Suzanne Evertsen Lundquist
Secondary Narcissism as Collective Shadow and Imago Dei
Not that I am (I think) in much danger of ceasing to believe in God. The real danger is of coming to believe such dreadful things about Him.
C. S. Lewis A Grief Observed 5
What do I love when I love my God?
Jacques Derrida Circonfession
[T]he name of God . . . remains of the utmost importance, a name to save . . ., not as the answer to every question . . . , but on the contrary, as the question disturbing every answer, the question of all questions . . . .
John D. Caputo Deconstruction in a Nutshell: A
Conversation with Jacques Derrida 173
It is only through the psyche that we can establish that God acts upon us, but we are unable to distinguish whether these actions emanate from God or from the unconscious.
C. G. Jung Answer to Job 106
In their book The Good Society, Robert Bellah and his associates note a difference between a great society (an economically, technologically, and politically advanced nation) and a good society (one struggling to integrate members into mutually beneficial communities). Bellah draws on the work of Walter Lippmann who asserted that a good society should be moving toward not a single homogeneous system but one that respects and encourages diversity and attempts to reconcile the conflicts that spring from this diversity (280). Lippman believed that good societies must possess a strong desire to be just and that: There must be discernment and sympathy in estimating the particular claims of divergent interests. There must be moral standards which discourage the quest of privilege and the exercise of arbitrary power. There must be resolution and valor to resist oppression and tyranny. For Lippman, There must be patience and tolerance and kindness in hearing claims, in argument, in negotiation, and in reconciliation (in Bellah 280).
The bases for Lippmans considerations are the Western philosophical tradition combined with biblical ethical insights. What Lippman envisioned was a democracy composed of virtuous individuals from diverse racial, ethnic, and religious backgrounds. In Lippmans estimation, whatever their culture of origin, individuals within a good society could move towards culturally articulated, yet personal maturity within the larger, yet diverse, collective. Postmodern ethics, however, has revealed a long-standing obstacle to such possibility in what Carl G. Jung identified as the personal and collective shadow. Jung explains that the shadow is a moral problem that challenges the whole ego-personality, for no one can become conscious of the shadow without considerable moral effort. To become conscious of it involves recognizing the dark aspects of the personality as present and real (The Portable Jung 145). Resistance to recognizing the dark or inferior aspects of ones personal or collective character in which one participates is compounded by the emotional, obsessive, possessive and seemingly autonomous qualities of the shadow. Resistance is also often bound up with projections, which are not recognized as such. Because of the nature of projection, Jung asserts that recognition of the shadow components of ones character or culture is a moral achievement beyond the ordinary (146). Jung, like René Girard, insists that the cause of the strong emotional resistance to recognizing the personal/collective shadow appears to lie, beyond all possibility of doubt, in the other person, ethnic group, or religion. What is even more discerning is Jungs insistence that projections change the world into the replica of ones own unknown face (146).
The identity of the shadow archetype that hinders the realization of a good society, therefore, seems to be crucial to understanding the implications of COV&Rs 2007 theme on Vulnerability and Tolerance. Both perpetrators and victims are vulnerable when they fail to recognize the unconscious motivations out of which their hostility comes. A brief perusal of claims made by key philosophers concerned with bringing to consciousness those hidden shadow archetypes might aid us in giving dominant collective shadows a name. For example, René
Girard identifies the scapegoat mechanism as the cultural shadow hidden from the foundation of the world. The scapegoat mechanism arises out of individual or collective desire for what our neighbors possess (Things Hidden From the Foundation of the World 5-47). Such covetous desire produces conflictual mimesis that eventuates in internal violence within human communities (I See Satan Fall Like Lightning 9). Covenant communities, however, have often promised to love their neighbors as themselves (Lev. 19: 18), and therefore envy of the neighbor is prohibited. As a result, members of dominant cultures who envy their neighbors goods, lands, relationships, or successes, unconsciously project their envy on to unsuspecting and innocent victimsoften those who are identified by the signs of the victim (The Scapegoat 25-26). Girard suggests that we are blind to the mimetic rivalries in our world, but each time that we celebrate the power of our desire we glorify it (I See Satan Fall Like Lightning (11). In the act of glorifying what we desire, we become idolaterswe worship not God or Ethics but individuals, their possessions, or our interpretations of our own religious or national ideologies. Girard contends that this idolatry is necessarily associated with the idolization of ourselves. The more desperately we seek to worship ourselves and to be good individualists, the more compelled we are to worship our rivals in a cult that turns to hatred or a double idolatry of self and other (11).
As I move through the assertions of world-class scholars, theologians, and humanitarians, I would like to allude to various aspects of the History of the United States. Although I recognize several honorable narratives controlling historical consciousness within the US, there are important hidden narratives as well. There is a sense in which US history has been a story constructed to promote self-worship. Perry Miller, in his book Errand into the Wilderness, asserts that the federal marrow of Puritan theology promotes a constellation of ideas basic to any comprehension of the American mind (49). Central to this constellation is John Winthrops conscious assertion that Puritans were to create a New Jerusalem: For wee must Consider that wee shall be as a Citty upon a Hill, the eies of all people are uppon us (11). As Puritan thought developed in New England, the liberty or democracy envisioned was inexorably bound up with theology. John Wise (1652-1725) asserted that, by nature, human beings were born into the world with certain immunities: 1) humans are free born . . . under the crown of heaven and owing homage to none but God Himself (Miller The American Puritans: Their Prose and Poetry 124); 2) humans are Gods favorite animal on earth in that they are born in Gods image (125)this means that humans, by nature, love themselves and extend that love to mankind in general (126); 3) individuals are born with an original liberty instamped upon [their] rational nature [s] (127); and, finally, 4) that this original liberty should recognize the equality of all men but be willing to surrender individual liberty for the sake of the civil state (129).
However, as Miller notes: We have lately accustomed ourselves to the fact that there does exist a mentality which will take advantage of the liberties allowed by society in order to conspire for the ultimate suppression of those same privileges (Errand into the Wilderness 14). The history of Women, Native Americans, African Americans and other hyphenated Americans within the United States bear witness to the suppression of libertieseven after amendments to the Constitution have been made to counterbalance their exclusion from Constitutional guarantees. Historically many have been excluded, most prominently, under the doctrine of privilege known as election. Election fosters dualities among Christians between the Christian and heathen, civilized/uncivilized, culture and nature, Euro-Americans and non-Euro-Americans, the city and the wilderness. In fact, the errand into the wilderness made of the natural environment something untamed, dark, and possessedusually by wild life and savages.
Girards discussion of idolatry can be further contextualized by placing his theories within a composite of Emmanuel Levinas treatment of Ipseity, Jean-Francois Lyotards discussion of secondary narcissism, Jungs identification of the Imago Dei, and Anne Wilson Schaefs recognition of religious addiction.
Levinas suggests that in modern technological societies, the making of history has been the story of the human ego in search for freedom and the same (self). In other words, the course of [Western] history has been the reduction of the other to the same. Freedom has been the thinking beings refusal to be alienated in adherence, the preserving of his nature, his identity, a feat of remaining the same despite the unknown lands into which thought seems to lead.
According to Levinas, this focus on the self, ipseity, rather than concern for the other, alterity, has been Western Cultures primary theme (Collected Philosophical Papers 48). Whether Western nations have taken democracy, religion, or enlightenment to Natives or received immigrants into their nations, the desire, according to Levinas, has been to assimilate (to make similar) the other. Concomitant to ipseity has been the desire to create envy for the dominant human imagedesire for being male, white, Christian, of European heritage, well-married, and wealthy.
Lyotard identifies the tendency to reduce the Otherthe immigrant, ethnic minority, or Native) to the Sameas secondary narcissism (The Postmodern Explained 27). Lyotard fears that this dominant form of thought and action in developed societies . . . may be no more than the blind (and compulsive) repetition of an earlier bereavementthe loss of Godwhich in truth gave rise to the mode of modernity and its project of conquest (27). Primary narcissism occurs naturally in children in their preoccupation with their own needs and wants. During adolescence and often during adult stages of development, when individuals or cultures are confronted with insurmountable obstacles, they revert to the narcissism of childhoodwhich is known as secondary narcissism. Insurmountable obstacles often interfere with an individuals or cultures image of the perfect self or nation.
Secondary narcissism within cultures manifests many of the same eight characteristics as those individuals who have narcissistic disorders: 1) grandiositya preoccupation or over-exaggeration with ones achievements; 2) a feeling of superiority that denies the costs of achievements on others; 3) a belief in being chosen mixed with the desire to be among other chosen peoples; 4) a desire for excessive admiration; 5) a feeling of entitlement; 6) a willingness to exploit others to achieve personal goals; 7) an inability to empathize with the feelings of those who suffer from ones narcissistic behaviors; 8) and the inability to recognize ones own arrogance (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders DSM-IV Fourth Edition 661).
Without intent to malign President George W. Bush, many of the above characteristics have been assigned by critics of President Bushs administration. In a three-part series on BBC called Elusive Peace: Israel and the Arabs, Abu Mazen, Palestinian Prime Minster, and Nabil Shaath, Mazens Foreign Minister, reported that in their first meeting with President Bush, he told them: Im driven with a mission from God. God would tell me, George, go and fight those terrorists in Afghanistan. And I did . . . . God would tell me, George, go and end the tyranny in Iraq. And I did, and now, again, I feel Gods words coming to me, Go get the Palestinians their state and get the Israelis their security, and get peace in the Middle East. And by God Im gonna do it(BBC Press Release). Bushs comments are similar in tone, however, to those Englightenment emancipation narratives outlined by Lyotard. Both secular and religious narratives have the desire for certitude as their unacknowledged motivationwhether their Gods be Reason/Modernism or the Judeo/Christian/Islamic Dieties.
Lyotard believes that several emancipation narratives governed nineteenth and twentieth century thoughtthe collapse of which brought on secondary narcissism. Lyotard identifies these narratives as:
the Christian narrative of the redemption of original sin through love; the Aufiklarer narrative of emancipation from ignorance and servitude through knowledge and egalitarianism; the speculative narrative of the realization of the universal Idea through the dialectic of the concrete; the Marxist narrative of emancipation from exploitation and alienation through the socialization of work; and the capitalist narrative of emancipation from poverty through technoindustrial development. (25)
However, these emancipation narratives were constructed by a we or an us that actually did not include the agency of the third partiesthe them. What is more, according to Lyotard, these narratives have been invalidated by numerous historical eventsincluding the Holocaust (29). These narratives were invalidated over the same period of time that metaphysical narrativesmeta-narrativeswere being brought in to radical questioning (30). Lyotard believes that these invalidations and collapses are connected to a resistance to . . . the insurmountable diversity of cultures (30-31). Diversity of cultures of necessity involves diversity of truth claims or images of history and of God.
Confrontation with the diversity of cultures also includes all living species. Ecopsychologists note that including entire biological/botanical spheres adds another dimension to secondary narcissism. James Lovelock, a scientist at Green College, Oxford, contends: The Earth System behaves as a single, self-regulating system comprised of physical, chemical, biological, and human components (770). Ecopsychologists, who adhere to such an assertion, use indigenous psychologies to illuminate the costs of secondary narcissism through their identification of biomedical reductionism (Theodore Roszk), original trauma (Chellis Glendinning), species arrocance (John E. Mack), and ontogenetic crippling (Paul Shepard). Modern physics has revealed to us the possibility that the earth is the only planet upon which sentient beings live. According to Native intellectuals, this includes humans, animals, plants, and the earth herself.
Theodore Roszak uses the term biomedical reductionism to identify those theories, since Sigmund Freud, that advance the idea that: The normally functioning ego [is] an isolated atom of self-regarding consciousness that [has] no relational continuity with the physical world around it (10). Such theories continue the false self/environment, culture/nature, interior/exterior dichotomies that have been the ground of reality for several centuries. Roszak suggests that coming to understand our ecological interdependence, might be seen as the evolutionary heritage that bonds all things genetically and behaviorally to the biosphere. Just that much is enough to reverse the scientific worldview and all psychology based upon it (italics added; 14). Roszak also claims there is too much evidence to ignore the fact that humans are actors on a planetary stage who shape and are shaped by the biospheric system (14).
Chellis Glendinning suggests that humans experience ongoing trauma when they dont recognize their connections to the earth and all her creatures. Glendinning contends that such trauma is systemic or collective and is endured by technological people like ourselves in our systematic removal from the natural world and our lives from the kinds of social and cultural experiences our ancestors assumed when they lived in rhythm with the natural world (52). Glenndinning goes so far as to suggest that such disconnections have led to both personal and collective addictions: alcoholism, drug abuse, sex addiction, consumerism, eating disorders, codependence, and war making (54). John E. Mack suggests that madness comes from species arrogance: a prevailing attitude, conscious and unconscious, toward the Earth. Mack outlines how species arrogance results from an attitude that treats the Earth as a thing, a big thing, an object to be owned, mined, fenced, guarded, stripped, built upon, dammed, plowed, burned, blasted, bulldozed, and melted to serve the material needs and desires of the human species (282). In his novel The Children of Gebelawi, Nobel Laureate Nagib Mafouz extends species arrogance to hierarchies perpetuated by religions and governments who promote their religions as the One true faith or their system of government as the best for all humans. Such arrogant insistence on ideological superiority is often, as Mafouz so ably demonstrates in his novel, secured and maintained through violence.
Tolerance is difficult to achieve when every faction at war believes that their system is the way to salvation at the exclusion of all others. The messianic is the hope for salvation to come.
The messianic, often a narrative professing ideological superiority, according to Jacques Derrida, is the desire for salvation in the form of justice. However, as John Caputo so aptly suggests:
The distinguishing feature of any messianism is that it determines the figure of the Messiah, gives the Messiah a determinate characterization and specific configuration, with the result that the Messiah is identifiably Jewish, Christian, Islamic, or, God forbid, Capitalistic, where a supply-side free market Messiah is the latest teleological consummation of History. (160-161)
Messianic narratives are often absolutist. And yet, they also promote territorial deities who prefer Greco-European Christians, or Jews, or Arabs and speak English, Hebrew, or Arabic. Such narratives also promote a particular national history where God is on the side of a chosen nationoften a nation who identifies themselves as being elected because they are children of the book. Such narratives exclude, however, the sacred narratives and Gods of India, China, Tibet, Native America and so on. Another hidden premise within messianic nations is the assumption that certain believers inherit certain lands. Covenantal promises often involve lands of inheritance or promised lands. These lands, furthermore, become sanctified because certain mythic events took place upon the land. The Temple Mount in Israel is just such a placesacred to three religions because of events particular to their identity. The United States, by extension, became a New Eden, a land of Milk and Honey, destined for those seeking Gods will. However, the empty continent that immigrants envisioned was populated by between ninety to one hundred million Natives (Lundquist 20).
Paul Shepards theory concerning ontogenetic crippling adds to the eco-psychological discussion by showing how separationsfrom the environment and other culturescauses humans to fail to individuate or grow up (30). Shepard contends that if individuals and nations fail to understand their place within the contexts of the entire environment, narcissism will be pathologically extended throughout adult life. Such arrested development results in massive therapy, escapism, intoxicants, narcotics, fits of destruction and rage, enormous grief, and subordination to hierarchies that fail to nurture human growth and development on any level (35).
What often occurs, notwithstanding, is the presumption that dominant world views are true and alternative world views are false, ignorant, or on the lower rungs of evolution and progress. Minority cultures, as a result, experience humiliationthey are vulnerable to intolerance and the expectation of assimilation. Democracy, in such contexts, is suspect. Think, for example, of democracy evolving in the United States at the same time the rights guaranteed under the Constitution were systematically withheld from over three hundred nations of Indians within the United States. Over time, thirty-nine sovereign Indian nations have been established. These nations are dependent on the paternalism of the dominant culture; yet most dont want the democracy defined by mainstream ideologies. Native nations prefer communal systems over those systems based on radical individualism. Individualism, private property, competition, taxation, and capitalism are synonymous with what is meant by democracy within the United States. Such a complex of interdependent social practices are contrary to many Native beliefs. What is more, dominant American policies have been a constant source of humiliation for Natives on reservations (now sovereign nations). Inherited oppression is a documented collective disorder that has resulted from the imposed belief that Natives would be better off as individual, Christian, citizens under the existing democracy (Lundquist 17-29). Mainstream America, however, can not see its own colonial violence (Lundquist 260).
What is created by these narcissistic tendencies are various attachment disorders extended, however differently, to both dominant and minority cultures. The failure of parents to nurture children is extended, by analogy, to the failure of entire cultures to nurture both individuals who adhere to dominate ideologies as well as native or immigrant Others. Contemporary democracies support radical individualism, competition, and private property through capitalism and taxationpractices that are taken as fundamental to human liberty but undermine family, clan, or tribal identities. In his book The Culture of Narcissism, Christopher Lasch posits that pathological narcissism appears in profusion in the everyday life of our age: dependence on the vicarious warmth provided by others combined with a fear of dependence, a sense of inner emptiness, boundless repressed rage, and unsatisfied oral cravings as well as an intense fear of old age and death, altered sense of time, fascination with celebrity, fear of competition, decline of the play spirit, and deteriorating relations between men and women (33). All of these characteristics are similar to those manifest in attachment disorders.
Idolatry, secondary narcissism, Ipseity, biomedical reductionism, species arrogance, and attachment disorders seem contrary to the purposes of both secular and sacred agendas. Certainly religions promote connectionsbetween humans and God, humans and their environments, humans and particular communities, and individuals and their personal potentials. Jung posits that humans desire wholeness. In order to achieve such wholeness, each individual must go through the individuation process. Individuation, according to Jung, denotes the process by which a person becomes a psychological in-dividual, that is, a separate, indivisible unity or whole (Memories, Dreams, Reflections 395). Individuation is more than the coming of the ego into consciousness, Jung claims. The self comprises infinitely more than a mere ego . . . It is as much ones self, and all other selves, as the ego. Individuation does not shut one out from the world, but gathers the world to oneself (395-396). Part of this gathering includes the Imago Deithe God image. Jung says the God image is imprinted on the human soul and is spontaneously produced in dreams, fantasies, visions, and carried down through time in myths, rituals, folklore, and great works of art; it is, from the psychological point of view, a symbol of the self . . . , of psychic wholeness (394).
For Jung, the Imago Dei or the Self, is the central archetype in the human unconscious. It is the archetype of order; the totality of the personalitysymbolized by a circle, square, quaternity [. . . ], child, and mandala (398). However, in his Answer to Job, Jung notes the many divine inconsistencies that exist throughout the Old Testament but more particularly in The Book of Job. Jung posits that Job was naVve:
dreaming perhaps of a good God, or of a benevolent ruler and just judge. He had imagined that a covenant was a legal matter and that anyone who was party to a contract could insist on is rights as agreed; that God would be faithful and true or at least just, and, as one could assume from the Ten Commandments, would have some recognition of ethical values or at least feel committed to his own legal standpoint. But, to his horror, he has discovered that Yahweh is not human but, in certain respects, less than human. (21)
In his 1960 memoir Night, Nobel Peace Prize winner Elie Wiesel, a modern day Job, puts God on trial for His failure to keep his covenant with Judaism. In his 1995 autoethnography All Rivers Run to the Sea, Weisel claims that: Auschwitz may well represent a double tragedy, of the believer and his Creator alike . . . . Auschwitz is conceivable neither with God nor without Him. Perhaps I may someday come to understand mans role in the mystery Auschwitz represents, but never Gods (84).
Wiesels youngest sister, Tsipouka, grandmother Nissel, grandfather Dodye, mother Sarah, and father Shlomo were among his many relatives who died during the Holocaust. Alan L. Berger maintains that the millennial struggle between covenantal claim and historical counterclaim in its twentieth-century expression nearly resulted in the theological and physical destruction of Judaism (16). Perhaps one of the central questions raised by Gods seeming indifference to collective human suffering or by the claims from many religious traditions that they know God s will best is this one: How can humans exercise faith in a God whose character and attributes are so variously defined and experienced? During the twentieth century, two hundred million people were killed as soldiers or victims of warmany of these wars justified ideologically or as the will of God.
In an ancient text about creation, Enoch sees the Lord weep and asks: How is it that thou canst weep, seeing thou art holy, and from all eternity to all eternity. Enochs image of God entails a being who has created millions of earths like this. Enoch says to the Lord: And thou hast taken Zion to thine own bosom, from all thy creations, from all eternity to all eternity; and naught but peace, justice, and truth is the habitation of thy throne; and mercy shall go before they face and have no end; how is it thou canst weep? The Lord answers Enoch saying:
Behold these they brethren; they are the workmanship of mine own hands, and I gave unto them their knowledge, in the day I created them; and in the Garden of Eden, gave I unto man his agency; And unto thy brethren have I said, and also given commandment, that they should love one another, and that they should choose me, their Father; but behold, they are without affection, and they hate their own blood. (Pearl of Great Price Moses 7: 29-33).
Is the Lord a loving God who suffers because his children violate each other, or is he a God who plays with the affections of various groupsplaying favorites, choosing Abel over Cain, Isaac over Ishmael, Jacob over Esau, Joseph over his brothers. Or ought such narratives to be read as cautionary tales exposing the consequences of favoritism? Did Christ love the Apostle John more than Peter? And the list continues. The echo can be heard through the Crusades, Inquisition, Conquest of the Americas, and the war in Iraqthe justification of exclusivity, envy, and violence in Gods name.
Many scholars are questioning inherited images of God. For example, in God: A Biography, Pulitzer Prize Winner Jack Miles rehearses the many roles God plays in the Old Testament: In Genesis He is a Creator, Destroyer, Friend; in Exodus, a Liberator and Lawgiver; in Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy, God is a Liege; in Joshua and Judges, he assumes the role of a conqueror; in Samuel, he is more like a Father; in Kings, He is an Arbiter; and so forth. And God, it would seem, continually plays favorites. Miles sufficiently chronicles Gods early intervention and final withdrawal from humanity in his study. In his Postlude, Miles asks if God has lost interest (397). What is most telling, however, is Miles implicit message: that inherited interpretations of Biblical narratives are conflicted and give us a God who is as arbitrary in behavior towards His human creations as the Greek gods appear to be. Miles believes it is time for critics to rethink or rediscover the Lord God (418).
A central narrative revealing the ambiguous relationship between God and his creatures is the story of Abraham, the first Hebrew, and the commandment given him to sacrifice his son. What motivates God to command that Abraham sacrifice his and Sarahs son? And did Abraham, from the beginning, know that the sacrifice of his son would not be required: My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering (Genesis 22: 8). This story is central to the conflicts in the world today; it is the story of the covenant line. For Jews and Christians, this story is also about Gods favoritism for Sarahs son over Hagars sonIsrael over Islam. It is, for Christians, also a story the leads to Christian triumphalism: The belief that the biblical narrative is fulfilled in the New Testament which announces God incarnated and the One true faith.
In the text that accompanied the Public Television Series Genesis: A Living Conversation, Bill Moyers explores the multiple interpretations of singular events in the Bible given by various academics, theologians, and clergymen. In discussing the story of the Sacrifice of Isaac, for example, Biblical scholar Phyllis Tribble claims the story is anti-idolatrythat it is a narrative that brings an end to Abrahams idolatry of his son as well as an end to child sacrifice (227). Rabbi Burton L. Visotzky asks the seminar members if they arent troubled by Gods initial command for Abraham to sacrifice his son: Arent you distressed , he asks, at the notion of a God Who would ask for something that is essentially a suspension of the ethical? (229). Professor Francisco O. Garcia-Treto says: When we get to the point where we feel that God is calling us to give somebody elses life up, were in bad trouble. Theres no such thing as a theological suspension of the ethical. This is at the root of the worst things that religions have done (229).
African American theologian, P. K. McCary says: I was always taught that the story of Abraham and Isaac was really the story of Gods ultimate sacrifice for us as Christians, when God sacrificed His only son, and that it was intended to help us understand just how big and meaningful Gods sacrifice really is. McCary adds a qualifier after this statement. Even so, I think that the taking of human life is probably the biggest problem we have with this story. War, for example, involves the sacrifice not only of soldiers, but of children and other innocent people. Furthermore, says McCary, And wars are created by one or two or a group of men who have nothing to do with the rest of us. That seems like what God is doing in this story. What God is doing really had nothing to do with usits simply Gods own ego (240). Professor of Islamic studies at George Washington University, Seyyed Hossein Nasr informed the seminar group that many Muslims believe it was Ishmael and not Isaac that was taken to Mecca and not Moriah to be sacrificed. And Hagar, not Abraham or Sarah, is therefore the central character. This is not a patriarchal story at all, says Nasr. Because of this narrative, half the rites performed each year by two million people in Mecca are based on what Abraham did. The other half are based on what Hagar did (243). While arguing that this narrative is a story about human obedience, Nasr also contends: While this is not a should story on the level of external ethics, it is one on the level of mystical understanding. On the mystical level, Isaacor Ishmaelis really our carnal, passionate soul, that must be sacrificed before the altar of divine reality in order for us to really be a friend of God (236). For Nasr, our passionate soul is that which disperses, that which separates, that which fights against the truth. It is the source of all evil toward other human beings. Once you offer to sacrifice that soul to God, without flinching God will not really kill you, but will transform your soul into that which is luminousfull of charity and love, and close to him (237).
Christian theologian, Thomas A. Idinopulos questions Christianitys adaptation of Christs ministry following His death and resurrection. Idinopulos says that the Holocaust ought to make a difference to Christians in their fundamental beliefs about sin and redemption and Jesus Christ (44). In this statement, Idinopulous italicizes ought to underscore the moral imperative that makes the Holocaust an event that calls Christianity in to radical questioning. The soteriological significance of the Christian religion is sharpened to a deadly point when one admits the historical evolution of traditional Christian anti-Judaism into modern racial anti-Semitism, an evolution which the consequence ultimately and finally was the Holocaust (44). Idinopulos asks two significant questions: If Christianity possesses integrity of faith, an inner unity of belief and practice, then the Christian, precisely as a Christian, is morally and intellectually obligated to answer the question: what difference does the Holocaust make to ones faith in Jesus Christ? (45). The second question is: how can Christians bring the sin, suffering, and evil of the past two thousand years in line with [their] theological commitment to the victorious cross? (46). Idinopulos draws on critics of Christianity who claim that Christs coming, death, and resurrection have not appeared to make much difference in the quality of history. Idinopulos quotes German existentialist Karl Lowith, who contends that: History is, through all the ages, a story of action and suffering, of power and pride, of sin and death. Lowith asserts that as a historical world religion, Christianity is a complete
failure (47). Idinopulos, however, believes that the victory of Christs cross is a prior truth, a formal, not empirical truth, a truth established independently of history, faithfully adhered to as true belief apart from the factual evidence of history (48).
So many theological struggles are revealed in the above discussion: 1) how ought scriptures to be understoodas literal/historical, as mythical/symbolic/psychological, or as a source of endless speculation? Furthermore, whose interpretations of scriptures are most accurate. Certainly the Shiite /Sunni conflicts in Iraq are bound up with answering such questions. 2) If Muslims feel that their Quran is the restoration of the true interpretation of Jewish narratives and Christians feel the New Testament is a triumph over all sacred narratives, where does that leave the witnesses of the Jews or other religions. Hinduism, for example, is the third largest religion in the world after Christianity and Islam. Where does Christian triumphalism leave the Native American Old Testaments concerning the creator and his son? 3) Why is Israel so central to world affairs when there are only twelve million Jews and nearly two billion Muslims and Christians? Certainly, all three religions of the book are wanting the Temple Mount in Israel as their exclusive sacred place. And why doesnt God do something about all these violent rivalries? Where is Gods justice and how can humans recognize that justice?
Failure to work towards human justice as a common human project, according to Anne Wilson Schaef, is a consequence of religious addiction. Most Westerners can recognize substance addictions; few, however, understand process addictions. Religion can be a process addiction. Schaef is not talking about being religious or being spiritual, she is speaking about those groups of religious people who avoid dialogue with followers of other religions and claim to have all the answers. Says Schaef,
The religion addict is very different, inside and out, from the person who is involved in spiritual growth. The religion addict loses touch with personal values and develops behaviors that are the same as those of the alcoholic or drug addictjudgmentalism, dishonesty, and control. (23)
For those addicted to religion, God is a Controller (47). This notion of control extends to government leaders who, according to Schaef, assume God-like posturesespecially when they are convinced that their policies are the only correct policies. Our government sees its purpose as regulation and control, says Schaef. And as a result, Our relationships fall into the controlling-controlled pattern (47-48). Addiction to religion also produces individuals who believe their lot in life is to rescue those around them. As rescuers, they make themselves indispensable to others (30). This rescuing mentality also makes addicts good sufferersGood Christian Martyrs. Their goodness is directly related to their suffering and the rewards they expect (and receive) because they are willing to sacrifice so much (30). Religious addicts want to be good, to be liked, and even to be envied; but they do not respect others (31). When addicts say they want to be responsible, what they really mean is that they want to take control or to have power. And power often means ascendancy over others. We learn to equate power with authority, domination, and sovereignty (42). Furthermore, Schaef contends that such addictive processes actually cause a loss of spirituality.
What happens, says Schaef, is that the Addictive System creates God in its own image and then distorts that image to suit its own purposes (91).
Schaefs discussion of addictive systems are relevant to secondary narcissism in that the focus is on the self, ones culture, ones image, and ones ability to control others. This is Ipseity at its worse. And the Imago Dei becomes not the path to individuation and wholeness but an Icon of control. With so much chaos generated from diverse God images and the use of God terms to justify violence, it is a wonder that modern man feels any ontological support of the universe (Purcell 161). Where is the sacred narrative, the transcendental signified that can provide an ontological narrative of meaning that transcends national, ideological, and religious boundaries to the degree that controlling governments dont feel justified in taking the lives of Others? Has, as Miles suggests, God withdrawn from the world? In speaking about Levinas and Theology, Michael Purcell contends that
God withdraws, and even becomes silent, to give place to the human . . . . The retreat of God enables the advance of the human; atheism, as Levinas understands it, is the prelude to an ethics of responsibility and a commitment to justice. Humilitys first move is a distancing, a remotio. Alterity, or otherness, challenges from the outside, and refuses both system and ontology by the very fact of its non-participation or incorporation. (161)
Peace can not be established unless the narcissistic shadow component of the collective is brought to consciousness and dealt with in a way that leads self-righteous, religiously addicted, selves towards Others. Levinas believes that the proximity of God is in the countenance of [our] fellowman (in Purcell 161). Levinas contends that the movement of the Same toward the Other prevents the return to the Same. This means that casualties of war arent abstract numbers whose deaths are necessary sacrifices for the establishment of democracy or freedom. This means that Christian Fundamentalists can not use their aversion to same sex marriage as a camouflage for the infidelity in Christian marriages or the rise in pornography as a private addiction among a large portion of mainstream men. This means that fundamentalists cant use the image of the aborted fetus to cloud other failed human rights. This means that Muslim terrorists cant use the flaws of industrialized nations to camouflage their own inadequate realization of maturityespecially with regards to womens rights. This means that President Bush can not project evil on to the Middle East as an aversion to confronting the continual denial of human rights in the United States.
If Levinas is correct, that God withdrew so that his children could assume responsibility for their beliefs and actions, then collective therapy is needed. The collective shadow is not God, but mans image of God and Gods will projected on to the world. This means that how I choose to act reveals my God.
Suzanne Evertsen Lundquist
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