Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Joseph Campbell's Misunderstanding of the Eden Myth

A paper written for Dr. Dennis Slattery's Introduction to Joseph Campbell class at Pacifica Graduate Institute, 2010.

In this paper, I do not think I am saying anything that would surprise Joseph Campbell. I do not even propose that I accurately reflect his complex and sometimes contradictory thinking. Campbell intentionally epitomizes Walt Whitman's famous statement, "Do I contradict myself? Very well then, I contradict myself. I am complex, I contain multitudes" (Whitman ll, 1314–1316 ). 
In 1988 P.B.S. sponsored The Power of Myth, where Bill Moyers  interviewed  Campbell. That series delightfully awakened me (and countless others) to the wonderful world of comparative mythology. Campbell has become for me what James Hillman calls an "ideational vessel for making soul," a living alchemical retort that allows the psycho-poetic substances of my own soul to mix with his, and transmute through interaction. That is the function of every great teacher--not to form the student in the teacher's image, but to expose the student to materials that cause a sublimation (an improvement or refinement) of the personality.

When I first heard the Power of Myth interviews, I noticed Campbell's enthusiasm for all things Eastern and Nature-based, and his sometimes subtle, sometimes not so subtle, disparagement of Judeo-Christian religious ideas. At that time I was preparing to leave my position as an Evangelical Free Church minister and my part time teaching job at a Presbyterian seminary, and was very sympathetic with Campbell’s appraisal of Western religion. At that time my perception of the God of Christianity was of a deity that had become too distant from Nature and far too hard for me to get along with. The Bible was too literal and caught in the illusion of separation between God and Nature. I left the Christian religion, traded in my Old and New Testaments for the Bhagavad Gita, the Tao Te Ching and a bottle of Jack Daniels, and set out on a new path to unify the above and the below. Now, many years later, having traversed much terrain, I find myself reacting to and interacting with Campbell in a different way. 
I will focus on one example taken from Inner Reaches where Campbell addresses the painting of the Navajo Pollen Path in which the spiritual sojourner must traverse the perilous path from below to the higher abode. The black and yellow characters standing on either side of the path--symbolizing duality--must be brought together or unified in order for the journey to proceed. In this view, Ultimate Reality is One. Only those living in fear and ignorance see separation. Campbell then compares this path of union to the biblical image of the two Cherubim (angels) standing at the gates of Eden to preclude Adam and Eve from returning to the garden from which they have been dispelled by God. This Hebrew image of divinely sanctioned separation is inferior to the Navajo and Hindu notions of dispelling the error of duality in order to return to The One. Campbell writes:[i]:

...the daunting biblical image of the flaming sword between the cherubim, turning every way at the gate of Eden to guard the way to the tree of eternal life, has kept separate the opposed powers of the two guardians, which in the image of the Navajo Pollen Path, no less than in that of the Indian sushumna, must be brought together if the middle way is ever to be opened. In this exceptional (Hebrew) tradition, Eternity and Time, Heaven and Earth, are permanently apart. There can be no reading of the images of God and Satan as metaphors of any kind. They are invisible, supernatural facts. And the creatures of this visible earth are but dust, as is the earth itself. (Inner Reaches, 114-15) 

            Here Campbell seems to disparage the biblical narrative of eternal separation as he compares it to the Navajo and Hindu ideas of eternal reality as unity. He says that "there can be no reading of the images of God and Satan as metaphors of any kind," that they "are...supernatural facts," and the living creatures on the biblical earth "are but dust, as is the earth itself." Is this true?


            Campbell states that the Hebrew story is irredeemably caught in literal facts while the Navajo myth is rightly aware of metaphor. But metaphors always assume a culturally constructed concept prior to making one thing stand for another. Perhaps Campbell is trying to force the Navajo image onto the Eden story when in fact they are two very different metaphorical images. He is filtering the Hebrew story through the Pollen Path culture. One cannot cross-culturally pollinate symbols without first understanding the foundational concept beneath the employed metaphor. George Lakoff and Mark Johnson, in Metaphors We Live By, point this out:
…metaphor is not just a matter of language, that is, of mere words…human thought processes are largely metaphorical…Metaphors as linguistic expressions are possible precisely because there are metaphors in a person’s conceptual system. Therefore, when we speak of metaphors…it should be understood that metaphor means metaphorical concept. (Lakoff, Metaphors 6)

Ignorance of the local cultural concept that gives foundational meaning to a metaphor jeopardizes the subsequent interpretation of the metaphor:

…people with very different conceptual systems than our own may understand the world in a very different way than we do. Thus, they may have a very different body of truths than we have and even different criteria for truth and reality. (Lakoff, Metaphors 181)

Similarly stated, James Hillman views metaphors "...less semantically as a figure of speech and more ontologically as a mode of being, or psychologically as a style of consciousness" (Re-Visioning 156, italics mine). Ontology is the study of being. Various cultures have various ontologies, and to understand a culture's metaphors, one must understand their fundamental ontology or "style of consciousness."
           As an illustration, imagine you are visiting a culture that has never heard of computers. Imagine sharing something you suddenly deem unimportant to someone in that "computerless" culture, and exclaiming, “Oh, never mind, just delete my last comments from your mental hard drive.” They would have no idea of what you were talking about because they do not share the mental concept that precedes and informs your culturally conditioned metaphor.

         Campbell does something like this when he says: “There can be no reading of the [biblical] images of God and Satan as metaphors of any kind” (Inner Reaches, 114-15). Campbell's critique of the Hebrew story assumes the Navajo and Hindu constructs of ultimate reality as being "all one," not allowing for the Hebrew cultural ontological concept of the necessity of separation and alienation. Separation and unity are both archetypal and native to the human psyche. Campbell is imposing the unity conceptual construct on the Hebrew narrative.  The construct of ultimate separation would have made no sense in the Hindu and Native American religious worlds which Campbell clearly favors as ontologically more correct or superior. Campbell embraces the Native American and Hindu view of unity as the ideal goal of spirituality, while the Hebrews incorporate the ontological experience of separation into their spiritual paradigm. This makes Campbell's critique of the angels with the flaming swords not only irrelevant, but wrong--at least with regard to the biblical mythology. The conceptual construct behind the Hebrew story of Edenic separation--with angels forbidding a return to the earlier unity--is one of divine duality. The metaphor is one of moving forward through knowing good and evil--requiring experiences of both God and Satan.
          According to some Jewish, Christian and Jungian interpreters--this Hebrew notion of necessary separation and alienation introduces a radically new paradigm into Near Eastern religion and eventually the larger world. The animated dust-born human in Eden is neither wholly divine nor wholly animal, yet contains some elements of each while also evolving from both. Hegel calls this dialectical process the necessary path of duality toward Absolute Spirit, and the Jesuit priest and scientist Tielhard de Chardin calls it the Omega PointBoth union and duality are part of the eternal reality.                   
        Unlike the Eastern and Navajo ego, the biblical ego was never "originally" one with God, and is not intended to be merged with God in the Eastern sense of ego- or self-obliteration. The Hebrew notion of what we call the ego-self is imagined as more like a seed pod made in the image of God. The human is ontologically separated from the originating "Divine Source" in order to morph into an entirely new Self by going through the various post-Edenic pathololgies (sufferings) of material and psychic existence--symbolized by pain in child birth and working by the sweat of the brow.[ii] In this view, the angels with flaming swords are divinely meant to keep the humans from returning to the Tree of Life. The metaphor indicates that the way to the spiritual life is forward, not backward. The Hebrew aim is not to unite the two separate beings--as in the Navajo Pollen Path--but to necessarily forsake the place of unity and journey through didactic, soul-making dualities. 
         While the the Navajo Pollen Path and Indian sushumna path require one to march through the fearful angels into the peaceful center, the Hebrew path requires the nascent soul to march away from the angelic sentries, and away from unified Edenic in order to enter the educational problems of earth-life. In the Hebrew view, there is room for both unity and duality in a soul-making world that requires one to first leave the peaceful center, journey through a world of pains and troubles, and eventually return to the peaceful center as a unique person or self. In other words, Campbell's disparagement of the Edenic flaming-sword metaphor is mistakenly based on his Hindu presupposition of unity rather than the Hebrew presupposition of separation prior to reunion. Neither ontological concept is necessarily wrong, but each is looking at the existential quest from a different angle.

          A soul-making view of Eden was developed by the second century theologian Irenaeus of Lyons when he appeals to the biblical phrase, “man was made in the image and likeness” of God (Genesis 1:26-27), pointing out that the Hebrew Bible used two different words distinguishing between God's ‘image’ (tselem) and God's ‘likeness’ (derooth). "Image" suggests potential while "likeness" suggests actual. The aim of human existence is to move over a period of time from potential to actual. Just as the seven earthly days of creation moved from chaos to orderly completion, so too does the human (the first Adam) develop over a period of years from the raw chaos of God's embryonic image into the completed form of God-likeness found in Christ (the last Adam--I Cor. 15:42-49). This Edenic Adam (human) was comprised of three elements: material dust, divine spiritual breath and a living soul. There was an intentional and purposeful distinction between the divine spiritual nature, the material nature and the animated or soulful human. Irenaeus imagined that the Hebrew mythology viewed human existence as a co-mingling of these disparate or separate elements over a lifetime with a view to making something entirely new--a completed Human.[iii] Irenaeus put it like this:

Now the soul and the spirit are certainly a part of the human, but certainly not the completed human; for the mature human consists in the commingling and the union of the soul with the spirit and both of these with the material nature which was made after the image of God. (Against Heresies, Book V Chapter 6)[iv]

            In this view, the Edenic separation from God is not at all like the Hindu or Buddhist notion of separation-as-illusion to be eradicated in order to free the deluded mind, or to free the imprisoned ego trapped in an unnecessary duality. The Hebrew idea is not to clear away maya in order to transcend or escape the prison of the material realm in order to return to Divine unity as taught in the Hindu Sankhya Philosophy, or the various Gnostic mythologies.[v] The biblical view is imagined more like an alchemical transmutation and recombination of the three confused ingredients of body, soul and spirit through an interactive commingling in the mixing bowl of this world of problems and challenges--a world John Keats called the ‘vale of soul-making’.
          The Judeo-Christian myth is radically different than most Eastern mythologies, allowing for what today is called a dialectical, developmental and teleological process. The aim is not to return to God, but to evolve into divine of mature beings or selves. This innately human structural dialectic is what Levi-Strauss discovered in the worlds mythologies, a dialectic that attempts to make sense of psychological and relational conflict. The Hebrew metaphors of God and Satan, contrary to Campbell's assertion, attempt to explain existential duality as very "real" and purposeful. The necessity of this basic human conflictual phenomenon was recognized by the Greek philosopher Heraclitus when he said that “Strife is the Father of all”[vi] (BKB53), and by William Blake in The Marriage of Heaven and Hell: “Without contraries is no progression” (Proverbs of Hell). This is one reason the Genesis myth uses the metaphor of separation. 
         So when Campbell says, “There can be no reading of the images of God and Satan as metaphors of any kind. They are invisible, supernatural facts,” he seems to be forcing the biblical myth into an Eastern conceptual construct of unity and return to a lost union. For Campbell there is "no reading"  of the biblical ideas of Satan and God as metaphors. I beg to differ, and wonder if he is likely having a beneficial compensatory reaction to his ultra-dualistic Catholic upbringing, but wrongly forcing the Hindu cultural construct onto the Hebrew myth.

          The Hebrew noun JHWH is derived from a verb that means “I am” and the Hebrew verb shatan derives from a verb that means "to block." When viewed through the lens of daily human experience, these two ideas might be psychologically understood as the common experiences of "I am" (JHWH) and "I am not" (shatan). The Hebrews understood what all humans have known--there are two opposing  forces within--one compelling us to consciousness and purpose, and another compelling us to unconsciousness and despair. One force says "yes" to life and meaning and the other says "no". Renee Girard points out that the Hebrew word Satan is often translated as "the accuser," suggesting that it is juxtaposed to the New Testament idea of God as the Holy "paraclete" which means "advocate" or '"lawyer for the defense" (John 14:16; 14: 26; 15:26; 16:7). This courtroom analogy reminds us of the trial of the biblical priest Joshua being accused by The Satan (adversary) and defended by the Messenger of the LORD (advocate): "Then he [the LORD] showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the Lord, and Satan standing at his right side to accuse him" (Zechariah 3). Freud, from a strictly non-religious stance, discovered a similar human psychology comprised of the Pleasure Principle and the Death Drive.
          For Irenaeus and many early Christians, God and Satan are archetypal Presences conspiring in the human soul-making process. For example, in the Gospel of Luke Jesus displays a standard Jewish attitude which sees The Satan (adversarial situations in life) as needing permission from a higher authorrity to bring tests (as in The Book of in Job) with a soul-making telos. Jesus says: "Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers" (Luke 22:31-32). This statement refers to Peter's denial of Christ and cowardly failure, yet it was a transformative experience for Peter, making him a great leader and teacher. The aim of all dualities is to move individual humans from image to likeness through each of life's experiences--what I shall refer to as four kinds of necessary experience--also known as four basic stages and modes of consciousness. Jung called this goal individuation, Jewish mystics call it the Adam Kadmon and Hillman calls it soul-making. Jesus alluded to this process as well in a much neglected canonical parable:

Jesus said, ‘This is what the kingdom of God is like. A man scatters seed on the ground. Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how. All by itself the soil produces grain—first the stalk, then the head, then the full kernel in the head. Gospel of Mark 4:26-29

For many Jews and Christians, separation and dualism are a necessary condition for transformation into what the Eastern Orthodox Church calls theosis—becoming divine. That is why Process Philosopher Alfred North Whitehead said, "The Old Testament is the story of the evolution of consciousness without equal in the literature of the world"  (Religion in the Making).

         In all fairness Campbell elsewhere recognizes that: “Every myth…whether or not by intention, is psychologically symbolic. Its narratives and images are to be read, therefore, not literally, but as metaphors” (Inner 55). By writing this he seems to be agreeing with the various authorities on mythology who make clear that it is impossible to separate fact from fiction or myth from history, especially when the "myth" is one’s own:[viii] As with all religious symbolism, there is no attempt to justify mythic narratives or even to render them plausible. Every myth presents itself as an authoritative, factual account, no matter how much the narrated events are at variance with natural law or ordinary experience. (Online Britannica).
Clifford Geertz includes facticity in his general definition of religions when he says,

religion is "…a system of symbols which acts to establish powerful, pervasive and  long-lasting moods and motivations in men by formulating conceptions of a general      
order of existence and clothing these conceptions with such an aura of factuality that the moods and motivations seem uniquely realistic" (Hale, Part 1). In other words, “authoritative factual accounts” and an “aura of ‘factuality” do not contradict myth or necessarily contaminate metaphors, especially when the cultural conceptual metaphor is not fully understood. Myths most often present themselves as factual and authoritative. That is why James Hillman can refer to the "fiction of science" as well as "science fiction."
          That being said, Campbell still seems to prefer the Eastern mythologies over the Western, deeming them better metaphors since he understands divinity as primarily a notion of union. It is understandable. Campbell was raised a strict Catholic. Jung noted that cultures with long standing religious and mythological systems often produce people who become so familiar with their rites and symbols that they cannot ‘see through them,’ or they have been hurt or disappointed so badly by the religious teachings that they want some ‘greener’ mytho-ritual grass. I would add that the needs of the soul compel one to "other" perspectives in order to satisfy the individual or collective archetypal-itch, a kind of soul-making complementary perspective. This point will be important for our look at the stages and modes of developing consciousness in the soul-making process.
          Finally, from an archetypal perspective, ‘literal facts’ are just as necessary, and perhaps symbolic, as ‘metaphors.’ If hard religious facts are dogma, then these dogmatic kernels are the solidified seed pods of the wilting and wilted mythical flower which contains the next myth. Dogma is the seed of myth, the dead husk of the new emerging idea (archetypal pattern of consciousness). Dogma and fact are as necessary to myth as metaphor. The ‘nonsense’ is just as necessary as the ‘sense.’ Campbell was a genius in detecting the old husks, cracking them open and stripping away the old shards, and releasing the new seed ideas into a cultural soil ready for new images of soul.


Postscript:  In addition, the biblical notion of separation provided a new metaphor or archetypal image for interacting differently with Nature. The Egyptian and Mesopotamian Nature religions, and Hindu and Chinese, essentially worshipped Nature. The Jews and Christians, ideally, respectfully used it[ix]. Clearly, at some level all humans used Nature, making tools and weapons, etc. However, Religious Sociologist Rodney Stark[x] suggests that there was a radical difference between the two views of Narture/nature. Stark’s research concludes that the reason the West developed and excelled in ‘modern science’ and technology was due to a philosophy that separated spirit and matter, or God and Nature, while giving them ontological equivalence. The Hebrew Bible calls the creation ‘good and very good,’ and the Apostle Paul writes, ‘God is for the body’ (I Corinthians 6:13). Humans are made in the image and likeness of God, giving rational thought or logos high value.

On this point Eliade writes,

Compared with the archaic and palaeo-oriental religions, as well as with the mythic-philosophical conceptions of the eternal return, as they were elaborated in India and Greece, Judaism presents an innovation of the first importance. For Judaism, time has a beginning and will have an end. The idea of cyclic time is left behind. Yahweh no longer manifests himself in cosmic time (like the gods of other religions) but in a historical time, which is irreversible (The Sacred and Profane 110). Campbell also recognizes this when he writes, “For already in the Old Testament, as in post-Galilean sciences, there is in nature itself no divinity [MDB1] . There is no god in all the earth but in Israel (II Kings 5:15)…”[xi] (Inner Reaches 114) He sees that the Catholic scientists held this inanimate view of nature. Stark and Tulane University mathematical physicist Frank Tippler[xii] would argue that de-divinized nature is the reason why these men made their discoveries.

[i] Other references: “For already in the Old Testament, as in post-Galilean sciences, there is in nature itself no divinity. There is no god in all the earth but in Israel (II Kings 5:15)… Such uninspired literalism in the understanding of mythological metaphors is difficult to match in the whole great field of the history of religions.”  Inner Reaches, 114; “…the misunderstanding consisting in the interpretation of mythic metaphors as reference to hard facts: the virgin birth, for example, as a biological anomaly…What, in the name of Reason or Truth, is a modern mind to make of such evident nonsense?” (Inner Reaches 55); referencing the biblical wars, Campbell writes, “The popular nightmare of history… comes of misreading metaphors…and dismissing the metaphors as lies.” (Inner Reaches, p. 58); "Monotheism is idolatry in that it imagines its god to be the God for which you leave this one. ...Hindu...Gods are all metaphors of this ultimate mystery, the mystery of your own being. So God is not 'out there'; but is in here." (Mythic Dimension 188); "So then when you are studying mythology to find what the rules of nature are, avoid the Bible (V 184);
[ii] When I teach my Introduction to the Bible course, I teach it as "Stages of Consciousness" moving from self centered stage one as ego in Genesis, to stage two ego-expanded in Exodus-I Samuel under formal union with the larger legal community (romance stage), to stage three ego-questioned or personal individuation from Samuel, the controversial poetic and prophetic books, to stage four in the New Testament of ego-surrendered which is now similar to Hindu notion of union.
[iii] Heraclitus writes, " The logos of the soul is increasing itself." DKB115
[iv] A fuller quotation from Irenaeus says, "[For] the man is rendered spiritual and perfect because of the outpouring of the Spirit, and this is he who was, made in the image of and likeness of God. But if the Spirit be lacking to the soul, he who is such is indeed of an animal nature, and being left carnal, shall be an imperfect being, possessing indeed the image [of God] in his formation, but not receiving the likeness through the Spirit… For that flesh which has been molded is not a perfect man in itself, but the body of a man, and part of a man. Neither is the soul itself, considered apart by itself, the man; but it is the soul of a man, and part of a man. Neither is the spirit a man, for it is called the spirit, and not a man; but the commingling and union of all these constitutes the perfect man."
[v] Irenaeus' refutation of the various so called "Gnostic" heresies makes no sense until one sees that the underlying philosophical presupposition was equality yet separation between matter (Nature), spirit and soul. The Gnostics were relegating spirit to a higher value on the ontological scale, diminishing the nature and role of matter.
[vi] "What opposes unites, and the finest attunement stems from things bearing in opposite directions, and all things come about by strife." (Fragment DKB8); " God is day night, winter summer, war peace, satiety hunger . . .” (Fragment DK22B67)
[vii] "Balaam got up in the morning, saddled his donkey and went with the princes of Moab. But God was very angry when he went, and the angel of the LORD stood in the road to oppose (SHATAN) him. Balaam was riding on his donkey, and his two servants were with him. When the donkey saw the angel of the LORD standing in the road with a drawn sword in his hand, she turned off the road into a field. Balaam beat her to get her back on the road." nUMBER 22:21-23
[viii] Anthropologist Michael Jackson says that to examine a myth or ritual apart from living and acting in it is absurd: ' investigate beliefs or 'belief systems' apart from actual human activity is absurd...Verbal responses [doctrines] are poor indices of inner states, and beliefs are more like metaphors than they dare imagine...the 'truth' of science or divination in terms of some notion that the systems correspond to external reality is not necessary in order for these systems to help us cope with life and make it meaningful. The lesson I take from my experience of consulting Kuranko diviners is that one does not have to believe in the truth claims of the system for it to work in a practical and psychological sense."  Paths Toward a Clearing, Michael Jackson, p. 66 Beliefs are more than cold, hard facts about the ontological nature of reality. Even if apparently 'literal,' they are still metaphors that provide practical and psycho-emotional benefits, even though they are not fully understood. There is significance to the fact that the word 'belief' is etymologically related to the German word 'beloved'. Our beliefs are those ideas and practices which we love for their ability to turn an otherwise meaningless, terrifying and confusing cosmos into some semblance of order. Irenaeus, following the Jewish and Pauline ideas of the 'literal' flesh, made sense of physical disease, pains, death and corruption in general. They knew it was not 'flesh' as we know it. They always qualified the transforming substance of flesh by adding qualifiers--'from corruptible to incorruptiuble' flesh, 'spiritual' body, resurrected body, glorified body, etc. Paul said even the whole physical creation will be redeemed and become new, presumably incorruptible. The stuff is as much part of God as the non-stuff, or Spirit (cf. with Hindu Purusha and Prakriti).
[ix] Granted, not all espousing a Judeo-Christian dominion perspective respectfully use the material world, but not all who worship Nature are humane. Whether one rapes the land under the umbrella of dominion, or allows divine rats to eat the grain while people are starving, something shadowy is being done. Every archetypal perspective has a light and shadow side.
[x] Starks book The Victory of Reason: How Christianity Led to Freedom, Capitalism, and Western Success, explores the philosophical and theological differences between the various religions, concluding that modern science, capitalist economics and the vast technological advances in the past two centuries are directly related to world views.
[xi] Joseph Campbell, writing about Oriental mythologies, displays his conceptual metaphor when he recognizes
“There is therefore nothing to be gained, either for the universe or for man, through individual originality and effort. Those who have identified themselves with the body and its affections will necessarily find that all is painful, since everything—for them—must end. But for those who have found the still point of eternity, around which all—including themselves—revolves, everything is glorious and wonderful just as it is. The first duty of man, consequently, is to play his given role—as do the sun, the moon, the various animal and plant species, the waters, the rocks, and the stars—without fault; and then if possible, so to order his mind as to identify it with the inhabiting essence of the whole.” (Campbell, The Mythic Dimension 20, bold print mine)

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

The LGBT Debate in America and Archetypal Psychology

          This same sex topic is a touchy issue to be sure. As an archetypalist, I am far more and primarily interested in the phenomena surrounding this issue than any "position" of right or wrong. I think both sides would do the nation a favor by toning down the angry rhetoric and spending more time actually researching and educating themselves and then others. Many in America do not know that this is not exclusively a Christian problem. As far back as Plato, Aristotle and the Greeks, same sex relations were viewed as being against "Nature". In Greece there was a tradition of males becoming sexual with younger men in a subservient educational setting, but the dominant males were always married to women and producing children. You can find it discussed in Plato: Laws, Book VIII (835b - 842c) and Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics, at 1138b30The Greeks actually had more to say about this issue than the Bible--and Christian theology was heavily influenced by the Greeks. Views similar to the Greeks were held in ancient Persia and in the Arab tribes. The Chinese seem to be an exception until modern times. Historically, morally and philosophically this is much more than a Christian issue. Obviously these historical positions do not necessarily prove anything about what is right or wrong, but they do reveal that the topic is not new--it has always been something of a sexual or erotic "issue". Eros is frequently behind change, whether personal or cultural.

          It seems to me that both "sides" in this American same sex love debate operate more out of ideological passions than an actual desire for understanding the often legitimate ideas from the "other side". And the media--from CNN, MSNBC to Fox, etc.--often appear to fan the ideological flames in order to keep their passionate devotees tuned in to the advertising which pays their salaries. Chris Matthews makes 5 million a year, Piers Morgan makes 6 million a year, Diane Sawyer makes $12 million, Sean Hannity makes 15 million, John Stewart makes 16 million, Bill O' Reilly makes 20 million, etc. What they have in common is money--lots of it! I am all for the freedom to make lots of money--but I am suspect of "news" sources which make their living by keeping angry ideologically motivated viewers tuning in each night in order to rile them up and raise their blood pressure rather than their IQ. If these news programs actually sought understanding through informed discussions and historical education, people on both sides might actually be able to change their minds rather than just get pissed off. The news media has become Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-four "Two Minutes of Hate" keeping the masses apoplectic toward "Goldstein" -- dogmatic audiences of zoned out ideological Zombies chanting their slogans against the "other". One rarely moves a person from his/her passionately held beliefs by mocking, vilifying and opposing the "other side". Generally such attacks and rhetorical bludgeoning preclude us from gaining any real understanding--exacerbating the conflict.

          Plus, we have become an obligatory moral culture--on the left and the right--passing laws and enforcing morality by court order and threat of punishment. The Supreme Court, in my opinion, is the new American tyrant--an oligarchy of 9 who now make the big laws by 5-4 votes! And each ideological side is focused on getting one of their "people" assigned to the court in order to enforce the "correct" laws. Where once there was conversation about what constituted Virtue in an America under a Constitution, there is now moralized legislation by court-fiat. Without conversation and education based on some sort of agreed upon standards of human and humane Virtue, we end up enacting more enforced obligatory legislation on bitter and unconvinced citizens--and war in some form is always close behind. The job of the LGBT community, as I see it, is to convince others that their view of love and sexual experience is not contrary to Goodness. It seems to me that it is a legitimate argument which can change the minds of opponents. This is confirmed by the 2013 Barna Research Group's study on religious attitudes toward LGBT related issues. Major shifts have occurred over the past decade: LGTBQ Study

                  Lastly, I see the LGBT debate as psychologically beneficial--as another course in the classroom of the World-school of soul-making. Whenever our emotions are stirred, the tutorial Unconscious is seeking entry into an entrenched personal and cultural ego--no matter whether one is on the left or the right. Persons on both "sides" have something to learn if they are emotionally riled up. Of course both sides typically feel the "other" side has something to learn from their side which is the CORRECT side. Instead of responding to the angry knock at our own emotional doors of consciousness, we typically open a window and yell at the annoying intruder rather than open the door of our brooding psyches, invite the Unconscious in and have a soul-making conversation. Many of us have no clue about how to even go about such a inter-psychological conversation.


Monday, July 8, 2013

Figuring it Out, or Outing the Figure

          It seems these days that we are all trying to "figure it out," gathering the confusing data of our lives and putting them all together in order to come up with some sort of meaningful structure. The collected data typically includes personal life  problems, distressing emotions and upsetting socio-political events. I would like to suggest a tactical shift. Rather than merely trying to "figure it all out," how about recognizing the existence of an invisible transhuman Presence that seeks to "out the figure"? What does that mean? To "out the figure" means to bring out the figure or image of one's unique self that arrives with us at birth. James Hillman writes: "...each person bears a uniqueness that asks to be lived and that is already present before it can be lived...". Aristotle and Thomas Aquinas called this living process of "outing the figure" entelechy, that innate urge that moves each organism toward its goal. For example, each acorn automatically moves toward the oak tree inherent in the seed, yet not just some generic oak tree, but an inimitable tree. Thomas Aquinas made it clear that the ultimate aim of human existence is not  about figuring out how to conform to religious morality or some political agenda, but rather allowing Spirit to sculpt the individual into his/her unique expression of God's image. Whether we use the
words Soul or Spirit, the idea is the same: An innate Power greater than the human ego and rational mind is employing all of life's experiences to carve each of us into a unique personality.  While the sculpting process can at times be excruciatingly tragic, the final result is always Joy via self realization.

          We live in a manic time of "figuring it all out," looking to spiritual gurus with ancient secrets and political regimes with new and improved ideologies. These moral and socio-political engineers concoct their systems, theories and codes in order to "whip us into shape"--but is it the best shape, the figure native to our personal souls? Systems may be useful, if  they operate as servants for "outing the figure"--assisting each of us in the deep longing we all feel for becoming fully Human. Beware of any institution or system that attempts to yank the moth from the chrysalis by religious or secular agendas and techniques. Their roles, ideally, ought to be that of providing the safest branch possible from which the soul-making cocoon might hang--allowing maximum freedoms for the worms who are still crawling, the worms who are spinning shells and the worms liquefying in the chrysalis. Too many ministers, politicians and socio-cultural analysts use their masterful powers and positions of mentation to add one more "ism" into our already "over-ismed" world. Their benevolent structures actually hinder soul-making.  Institutions work best when they allow humans to experience worm-life, cocoon-making life, liquefaction and transformation--each in his/her own unique style and time frame. At least that is how this worm sees it, today.

Friday, July 5, 2013

A Depth Psychological Examination of Campus Crusade's Four Spiritual Laws

Michael Dean Bogar
Written for Christian Traditions Class, Pacifica Graduate Institute

The Phenomenonology of the Gospel:

A Depth Psychological Examination of the Evangelical Gospel Pamphlet, The Four Spiritual Laws

            At the age of nineteen, in my second year of college as a journalism major, I underwent a powerful experience of psycho-spiritual transformation while reading through the Gospel of Matthew. Following that life-altering encounter I was inducted into an evangelical non-denominational Bible Church and given an explanation by one of the ministers about what had happened to me. He showed me a very popular tract titled The Four Spiritual Laws that teaches:

1. God loves each of us and offers a wonderful plan for our life. (John 3:16, John 10:10)

2. We are alienated from God by a deep chasm of sin, rendering us incapable of experiencing God's love and plan for our lives. (Romans 3:23, Romans 6:23)

3. Jesus Christ is God's only provision for human sin and alienation. Through Christ's death and resurrection the chasm between humans and God is spanned. (Romans 5:8, I Corinthians 15:3-6, John 14:6)

4. Each person must individually receive Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. Christ must reign on the soul's throne instead of self. (John 1:12, Ephesians 2:8,9, John 3:1~8, Revelation 3:20) 

            This explanation made sense of my transformational experience. I had always believed vaguely in a Supreme Being and knew all too well the typical experience of adolescent angst and alienation. 

          I embraced this evangelical explanation presented in the pamphlet by placing my trust in Christ's life, death and resurrection as the means to bridge the gap between my alienated self and Almighty God. Within a year I was a full time student in a Bible College spending my Saturday evenings on urban street corners distributing the Four Spiritual Laws to a lost generation. Many of those who read the pamphlet responded to the message of the evangelical version of the gospel contained therein. After several years I eventually left the evangelical movement due to differences of belief and practice, but I have never lost my fascination with the ability of the Four Spiritual Laws to awaken people to a dynamic connection to a Power greater than themselves. 

          In this paper I will explore the phenomenon of this simply formulated evangelical gospel as found in the Four Spiritual Laws pamphlet. I will suggest that each one of the four laws presents an archetypal solution to basic universal psychological human needs. Whether one loves or despises this tract--agrees or disagrees with the four "laws" presented in it--an objective observer must inquire into the fascinating manner by which these images have affected so many souls. Even the very liberal existentialist theologian Paul Tillich threw his support behind this version of the evangel or gospel. Tillich, a presenter at the Eranos conferences, was the only faculty member at the very liberal Union Theological Seminary to attend the Billy Graham Crusades which routinely preached these four spiritual ideas. 

          My approach in this paper will be phenomenological--that is, from the point of an observer of the religious psyche. I will write neither as a detractor nor an advocate, not as an apologist for or against the pamphlet and its message. My curiosity lies in wondering why so many tens of thousands if not millions worldwide have responded to these "four laws".

            The Four Spiritual Laws pamphlet is the most widely distributed religious booklet in history with approximately 2.5 billion having been printed in all of the major languages of the world (Campus Crusade). The pamphlet was created in 1952 by Bill Bright who founded Campus Crusade for Christ, the world's largest Christian outreach  ministry.[1] Bright wrote the Four Laws booklet as a means of clearly explaining the fundamentals of the Christian gospel of salvation in four simple steps--as universal spiritual laws, aka archetypal patterns.

            The first spiritual law affirms the existence of a loving God and His purposeful "plan for our life." Bright assumes the ubiquitous existence of homo religiosus--that humankind is and always has been innately and existentially religious. From Neanderthal grave sites to modern Cathedral spires, cultural evidence reveals an ever-present human propensity for entering some numinous other-worldliness after death. Furthermore, all mythical traditions and religious systems recognize some sort of concerned and loving deity. From the ancient Egyptian Hathor to the Canaanite Astarte, from the Celtic Aine to the Etruscan Turan and the Voodoo Erzulie, and hundreds of others,[2] humans have always asserted and searched for the love of a God--an experience beyond mere mortal affection. The Four Laws pamphlet taps into this universal human desire to discover a transhuman lover, as well as a sense that there is some Cosmic Thing or One that might satisfy that felt need.

          Additionally, in this first spiritual law, Bill Bright specifies that this loving God manifests His Presence by offering a purposeful plan for each individual's life. Bright's gospel presents an orderly and meaningful cosmos[3] superintended by a deity who has a design for living--existence is meaningful. More recently we have seen Pastor Rick Warren's book, The Purpose Driven Life, sell over 30 million copies (ABC News). This need for meaning and purpose is archetypal--humans have always been purpose-driven beings.[4] As sociologist Peter Berger says in his classic, The Sacred Canopy, humans "are congenitally compelled to impose a meaningful order upon reality" (22). In the Timaeus Plato was one of the first to have written extensively about teleology[5] and a purposeful universe that he founds upon a divine Designer.[6] In his work titled Physics, Aristotle rejects Plato's premise of a divine Creator, positing instead that everything in nature intrinsically contains its own unique final cause, initiated by some mysterious yet logically deduced First Cause.[7] Aristotle argues: "It is absurd to suppose that ends are not present [in nature] because we do not see an agent deliberating" (Aristotle, Physics 2.8, 199b27-9). While Aristotle did not appeal to a personal deity for this idea of cosmological purpose, he observed final causality inherent in all existent objects. When Western Medieval monotheistic philosophers and theologians adopted Aristotelian categories, they replaced Aristotle's idea of a First Cause with their own personal Creator-God Who gives all things their final cause or purpose.[8]  Thomas Aquinas, for example, argued for the existence of the biblical God by observing that all bodies move purposefully toward a goal, directed to that goal by some divine Being with awareness, intention and intelligence, "and this we call God" said Aquinas (Summa Theologiae 1a, 2, 3).[9]

            Most humans have an urge to live purposefully. This psychological fact explains  why Bright's pamphlet seems to be so successful. When he writes: "God loves each of us and offers a wonderful plan for our life," he evokes the innate archetypal desire for meaning over irrelevance--that there is a loving God Who has "a plan for your life." This message is archetypal, satisfying a widely prevalent desire in the human soul for an intentional existence. In the words of Bob Dylan:
God knows there’s a purpose
God knows there’s a chance
God knows you can rise above the darkest hour
Of any circumstance
God knows there’s a heaven
God knows it’s out of sight
God knows we can get all the way from here to there
Even if we’ve got to walk a million miles by candlelight (God Knows)

            The second spiritual law touches on the common human experience of alienation and loneliness: "We are alienated from God by a deep chasm of sin, rendering us incapable of experiencing God's love and plan for our lives" (op. cit.).  This troubling condition of psychological disaffection can be found in literature from as far back as Gilgamesh in his anguished search for immortality (3000 B.C.),[10] and in the World Weary Egyptian Arguing with his Ba [Soul] (2200 B.C),[11] and in God's expulsion of Adam and Eve from Eden. This ubiquitous theme of cosmic displacement can be seen in Dante's Divine Comedy that begins with the author lost and alienated from God in a dark forest, and in T.S. Eliot's[12] The Waste Land:
            ...Son of man...
            You cannot say, or guess, for you know only
            A heap of broken images, where the sun beats
            And the dead tree gives no shelter...
            Here is no water but only rock
            Rock and no water...
            Red sullen faces sneer and snarl
            From doors of mudcracked houses. (Collected Poems)

Edward Edinger says of Eliot's poem: "This powerful poem expresses the individual and collective alienation of our time...We live in a desert and cannot find the source of life-giving water" (48). The issue of alienation has occupied the greatest minds in Western thought. Augustine's doctrine of the Fall focuses on human estrangement from God and the need for reconciliation. Hegel argues that history Itself is the process of Absolute Spirit moving humans from a deep sense of interior disaffection toward a unity with other social beings and ultimately Absolute Spirit Itself. Kierkegaard reverses Hegel, stressing that the uniqueness of the individual is stifled by the conformist demands of society, causing a profound sense of self-alienation which is solved by a leap of faith into a self-authenticating link to the Absolute. Marx replaces Hegel's notion of Absolute Spirit with Absolute Matter, teaching that the 19th century Industrial Revolution caused the factory worker to experience alienation from the fruits of his own creative labor.[13]  In the movie, The Matrix, Morpheus says to the searching Neo: "What you know you can't explain, but you feel it. You've felt it your entire life, that there's something wrong with the world. You don't know what it is, but it's there, like a splinter in your mind, driving you mad."

          My aim is not to argue for "the" right solution to the problem of alienation,[14] but to demonstrate that the experience of estrangement has been a recurrent human concern.[15] Bill Bright's pamphlet once again brilliantly taps into this widespread human experience--offering a solution to psychological alienation.

            This moves us to the third spiritual law: "Jesus Christ is God's only provision for human sin and alienation. Through Christ's death and resurrection [sacrifice] the chasm between humans and God is spanned" (op. cit. italics mine). The idea of sacrifice is a universal human phenomenon. Susan Mizruchi in her work, The Science of Sacrifice,  acknowledges the dangers of stating universals yet affirms without apology the "prevalence of sacrificial representation in different times and places [worldwide]..." (28). It is beyond the scope of this paper to examine the ubiquitous occurrences of sacrifice, or to explicate the various theories about the origins and reasons for sacrifice. What I will note is that sacrifice in all cultures frequently involves some form of substitute or scapegoat. A scapegoat is "one who is blamed or punished for the mistakes or sins of others" (Etymology).

            Aristotle is the first known writer to philosophize about the idea of shifting one's psychological burdens onto another in his work titled, The Poetics. He suggests that the purpose of public Greek theater is to effect catharsis or psychological cleansing in the soul of the spectators. The word "theatre" derives from the Greek verb, theasthai, and means "to behold," plus the suffix "tron" which denotes "place." The theatron was the "beholding or viewing place" where a tragic character was put on display, transgressing an important social law followed by divine retribution. Aristotle viewed such public displays as providing a kind of release valve for the audience--an identity-substitute for their transgressions:

          "Tragedy, then, is an imitation of an action that is serious, complete, and of a certain              magnitude; in language embellished with each kind of artistic ornament, the several              kinds being found in separate parts of the play; in the form of action, not of narrative;            through pity and fear effecting the proper purgation [catharsis] of these emotions."               (Poetics, para. 7

Each member of the audience is allowed to vicariously project his/her actual or imagined wrongdoing or negative emotions onto a designated scapegoat. Taboo and shadowy issues such as incest, abuse by a family member, despised politicians, or other dark impulses are enacted and experienced vicariously--allowing the observers to be cleansed by a vicarious involvement in the emotions and actions of the actor as victim. Most modern Americans find this to be ancient superstition, yet our movie theaters, and our system of periodic elections and free political speech, allows us to join with others in order to load (project) our sins and dissatisfaction on our agreed upon villains.  

          Carl Jung speaks of this as the participation mystique: "The mass is swayed by a participation mystique, which is nothing other than an unconscious identity" (Archetypes 87).[16] Both Aristotle and Jung recognize the prevalent human psychological need for "katharsis" via vicarious identity with someone who represents our dark crimes, guilty sins and shadowy fantasies. Such cleansing experiences are often accomplished in and/or with a group that witnesses the public spectacle--hence Jung's term participation mystique. There is some enigmatic psychological effect that occurs when all are present, ensconced in some troubling life spectacle, while heartily approving of the ultimate destruction of the evil perpetrator. Individuals in the party or crowd experience themselves in the despised images--and somehow they are cleansed and "made right" by scorning the surrogate sinner. The publicized event becomes what Jung calls an individual and "collective experience of transformation" (ibid.).

            This is how the New Testament presents the crucifixion of Christ--as a theatrical or public spectacle. The Roman ruler Pontius Pilate, when Jesus was on trial, proclaimed to the crowd shouting for his crucifixion, "Behold the man" (John 19:5). After his trial Jesus was crucified on a prominent hill outside of Jerusalem called Golgotha. The first century Jewish historian Josephus writes that the Romans "purposefully chose locations [for crucifixion] that would be easily seen by passersby, whether along main roads or atop hills" (Tabor 218). In the Gospel of John, after telling Nicodemus that he must be born again, Jesus said: "Just as Moses lifted up the snake[17] in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life...when I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw all men to myself.' He said this to show the kind of death he was going to die” (John 12:31-33). The Apostle Paul, writing to the Galatian church, states: "Oh you silly people from Galatia! Who has tricked you? I spoke in such a way as to graphically portray Christ before your eyes as crucified" (3:1). The Catholic Mass and large Protestant evangelistic crusades are theatrical performances of the sacrifice of Christ for our sins.

            The success of the Four Laws pamphlet is directly related to the ubiquitous image of this crucified Christ that has been seen in one way or another on every continent. Nearly everyone in our modern world has been exposed to the macabre and horrific image of the crucifixion, knowing something of Christ as the sin-bearing God-man. James Hillman writes: "The tremendous image of Christ [crucified] dominates our culture's relation to pathologizing" (95). Hillman goes on to agree with Aristotle's cathartic theater, pointing out that "religions always provide containers for psychopathology...the more successful a religion, the more psychopathology can be sheltered under its aegis...The less religion, the more psychopathology spills out in the open and requires secular care" (95-96).

            This third spiritual law, evoking the image of the crucified and bloody Christ as "God's only provision for human sin and alienation," (op. cit.) has provided an archetypal appeal to many people worldwide for nearly two thousand years. The toxins of mental and emotional suffering must somehow exit the human psyche. This image of the bloody[18] crucified Christ as a substitutionary[19] sin-bearer, offering catharsis from guilt, failure, shame, sins, secrets and emotional burdens has "worked" for millions.[20] 

          The emphasis on "the blood of Christ" mystifies most moderns. But blood is often a metaphor for life in general, or the entire soul of a person.[21] When the Divine Blood pours forth and is captured in a cup (grail) and swallowed during Communion (common union), a psycho-spiritual transfusion occurs. Edinger writes: "...the container for Christ's blood, the Grail carries the divine essence extracted from Christ..." (Creation 22-23). D.H. Lawrence once observed: "The religious function of the Bible is not so much to inform the mind, as it is to ‘change the blood.'" (Brown 26). This third spiritual law offers not only release from failures and guilt, but the transfer of the blood of God--the divine soul--onto the recipient. Those who place their faith in Christ exchange mortal human "blood" for divine "blood", finite life for eternal life, corruptible blood for incorruptible blood. The old limited life may now assume a transcendent aspect, which brings us to the forth law in the pamphlet.

            The fourth spiritual law states: "Each person must individually receive Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. Christ must reign on the soul's throne instead of self" (op. cit.). Bright correctly assesses that much of Western civilization has jettisoned all need for a transcendent spiritual authority--replacing it with rational scientism's technological, consumer economics, and socio-political solutions. Carl Jung spoke of the modern era during which the "... Luciferian presumption [of] the intellect usurps the seat where once the spirit was enthroned" (CW 9, I, 16). If, as depth psychology assumes, there is in each human a psychic need for wholeness and re-connection to a source greater than the finite self, then Bright supplies the reader with an escape from the confines of egoic existence by "receiving Jesus as Lord and Savior."  The circle is complete--the alienated, guilty and directionless individual sees a way back to a dynamic loving, intelligent and purposeful Source. Edinger, as a Jungian therapist, speaks of the modern problem of "alienation neurosis" that he finds in many of the clients:

            There is a typical clinical picture called alienation neurosis. An individual with such                a neurosis is very dubious about his right to exist. He has a profound sense of                        unworthiness...He assumes unconsciously and automatically that whatever comes                out of himself--his innermost desires, needs and interest--must be wrong or                            somehow unacceptable. With this attitude psychic energy is dammed up and must                emerge in covert, unconscious or destructive ways such as psychoanalytic                            symptoms, attacks of anxiety...depression, suicidal impulses, alcoholism, etc.                        Fundamentally, such a patient is facing the problem of whether or not he is                            justified before God...In order to break out of the alienated state some contact                        between ego and Self must be re-established. If this can happen, a whole new                      world opens up. (56-57)

          The Four Spiritual Laws work because they facilitate contact between the ego and  God--Edinger's Self.  They provide a sort of "therapy in a pamphlet," presenting the individual reader with an opportunity to surrender his/her finite and estranged ego to a Higher Power through a deliberate choice, causing a "whole new world to open up". The  healing of the ego/Self axis is accomplished as Christ "reign[s] on the soul's throne instead of self" (op. cit.).

            My concluding assessment is that something occurs in certain persons during the presentation found in the Four Spiritual Laws. Plato is alleged to have said, “There is something in a mythical story that is true or something like it that is true” (Source Unknown). Bill Bright's pamphlet retells the gospel story in a way that contains, "something that is true or something like it that is true” (op. cit.). The aim of this paper is not to debate whether this gospel is the only way to spiritual or psychological reunion with the Divine Source as claimed by the Christian religion--I'll leave that to theologians, philosophers and the individuals who respond to the pamphlet's message. But from a depth psychological perspective there appears to be evidence that Bright's presentation, distilled from the New Testament story of Christ's life and work, is rife with dynamic archetypal content. As the ideas and images of the leaflet interact within the souls of certain persons, something deeply affective occurs--often something more than just mere assent to religious doctrine or fleeting spiritual emotionalism. There is something life altering for the long term--a psychic shift--a new birth.

             At the end of his Terry Lectures on The Varieties of Religious Experience, William James closes by stating three general pragmatic conclusions about the benefits of the effective religion:

            1. ...the visible world is part of a more spiritual universe from which it                                             draws its chief significance.
            2. ...union or harmonious relation with that higher universe is our true end.
            3. ...inner communion with the spirit thereof--be that spirit "God" or "law'--is                                   a process wherein work is really done and spiritual energy flows in and                                   produces effects...within the phenomenal world. (435)

         Bill Bright's pamphlet provides all of James basic religious benefits to the reader. The Four Spiritual Laws offers the existence of a spiritual universe, a way to harmonious union with that spirit, and communion with a spiritual realm that affects life in this world.[22] These Four Spiritual Laws meet the most basic human religious needs of the soul, in spite of being associated with certain religious organizations or overly intricate systems of theology. That is why Paul Tillich and many other "unorthodox" theologians worked with Billy Graham's evangelistic campaigns--the archetypal messaged changed lives, most often for the good. That is why over 2.5 billion have been printed and distributed. The laws work.

            Finally, it appears to me that the message and work of the Four Spiritual Laws traverses a course between two extremes found in America today: First, there are the conservative religionists who have often experienced a dynamic psychic transformation through this kind of gospel presentation. But they then solidify the experience into an inflexible block of logical dogma to be rationally systematized and believed in. We must be reminded that religious institutions and doctrinal explanations grow out of dynamic psycho-spiritual experiences, not the other way around. To put religion before the soul's experience is to get it backwards. Jesus said as much: "Man was not made for the Sabbath, but the Sabbath was made for man" (Mark 2:27). The religious container is important, doctrines are necessary, but they are there to serve the ongoing relational interaction between the numinous realm (God or Unconscious) and the believer's ever developing consciousness. Many who experience the archetypal Christ or God through the four laws are puzzled to find that the subsequent ecclesiastical or theological vessel provided is not large enough to contain and maintain their ongoing connection with the Infinite Presence. In other words, one encounters the Four Spiritual Law tract, prays the prayer of surrender to Christ, has a very real spiritual experience and is then told he/she must now become a Baptist, or Pentecostal, or Catholic, or Lutheran, etc. That may be fine and valuable initially since all of these religious groups have teachings and services that may further the numinous encounter and spiritual process, but inevitably many "believers" run into doctrines or practices that do not continue to facilitate their individual soul-making. Confusion ensues. Many leave the churches, even the faith, disgruntled and bitter.Their experience with God/Christ is real, but the organized institution becomes inflexible and abusive. 

          A second group of Americans, at the other extreme, are the progressives who tend to dismiss the Four Laws as simplistic and shallow--as wishful thinking or delusional fiction--claiming superior "liberal-mindedness" free of sectarian intolerance or supernatural childishness. They most often seek their catharsis and meaning in some form of therapeutic system, socio-political solution, or some mishmash of New Age spirituality. They are just as intolerant and dogmatic as the Christian fundamentalists they accuse of those traits. They become intractable anti-religion fundamentalists!

          Both of these extreme groups tend to simply dismiss the other as stupid and wrong This paper suggests that the ideas in the Four Spiritual Laws are to be neither rationally systematized nor superficially dismissed, but rather to be seen as archetypally effective. Like them or not, these laws have facilitated experiences of the numinous Presence. Their souls are radically altered, their feelings of alienation are healed, and they live with a new  sense of cosmic meaning and personal purpose.


[1] Founded in 1951, by 1960 Campus Crusade was established on 40 campuses in the United States and in two other countries. During the 1960′s the ministry began conducting international Christmas conferences and summer mission projects. In 1983, a major event called KC’83 was held in Kansas City that drew 17,000 college students. Almost a decade later, in 1991, Campus Crusade relocated its headquarters from California to Orlando , FL. US News & World Report rated Campus Crusade as the top religious charity in the United States in 1995. Money magazine ranked the ministry as the most “efficient” religious ministry in the U.S. in 1996. By the year 2000, Campus Crusade for Christ International , the parent organization for the college ministry, had more than 24,000 full time staff members, and more than 500,000 trained volunteers serving in 191 countries. Founder Bill Bright passed the leadership torch to new president Steve Douglass, formerly executive vice president and director of U.S. Ministries in 2001. (

[2] Hereis a site with an extensive list of Gods and Goddesses of love from all around he world:

[3] All cultures have discovered and included hierarchical cosmologies in their myths, rituals and philosophies. Huston Smith quoting Ken Wilber says, “the concept of a hierarchical worldview is ‘so overwhelmingly widespread that it is either the single greatest intellectual error ever to appear in human history--an error so colossally widespread as to literally stagger the mind-or it is the most accurate reflection of reality to have appeared’” (Forgotten Truth 232-33).

[4] Jonas Salk, the author of the polio vaccine, has writtne a book titled, Man Unfolding, with a chapter titled, "Purpose, a Biological Necessity," in which he notes that humans come into this world without meaning, yet are compelled to create meaning.

[5] One Greek term for purpose is telos and means "final cause or purpose" (Liddell 696).

[6] The dialogue found in Plato's Timaeus presents a speculative explanation about the creation of the universe, which he assigns to the handiwork of a divine craftsman. The good demiurge desired a good world. The demiurge brought order out of substance by imitating the eternal ideas. Later Platonists clarified that the eternal model existed in the mind of the Demiurge.

[7] For example, the final cause or purpose of an acorn is to become a fully grown oak tree. That is the proper and purposeful realization of an acorn's nature--the reason and meaning for its existence.

[8] In addition, the word "ritual," and possibly the words "right" and "read," all derive from the Indo-European root rta which means "to order, number or move toward accomplishment" (Online Etymology). It is likely that rituals as well as written and read symbols are created from the same human instinct that seeks to put order and purpose into one's existence.

[9] Aquinas includes the fact that bodies obey natural laws as a form of final causality. They do not act by accident, but obey the laws as if intended to do so, and this points to the fact that they are so intended. After the 17th century, science rejected or ignored the doctrine of final causes in nature. Laws of nature operated by general principles of interaction between objects (like atoms), which have no innate purpose. They just happen to be the way they are. Vitalism contained the last vestiges of the Aristotelian belief that organisms are put into action by some immaterial vital principle that directs their structure and development. Most biologists reject this notion, seeking purely physical causes of organic structure and development.

[10] The Epic of Gilgamesh.

[11] This unique work, emerging from an Egyptian culture that expected conformity to the mass mind, reveals a kind of private journal between a depressed man and his soul. The man is tired of life and the feeling of alienation from joy, but his soul (ba) suggests that there are new possibilities that the man has not yet considered.

[12] Eliot "solved" his Wasteland alienation, shocking his friends and contemporaries, by his genuine and lifelong conversion from philosophical Modernism to Anglo-Catholicism in 1927 at the age of 39. For an account of Eliot's religion, see Barry Spurr's 'Anglo-Catholic in Religion': T.S. Eliot and Christianity. Cambridge: Lutterworth Press, 2010.

[13] The solution for Marx is to evolve society toward a utopian community where the worker's estrangement is overcome by reconnecting him/her to personal creative work.

[14] Gabriel Marcel views the human feeling of "transcendence" as the experiential reaching for something very real yet unattainable: "There is an order where the subject finds himself in the presence of something entirely beyond his grasp. I would add that if the word 'transcendent' has any meaning it is here—it designates the absolute, unbridgeable chasm yawning between the subject and being, insofar as being evades every attempt to pin it down". (Marcel, Tragic Wisdom and Beyond. 1973, p. 193)

[15] On a more practical level, James Hollis in his book, The Eden Project, says it like this: All relationships begin, and end, in separation...We live our lives estranged from     others, from the gods, and worst of all from ourselves. Intuitively, we all know this. We know that we are our own worst enemies. We never stop seeking to reconnect, to find       home again, and in the end we simply leave it in a different way. Perhaps there is no home to which we can return. We can't return to the womb, though we try, and few of us are confident of a future celestial home. So we live, always homeless, whether we know it or not. (12). Edward Edinger, echoing Jungian sentiments, views this prevalent human experience of alienation as a normal and necessary concomitant of individuation. The birth and inflation of an ego-identity, through separation from the Self (Unconscious Source) and others in the world, is required for the process of psychological development. Eventually the secure ego will encounter other more powerful egos and situational impediments which produce frustrations and an increasing sense of alienation due to the "damage to the ego-Self axis," (37, 39 Edinger). At such a juncture humans begin to feel a sense of need to return to the Source, to the true center.

[16] A more modern example of theater as vicarious Participation Mystique is found on Cable television, in The Sopranos. The show is about a violent mobster, his cronies and their families involved in horrific and shockingly immoral and antisocial acts. Chris Seay writes: "The Sopranos shines light into dark areas. It calls hidden secrets to the surface and creates a heightened awareness of the flawed state of mankind. It happens unexpectedly, like spotting the overlooked grime lingering under your fingernails. At once you see your hands as they are, filthy and disgusting, and you are appalled. Our culture has become so good at covering up the dark - covering up the real - that we are taken aback by such penetrating pictures of reality. Selfish motives rise to the surface and call all of our actions into question. We are driven by our own lust instead of the greater good, and it is to our shame. We are mortified by our lack of moral integrity. We rely on the false so much that when the true story of our sin is revealed, we are forced into the arms of therapy and medication. Still, honest people crave this reality, this acknowledgement in the self-centeredness of humankind. But what we desire most-spiritual realization-we also fear most. This journey will be painful. But we search for truth nonetheless, because we hope for something better.” The Gospel According to Tony Soprano by Chris Seay.

[17] The Hebrew (Old Testament) background to Jesus' image of the serpent being lifted up is important here. In the book of Numbers, God sends a brood of poisonous snakes into the midst of the sinful and complaining Israelites who had just exited Egypt. God tells Moses to fashion a bronze snake, lift it up on a pole and have the dying people gaze on the image of the poisonous snake in order to be healed. Jesus seems to be suggesting that he is like that bronze serpent and his audience is like the snake-bitten Israelites. The people were poisoned with sin, dark secrets (like Nicodemus coming to Jesus at night) and toxic internal, unconscious contents. Only by gazing upon their own toxic selves as reflected in the sin-bearing contaminated Christ could they be healed. Like the kathartic healing in Aristotle's gazing audience and Jung's idea of "glance meets glance" in the theatrical participation mystique could the people be healed. The snake that bit their feet (lower repressed realms of the shadowy unconscious) had to be raised above eye level (made conscious) before healing and integration could occur. The lifting up of Christ on a cross is a symbol of the human shadow side (darkness) being exposed to new consciousness (light). The four spiritual laws accomplish this very thing. Those who read these tracts and behold the images are transported into the imaginal realm where the Christ is "graphically portrayed as crucified" to solve their plight of purposeless alienation. The first three laws directs them to psychic healing through the recognition of their own existential angst and guilty deeds[17] and fantasies, and the solution in Christ's sacrifice. We might amplify this serpent image by looking at the Hindu Kundalini, a Sanskrit word meaning either "coiled up" or "coiling like a snake.” Some call it "serpent power". The Kundalini refers to psychic energy that rises upward, bringing the dark desirous erotic shadowy God energy higher and higher - piercing the various chakra centers until reaching the crown of the head, resulting in union with the Divine. What universal themes for the soul do you see in these similar stories? Don’t get caught up in the literal as Nicodemis may have. There is something in us which knows we are more than materiality (flesh, earth, body, possessions); we are also Soul and Spirit. The earthly realm symbolizes the unconscious, lower or unrealized content of the soul – it is always rising into the light of consciousness, to the surface to promote integration. Through dreams Through fantasy The source of poison (suffering) is the source of healing – look at what is killing you; the Christ brings the darkness to the light. Resentments contain soul; in-giveness, then forgiveness. Depression contains soul; we are forced to go in and brood, examine our situations. Anger contains soul; reveals our highest values. Jesus said, "If you bring forth what is within you, what you have will save you. If you do discover that which is within you, it [will] kill you.” Gospel of Thomas

[18] Blood contains life, fluidity, color, fire, disease, clotting, death, the humors and so much more. Christ’s internal/externalized blood is an archetypal, unconscious, seizing hold of what ordinary external life cannot provide for earth bound humans. The blood symbolizes and catalyzes all that is missing in one's life. Blood intrigues us—just beneath our skin, pumped one thrust at a time through the heart we can feel blood thumping in our chests, or pouring out of a nose bleed, or out of an injured person in a serious accident, or out into a little bag at the blood bank—always a matter of life and death and everything in between. The bloody sacrifice dates back in mythological terms to primitive matriarchal cultures and religions.  As Neumann notes in The Origins and History of Consciousness:  “Worshiped from Egypt to India, from Greece and Asia Minor to darkest Africa, the Great Mother was always regarded as a goddess of the chase and of war; her rites were bloody, her festivals orgiastic.  All these features are essentially interconnected…The womb of the earth clamors for fertilization, and blood sacrifices are the food she likes best. This is the terrible aspect, the deadly side of the earth’s character…Slaughter and sacrifice, dismemberment and offering of blood, are magical guarantees of earthly fertility.” Neumann goes on to write: “Originally the victim was the male, the fertilizing agent, since fertilization is only possible through libations of blood in which life is stored. The female earth needs the fertilizing blood-seed of the male.” Such rituals were co-opted by patriarchal religions, but their archetypal significance and unconscious meaning remains the sameAlthough the characters of Mary the Mother and Mary Magdalene are portrayed throughout Mel Gibson's movie, The Passion, as good and caring, they do soak up the blood in the courtyard with white clothes after the scourging of Jesus by the Roman soldiers, receiving, in a sense, the blood sacrifice to the Great Mother.  So, once again, we have the archetype of the Terrible Mother, primitive as it might seem, demanding blood sacrifice, here in the Third Millennium." From The Archetypes of the Female and the Shadow in Mel Gibson’s “The Passion of the Christ” Mark Germine  Psychoscience , 416 Jackson Street, Yreka, CA, USA  96097 --

[19] The Christian theologian Anselm is credited with developing the penal substitutionary theory of atonement, positing that the human experience of alienation is a divine punishment for sin which robs God of His honor and proper relationship with humankind. This dishonor requires reparation or a satisfactory payment toward the debt incurred against God's righteousness.

[20] The word provide or provision is a the setting forth (pro) of an image or idea (v-ideo). This is in keeping with the public portrayal and participation mystique.

[21] For example, the Hebrew idea: "For the life of a creature is in the blood, and I have given it to you to make atonement for yourselves on the altar; it is the blood that makes atonement for one’s life" (Leviticus 17:10-12).

[22] Notice also that James speaks of this spirit as "God or law". Bright utilizes both terms in his Four Spiritual "Laws" pamphlet.

Works Cited

ABC News. "Rick Warren and Purpose-Driven Strife." 2007

Berger, Peter. The Sacred Canopy. Garden City: Doubleday, 1967.

Brown, Schuyler. Text and Psyche. New York: Continuum Publishing, 1998.


Dylan, Bob. God Knows. Columbia Records, 1990. CD.

Edinger, Edward. Ego and Archetype. Boston: Shambhala, 1992.

Eliot, T.S. Collected Poems. New York: Harcourt, Brace & World, 1963.

James, William. The Varieties of Religious Experience. New York: Vintage Books, 1990.

Jung, C.G. The Collected Works of C.G. Jung. 1934. Trans. R. F.C. Hull. Vol. 9.1. Princeton: Princeton UP, 1969.

Hillman, James. Re-Visioning Psychology. 1975. New York: Harper Perennial, 1995.

Hollis, James. The Eden Project. Toronto: Inner City Books, 1998.

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Mizruchi, Susan L. The Science of Sacrifice. New Jersey: Princeton University Press,    1999.

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Online Etymology. "Rite." 2012

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Tabor, James. The Jesus Dynasty. New York: Simon and Schuster, 2006.