Carl Jung, was a Swiss psychiatrist and psychoanalyst who founded analytical psychology. His influence has existed for a little over 100 years and I often wonder what the Bible would have looked like if we had the influence of his understanding. For example, would we have ever believed in hell or demons if we understood things like shadow and the archetypes.
His father was an impoverished rural minister in the Swiss Reformed Church. He considered his parents the handicap he began with and he often wondered deeply about religion as a child.
When he was about 12, he wandered by the Cathedral of Basle and looked up into the sky to observe the majestic cathedral along with a vision of God sitting on a throne above it. When a forbidden thought came to his mind, he experienced a choking sensation which troubled him for days until he finally concluded that the thought must be some sort of test from God.
When he allowed his thoughts to return to the golden throne, high above the world, he observed an enormous turd that fell from heaven and shattered the roof and broke the walls of the magnificent cathedral. Although he felt some relief from the troubled feelings he had, he considered the visual and how it might be connected to God’s will.
The experience eventually led him to doubts about his father and what had been communicated to him about God. Jung would later come to an understanding of deeper thoughts like the collective unconscious. His original, limited view of God was shattered like the cathedral and he was able to move beyond the limitations and open up to new and better understandings.
Many times, people think I am attacking the organizational church because I want to question how we are operating. Although it presents a magnificent façade, it is really only that – an outer presentation. There are many deep and troubling aspects of Evangelical, Conservative Christianity that remain my roots but trouble me greatly. Many times, I feel like Jung and feel something like the choking he felt as a boy.
Any time we become fixed in our dogma, like Jung’s father, we run the risk of having a limited and sometimes warped understanding of what God is like. We not only run the risk of being wrong, but the organized church can very easily produce trauma through it’s misunderstanding and closed theology.
I prefer to proceed, like Jung did, with curiosity and openness.
One of the modalities that comes from our understanding that Jung provided is focusing. It is a body awareness practice that can bring healing from the “stuck places” we experience within our shadow self. When we experience this felt sense, our bodies can lead us to a shift toward wellness and more vibrant lives.
The roof and walls of the cathedral, the façade, needs to be shattered. Pastors that can’t give up the physical illusion of their and the church’s grandeur cannot lead us to where we need to go. Like Jung, we need to take on the role of the observer and open up to new revelation about fresh understanding of God and the mission for the future.
Like Jung, I pray that we will find more grace and clarity in our new understanding.
Remember that truth is a persistent thing and what is real and valid and holy cannot be destroyed. It will survive whatever turds assail it and will lead us to better awareness when we have the courage to re-imagine and question EVERYTHING!
I thankful for those that are on this journey with me.
Be where you are, be who you are,
Karl Forehand is a former pastor, podcaster, and award-winning author. His books include Apparent Faith: What Fatherhood Taught Me About the Father’s Heart and The Tea Shop. He is the creator of The Desert Sanctuary podcast. He is married to his wife Laura of 32 years and has one dog named Winston. His three children are grown and are beginning to multiply!