Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Jung and Mother Teresa

What Carl Jung wrote about his father, a pastor in the Swiss Reformed Church, applies to Mother Teresa’s forty-year crisis of faith.

In Memories, Dreams, Reflections, Jung wrote that his father “suffered from religious doubts” because he had no direct experience of God. Jung’s attempts at discussion were met by “the same old lifeless theological answers” from his father.
Once I heard him praying. He struggled desperately to keep his faith. I was shaken and outraged at once, because I saw how hopelessly he was entrapped by the Church and its theological thinking. They had blocked all avenues by which he might have reached God directly.
Jung wrote that there’s nothing to do with religious doctrine “but believe it without hope.” The command to believe something in disagreement with their own experience trapped Jung’s father and Mother Teresa into a hopeless corner.

Both doubted the existence of the external deity—the god or set of gods—they were told to worship. Conditioned to regard doctrine as Ultimate Truth, they felt guilty about their inability to believe in these idols. Doctrinaire religion barred them from their natural experience of the Holy, and they descended into the hell of depression.

May my readers escape a similar prison.

Religious fear, August 15, 2008
One of my aims in book and blog is to affirm and encourage those who wrestle with the discrepancy between their inner convictions and what the world wants them to think. Examples are Jung's father and Mother Teresa.

I've mentioned the wariness of religious persons who move past literal interpretations of Church doctrine but do not want to openly break with the Church. Lay people like me have a similar challenge, and not only those who feel attached to the Church. A person I’ll call Bruce asked not to be quoted and identified, afraid that his “name attached to the Catholic quotes” might bring negative reactions from his family.

Beth Blevins, on the other hand, accepts the challenge of expressing spiritual convictions that our exterior culture scorns. She identifies herself as a “technical writer and editor by trade, which requires very linear, logical thinking.” So far, nothing that startles. But her self-description goes on:
I have been a medium since I was a child: seeing angels, spirit guides, and spirits of loved ones who have made their transition.
About two years ago she started having visions, a further step into the non-ordinary.
One morning during prayer and meditation I was guided to stop using my psychic abilities for individuals (giving readings) and begin working on a global level with energy/patterns in the ethers, or the ‘morphic fields,’ as Rupert Sheldrake names them. This meant to spend more time in meditation, ‘holding’ peace and awakening for the planet. As if to emphasize the point, my psychic abilities suddenly stopped! Shortly thereafter the visions commenced.
Her family were Protestant fundamentalists, but her engineer father was psychic also and taught her
early on not to talk about it outside the family. My parents eventually started exploring metaphysics and expanding their view on ‘paranormal’ experiences. In fact, a couple of years before he died, my father confided to me that the Virgin Mary had appeared to him several times!

“So, I might say I’m a paradox of ‘far-left’ brain functioning and ‘far-right,’ or heart-centered, functioning! . . . Now you might understand why I hesitated for more than a year to put the visions up on the web! First, I’ve never experienced anything like them before and they’re pretty ‘out there!’ Second, they require a very different style of writing than I’m skilled at! But it is my assignment (you know how that goes), and procrastination aside, I’m making them available for people to experience!
Read about her visions here and know why Hamlet says,
There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.
Sad, that Jung's father and Mother Teresa were trapped by religious expectations. May you, readers, escape the bonds binding you to crippling beliefs.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Billy Graham

In response to Time magazine’s story about Billy Graham, a reader wrote: “As a Hindu Indian who has been a naturalized American for many years, I have been deeply concerned by the clout and popularity of Graham. To believe that whoever receives Christ as his Savior goes to heaven is quite acceptable to me. To say Christianity is the only way to God and heaven is outrageous.”

This expresses the reason I wrote God Is Not Three Guys in the Sky: Cherishing Christianity without Its Exclusive Claims.

I agree completely with Bradford Smith in Meditation who writes that “a new faith is taking shape in our time.” It recognizes “many equally valid forms” of one universal spiritual impulse and knows that the myth and symbol of a particular religion can have “meaning for a particular seeker” but “a common symbolism” cannot be forced on all.

I believe this inclusive realization is happening under the surface while exclusive Christian claims triumph on the surface of our society.

In God Is Not Three Guys I offer inclusive interpretations of Christian myth and symbol to bolster this “new faith.” The Paschal Mystery, for instance, can easily be harmonized with the spirituality of Hellenistic pagans, who were the rivals and relatives of early Christians. Jesus of Nazareth’s Reign of God can easily be harmonized with the core message of authentic spirituality in all times and places.

But the message that Jesus is the one and only way to eternal peace did not come from Jesus and is not my belief.
Jeanette