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Wed Oct 19, 2016, 06:47 AM

If you all will indulge me, I'm going to ramble on about religion for a little bit.

I assure you that this will be appropriate for this group.

I am an agnostic, but not a politically correct atheist kind of agnostic that you might hear about from other sources. I genuinely feel like I'm not sure about spiritual matters. I don't have all the answers. I am very open to new ideas. I read about religion, spirituality, and philosophy. I have said in the past that I don't like religion at all, but I'm starting to look at it through a different lens, and I have a new appreciation for it.

I have been reading Carl Jung. It helps to be familiar with religion and religious symbolism, especially Christianity, to be able to understand Jung and Jungian psychologists. They see religious stories and ancient myths from a psychological perspective. This has been a very fruitful experience for me so far and I've learned to listen to religious people from an entirely different perspective.

Jungian psychological theory says that when we are born we are like we are one with God or what he calls the Self (capital S is very important here). As we go through childhood we develop an ego in order to be able to interact with the world. This is a necessary experience, but it means that we become disconnected to a great extent from the Self or God. Once we reach middle age, Jung says that it becomes time to reconnect with the Self. We cannot become the Self again or become immersed in it (it might be possible temporarily with drugs, I think). Also the Self is largely unconscious. The goal of Jungian analysis then is to re-establish a connection with the Self and bring it into our awareness as much as possible. This is usually done through dream analysis. Dreams are the unconscious Self's way of communicating with the ego. Many people mistakenly believe that the ego is all there is to themselves, but it is actually only a small part of who we are. The Self is much larger and it communicates with us through the symbolic language of dreams. You could say that God speaks to us when we sleep, and God speaks to everyone- atheists and agnostics as well.

I asked a friend of mine who is about to graduate with a degree in theology if the Self that Jung talks about is the same Self that the Buddhists and Hindus speak of. He said that it was. I find that intensely interesting and it's been bouncing around in my head ever since he told me that. The religious symbolism from all faiths can be interpreted in a Jungian way, and Jung unites all of the world's religions in this way.

The following is my main problem with some people of faith right now. I drive a truck for a living and I dialed in a Christian radio station the other night and listened to it for a while. There was a woman on there who has a nationally syndicated show. I forget her name. A caller said to her that he had lost his Christian faith and that he had also taken a look at Buddhism looking for answers. He wanted to know how he could rekindle his faith in Christ. This guy was so torn up about this that he was actually crying at a few points when he was telling her of his situation. The woman did not really have a good answer for him, although she thought she did, and she didn't give him time to follow up after she was done speaking. Cut to commercial. Sorry about your luck, pal. The problem that I alluded to is that she told him that he should not seek answers in other religions. There is only one path to God, according to her, and that is through Christ. I found myself wishing I knew the poor guy so I could recommend some good Jungian psychology books to him. I really felt bad for him.

However, I was listening to that same station earlier in the evening and they were playing excerpts from a sermon given by a guy named Dr. Tony Evans. I don't know anything about him, but that sermon was really interesting. He was talking about the power of prayer and counseling the congregation on how they should pray and approach prayer. He told them not to be hypocrites about prayer. Some people pray only when they know others are looking on and they do this in order to feel righteous in the eyes of others. Evans says that God does not hear that kind of prayer.

Okay, I'm going to do some amateur Jungian analysis here. In Jungian psychology it is said that inflation of the ego is what causes many of our problems. Having an ego is not a bad thing. You would be like an infant if you didn't have any ego. It's when we start thinking too much of our egos that we run into trouble. As a parallel to Evans's sermon, when the ego becomes inflated you lose touch with the Self. This is akin to God not hearing your prayers because of your self-righteousness. See how that works? I think I can listen to most preachers now and find a lesson in this manner. They are really speaking on two levels, although I don't think many of them know it.

Jungian analysis is usually meant for people like me who are non-religious. I read where one analyst said that people who earnestly have faith and believe in religion have their psychological needs taken care of in terms of relating to a God image. For those of us who have lost our faith, we might be able to find a good substitute in Jungian analysis. The fundamental interpretation of religion is not true for us, but religion is actually very rich in symbolic meaning and that can be good for us. That is real to me.

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Reply If you all will indulge me, I'm going to ramble on about religion for a little bit. (Original post)
Tobin S. Oct 2016 OP
TexasProgresive Oct 2016 #1
Tobin S. Oct 2016 #2

Response to Tobin S. (Original post)

Wed Oct 19, 2016, 08:27 AM

1. 30 years ago I got introduced to Carl Jung.

It was eyeopening to me as a Catholic Christian into the mechanics of the conversion process. It was so long ago that his (Jung's) thought has become integrated into my thinking so that I can't separate one from the other. A book you might find interesting is Spiritual Pilgrims: Carl Jung and Teresa of Avila by John Welch. I wish to say that I am a person with Christian faith. That means I believe but not that I know. So I guess that makes me a Catholic Christian Agnostic.

ôLord, I believe; help my unbelief!" Mark 9:24

Spiritual Pilgrims Amazon page:
https://www.amazon.com/Spiritual-Pilgrims-Carl-Teresa-Avila/dp/0809124548/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1476877758&sr=8-1&keywords=Spiritual+Pilgrims%3A+Carl+Jung+and+Teresa+of+Avila

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Response to TexasProgresive (Reply #1)

Wed Oct 19, 2016, 04:15 PM

2. Thanks for the recommendation, Tex.

And thank you for taking the time to read my little book up there.

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