Finding our way to the real God
One of the helpful writers about the link between Carl Jung and Christianity is Ann Belford Ulanov. She has of course written many books but a particularly helpful one that I’ve found is a collection of essays by her – one of which is called ‘The Christian Fear of the Psyche’ this is in the book The Living God and Our Living Psyche. She writes about how each of us seeks to find our way individually and together in community to a real path to the real God. She’s particularly interesting in her belief that there is no future for the church without including the psyche. And she tackles the various objections that Christians usually have about Jung’s work.
Most people realise that God can speak through the psyche – God can reach us through anything at any time. God comes to us through the body and all the psyche through all parts of us, and so the unconscious can be a medium of the Spirit that reaches to us from the bottom up rather than the top-down model of wisdom being disseminated by religious leader. It’s all about being open and aware. The journey that we are invited to go on is inward and here we can be reminded of Theresa of Avila who writes about the interior castle of our self with its many mansions, and that as we progress through we find waiting for us at the centre the Lord.
So that the way that we know or our means of knowing can lead us into unknown areas where we are invited to become closer to God who is not limited through our imaginations or dull teachings that focus on ‘shoulds’ and ‘oughts’; on the way we behave or how we should be thinking. Here also Carl Jung is helpful where he understands the archetypes as the tools of God and the reality that can speak through us – through the psyche.
The freedom that belongs to God allows anything to happen if we can be open to it and here we can find the real Christ who is the God of freedom. The task is to become all of whom we are given to be – the person that God wants us to be and as Jung notes, ‘true personality is always a vocation’ where ‘surrender to God is a formidable adventure’, he continues that the person who risks themselves wholly to such surrender finds themselves directly in the hands of God. Jung writes ‘Christian faith insists on the deadly danger of the adventure.’
Though personally speaking that surrender to adventure sadly doesn’t seem to be the message of the church!