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Answer to Job 
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Post Re: Answer to Job
Harry Marks wrote:
Submission to the exigencies of reality does not provide the kind of nurturing intimacy that moderns have come to identify as the essential nature at the heart of our ultimate concern.
That opens up some core issues in Answer to Job. Jung equates God with reality. Rather than an attitude of ‘submission’, he argues more for a sort of ‘co-creation’, recognising that the human psyche has potential to freely construct our world, rather than any fatalism. So it may be possible to construct a vision of reality that is nurturing.

That sense of natural grace is a reasonable idea, since our planet is a stable cocoon for life, providentially enabling our evolution. But fantasy about comfort often goes too far, and needs to avoid the denial of reality. The problem is how we work with reality to create a better future, not suggesting we submit to reality.
Harry Marks wrote:
Nature is stand-offish, while the spirit of caring comes to us and reassures us that we are valued and we embody that which properly should be the ultimate concern of humanity.
Nature operates at different scales. The planetary scale has important nurturing features. One of my favourite books, Rare Earth – Why Complex Life is Uncommon in the Universe (Ward and Brownlee) lists a bunch of nurturing features of the earth, such as the stable temperature allowing liquid water, the existence of Jupiter and Saturn as shields reducing impact frequency, the role of plate tectonics and heavy metals, etc.

Now it may be hard to think at the time scale where continental drift becomes linked to the spirit of caring, but it seems helpful to recognise that there is a sort of natural providence at work that aligns planetary reality to our short term interests. The point is that the earth is fundamentally good for humans, so we should develop our theories about the spirit of caring, our analogy for God, that recognise this natural context through a theology of nurturing rather than dominating.
Harry Marks wrote:
When we have come to the "ground of being" in a meditation process, we are (supposedly: I cannot vouch for this personally) enfolded by the same nurturance that a child feels in the arms of a parent. That sense of safety is in turn a vital condition for approaching life in an I/Thou relationship. That is why the spirit of non-violence, able to confront even threats to one's life in an I/Thou relation, is a truly heroic, transcendently inspiring attainment.
Meditation on the ground of being is central to an authentic life of contemplative prayer. Regular practice focussing on the unity of all things opens the sense of how the ego is encompassed by the soul, leading to a selfless emptying, what the Bible calls kenosis, as we have discussed before. The mantra 'om mani padme hum' means 'dew drop slips into shining sea', expressing this sense of unity and reflection. But always the problem in Answer to Job is that the world is anti-kenotic, viewing kenosis with incomprehension and derision. Yet Job’s attitude of kenosis provides an unshakeable faith in God, despite the torments of Satan.

By the way, I should note that in my recent quote about ‘the dark son of God’, Jung was referring to Satan, not Jesus. He takes the Adam-Abel-Cain triad as a type for God-Jesus-Satan, viewing Jesus and the devil as brothers. Cain's question ‘Am I my brother’s keeper?’ expresses the scorn that the corrupt have for grace.
Harry Marks wrote:
Tillich had what he called a "method of correspondences." Once he had worked out that the deity is a symbol for the Ground of Being, and that being itself (including aspirations) is our ultimate concern, he was able to interpret much theological construction (salvation, grace, the relationship between judgment and forgiveness, etc.) in terms of this understanding.
For Jung, these theological concepts such as salvation and grace are explored using the philosophical method called phenomenology, the analysis of how concepts appear to us in the light of evidence and experience, rather than simply accepting traditional meanings. Tillich’s Ground of Being concept drawn from Heidegger, who analysed the meaning of Being as a pupil of Edmund Husserl, the key phenomenologist. So Tillich’s analysis of grace and forgiveness is basically phenomenological and existential. This method treats God as a metaphor rather than as a supernatural entity.
Harry Marks wrote:
But normally there is a translation process, like trying to understand a statement that comes to us from a foreign language. (One of my favorites, "Hier stehe ich, ich kann nicht andern." I think I got that right.)
Almost – The famous Luther attribution is "Hier stehe ich und kann nicht anders! Gott helfe mir, Amen!" Anders means he could not do otherwise, whereas ‘andern’ means he could not change.
Harry Marks wrote:
I do the same thing with my "system" conceptualizing God as the Spirit of Caring. It can be laborious, but it allows me to feel confident in rejecting spurious claims about God and endorsing those that make sense. It gives me, in the usual term, a hermeneutic (usually applied to the Bible, but can be applied to theological claims as well).
In my MA thesis on The Place of Ethics in Heidegger’s Ontology, I summarised Heidegger’s theory of care as follows: “the triadic temporal structure of Dasein as care; anticipating the future in existential projection, we retain the past in our thrown facticity, while in the present we decide whether to be authentic: whether to resolutely take a hold of our temporality.” Heidegger’s theory of Dasein, German for human existence, is a systematic way to analyse the temporality of existence as care, a heuristic to assess authenticity.


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Post Re: Answer to Job
Harry Marks wrote:
If you ever look into the "Death of God" theology of, for example, Thomas Altizer, you will find it makes claims directly about the sociological phenomenon of God, that the punitive, judgmental God of tradition had to die and that the death occurred at Calvary (so what took it so long to stop flopping around crushing people, I ask myself?) But the explanation of why this had to occur is in theological terms, generated by the demands of our ability to make sense of the truer sociological phenomenon of a loving, caring God. I have not read much Altizer, but it seemed to me when I did that he was speaking in a way that rhetorically posed as "direct" knowledge about God, but that in fact he was working with a translation system from a philosophical framework. "Saber" (formal knowledge about something) not "conocer" (experiential knowledge of something).
The Death of God theology as you summarise it here translates a philosophical framework into a myth. That is what Jung says also occurs in the Bible. On this reading, the original authors were highly philosophical, but wanted to convey their messages to a wide audience in metaphors that would get attention and be remembered, while also serving as a portal into the hidden wisdom of philosophy, something that only initiates could grasp. As the Gospels say, “To the public, parables; to initiates, the secrets of the kingdom”.
Harry Marks wrote:
By contrast, the best mythopoetic work, of, say Tolstoy and perhaps Dostoevsky and Ursula LeGuin, operates out of experience with the forces being represented. There has to be enough "theory" to be able to convey the "right" experiences, but the theory is guiding a process that is not fundamentally translating from formal understanding to some less structured mythical method of representation.
This is a helpful contrast between religion and literature, if we can call ‘death of God’ theology a form of religion. Religion presents its mythical framework as literal truth, whereas literature is overtly fictional.
Harry Marks wrote:
Robert Frost, the author, achieves poetry but not myth, because he is relating his doubts, not his faith.
This sense that religion presents itself in absolute faith as a revelation of divine reality is a key difference from fiction. You seem to be noting that Jung steps over this line, trying to achieve an academic detachment but frequently making statements that invite assent as coming from a mystical intuition, thereby constructing myths, such as the collective unconscious. Tolstoy and the other great novelists you mention mix together the suspended disbelief of fiction with the invited belief of religion.
Harry Marks wrote:
I think Jung is doing the opposite: using a formal construction (though it use an ironic twinkle of the eye) to convey experience of that in which he can have faith. So when he says God was not conscious, he is saying something formal (addressing the sociological and depth psychological phenomenon we call God) in terms that not only claim direct knowledge (as if he had been there to check on it) but work out of direct knowledge (he knows, in other words, from his own experience how the process he is understanding as God actually works).
And as a result, Jung presents a modern covenant, a means to reconcile faith and reason, by placing God as a constructed imaginative fantasy that nonetheless is entirely real as archetypal myth and can respect supernatural tradition as pure allegory and parable. The new covenant here invites strong continuity with traditional faith, while transforming its intent from ‘what really happened’ to ‘what it means for us’.


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Post Re: Answer to Job
Robert Tulip wrote:
Jung equates God with reality. Rather than an attitude of ‘submission’, he argues more for a sort of ‘co-creation’, recognising that the human psyche has potential to freely construct our world, rather than any fatalism. So it may be possible to construct a vision of reality that is nurturing.
I have no problem with a stance and faithful quest to be co-creators with reality. But for religion to be unifying, we need to grapple with the situations of the less fortunate and the less dynamic. To hold common cause with them, "co-creating" has to mean engaging with the full range of impacts reality hands people. To identify those with the hand of God is to diminish our capacity for engaging and creating.

Traditional concepts like God's sovereignty and impassibility are just superstructure for a hierarchical society. To be a co-creator you have to be able to work with what is working, and dialogue with what is reflecting on the work. Stable natural order and implacable scientific fact do not amount to that sort of creation process. They are good on sovereignty and impassibility, but not so much on encounter, intimate knowledge and genuine forgiveness.

Robert Tulip wrote:
That sense of natural grace is a reasonable idea, since our planet is a stable cocoon for life, providentially enabling our evolution. But fantasy about comfort often goes too far, and needs to avoid the denial of reality. The problem is how we work with reality to create a better future, not suggesting we submit to reality.

Submitting to reality is not optional. The alternative is denial. I did not mean to suggest "an attitude of submission" but rather that accepting reality is a crucial part of a life of faith. But I think the time is past when we can or should identify that with our ultimate concern or with the caring at the ground of being.

Robert Tulip wrote:
it seems helpful to recognise that there is a sort of natural providence at work that aligns planetary reality to our short term interests. The point is that the earth is fundamentally good for humans, so we should develop our theories about the spirit of caring, our analogy for God, that recognise this natural context through a theology of nurturing rather than dominating.
I guess I think there is an "external" aspect of the spirit of caring, coming from the experience of providential care. All the helpful aspects of reality that you identify, plus a few like processes favoring small broods of children and heavy investment in them, are surely part of an encouraging sense that the spirit of caring is cooperating with nature rather than attempting to defy it.

This external, impersonal nurture, along with the humbling sense of awe we fell before the grandeur and beauty of nature, represent to us the true nature of being in direct rather than instrumental engagement, encountering life rather than using it. I suspect a person who lacks that experience in life will have trouble encountering other people in an open, trusting way.

Even so, when I ask myself if that is more fundamental than the experience of actually having been cared for, I can't credit it. As an organizing principle, caring does a better job of organizing reality than reality does of organizing caring.

Robert Tulip wrote:
Regular practice focussing on the unity of all things opens the sense of how the ego is encompassed by the soul, leading to a selfless emptying, what the Bible calls kenosis, as we have discussed before.
Yes, I think the connection is a strong one. To be imprisoned by the passing emotions of the small self, the "not-others" self, is an unhappy fate except possibly for a small part of humanity who is very lucky. And like Kierkegaard I even question whether the really lucky are really happy or just, like the Donald, beating their head against a different kind of wall.

Robert Tulip wrote:
But always the problem in Answer to Job is that the world is anti-kenotic, viewing kenosis with incomprehension and derision. Yet Job’s attitude of kenosis provides an unshakeable faith in God, despite the torments of Satan.
The ways of the world are caught up in the urgent, and resist forming a true sense of the important. I am often in that mode myself, and I understand, but I shake my head at the folly of it.

Robert Tulip wrote:
By the way, I should note that in my recent quote about ‘the dark son of God’, Jung was referring to Satan, not Jesus. He takes the Adam-Abel-Cain triad as a type for God-Jesus-Satan, viewing Jesus and the devil as brothers. Cain's question ‘Am I my brother’s keeper?’ expresses the scorn that the corrupt have for grace.
I have now read far enough in that I had gathered the basic nature of the reference. Sorry for the mystified, misled response.
Robert Tulip wrote:
So Tillich’s analysis of grace and forgiveness is basically phenomenological and existential. This method treats God as a metaphor rather than as a supernatural entity.
Metaphor isn't quite the right word. Tillich talks about a symbol. God (the traditional conception) is a symbol for God (the ground of being, our ultimate concern). The difference is that a symbol "participates in what it symbolizes" (which is a pretty useful formulation.) An example is a wedding ring, which is not "mere metaphor" in any sense, or a national flag. A bull is a symbol of territoriality and ill-temper, while something like the growling of ice breaking up can be a metaphor for it.
Robert Tulip wrote:
The famous Luther attribution is "Hier stehe ich und kann nicht anders! Gott helfe mir, Amen!" Anders means he could not do otherwise, whereas ‘andern’ means he could not change.
Excellent! Thanks.
Robert Tulip wrote:
In my MA thesis I summarised Heidegger’s theory of care as follows: “the triadic temporal structure of Dasein as care; anticipating the future in existential projection, we retain the past in our thrown facticity, while in the present we decide whether to be authentic: whether to resolutely take a hold of our temporality.” Heidegger’s theory of Dasein, German for human existence, is a systematic way to analyse the temporality of existence as care, a heuristic to assess authenticity.

Very nice. There is a kind of Dunning-Kruger effect with authenticity, where the truly unauthentic is too false to recognize his or her falsity. Trying to convince oneself that ethics don't apply to me is a sign of that kind of inauthentic life.

Your explanation in terms of temporality reminds me of incarnation. I think the traditional version of incarnation, in which Jesus is the sole individual said to incarnate God, is lame. It stems from identification of God with various powers and perfections, rather than with vulnerable care. For me, the spirit of caring calls "softly and tenderly" rather than threatening a harsh, implacable judgment if we don't shape up. The call is to love the world as it is, including its potential to become something better in the future.

But results of choices can be implacable indeed. The old formulation is "Truth without love will crush; love without truth is mush." It was meant to be about conviction and grace, but it is just as apt for relationships in the world. The dialectic between them is certainly essential to authentic living and all virtue. But the implacability of cause and effect is not about judgement. Refusing wishful thinking is not the road to kenosis, it's just the terrain on which our journey plays out.



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Post Re: Answer to Job
Harry Marks wrote:
If I can do a little packing and unpacking, I believe he is saying that the inner representation of parental authority and nurturance which we consider responsible for social order was not in any form capable of learning and reflecting until humans became conscious. Neuroscience of a more recent vintage might take minor issue with that, but fundamentally it makes sense.
One ‘minor issue’ for the neuroscience of human distinctiveness is the evidence of learning among animals. Whether ability to reflect upon what we learn is a distinctive human trait seems to be at the centre of this naturalistic myth of man being made in the image of God, and Jung’s converse construction of God being made in the image of man. Overall, the theme emerging in Answer to Job is the centrality of human consciousness to explaining the myth of God.

There really is a radically atheist dimension to this idea from Jung with its rejection of any theistic speculation about the universe being alive or conscious, separate from human ability to project these qualities onto inert matter. The fact that the universe obeys the rational order set by the laws of physics does not in the least imply there is an eternal God who is aware of that fact. But the evolutionary utility of believing in God as a creative designer means that we should respect observations of how such utility continues today, even if we analyse it as a construction rather than a description.
Harry Marks wrote:
There has to be a process of culture, passing ideas to the next generation and not just practices, before "inner parent" can do any reflecting. And I am claiming that Jung knew this more by knowing "inner parent" first hand than by a slightly laborious process of checking the formal properties of "inner parent." The average person could do the same, but Jung's understanding of his own experience has not only been made an accessible resource by his theory, but also has been shaped and given confidence by his direct acquaintance.
This process of cultural transmission that you mention is enabled by the assertion that a mysterious guarantor, God, validates the process. Invoking divine sanction on the importance of filial piety, as per the Ten Commandments and with echoes in the more secular Confucian tradition, is an important factor in the prevention of delinquency. A reasonable concern here is that Jung’s secular argument that God is imaginary has the damaging result of destroying the transmission of moral values, because people will lack respect for an overtly constructed God. That is why the Noble Lie that God exists as an eternally conscious entity became socially and psychologically necessary. I think there is scope to explore how this problem of naturalism works together with mystical initiation, with the assertions of supernatural reality a key entry point for the broader public impression of faith. Jung is constructing a more esoteric secret vision of the meaning of God as symbol.
Harry Marks wrote:
Robert Tulip wrote:
…Your point about learning to study on what God wanted is key. Where I think Jung has an advantage is his scientific philosophy, which gives a far stronger grounding in truth than any religious assumptions about supernatural entities actually existing. A ‘mythical force’ in this context is primarily psychological, the emotional and social power that any symbol gains through being believed or used.

I quote this again because I think it is a doorway passage, where we moved into a better ability to work with the concepts. I don't have much to add except that I think "studying on what God wanted" which came to me at the time I was writing that passage, is a good description of how this prophetic process works.
‘A doorway passage’, knock and ye shall enter, is one that opens a threshold to a new understanding. In this case, Jung’s perspective is about the actual energies in mythology, how imagined symbolic beings that reside in our collective unconscious exercise psychological and cultural influence.

So when Jesus Christ said ‘I am the door’, Jung recognises this in terms of the incarnation as the emergence of God into consciousness, prefigured by the defiant faith of Job. This doorway role of Christ is a way of seeing the divine in human presence, providing an eternal connection and intimate relationship to the stable order of the natural cosmos.
Harry Marks wrote:
It helps that I had been thinking about the work of Walter Brueggemann, whose book "The Prophetic Imagination" is both landmark and spiritual doorway.
Here is a wonderful quote from that book:
Quote:
““The prophet engages in futuring fantasy. The prophet does not ask if the vision can be implemented, for questions of implementation are of no consequence until the vision can be imagined. The imagination must come before the implementation. Our culture is competent to implement almost anything and to imagine almost nothing. The same royal consciousness that make it possible to implement anything and everything is the one that shrinks imagination because imagination is a danger. Thus every totalitarian regime is frightened of the artist. It is the vocation of the prophet to keep alive the ministry of imagination, to keep on conjuring and proposing futures alternative to the single one the king wants to urge as the only thinkable one.”
― Walter Brueggemann, The Prophetic Imagination

Carl Jung is suggesting that the prophet Job saves himself through his imagination of God, which protects him and us against the wiles of the evil one. Meanwhile the Satanic ‘princes of this world’ maintain what Brueggemann suggests here is a frenzy of implementation without vision, a scorning rejection of any creative imagination. The imaginative work of the mind is central and victorious, despite the appearance of its weak ethereal invisibility and the literal implausibility of its constructions.

Brueggemann’s use of ‘futuring fantasy’ as a way to describe prophecy is ambiguous, given the tendency of the fantasy genre to involve an escape from reality into a suspension of disbelief that would be delusional myths if taken seriously. The great fantasist novelists use their imagination to construct allegorical worlds that have a satirical parabolic relation to our world, thinking here of writers such as Tolkien, Doris Lessing and Bulgakov.

In religion, the prophetic future may have the appearance of indulgent fantasy or unduly harsh critique, depending on how it relates to the chips on our shoulders. Yet, the grounding of prophecy in prayer about the will of God makes prophecy entirely realistic and necessary in principle as a method of discernment.


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