A strategy for a loss of faith: Jung's proposal by John P. Dourley

By John P. Dourley

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This could hardly be put more explicitly than when Jung writes: My memory of my father is of a sufferer stricken with an Amfortas wound, a "fisher king" whose wound would not healthat Christian suffering for which the alchemists sought the panacea. I as a "dumb" Parsifal was the witness of this sickness during the years of my boyhood, and, like Parsifal, speech failed me. . his suffering . . 39 Even though at the time of this dream Jung had already completed his work on gnosticism and the intimacy it establishes between the divine and the human (Aion, CW 9ii), the dream pressed him yet further.

The dramatic narrative reads smoothly and soon engages one's own religious positions and sympathies. But there is much at stake in Jung's narrative of his ongoing debate with his father over religion. This is so because Jung's description of the psychological difficulties his father's religion posed to his father's fuller development as a human being relates closely and consistently to Jung's more measured critique of Christianity throughout his work. Jung's diagnosis of the pathologizing features of his father's religiosity uncovers more than a personal eccentricity peculiar to a single individual unhappily but atypically victimized by his religion.

The deeper question is to what extent Christianity could divest itself of those characteristics which so pathologized Jung's father and still remain itself. Or are his father's difficulties themselves powerful indicators that a supplanting myth is currently needed and in the process of being born, a myth to which Jung's psychology makes a significant contribution? At the heart of his father's problem, as Jung saw it, is the threat his father's religious perspective posed to the personal and social development Page 8 of its holder's fuller humanity.

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