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.

Liddell and Scott. Greek English Lexicon. London: Simon Wallenberg, 2007.

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

New International Version (NIV) of the Bible. Barker, Kenneth L., gen. ed. Grand        Rapids:             Zondervan, 2002. 

Online Etymology. "Rite." 2012

Online Etymology. "Scapegoat." 2012

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

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