Author Topic: Jesus or Christ? (Reply to Remo Roth)  (Read 11619 times)

Matt Koeske

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Jesus or Christ? (Reply to Remo Roth)
« on: April 18, 2007, 12:32:51 PM »
I posted this on Roger and Remo's forum, Unus Mundus, today in response to Remo's speculation about the confusion among Christians between Jesus and Christ.

The discussion at Unus Mundus can be found here: http://psychophysical.free.fr/viewtopic.php?p=4749#4749




Quote from: Remo Roth
All

For some times now I have a question in my mind. Why do you on the American continent always speak of Jesus and not of Christ? In "Old Europe" only evangelical people talk like this.

Critical Bible research shows that we do not know too much of Jesus, the man. Christ, however, is the archetypal image, which created itself around this human. Thus, in a Jungian argumentation, one should only talk about Christ.

Any comments?

Remo

Hi Remo,

I think there might be something more in the Jesus/Christ split, some deep confusion even on the archetypal level.  The Christ or godman archetype is, well, just that a god/man coniunctio.  My guess is that the Western notion of the godman derived from the Mystery religions in which the human initiate could put on the mask of the god in a ritually regulated setting (so that it could then be removed when the ritual was over).  My understanding is that the early Gnostics (or perhaps proto-Gnostics) continued this Mystery tradition within a Judaic or Judaized symbol system.  That is, they sought to become Christs . . . and would have likely understood the Christ in much the same way Jung did, as an archetype or spiritual ideal.

In this sense (and without the Catholic trappings) the ecstatic union with God was a sort of Eros participation with the archetypal (i.e., "divine") process of death and rebirth.  In this Gnostic rebirth, one would die to the worldly self (or ego) and be reborn as a "Son of God" (or Daughter in some of the Gnostic sects that allowed women to be initiated) . . . i.e., as one who lived his/her life for God, a "pneumatic".  It is then the responsibility of the pneumatic initiate to "carry God" into the world . . . so in this sense, the initiate was Christ-like.

We might guess (since this had been going on in the Mystery religions for centuries without ideological evangelism, or inflation, wheedling its way into politics and power) that the death/rebirth initiation rite (often involving a baptism) for the Gnostics was able to contain and transmute the inflation of being momentarily identified with God.

But what is most interesting and also horrible is that, in the hands of the early Catholic Church, this initiation rite became tabooed.  The main gripe of the Catholic Church was with the Gnostics . . . and the Catholics characterized their nemeses as "inflated", elitist, heretics that could not humble themselves before God (by which they meant, the Church's power structure).  Still, the Church seemed to take the literature and some of the rituals from the Mystery religion-influenced Gnostics.  But instead of this being mediated by a spiritual discipline and initiation (death/rebirth) in which the initiate had to demonstrate a kind of gnosis or understanding of the spiritual experience (perhaps through the teaching or writing of a Gospel), the Catholic Church mediated in a way that substituted conversion for initiation.

That is, becoming a Catholic meant declaring obedience to the Church . . . and the flock was not supposed to get involved in "spiritual matters".  It was not even supposed to bother reading the scriptures (such reading was even forbidden).  All spiritual knowledge and experience would be handed to them directly from the priests and bishops.  Any attempts of the Church members (outside the authority structure) to commune with God outside of Church-sanctioned events (like Holy Communion) was strictly verboten and taken as a heretical and arrogant act against the Church (and therefore, against God).

So when we talk about Jesus the Christ today, we are inheriting this Catholic tradition.  The Catholics purged the Gnostics and their writings . . . and may have even rewritten history in a way that devalued the early Gnostic contributions to Christian literature (which may have been extensive).  This Catholic tradition creates a much deeper confusion between Jesus and Christ (than seemed to exist for the Gnostics in the Mystery tradition).  The typical Catholic believer was compelled to abstract Christ into a more distant, untouchable realm . . . which is (at least I believe) a contradiction of the godman archetype on which the Catholic Christ was initially based.  One was supposed to act like Jesus, but not be like the Christ.  The Christ was tabooed.  After all, to be like Christ is to take on personal responsibility for the existence of God in the world.  I.e., consciousness of God and burden of God.  That was the very product or market which the Church wanted to monopolize (and did, with enormous financial success).  It couldn't suffer any individualistic Christ-consciousness.  Its members could not be pneumatic initiates; they had to be sheep.

But this approach to the godman archetype created an enormous inflation around the Christian experience . . . and this inflation has been the undoing of many priests.  Even from the second century CE (and perhaps even the end of the first), proto-Catholic priests and devotees were trying to "construct Jesus" historically . . . and with very little to go on.  This construction (although perhaps rooted in Gnostic literature) was increasingly anti-Gnostic.  That is the origin, I believe, of the "Jesusism" of Christianity.  As soon as the Catholic Church became an institution that regulated an ideology and accompanying mythos, there was a mad rush among the Church Fathers to write the history of Jesus (or piece it together from disparate texts).  The Catholics were (at that time) under intense scrutiny from the pagan Romans who looked upon the new religion with disdain.  The pagans recognized all the trappings of their own Mystery religions (and the previous godmen of myth) in Christianity . . . and also (in the meticulous records kept by the Roman state) the utter absence of any historical backing for the literalizing claims of the early Church.

The primary text of pagan criticism we have of early Christianity was preserved by the Church because Origen made an attempt to refute all the critiques (Against Celsus, 248).  But we can deduce that such attacks on Christianity (and the historicity of Jesus) from the pagan, intellectual world were common.  Regrettably, these texts were all destroyed during the purge of paganism by the early Christian emperors . . . when temples were demolished, libraries burned, and the intellectual upper-middle class (where paganism was strongest) was murdered or forcibly converted to Christianity.  I don't mean to take up the historicity argument here (there's plenty of literature out there on this) . . . I mean only to cite this conflict as an impetus for the Church to construct a Jesus, a historical man who supposedly came from Nazareth (a town that probably didn't even exist when Jesus was supposed to be alive, and is the result of a mistranslation of "Nazarene", a radical Judaic sect from the 1st century . . . the Gnostic literature doesn't make this mistake, by the way) and was crucified by the Romans sometime around 30 CE (the date has always been debated, even among Christians).  The "personal Jesus" has always been the hood ornament of the Church.

Seen through the (admittedly limited, but still telling) eyes of history, I am inclined to call into question the very conception of the Christ as archetype.  There is no Christ archetype.  There is the godman archetype that was tabooed by the Church, cloaking it in a shadowy inflation.  When we look at the mythos of Christianity in the Gospels, this becomes all the more apparent.  Here we see the portrayal of a man, Jesus, who is executed by his own people (with the help of the Romans, who reserved the right to execute only for themselves) for the crime of imitating God, i.e., archetypal inflation.  But the story (which I suspect predates Catholicization and literalization) tells of a rite of passage in which the inflated man (the man who cannot differentiate himself from God or the Self) finally confesses the crime and submits to the punishment, thereby dying to the egoic inflation so he can be reborn in a differentiated state.  Jesus the man had to accept this punishment as his just reward for the inflation.  Surrendering to this "justice", he was able to differentiate man from God.

It is then Jesus, the hero, who goes to his death (accepting God's will even as he feels forsaken), while Jesus Barabbas (the worldly man, political dissident, and killer) is freed (by request of the people and the decree of Pilate).  Thus, the differentiation between Jesus Barabbas (Jesus, "son of the father") and Jesus Christ (Jesus, the anointed) or between man and God or ego and Self.  The heroic ego is the ego that suffers for the sins of the man.  It is what submits to death (and the Self) and will be reborn.  The Gospel stories address the inflation issue quite directly (albeit symbolically) . . . but in the Church's attempts to reconstruct a historical Jesus, its politicking worked against the transformative mythos of the Gospels.  In effect, Jesus Barabbas is being re-merged with Jesus Christ . . . but this regressive movement is shrouded in the taboo of Church power and must not be questioned or investigated.

Thus, the ridiculous, academic debate over the matter of Jesus' true nature (as God, god and man, man who was sent by God, son of God, etc) at the Council of Nicaea in 325 . . . which was not even settled.  The nature of Jesus (and Christ) are still in the Christian shadow.

One possible tangential argument for the archetype of the Christ could position it in the minds of radical Judaic sects around the turn of the Common Era, when messiah cults were a dime a dozen.  This messiah was not the more spiritualized godman of the Mystery tradition, but a political warrior and redeemer who could be seen as a representative of the war god, Yahweh, sent to earth to conquer the enemies of the Jewish people with holy wrath.  We see this demonic "archetype" (if you can even call it that, and not merely a wish fulfillment) in the book of Revelations, which is possibly the oldest book in the New Testament (predating and having nothing whatsoever to do with the other specifically Christian writings contained in the Testament).  Revelations is more like the War Scroll found with the Dead Sea Scrolls.

-Matt
You can always come back, but you can’t come back all the way.

   [Bob Dylan,"Mississippi]

DavidOR

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Re: Jesus or Christ? (Reply to Remo Roth)
« Reply #1 on: April 28, 2007, 06:22:17 PM »
Quote
All

For some times now I have a question in my mind. Why do you on the American continent always speak of Jesus and not of Christ? In "Old Europe" only evangelical people talk like this.

Critical Bible research shows that we do not know too much of Jesus, the man. Christ, however, is the archetypal image, which created itself around this human. Thus, in a Jungian argumentation, one should only talk about Christ.

Any comments?

Remo

It depends on which churches you go into here the American Remo.  Yes you do hear a lot more Jesus talk in the evangelical, charismatic and fundamentalist churches.  Often this is intermingled with the phrase "Jesus Christ."  Do to a fundamental tenant of these denominations that is "a personal relationship with their lord and savior Jesus Christ" they tend to throw around the word Jesus a lot more.  This may very well have something to say about the image of a man versus that of God.  It's much easier to have a personal relationship with a man.  (Interesting you also see this in University where students want so bad to be friends with their professor that they insist on calling the prof. by his/her first name.)

Now I'm sure you're aware of the distinction between Jesus and Christ.  Academically and theologically speaking the distinction lies between an actual man and the iconization of him into the Christ by those who wrote the texts.  It is assumed by many academic scholars that Jesus only began to believe himself Christ during the last couple weeks of his life.  He identified God.  Before that he was just another rabbi making noise outside the synagogue.  That is how I see the academic distinction.  The cultural one is less clear.  Here in the U.S. go to any number of traditional protestant churches and hear Jesus referred to only as Christ...sometime Jesus Christ.  It seems maybe that the usage does parallel Old Europe in that way. However, I have a feeling that the difference in importance or perceived manifestation of Christ in the daily lives of Europeans and American s is very different.  I would be interested to hear Remo's discussion on the European perspective.

David

Matt Koeske

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Re: Jesus or Christ? (Reply to Remo Roth)
« Reply #2 on: April 28, 2007, 06:44:20 PM »
I would be interested to hear Remo's discussion on the European perspective.

Hi David,

It's good to see you here!  I'm not sure if you will have any luck reaching Remo through Useless Science.  He hasn't joined that I know of.  If you follow the link at the top of the first post, it will take you to the Unus Mundus thread where Remo posted the message I quote here.  There's been a little more discussion of the topic there.

I reposted my reply here, because it relates to some of the other discussions of Christianity we've had.

But I do hope you will join in on any of the topics here at Useless Science . . . or start new ones.  Please know you are always welcome.  You've always had interesting contributions at Kaleidoscope . . . and I have to admit that I find myself occasionally wishing we could transplant some of those discussions here where the format is more investigative.  I have checked in at K periodically, but I will no longer get involved in conversations in which I disagree with the prevailing attitude exhibited.  Regrettably (for me, but probably not for the K crew), this means I refrain from entering many discussions on interesting topics.

Without meaning to throw too much of a Darth Vader vibe at you (i.e., "Come over to the Dark Side, Luke!), please know that if you are unhappy with the discussion of a particular topic you would like to explore more deeply (or outside of the particular box allotted it), you can always broach it here as well.

My Best,
Matt
You can always come back, but you can’t come back all the way.

   [Bob Dylan,"Mississippi]

Kafiri

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Re: Jesus or Christ? (Reply to Remo Roth)
« Reply #3 on: April 29, 2007, 12:34:20 PM »
One of the most informative programs I have seen on this topic is:  http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/religion/ I don't know if you can still view the multi-part show online or not, but the transcript is available.  There are many experts presented with a wide range of views.
"We lie loudest when we lie to ourselves."
      -Eric Hoffer

Matt Koeske

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Re: Jesus or Christ? (Reply to Remo Roth)
« Reply #4 on: April 29, 2007, 02:20:39 PM »
One of the most informative programs I have seen on this topic is:  http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/religion/ I don't know if you can still view the multi-part show online or not, but the transcript is available.  There are many experts presented with a wide range of views.

I'm pretty sure I've either seen this or read the transcripts, but I can't remember anymore.  I read and watched pretty much everything I could find on early Christianity a couple years back.  Is this the documentary that was done by the Jesus Seminar folks?  Or at least done using their ideas and research? [yes, just confirmed at previous link]

The Jesus Seminar has provided some of the most thorough scholarship there is on early Christianity, and their tendency to dismiss large portions of the New Testament as "non-authentic" earned them no friends among the evangelicals.  Yet, at the same time, I found that they were not absolutely fair-minded or "scientific" in their analyses.  For instance, they embrace some form of historicity for Jesus (although as a human religious leader, not a god) on very shaky grounds . . . without adequately pointing out how shaky these grounds are.  One gets the impression that they saw ahistoricity as a position too emotionally challenging to embrace.  Regrettably, this is not a scientific or scholarly argument (an argument based in data).  It's still a faith-based argument (no matter how watered down).

I read everything I could find on the subject, and I saw no verifiable historical data that corroborated the historicity of Jesus.  Even the devout Christian scholars tend to base the claim for Jesus' historicity in the mere fact that Christianity exists and was able to become such a powerful force in the world for so long a time.  Of course, this is not data that tells us anything about the supposed founder.  The rest of the pro-historicity argument hinges on a few debated texts . . . debated because they all have numerous signs of forgery to them (and forged or not, none of them was written until at least 20 years after Jesus' supposed death).  There are a number of indications that the mentioning of Jesus in these texts was added in the second or third century after we know that the Christian movement came under attack from pagan intellectuals for its lack of any basis in history (see Celsus).

There are no Roman records whatsoever of a Jesus of Nazareth who either existed or was crucified . . . and those Romans loved to keep records on everything (many other crucifixions of political antagonists around the same time Jesus supposedly died were recorded in Roman digests).  There are no archaeological artifacts.  No undisputed texts surviving from the purported time of Christ mention Jesus (or the apostles).  The first Christian texts are considered to be the earliest (and possibly to only authentic) letters of Paul (who never claimed to have meet the historical Jesus . . . and was concerned only with the "Risen Christ").  Paul used a lot of Gnostic terminology (and the Gnostics didn't believe in a historical Jesus, only in a spiritual, non-corporeal Christ).

I felt that the best ideas on early Christianity had to be derived from combining the (generally very thorough) Jesus Seminar research with the ballsier Christ-mythers' ideas and scholarly cullings.  The Christ-mythers don't have any reason to bury evidence or not make obvious arguments just because they might offend Christians . . . so if there is any damning evidence out there, they will snatch it up and raise it high.  On the other hand, some (but not all) of the Christ mythers do seem to have a bit of an ax to grind.  So one (if one is interested in the "truth") needs to keep a certain amount of skepticism about the emotions these writers couch their data in.

For instance, Ken Humphreys has compiled this immense site called JesusNeverExisted.com.  It is the most complete source of information (yes, factual information) out there about the Christ Myth.  But at the same time, Humphreys is extremely snarky and hostile toward Christianity.  It can give the site a kind of tabloid feel . . . but his data is accurate and first rate.  And I honestly understand why (faced with all the data) he feels as hostile as he does.  He does go too far at times, but I see worth in not giving Christianity a pass for all of its atrocities just because we still want to draw meaning from it.  Humphreys' moral outrage seems justified to me.  And I see value in serious Christians taking a good long look at this kind of outrage before they let themselves get too blissed out.

There is no way to say the outrage is illegitimate (if you have seen the data) . . . therefore, I think serious Christians have a moral obligation to form some kind of relationship with the outrage and damage their belief system has produced over the centuries.  The "some bad apples" argument just doesn't fly.

-Matt
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Wonder Girl

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Re: Jesus or Christ? (Reply to Remo Roth)
« Reply #5 on: April 29, 2007, 06:28:30 PM »
Dear Matt,
I am trying to form a relationship with the outrage through my relationship to you, but I can't say I understand why you are so upset.  Surely very few joined the church because they thought it the pinnacle of openmindedness, but it remains the group of, or perhaps containing, those who are related to Christ.  There really is no one to apologize to you or to me for the injuries of world history or personal history.  I am trying to do things a little better than my parents did and in some ways I have succeeded at that--partly by my independence from the church--and in other ways they saw more clearly than I due to their stronger connection with it.  But by middle age cause and effect become blurred through repetition of past patterns, and the remaining time is limited, so I have enough to do trying to understand what it means for me to follow Christ now, in this age of my life and of the world and to try to develop the maturity and integrity to do that better--to forgive myself for not being what I hope to be and to forgive those who hurt me by missing the boat in some pretty stunning ways as well as those who used their faith as a weapon of injury  (forgetting those things which are behind and striving toward that which is before me).  I am pretty sure the same things happen in all groups--religious or not, the shadow pounces like the biblical roaring lion but we have to try again to see and influence the shadow in the present rather than projecting the past onto it.  I suspect an examination of the church's historical shadow by the church would be helpful for it, but I don't know who would do this, and trying to make Jesus and object of science or history rather than an object of faith is not going to be helpful for Christians.  At any rate, you have furthered my understanding and I appreciate that.
Wonder Girl

Kafiri

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Re: Jesus or Christ? (Reply to Remo Roth)
« Reply #6 on: April 30, 2007, 10:55:32 AM »
Wonder Girl,
I don't know if this will help you or not, but it is my perspective on religion.  I put myself in into the category of "nontheist," to provide you with some orientation for my views.

I regard all the worlds religons as myths; not in the misused popular, current use of the term "myth" as a fiction.  I operate from the more of the Joseph Campbell position.  Here is how Campbell defines the four functions of myth:

Quote
The four are:
 A. “ The first function of a living mythology, the properly religious function, in the sense of Rudolf Otto’s definition in The Idea of the Holy, is to awaken and maintain in the individual an experience of awe, humility, and respect, in recognition of that ultimate mystery, transcending names and forms, ‘from which,’ as we read in the Upanishads, ‘words turn back.”
B.  The second is the cosmological, “...to render a cosmology, an image of the universe, and for this we all turn today, of course, not to archaic religious texts but science.”
C.  The third function “...is the enforcement of a moral order: the shaping of the individual to the requirements of his geographically and historically conditioned social group”.
D.  The fourth and most vital, most critical function of a mythology, then “is to foster the centering and unfolding of the individual in integrity, in accord with d) himself (the microcosm), c) his culture (the mesocosm), b) the universe (the macrocosm), and a) that awesome ultimate mystery which is both beyond and within himself and all things:
         Wherefrom words turn back,
         Together with the mind, having not attained.”

Campbell, quoting Loren Eiseley, says that we, as individuals, are on our own:

   “...there is no way by which Utopias - or the lost Garden itself - can be brought out of the future and presented to man.  Neither can he go forward to such a destiny.  Since in the world of time every man lives but one life, it is in himself that he must search for the secret of the Garden.”

Joseph Campbell, The Masks of God:  Creative Mythology

As simply as I can put it; myths reveal the unconscious state of the psyche as it was hundreds and thousands of years ago.  What Jung understood, after years of study, was that the myths were based on psychology.  And myths offered the best way, back then, to present the state of the psyche.  Let me offer you an example to show what is meant.  Take a look at St. Matthew, Chapter 7, Verses 1 thru 5.
Quote

1.  Judge not, that ye be not judged.
2.  For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged:  and with what measure ye mete, it shall me measured to you again.
3.  And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considereth not the beam that is in thine own eye?
4.  Or how wilt thou say unto thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye: and behold, a beam is in thine own eye?
5.  Thou hypocrite, first cast the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye.

Wonder Girl, this is a very clear description of the psychological process of  "projection."  That is, seeing in others what we cannot see in ourselves.  When I question my Christian friends about this section of the bible they tell me it is about not judging other people.  I maintain that it is not at all about "not judging" other people.  It is not an admonishment "not to judge,"  it says that if you do judge, be prepared to judge yourself by the same standard.  It says don't worry about your Brother's issues, worry about your own first.  It is a psychological insight contained in a myth.  Much of Jung's work is about extracting psychological insights from many myths.
"We lie loudest when we lie to ourselves."
      -Eric Hoffer

Matt Koeske

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Re: Jesus or Christ? (Reply to Remo Roth)
« Reply #7 on: April 30, 2007, 05:04:33 PM »
Dear Matt,
I am trying to form a relationship with the outrage through my relationship to you, but I can't say I understand why you are so upset.

Dear Wondergirl,

I have been trying to puzzle out why I am so upset, as well.  I just lost a long reply due to a browser crash (but it was probably too pedantic anyways  (-)dogma(-)).  In any case, I do have an especially negative and powerful emotional reaction to Christianity's history of iniquity and atrocity.  On one hand, I think the facts of Christian history (once one actually knows them and piles them up into a tell-tale mountain of horror) provide a rational reason for outrage at Christianity.  And I don't mean just the purges of millions of innocent people, but also the shift of wealth over to a tiny priestly elite, the moral, psychological, and economic oppression of millions of people, the intellectual and scientific destruction of Western culture, and Neoplatonic/Augustinian shattering of the intuitive bond between human and nature (e.g., the body, the environment, other species, "woman", one's fellow human beings with other belief systems or ethnicities, etc.).  Christianity is, of course, not solely to blame for any of these atrocities, but Christian beliefs and dogmas served as ideal tools that enabled people of power and prejudice to carry out these acts and feel holy while doing it.

And there is no indication (as many like to believe) that Christianity went sour after an early Golden Age.  There is every indication that the notions of a Ken Humphreys are correct, i.e., Christianity (at least as a "Church" movement from the late 1st century on) began in fabrication for the sake of deceit and usurpation that would enable a greedy, ambitious priestly class to obtain massive political power and wealth.  I know this is debatable (and believers will do everything they can to reject it), but from my research, I would say that this origin scenario for Christianity is highly probably and absolutely logical considering the evidence we have.  That is, it is not a wild conspiracy theory, but a deduction based on widely available data.

It seems to me that Christianity was largely a hard sell scam from the beginning . . . very much like today's pyramid schemes.  Amway is an ideal model.  Amway has always attracted many devotees to its ideology, true believers . . . but the vast majority of these true believers (who believe so strongly that they go out to convert others to the "cause") get shafted.  That's the way the pyramid hierarchy works . . . is designed to work.  Only the people at the top of the pyramid profit.  If you have ever been propositioned by an Amway representative team (and they like to work in small groups just like evangelists), you know that they use a technique that is exactly the same as the Christian evangelical technique of fishing for converts.  The low level Amway reps are like cultic diehards.  They actually believe the propaganda sales pitches they spew . . . with true religious mania. Only the top level people at Amway really understand how the corporation works . . . and that it works only for the higher-ups (as it is specifically designed to).

Amway (or whatever they call themselves now) is one of the wealthiest, most prosperous corporations in the world . . . and it should come as no surprise that they have been major funders of the right-wing Christian evangelical power-play on Washington.

All those poor schlubs who sell Amway and barely make a profit (if at all) are filled with ecstatic religious exuberance.  They believe absolutely in the good of the Amway system.  They are the Hosanna Chorus for the company propaganda that the higher-ups understand is only a tool to fill their coffers.  The success of these higher-ups is dependent upon the grunts on the front line being totally indoctrinated into the cult of Amway.  They are not to question, not to think, only believe and evangelize (sell).

So my outrage at Christianity is based on seeing Christianity like a pyramid scheme.  I feel sorry for the Amway-like low-level evangelizers and true believers who are selling (and usually also buying) Amway products and doctrines.  I'm not upset at them.  I'm sure many of them are really decent people with high morals and big hearts (I've know one specifically, and feel incredibly sorry that she was suckered into this scheme).  But the true price of Amway/Christianity is much greater than it might at first seem.  These pawns of the power structure are being used, yes, but they (through their own naivete and desire to believe in something that gives their lives larger meaning) end up becoming part of the blind army of a doctrine that is ultimately greedy, manipulative, heartless, unethical, and corrupt.

If the grunts on the front line were to all suddenly wake up to the true reality of Amway/Christianity, the entire institution would crumble.  The institution is ultimately a construction dependent on their ignorance and indoctrination.  The top level people are certainly "evil", but they can only harm others, because of the blindness of the sheep who empower them.  And one can't touch these top levelers.  They don't care who criticizes them.  No outsider has power over them.  The sheep will always gather around to defend their shepherds to the death (even against their own best interests).  The sheep won't believe any ill of their keepers . . . and have even been trained to hate those that would speak such ill (or heresy).

And the higher-ups understand perfectly how the system works.  The only people who have the power to hurt them are the sheep themselves . . . and only if they manage to band together heretically to lay siege to the power structure.  So the only hope for conscience and ethicality, the only hope to reform the system can come in the attempt to bring consciousness to the sheep (which they will fight tooth and nail, probably to the death).

I don't think this kind of effort can really come from outsiders like me (non-Christians or atheists).  Our antagonism will only be dismissed by believers as prejudice or malice (and there is no doubt a great deal of prejudice and malice directed at Christianity from atheists, skeptics, and rationalists).  But there are very few Christians who can fully recognize the shadow of Christianity and feel that this shadow creates an obligation in them.  Many people simply leave the fold (usually only blatant hypocrisy or repression is enough to disenfranchise them) . . . and sever themselves from any feeling of obligation to Christianity, because they no longer take anything from Christianity (I think of my wife for instance, who was raised Catholic, but now despises or cares nothing about things Christian).

But I feel that those Christians who want to make Christianity (even in a very personalized, non-dogmatic way) a meaningful part of their lives also inherit an obligation to be responsible for the faith they adopt.  And one of those responsibilities would be first learning everything one can about the Christian shadow, and then trying to help other Christians find a way to try to "repent" for this or strive to correct it.  I think that when we take on a belief system, we take on its collectivity, its weight.  We bear it up, we are cogs in its Huge Machine.  We are responsible for a thing (even well beyond our personal use of it) if we are in any way buoying it or being buoyed by it.  Even a very personalized and mystical Christianity is in some sense adding to the foundation of the entire institution . . . an institution that has sinned greatly.  To inherit the mythos is to inherit the sin.  It gives a whole new (and much greater) meaning to the notion of "picking up one's cross".

What to do about this (mostly people will just reject the idea that their small usurpation demands any "giving back") is a matter for each individual to figure out independently, I think.  Yes, it would be very hard.  I'm not sure what to do (which is why I sacrificed most of this mythos).  The only thing I feel I can do is to raise a little consciousness in a community that embraces Christianity only tangentially (i.e., the Jungian community).  I figure it's probably worth agitating a bit.  It's not about "saving souls" or even rationally knowing the "truth" or pursuing gnosis.  I think it's more about accepting responsibility for the things we are a part of.  It's simply an obligation of consciousness, an asking of: what am I really giving to the collective and what impact might this gift be having?  It's a judging of one's own actions by what effects they have on others or down the road somewhere.  It's a matter of saying, "The spiritual pursuit is not ultimately (or even primarily) about me.  The pursuit of the spirit is part of an obligation to others, to treat others decently, invest value in them."

Yes, we need to find our centers, find a way to get meaning into our lives in order to be able to do this effectively . . . but these pursuits of self (in my opinion) are not ends in themselves.  To treat them as such or to make self-fulfillment (even in the spiritual realm) the ultimate goal of one's life is eventually an act of narcissism and unconsciousness.  A "sin" if you prefer.  We lie to ourselves when we say these pursuits are for our god most of all.

But again, I don't mean to be giving prescriptions.  This is merely how I would react if I was inclined to adopt the Christian mythos for my own meaning-making.  As an example that this is not a "judging of others" or some kind of hypocrisy, I point simply to this forum.  I call myself a Jungian even though I have a number of (sometimes significant) disagreements and divergences from Jung.  I'm probably about as heretical as a Jungian can be and still be considered a Jungian (many Jungians probably wouldn't even feel I deserved to call myself a Jungian).

But I wear this often ill-fitting suit because I see it as my obligation to try to give back to Jung and Jungian thinking.  My position is generally reformist . . . and I feel an obligation to see Jung and his ideas as clearly as I can.  I do not want to be a Jungian apologist . . . but I see many contributions that Jung made to human thought and understanding that have been inadequately understood or actively misused.  I don't have a great deal of power or even intelligence (and I have no credentials of note), but I will do what I can to try to progressively and usefully critique Jung's ideas and fill them out where I think this is needed.  This puts me into direct conflict with more conventional and devout Jungians (and I have already been banned from one Jungian forum).  I am a Jungian heretic.  Even though this creates tension and even tends to function as a detriment to my own devotion to or use of Jungian psychology, I see it as the obligation of consciousness within the collective that I see myself as part of.

Additionally, I run a poetry site that is unequivocally "the most hated site in poetry" (because it tries to take an ethical stand against the way business is being done in the poetry world).  I have taken much the same approach to American poetry through that site as I am taking to Jungian psychology through this site.  The site is about to close down, regrettably, because those of us who run it did not receive enough useful community support to make much of a difference.  It is very hard for me to give up on it, but as I have not been writing or reading poetry for years now, I figured I was too distant, too much of an outsider to really make an impact.  That is, I left the collective . . . and with it, my obligation to that collective.  As an outsider and non-poet, I could not identify with the group enough to be recognized by it as a member.  And tribes don't listen to outsiders.

Perhaps it is just a silly, chivalric romanticism that makes me feel such an obligation to the groups and systems of thought I draw meaning and energy from . . . but that is simply the way I seem to work.  And it doesn't feel like a rational, reasoned decision to me.  It feels like a karmic debt. 

My outrage at Christianity is probably still tangible because of how much Christianity means to Jungian psychology.  Also, I have undergone my own individuation process with deep Christian foundations (insomuch as alchemy is partially rooted in Gnostic and medieval Christianity).  On top of that, one can never grow up in a Christian culture (unless protected by the bubble of some other minority faith) and not be at least an "honorary Christian".  Our society is still structured by the Christianization of nearly two millennia ago.  Christianization and Christian power are written in our cultural bones.

Also, as an American, I live in a country where Christianity is creating a national (and soon to be, world) crisis.  I belong to the American collective.  I pay taxes to the U.S. government, I benefit from a relatively safe and prosperous environment afforded me because I live in America.  I am not an ex-patriot.  I therefore inherit America's shadow to some degree.  If my beliefs have absorbed unconscious American ideals, I become a part of the pillar that the American shadow stands on.  Again, I see this as karmic.  I am obliged by consciousness of the American shadow to do something to correct it.  I am obliged to no help hold up the pillars of its sinfulness, at the very least.  On this front I have done very little . . . and to this degree, I have sinned.  The karmic weight of my obligation to America is heavier than it is for the other groups I belong to.

All I have done is tried to learn the truth about American history and politics . . . and to feed my consciousness and writing with this knowledge as much as possible.  But this is not enough.  It is not repentant or reformative.  I take far more from America (for my independence and individuality) than I manage to give back.  I feel like I am still in negotiation with America for my status as an individual, for the details of my allotted relationship with it.  I am still leaving the American nest . . . or rather, I have left, but I have not found a way to become independently empowered as an American, so I have not been able to return to it as a separate, valid entity.  As an American, I am merely a thief.  I've been banking on my abilities as a writer to formulate a voice that can "speak back" to America (just as one must have true power and status as an individual to speak back to God). 

But America (in essence) determines who will be permitted to be its opposing voices (and grants individuals status at its whim).  Currently in America, poets and Jungians have no right to individuality.  They are silenced.  A few Jungians have poked through (Robert Bly, maybe James Hillman, Marian Woodman, etc.), but I'm not sure these voices were allowed into the American consciousness because they were Jungian.  These popular Jungians have found enterprising ways of selling their ideas to the American public . . . and that's what America likes.  Commodification.  Inject your offering with a bit of the entrepreneurial spirit, and it gets a stamp of approval.  You can be as radical and individual as you like in the collective . . . if you can direct your individualism at a market.

Not to pick on the authors above (who have all contributed worthy ideas and writings), but this is one of the things that has damaged Jungian thinking.  At least in America, Jung has to sell . . . and the market that will pay for Jungian ideas is the New Age self-help market.  The great longing of this market makes its pillars (the people who buy its products) very susceptible to salesmanship.  But the market thrives because the longing is never satisfied by the products sold to it.  The vast majority of these products have to perpetuate the longing, the spiritual emptiness, in order for the market to stay solvent and profitable.  As long as that profitability is maintained (with manipulative crap for the most part), a few good works can still slip in under the radar.  That's how consciousness is raised in America: through the loopholes in the market.

But the situation is much worse for American poetry today, for instance.  Poetry has no marketability, so it can afford no loopholes.  Poets today can't raise (spiritual) consciousness with their poetry.  They can't make meaning.  There is no audience of others in the poetry world.  The market is contained within academia.  It's a purely professional market, read and created by professionals and experts only.  It self-sustains this way, but can never profit.  Since it can't profit, it can't allow diversity and new vision into its arena.  Even the government grants given to poets go into perpetuating the closed system, feeding the already well-fed, academic poet-professors (the grant committees are all chaired and judged by poet-professors, after all).

Which is all to say that America affords poets no status as American individuals (which is why poets have turned to teaching to achieve their status in America) . . . which means it provides no real market for speaking to America through poetry.

Regrettably, I wasted a small hunk of my life learning this miserable lesson . . . by investing my aspirations for American individualism in a dead end (I have a long poem about this called "What Has Happened in Heaven" if you're interested in the theatrical version  (-)monkbggrn(-)).  But one learns a lot about the group (and one's own) shadow through failures like these.  Failures, falls, and foolishness of all kinds make for a strong foundation for consciousness (as long as one can process the pain).

Yours,
Matt
You can always come back, but you can’t come back all the way.

   [Bob Dylan,"Mississippi]

cappellanus

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Re: Jesus or Christ? (Reply to Remo Roth)
« Reply #8 on: November 28, 2012, 01:48:07 PM »
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For some times now I have a question in my mind. Why do you on the American continent always speak of Jesus and not of Christ? In "Old Europe" only evangelical people talk like this.

Critical Bible research shows that we do not know too much of Jesus, the man. Christ, however, is the archetypal image, which created itself around this human. Thus, in a Jungian argumentation, one should only talk about Christ.

Any comments?

Remo

We do speak of "Christ" in America Remo, though what you probably see and read where you live is the "Jesus talk" of one small section of the greater American Christian community. That said, I think two things about Remo's comment (in italicized bold above.)

One, I think we properly speak of "Christ" in Jungian circles when speaking about the archetype. Christ is an archetype, not a person (except in the dogmatic theological sense of "personhood" in the trinity.) Two, we can properly speak about Jesus in Jungian circles when speaking of the historical figure who inspired (and integrated) the archetypal features that became "Christ."* One does not exist without the other, though whatever power you prescribe to one or the other will vary with each and every Christian or non-christian of whom you ask the question, "Christ or Jesus?"

That's my succinct answer to Remo.  ~ C.

*These of course are shared by Greek, Egyptian and Persian gods and theology.