Saturday, November 16, 2013


"In Jungian terms, the heart of the Mass lies in the rich, emotional experiences encountered by the participants. A man-centered liturgy enables the mystery of the Eucharist to transform the soul of empirical man into his totality."

This indeed has of late been my own very rich experience and I have come to this conclusion - the words "a man centred liturgy" in this quote are made to differentiate a Jungian depth psychological approach as opposed to a traditional Church Dogmatic approach represented by the words 'a God centred liturgy'.

I would claim that both approaches amount to the same thing. Both approaches point beyond themselves and the language that they are expressed in, to an unknowable mystery, a mystery we struggle to define or express.

The union of two approaches, our Psyche (an immanent psychological theory) with God (a transcendent theological theory) is a union of opposites that are not to my way of thinking mutually exclusive. Perhaps the bridge is something Jesus is quoted as saying -  "The kingdom of heaven is within you" and he said this within the Judaic tradition of the transcendent God. Both approaches become unified if they are held together in paradox creating a greater whole - such as up and down, hot and cold, love and hate, light and dark etc. The union of opposites synthesizes newer and greater meaning. It points towards something beyond the requirement of each element needing its opposite simply to define itself.

To take such an approach would of course bring up a large number of theological problems for many of the traditional conservative churches. One interesting aspect would be how to view Judas Iscariot. I have always been of the opinion that without his betrayal there could have been no redemption - betrayal and redemption, again the union of opposites, again paradox pointing the way to greater meaning - but I will leave that idea for another post.


Ben said...

In the seventies I read a lot of work from the magic realist author Hubert Lampo. He admits his indebtedness to Jung in several places, in the sense that it helped him to understand what was happening psycho-logically in his own books. His best-known novel is Joachim Stiller's Coming, (1960). Once he said, how would a liberal like me and unbeliever, have come to write a story in which a modernized version of the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ was the central theme?

Alden Smith said...

Yes, I remember you mentioning this book to me before and I must get a copy of this from my old and internationally efficient friend Amazon Dot Com. I think Jung sees the Christ figure as a metaphor for each of our individual 'individuating' selves - Christ is an idealized figure of how we might grow into wholeness as individuals. The Christ story works either literally or metaphorically. He is controversial in this area because his theory requires the union of opposites. In the case of Good and Evil, Jungs theory requires Evil to be acknowledged and integrated into the personality. Christianity sees Good triumphing over Evil. Jung sees the repression of the Evil within us to produce complexes and the projection of that evil outwards onto the world. One of the biggest cases of collective projection in this area was the German peoples projection of their own 'Evil' (being our propensity and capacity for Evil) onto the Jewish people.
Jungs work is highly influential and his way of looking at the Christ story has been useful to many people who are unable to believe the story literally including myself.

Ben said...

I don’t know how the English translation will be, but the Dutch language used is rather old fashioned an elaborate. For me an indication that languages are changing fast.

Alden Smith said...

Good point - I will see if it is available first - may be out of print.