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Alpha and Omega

Alpha and Omega. A Proposition: Moving from one stage of life to the next ultimately involves a re-shaping of one’s worldview View of what? Everything! God, humanity, your faith, beliefs, your self-image. Questions for Course. Why do we suffer so much? What does it means to be human?

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Alpha and Omega

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  1. Alpha and Omega • A Proposition: • Moving from one stage of life to the next ultimately involves a re-shaping of one’s worldview • View of what? • Everything! • God, humanity, your faith, beliefs, your self-image

  2. Questions for Course • Why do we suffer so much? • What does it means to be human? • What do dreams mean, or tell us? • Forms of Death: What happens after? • Should I be afraid of dying? • Meaning of Christ’s story? • What happens to our soul after death? Heaven, hell, purgatory? • Will we ever see our family and friends again?

  3. Questions continued • How do we regain our faith once it is lost? • What proof exists of life after death? • What is the process of grieving? • Does the younger generation interpret death and dying differently than the older ? • Is compassion the opposite of suffering? • How can we come to terms with our loss when we cannot even talk about it?

  4. Questions continued • How can I share my faith with others? • How can we comfort others in times of suffering?

  5. Three Critics of Religion • Traditionally, there has been a strong tendency in the Christian traditions to keep adults childish in their faith identity: • Unthinking • Unquestioning • Childish images of God and heaven • Three great critics of religion in the 20th century: Freud, Niche, Marx • Some legitimate points made:

  6. Masters of Religious Criticism Niche: religion prevents people from developing a personally mature morality Freud: religion is essentially a wish/fantasy fulfillment: God becomes a great Father-in-the-Sky Marx: religion is an opiate for the masses: organized religion is a way to keep the population subservient and controlled

  7. Religious Experience • What is experience? • Scientific: what we can observe • Spiritual Experience? Can say yes but totally subjective • Can God be experienced? • Church: Traditionally no: if say yes, are suspect • Meaning of Faith? • Deposit of faith: Revelatory truths • If this is meaning, not very convincing today • Key Point: religious experience has no place to fall

  8. Religious Experience • Phenomena that psychology and religion come from • For Freud religion was: • primarily illusion, not real • a function of super-ego: repression of sexual and aggressive instincts •  Religious experience: an unconscious projection for our need of a Father • Goal: to become whole, healed, make unconscious conscious: lose the illusion) • Jung:

  9. Freud’s Insight Sigmund Freud (1856-1939): Psychoanalytic (Unconscious) The Interpretation of Dreams (1900) Totem and Taboo (1913) Future of an Illusion (1927) • -What is our problem? Repression: ego and super-ego repress the desires of the id

  10. Freud’s Insight -Personality made up of Id, Ego, Super-ego • -id: instinct: sex and aggression • -Ego: develops from id: relates us to reality: looks for objects to satisfy • -Super-ego: the internalization of the values of parents and culture

  11. Freud’s Model

  12. Carl Jung (1875-1961): Analytical (Unconscious) The Psychology of Dementia Praecox (1909) Psychology of the Unconscious (1912), known today as Symbols of Transformation Psychological Types (1921) Psychology of Religion (1938) Psychology and Alchemy (1944)

  13. Carl Jung • Journey to Self is Journey to God; journey to God is journey to self • Problem? Projection: whatever we allow to remain unconscious, once it wants to become conscious, it is projected on other as Shadow: the “evil” inside each of us • -Therapy? Helps allow these patterns of growth to become conscious

  14. Central Concepts • Psyche: soul, spirit: its real • Principle of Wholeness: person is born with an implicit wholeness meant to come to fruition throughout life: The Mustard Seed • has its own energy; the libido • energy comes from opposites: male-female, persona-shadow, introvert-extrovert, etc.

  15. 3 Levels to Psyche • 1) Conscious: all that we are aware of: center is ego • 2) Personal Unconscious: forgotten, repressed experiences • 3) Collective Unconscious: deeper; not from personal experience: primordial images: from fact of being human • *We have to wake up to the Image of God Within to become the wholeness of the Self

  16. 5 Things About Jung • 1) The psyche is real: Reality not simply “out there”: inner more real than outer • 2) Passionately concerned with experience: inner experience or dreams • 3) Many interpretations of Jung: feminists hate him • ideology: Jungian thought almost a religion for some • individuation: how we become whole; an integrated self: can go with almost any religion • 4) interested in 2nd half of life (35+) • 5) very religious: but not conventionally: God-Imago within

  17. Archtypes • From the Greek: meaning “primary imprint” • Forms of being human: “outlines” to be filled in through experience • Are what it means to be human: parallel to what instincts are in animals • Are as many archtypes as there are ways to be human • Archtypes for mother, father, little boy, little girl, wise old woman, wise old man

  18. Individuation • Central concept for Jung • A natural process of personal growth • A transformation of the ego through the content of the unconscious • Moving from ego-centered to ego-transformed personality • Is a journey towards wholeness (and holiness)

  19. Process of Individuation • takes place primarily during the second half of life • Assumes the more the unconsciousness becomes conscious, the more whole one becomes • is a process (journey) towards wholeness (and holiness); is always a process of reconciling opposites • ego has to be clearly formed (primary task of adolescence and young adulthood): in terms of competency and responsibility, means taking on positive roles in the community • -if ego not strong, can be disastrous; can be taken over by archetypes (shadow)

  20. Main Opposites • Conscious-unconscious; male-female; young-old; ego-Self; persona-shadow; anima-animus • Shadow: • all the ego has repressed in order that you can adapt to environment, society • in many ways is opposite of persona • Persona: • Mask we present to outside • develops by repressing shadow • Projection: whatever we allow to remain unconscious in ourselves (shadow) tends to be projected onto those around us

  21. Level 1: Consciousness: Ego, Persona, Shadow • Ego: center of consciousness: • relates to reality • Thinking “I” • Has to be built up during first half of life • Persona: • Public “Face”: mask of roles we can put on and take off in society • Danger of persona taking over ego: prevents further growth from occurring • Develops through repression of shadow • Individuation requires that ego become separated from persona

  22. Projection of Shadow • Projection: changes the world into a replica of one’s “Unknown Face”: • only that which we do not accept in ourselves do we find impossible to live with in others • the shadow threatens ego; when repressed (and seen in others), it produces intense hatred and anger • to pretend shadow does not exist is to give it strength • people not in touch with shadow more likely to be manipulated and influenced by it

  23. Level 2: Anima and Animus • according to Jung, everyone has qualities of the opposite sex • we are all really male-female • anima: the female side of male • animus: the male side of female • Once persona is held lightly enough, anima and animus want to become conscious • Just as the outward face of the psyche is the persona, the inward face of psyche, for a man, is the Anima; for the woman; the animus

  24. Anima and Animus • growing up, we all spend a lot of energy appearing to be the proper sex; for male, have to be ALL MALE; for female, ALL FEMALE; (obviously this has changed in contemporary culture but basic thrust of argument seems) • male and female sexuality largely a product of particular cultures • Both anima/animus are archetypes: patterns of being, of understanding and perceiving the opposite sex

  25. Anima/Animus continued • if men cannot deal with their anima, they get moody, for women, they get opinionated • generally, anima of man fights with animus of woman • when anima of man cannot become conscious (remains repressed and hidden), it behaves like an undeveloped, adolescent girl: pouts, moody • when animus of women is not made conscious, it becomes aggressive, opinionated (like immature adolescent male) • need to work on making both conscious if wholeness is to be reached

  26. Third Level: Self, or God-Image • cannot be dealt with unless first and second levels have been dealt with • Self: the most real part of person (Divine, our True Self that faces God) • the organizing principle of the psyche • It is the Principle of unification of all archetypes because it draws to itself and harmonizes the others • Self draws others to wholeness • Goal of individuation is the Self • is the archetype of Wholeness (Holiness)

  27. Level 3 continued • *At depth of self we are the image and likeness of God • *not possible to realize self without having some kind of experience of God • for Jung: whatever reveals the self reveals God

  28. Christ: Symbol of Fully Individuated Self • For Jung, Christ unifies the human and Divine • The Christian message is supposed to be a symbol of individuation, of Divine Wholeness • this is found in the Beatitudes: described as a sort of handbook for individuation • believed focus of religions all wrong: should be on the experience of the God-Image; instead it was on creeds and dogmas • Creeds and Dogmas should be guides that point the way to personal religious experience; instead, too often, the creeds have become the focus

  29. Victor Frankel (1908-1997) • Man’s Search for Meaning • Holocaust survivor (Man’s Search for Meaning) • 4 levels to human beings: • 1. somatic (the body) • 2. psychic (all the things Freud talked about, • 3. spiritual (missing from Freud: the Heart of human being) • 4. religious (sometimes thinks part of spiritual, sometimes something else)

  30. Frankel continued • Concerned with the meaning of human activity • what makes us human is meaningful human activity • talks of 3 things: • 1. existence • 2. spirituality • 3. will to meaning • spirituality: not necessarily religious but something to be achieved

  31. Frankel continued • Believed one’s Spirituality manifests itself in two ways: • 1) freedom: only possible in the “face of things”: instincts, inherited disposition, influence of the environment; • How do you know you are free?: the ability to make a stand against the 3 things: existence, spirituality, will to meaning • 2) responsibility: my responsibility is ultimately about one’s life; • Realize only I can die my death; only I can live my life

  32. Morality as Search for Meaning • What is morality? The search for meaning • This is adulthood: a self that is owned • for anything to be moral it has to be done in freedom and responsibility • essence of the human is moral • Essence of human is spiritual

  33. The Tragic Triangle • Suffering, guilt, death • It is here where we most need to find meaning • It is here where the most important meanings are found • Where we face ourselves most clearly, where our existence is most at stake

  34. Meaning of Adulthood? • *if freedom and responsibility are at the heart of the human, it is a good description of adulthood • if not being adult, not being fully human • -spirituality is really something that is adult: they go together: is coming from the self • -meaning found in the existential analysis; he is putting religion in context of existential analysis; religion is part of the spiritual • -you can only be religious if you are free to choose • -contrasted w/Freud who saw religion as infantile and neurotic

  35. Religious Meaning? • Gets its clearest expression in light of our suffering, guilt, and death • -Here also is the heart of the human • -It is in the religious that the most tragic part of our humanity is given meaning • -religion and the existential analysis: everything with Frankel has to do w/meaning

  36. Religion as Meaning Maker • if religion understood primarily in terms of meaning: ultimate meaning, supra-meaning (an abundance of meaning in one’s life) • Meaning that suffering takes in context of supra-meaning: is never purely rational or logical, but intuitive, more-than-rational

  37. The Unconscious God and Repressed Religio • Why do so many people not grasp supra-meaning? • -Frankel’s explanation: we are unconsciously religious • -Conversionary experience? Understood in terms of the unconscious being made conscious • -says we have repressed religio • -why does religio remain unconscious and repressed? • -afraid others will interpret it away

  38. Religious Blocks to Mature Meaning Making • -1) authoritarianism: authority on who God is, what He expects, what we believe, how to experience God • -2) rationalism: illusion that God can be grasped by intellect alone: meaning without an existential meaning • -3) Anthropomorphism: God commonly imagined in human terms: can be angry, vengeful, perfectionist, depressed: all our negative characteristics • -these keep religion repressed, and prevent religious experience from happening • -still, we want, even need these three things: a creative tension needs to be maintained

  39. Logotherapy and Religion • Logotherapy: therapy of meaning • what does it do? Leads and challenges person to accept their freedom and responsibility • to take a stand; to be responsible for this life • challenges the person to find the value and meaning of their life • *Education towards freedom and responsibility is education for adulthood

  40. Erik Erikson (1902-1994) • Childhood and Society (1950) • Youth and Crisis (1968) • The Life Cycle Completed (1982) • Psychosocial development of identity (expanded on Freud) • Human development imaged as moving forward and upward to increasing levels of complexity • Struggles to establish a personal identity today

  41. Erikson Continued • Generally, modern society lacks effective role models and mentors for younger generation • Persoanl identity worked out by individual • Establishment of a meaningful self-concept depends on peer group (mirroring) • Identity formation found through interaction with meaningful others (psychosocial reciprocity) • All stages grow out of earlier stages

  42. Lawrence Kohlberg (1927-1987) • Cognitive Developmental approach to moral development • Universal morals can be reached through reason • Asked questions, “Are our morals and values universal?” “Is there a hierarchy of values?” • Exposed students to moral dilemmas or conflicts: questioning and reflection • Not really a moral system but an assessment of moral process: largely discredited today

  43. Stages of Moral Development:

  44. James Fowler (1940- ) • Faith development theory • Stages of Faith: The Psychology of Human Development and the quest for meaning (1981) • Combines theology and developmental psychology • A theologian • Man the Meaning-Maker: people cannot live without some sense that life is meaningful • Central crisis today? Lack of meaning • Faith as way to making and maintaining meaning

  45. Fowler continued • Faith vs faithing • Continually growing and changing • 7 stages: • Stage 0: primal faith (birth-2) • Stage 1: Intuitive-Projective faith (2-8) • Stage 2: Mythic-Literal and the Imperial self (childhood and beyond) • Stage 3: Synthetic-Conventional Faith (adolescence and beyond) • Stage 4: Individuative-Reflective Faith (young adulthood and beyond) • Stage 5: Conjunctive Faith and the Interindividual Self (midlife and beyond); paradoxical-consolidative stage • Stage 6: Universalizing Faith

  46. Fowler continued • Faith development is pluralistic and universal, and applies even to nonreligious persons • The Master Story: source of a people’s core values, and images of power • Master Story central in interpreting key events in their lives (marriage, death, birth of child, tragic injury) • Influences the choice they make in life • Source of meaning-making • “We form and shape our lives in relation to master stories” (Fowler, 1981, 22)

  47. Final Thoughts • This image of an independent, self-reliant adult is very persuasive • Perhaps life is better imaged as a going inwards and down (where prayer and contemplation come in) • A straight line is sexist and irreligious • Death is not a part of life: life goes to edge of cliff and falls off • *If we are going to engage in religious education of adults we better be clear as to what our image of life’s journey is • Truth is, death is the ultimate religious question

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