and faith, matter and spirit, body and soul?Such dreams as from last night cause my courage and confidence to completely escape me. I think the thing that frightens me more than anything is the wonder if all things other than what is arrived at by strong science is simply debilitating human ignorance. And to me ignorance is a great enemy of a sound and well lived human life. I still think of ignorance as meaning 'to ignore'(our opportunities to embrace truth as it presents itself to us.) which makes me hopeful that conscious humans have a real choice in whether or not to yield our wills to that which on reflection does not authentically bear the marks of  'truth.'  Yet the  discouragement I experience is nearly overwhelming me even as I write this. I fear that what I am writing in this paragraph may itself be ignorance. And I sense an overwhelming , 'What is the use?'. Nothing of the mind and heart, it seems, is worthy of pursing for it is all Chaos and Ignorance. I know the world is full of humans who have or are trying to get access to weapons and information  they would use to murder basically innocent humans, including me , my family and millions of others. How dare I think the irrational dangerous beliefs and behaviors I see and fear in others do not also live  in my culture, religion and nation, in me? This is the horror of Chaos and Ignorance that I sometimes experience. It seems to melt any hope that trying to focus on what is real outside and inside of me has any merit or any hope of making myself or my world any more beautiful, true or progressed from the most barbaric ignorant and murderous times and places of human experience. How do I arrive at a way to be, to think, to feel, to hope that is 'sound' and 'fully human' and is not simply 'wishful thinking' or 'ego centered claims of certainty that comfort me but harass others'; that run totally contrary to careful logical reason ?

What kind of nightly dream leads me to this kind of horror and hopelessness? Where do I even start to describe the problem much less arrive at some kind of archimedian point to counter it with my integrity in tact? I dreamed I was a teacher giving individual instruction to a teen age boy. He seemed genuinely motivated and open to learning. We were in a large warehouse of educational material including electronic and mechanical instruments and gadgets. At first I was explaining to him how to read a calibrated instrument by first noticing into how many parts a number was divided. For example if there are ten spaces between the numbers 3 and 4, each division is one tenth so one might have a reading that is closer to 3.7 than it is to 3.6 or 3.8. So the accepted reading would be 3.7. He seemed to not be able to understand this. From there it only got worse. Eventually I was saying things to him out of a need to feel like a teacher. I was pretending to know about things that I simply did not know or understand myself. Nothing in the dream came to clarify this state of chaotic , unverified proclaimed certainties and shared ignorance between teacher and pupil. The only thing of hope was that the  manager of this lab expressed appreciation to me that I had put everything back like it had been before we used it. I was then headed to a math class knowing I was unprepared and knowing that the students had nearly no sound understanding of the subject and problems that were our assignment.

This is a negative 'animus' **dream. I become and act out my own negative animus when I begin grasping for and claiming knowledge and certainties that are not rational or commonly real. The best that can be said of me in the dream is that I did not leave things in worse shape than I found them. But that is only true of the lab materials. I and the student are left with an unhealthy experience that hopefully I will learn from... to be on guard when my negative animus nudges me to make claims that go beyond my humanity. And maybe I need to get myself better informed about the profession I am practicing. I'm relieved that I do not call myself a formal  teacher anymore, but then  there is my chaplaincy.

The next dream is that my little car came totally apart as I was headed to an important class that I was not prepared for. I got out to look and it was a disaster. Wheels were off and broken. I had no idea of the condition of the engine and transmission. Then a self defined mechanic came on the scene. He very confidently identified the problem which he showed was where a main union between engine and transmission had totally come apart. He stated he could repair it for sure. I saw him force the two pieces into each other and it was obviously not a true or solid fit. He actually believed he had fixed it for a moment and then it popped right back apart. It was totally ridiculous. He was full of ignorance that he had no awareness of. He was working from no tested protocol of how to go about repairing a car. Only ignorance and chaos abounded and he did not have one hint of being aware of all this. He then confidently told me that ' so in so' is 'back on the job' and would be in the shop soon. He said the two of them would have the car running in short order. The person he referred to I knew had even  less knowledge and skill and basic intelligence than this man.

Here was perfectly demonstrated what may be the actual human situation with respect to such things as 'war in mid East', 'war on terrorism and drugs', 'religious training in churches' , 'financial markets' , 'love and marriage', and 'health care' to name a few. And this may be what is actually going on with Jim Hibbett in his story of 'visions', 'dreams', 'hopes for a world about to discover the deeper meaning of love' and confidence that in spite of greatly disturbing his children 25 years ago they will somehow through his ' unusual path to individuation' be blessed rather than harmed. Is the world and is Jim Hibbett more a demonstration of chaos and ignorance than of any genuine situation of mature spiritual development moving toward an evolved higher state of consciousness that will result in a blessing to some others? This is where I have been in my mind ever since waking. This dream feels like I've been handed a pile of shit, not some kind of helpful content from the mysterious but enlightening  ' collective unconscious'. And I feel right now like an extremely ignorant, arrogant child pretending that I am being a responsible well informed, educated and trained adult.

Again the dream features my animus at his worst. He is claiming skills and knowledge that he does not have. He is making promises that he cannot keep. He is leading from ignorance not competence. Sadly, these very same statements can be said of much religion including much of orthodox Western Christianity and certainly political organizations. It is a serious thing to make promises that one cannot keep, though it is essential that we make sincere promises. There is no such thing as any promise we know for certain we can keep. The ego has no such total control over life or love.  But promises built on wishful believing and thinking, not on any direct experience are dangerous and can do great harm. When the animus, or our religious belief, is this negative we need to stop and literally 'have a conversation' with the inner offending party. Ask, 'Where are you coming up with these claims, these certainties, these promises? I expect you to be a far better and more reliable guide than this.' Jesus warned of a religion that only piled up irrational demands and helped little in the living of life. Is that not what much of it has become? When a relationship is established with one's inner world, whether the anima or the animus, only over time  and perseverance does it become more responsible and more friendly. Sometimes the O.T. shows humans seeking such communication with an irrational God and that such an effort  has a far better outcome than if the human simply 'blindly accepted'  some of the outrageous claims and behaviors by Jehovah. The inner world, though totally essential for human existence, is not perfect. It requires our work and continuous attention.  The small human ego must stand its ground and seek mutual relationship with the forces of God... recall Jacob wrestling , and winning, with the angel or 'the Lord'  to secure a blessing.

 I certainly had to painfully seek  such courage with respect to my anima in the months following August '85. 'She' originally, through her capacity to overwhelm my ego with her powers and enchantments, seemed to be saying that I had no real choice in important matters of life. That all I could do was accept what happened, that my ego's sense of responsibility and capacity to shape reality was totally an illusion. I had to work hard to stand up against this exaggeration while also attempting to learn the humility that life is far more 'determined' outside of my efforts than I had wished and imagined before.

Even if my primary nature is not like this chaotic and ignorant animus figure I am still just as bothered for I do see that as very much how things are in the world around me. A raving T.V. preacher proclaiming non sense and stating metaphysical certainties that he has no direct experience of at all other than to read them from the pages of an ancient text. A text to me that is full of beautiful and powerful symbolism but he is stating it as literal and historic and as if he 'knows' something that applies to everyone for all time. People  claiming that all one needs to 'know God' is completely found in their image of Jesus. The Unconscious does not allow for such 'one and only' answers for the religious question.  This is craziness and a total cleavage from the rational mind that was so long evolving in humans. I see it in the totally unsubstantiated claims and fears of political ideologues fighting against any effort to provide healthcare for the nation's citizens. And seeing that much of this fight is coming from the same people who claim that Jesus loves them and is soon coming to take 'them' away and punish all of the others. A high number of the people who sit in congress are people who demonstrate such chaos and ignorance in their 'belief' and in their actions. These are people who we are entrusted to help humanity find direction and guidance for the problems listed in the above paragraph. People who haven't the foggiest notion of how to relate to their own inner world where they might actually get what they  need to think and behave responsibly in this very new age we have entered
The Mouth Of Truth... Rome @ 1st Century
Here is a picture of a Roman marble sculpture that was placed in the Church of Santa Maria in Rome, Italy. The related  medieval legend said that anyone who tells a lie, while holding their hand in the mouth, will have their hand severed off.  Now will you speak your certainties with your hand in its mouth? This could be an attitude we need to have in our post modern day about the 'beliefs' we so easily claim as truth. Truth seeking needs to be a strong value of  post modern humanity, not making blind claims about certain truth.

Where in the uncertain state of reality does the 'thinking and feeling' human find a place to stand that honors both his/her head and heart, rational thinking and reflective intuitiveness? I'm only left with the seeming weak position of being aware of my own individual attempt to keep personal integrity and to apply as best I can the mindful faculties that I've been given. I do this knowing that really 'nothing is certain' for the human being. My hope rests on the assumption that there are ways to be fully and only human and that the best shot I or any person can take is to attempt to be as fully and wholly themselves  as possible. This is sound simply because we are human and human only as far as we have any claim to certainty. To desire and attempt to be human and only human seems to be the only way we can possibly maintain an integrity that would allow us to stand unashamed were there some superior intelligence, itself with full integrity, that was to evaluate us.

One of the basics of being fully and only human would be to exercise one's rational capability at a consistent and sincere level. The most genuine and honest way this has come into human grasp is the method and attitude of science. This is to use the senses aided by critical thinking and  instruments that extend the power of the senses to carefully observe the physical world at a macroscopic and microscopic level, and to trust the observations that the broad scientific community has made of the same material. And to accept the tentative rational conclusions reached from the scientific community who make intuitive models to explain these observations and test these models unrelentingly in peer reviewed reports. It means to practice a similar way in everyday life of finding the highest 'truth' regarding the physical world and the demonstrated energies that affect it.
To be fully and only human means in today's world to take the present best results of science as absolutely important. It means realizing that the scientific approach does not ever tell us 'exactly' what the truth of the physical world is but by its proven successful process it rules out a limitless number of conclusions and ideas that are not worthy of  trusting. This would result in a person not being gullible to declaring the arbitrary statements of religion and political ideologies as being literal physical truth if not supported by the available science that is applicable. This would put a hush on many irrational religious and political beliefs that drive the deepest and most determined actions of millions of humans.

An example of a belief that being fully and only human by using science would hush is, ' If I die as a martyr in killing other humans considered to be the 'enemy' I will reap pleasurable rewards.'

'Madonna And Child' Symbol of Incarnation @ 13th Century.
Another example would be the belief that ' If others do not believe the spiritualized way that I do about Jesus of Nazareth who lived 2000 years ago they are less connected to, even separated from, the ultimate source of life and goodness(God) than I am." The inner and outer negative implications for the world from this simple irrational belief are a far greater threat to humanity's future than we innocently imagine. To believe as a physical certainty that Jesus was physically resurrected one would be challenged by the principle above that they are violating their own intellectual integrity by an irrational compulsion to believe the irrational regarding the physical world. On the other hand , by the inner world principle that I will share below, a person could fully embrace the ' resurrection of Jesus' as a valid part, even the foundation of, their inner/spiritual world while being fully and only human. Their human integrity would not be violated but fully supported by their own humanity and genuine inner experience. They would still, and perhaps more fully, be Christians. This is my symbolic understanding of this central image in my Christian religious heritage. Also, the Christian story of the 'Incarnation of God in the Christ'(see painting above) can be seen as saying the goal of human life is for us each to approach being  'fully human' and that to become more fully human is precisely  and paradoxically the same thing as becoming more fully divine in our nature.

Another example of the irrational inappropriately accepted: ' Even though it is demonstrated scientifically that vaccines save millions of lives, I will not vaccinate my children for I believe it is likely to cause them to have autism. So I will follow my irrational belief even though, if many others did, it would make the world much less safe for all children.' This list goes on and on . But these kinds of willful irrational ignorance(unfortunately sometimes  called 'faith' ) and the chaos and destruction they can produce are fairly easily recognized once one accepts the premise that one is morally obligated to take seriously our human capacity of rational thinking and the soundness of the scientific approach to affirming physical reality.

Secondly , to be fully and only human(which is what it seems obvious that we should strive for) would mean to take ones inner life seriously and with consistent reflection. One's inner life is an ongoing describable 'experience' that lies beyond the capacities of the scientific approach to reach definite peer reviewed conclusions regarding 'truth'. The inner life of a human consists of the feelings that come and go and vary in intensity including fear, anger, joy, sadness, envy, excitement, boredom, attraction, repulsion. This is a list that general consensus could likely be reached among devoted rationally( in the sense described above) thinking humans. The inner life is also any and all ideas, images and intuitions that pass through a person's conscious awareness. All of these, if the inner life is to be honored, should be considered real, worthy of reporting to others and worthy of reflecting on to the extent they capture the rational mind's awareness. The inner life also consists of how things considered Sacred such as ancient texts and images affect and arouse emotion. The inner life also consists of day and night dreams. What is important for one, to be fully and only human regarding the inner life, is that no part of the inner life be considered as necessarily and always eternally true. The inner life and personal 'truth' of one person should never be considered to contain reality that is or should be necessarily someone else's inner life and 'truth' . The inner life of one should not be considered to be a revelation of what the rules and laws of the outer life of humans individually or communally must be. The inner life is to be reflected on using the rational faculties that are the first assumption above. That does not mean that rationality and science always trump the inner life's reality. One's inner life and truth can be maintained with integrity by an individual even if it is not in harmony with present conventional scientific 'truth.' In other words one can maintain confidence in his/her inner world even when it's contents appear irrational. It is OK to inwardly sometimes be 'crazy.' Such 'craziness' may rise up to eventually overturn a present collective rational belief or attitude. One can claim and believe with integrity that the inner life can reveal personal 'truth' that will eventually be shown to be closer to reality and a higher morality than rational scientific truth can presently ascertain.

For healthy human inner and outer psychological/spiritual life there must be a balance, a harmony between outer rational life and inner irrationalities. Any human system that attempts to discount the irrational is doomed to fail at living the full human potential. I've read the NYT best seller ' The End Of Faith' by Dan Harris. It seeks approaches to the problem of terrorism by examining religion in general. It is an excellent work and one every American would be positively challenged by. But, in my opinion , he fails to appreciate the presence, power, reality and necessity of the irrational nature world of the Spirit, the world of the unconscious. This is the mistake that most materialistic criticisms of faith and religion make. Religion has much due criticism but it will never go away. Jung , to paraphrase, said that if all religion and mythology were to be destroyed from human memory it would all return again in its basic themes in one generation. Religion, to serve humanity, has to be questioned and even confronted when it leaves the inner world which is its appropriate domain and seeks to usurp the outer world where unquestioned it can reek havoc. But if reason and rationality alone worked as a prescription for life it would have proven itself many wars, ethnic cleansings, addictions and many unhappy marriages ago. It was the dream of the 'age of reason', which so influenced our American founding fathers(Most modern fundamentalist Christian 'patriots' seem quite ignorant of this connection. They would die if they read founder Thomas Paine's critique of religion.), that reason would bring the world's salvation.  Materialistic rationality  has proven a sorry guide for discovering life with meaning when working alone.

This is very sketchy but to the best of my capacities is what I am devoted to for arriving at a view of truth. I think it provides a way that humans can attempt to be fully and only human without denying anything that is an inherent experienced part of their humanity. And it protects humans from being coerced by other human individuals or communities to deny their own human integrity and their conscientious effort to practice it to the fullest.

I am a human being who is trying to keep my integrity by responsibly owning the tentative truth offered by the scientific approach to the physical world with its matter and energy forms and by taking very seriously the  inner world restraining any need to press others to accept it as a standard of their reality. Though I am hoping that more people are taking the irrational side of their life seriously, such as by paying attention to their dreams. It would be my hope that as humans begin to honor their  inner world and reflect rationally on it and to report it to others .... that there will be rising consensus about what are common truths and values found in a very broad range of human beings. For I assume that the same 'collective unconscious' connects us all and feeds us all, through the archetypes, with similar ideas, feelings, attitudes and even appropriate and needed common values. These come from the living eternal, if anything can be so described, archetypes of the Collective Unconscious. This is the equivalent in psychological terms for the living reality that has always been called God or 'God's voice'. This for me is the best that I can do to hold ignorance,my own and others, and the chaos it creates at bay. Then we humans individually and collectively may reach higher levels of consciousness that are more and more informed by the insights coming to us from scientific consensus and our mutual exploration of the living Collective Unconscious. Jim Hibbett

**Note: 'Anima' is a term used by Jung to describe an inner aspect of the human male psyche. 'She' is a living 'function' that appears in dreams and fantasies and turns out to be a major factor for a man to discover and relate to in his adult psychological/spiritual development. The 'anima' when not conscious' arouses unpredictable emotion and alarming instinctual forces; emotions  that are generally at first not welcome or are outrageously exhilirating. Jung spoke of a similar male function in the human woman's psyche, the 'animus.' The 'animus' when not conscious is known and expressed for its ungrounded and endless opinions that exasperate others. So when the unconscious 'anima' of a man and the unconscious 'animus' of a woman encounter each other arguments without end happen. And both of them wonder later, 'What got into us?' So above I speak of my 'negative animus' for the behavior I'm describing consists of unfounded opinion as if it were certain truth. I tend, perhaps unlike Jung, to suspect that women and men have the 'inner female anima' which might rightly be called one's soul. And that both sexes can be under the influence of the 'animus.' As these inner parts of personality become more conscious they are seen to become positive, very helpful and trusted parts of oneself; the 'anima' helping a person to own and express a wide range of honest emotion and the 'animus' being a kind of rational guide through the spiritual/psychological, as well as outer, challenges of life. Jim

Thursday, December 1, 2011

JESUS' LIFE AND OURS...July 6, 2010.. note to Edward Fudge

Hi Edward, your descriptive statement of a meaning of Jesus as , 'our stand-in and our proxy. His living was our living and his dying was our dying:' I think this places far too much 'living and dying' on Jesus instead of responsibly 'taking up our own cross'  and  fully 'living and dying ourselves'  This would, to me, give a more real meaning to the idea scripture emphasizes that we can 'be like him.' A true spiritual leader, such as Jesus, really means it when he says, "become like me" ....'because you are potentially the same in every way.'  I realize this is not consistent with Christian orthodoxy but it is consistent with the actual words of Jesus as given in the gospels. 
Jesus And  A Samaritan Woman
I think taking Jesus more seriously in this area is far healthier and leads one to  more fully experiencing this brief life. That is  to see Jesus as a model of doing as he did, in his unique way,  so that we can likewise do what we do, also uniquely,  in the same spirit. This is how I image our  having a similar experience of life's spiritual unfolding as Jesus' must have. And that we can more clearly discover the mind that must be nothing less than The Christ's.  The more we are told or it is implied that we are not really 'like him'  I'm convinced the more we are hindered in that goal.... and eventually one would not see that as an actual practical goal of the Christian way of life. 

I believe orthodoxy has missed a very important meaning of the Christ story by making our own life and death too much of a vicarious experience than a fully lived one. We are actually called(in the Christ story) and empowered to live our life as fully, lovingly and courageously as Jesus lived his. Jesus, for example encouraged and suggested the Samaritan woman could  find her own unique inner 'living waters and truth.' This may even mean  drinking deeply of such experiences as  'Father, why has thou forsaken me?'  It can indeed mean 'drinking of the same cup and being baptized with the same baptism' as Jesus metaphorically described the suffering aspects of his life. And likewise finding the same secret he found of living life through a strong sense of a natural “Joy that is set before us.” Any less of a  goal than the  life of Jesus relived uniquely in others  is a failure to  grasp the radical nature of  the Christ Story and its offer of transformed life.
But these things describe an individual path and mass, group Orthodox  Christianity has never welcomed that part of the message. That side of the Christ story can be more frequently heard in the stories of the Christian mystics. Perhaps such a full path is for the very few.  But we should all at least know , be taught, that  is what the Christ story is centrally about, and not a group experience where a 'mine is better than yours' kind of attitude is set up to  eventually and pathetically be played out with the false claim of it being the Christian way.

Yes, I am extremely delighted to know that God has forgiven my(and it seems to me all others) sins but I hardly need a liturgy to remind me of that.  Not that I oppose healthy liturgy wherever it may be found as a tool to help us be in better touch with inner spiritual realities. But liturgy can be no more healthy or true than than the orthodoxy it supports. Much liturgy simply is not spiritually or psychologically healthy for today's   human need and situation. The typical liturgy places much too little expectation on ourselves for entering into the fullness of life and death, by instead  expecting Jesus to have done that for us, in our place. 

We can describe such an attempt to vicariously use Jesus' life and death story as humbly glorifying God all we wish but I don't think such efforts are what Jesus, in his actual teaching, was imploring his friends and followers to do. The later development of the religion around Jesus' memory devised the vicarious uses and  interpretations of His life and death. I think it is Orthodoxy, in its various historic forms, that developed the concept that 'His living was our living and his dying was our dying .' This is a central area that needs to be reexamined I believe if the story of Jesus is to again have a similar kind of relevant voice and trans-formative  influence in Western Civilization that it  had in the distant past. Blessings, Jim

A gracEmail subscriber asks if it is right to confess our sins to another human being, and whether a believer who hears our confession can speak forgiveness in the name of Christ.
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It is true that no mere mortal has power to forgive sins, as Jesus' enemies correctly observed (Mk. 2:5-7). However, Jesus authorized and empowered his people -- in ever-widening circles -- to speak forgiveness in his name, beginning with Peter, then all the Apostles, and finally the whole church (Matt. 16:18-19; John 20:21-23; Matt. 18:15-20). James later encouraged and affirmed the proper exercise of this ministry, both by recognized representatives of the believing community, and also by any individual believer (James 5:14-16). "Your sins have been forgiven you for his name's sake," John boldly promises, and we can repeat that good word with assurance as often as may be helpful and needed (1 John 2:12).
This is all possible because "God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them" (2 Cor. 5:19). Through Jesus Christ's faithful obedience, culminating in his death on the cross, "there resulted life to all" (Rom. 5:18). He was and is our representative, our high priest, our stand-in and our proxy. His living was our living and his dying was our dying. We look at Jesus and see the Father; the Father looks at us and sees Jesus. Jesus endured what we deserve; we enjoy what Jesus merited. By his action and by his passion, by what he did and by what was done to him, by his doing and by his dying, we are set right with God fully and forever.
In liturgical churches, the gathered congregation regularly reads together a common confession of sin and asks God's forgiveness, to which another believer responds with an affirmation of pardon. Many gracEmail subscribers have never enjoyed that experience. There is great blessing in saying aloud, "I have sinned in thought, word and deed," then hearing someone say the words, "You are forgiven for Jesus Christ's sake." To help congregations that do not already experience this blessing, I have put together a variety of responsive Scripture readings, each including a statement of confession, of pardon, and of praise.