The podcast Psychology & The Cross started as a research project to get a better understanding of C.G Jung’s relationship to Christianity.
In my own training to become a Jungian Analyst in Zurich, questions related to Christianity were often a part of the discussion. I felt at times though, that our outlook on Christianity was biased, viewing it merely as an object of study from the interpretative lens of Analytical Psychology, its theory, and concepts.
From this perspective, Christianity was a myth and one archetypal story of many. A story that could help reveal something important about the development of an individual’s psychological process and individuation. Jesus Christ was to be understood as (an incomplete) symbol of the self. The cross is a symbol of the tension of the opposites to be united within man.
As much as this perspective helped me in developing a symbolical understanding and an appreciation of metaphor something felt off. Taking a psychological attitude toward the mysteries that lie at the heart of the Christian imagination seemed to me potentially become reductive.
Jung’ emphasized gnosis, knowledge, and personal lived experience. His own experience of the Christian symbols was colored by his own biases and ambivalent relationship growing up with a specific form of protestant Christianity. To me, Jung’s interpretative framework seemed at times too absolute, possibly distorting, leaving little room for faith (besides in the theory through which we learned to analyze these events).
In early 2021 I had my first dialogue for this research project turned podcast with my former teacher from Zurich, Dr. Murray Stein. From then on I have had twelve more dialogues with Jungian and psychoanalytic analysts and scholars who have all spent much more time than I in trying to understand these matters. These dialogues have helped me to get more clarity on Jung’s complicated relationship to Christianity, where I can follow him, and where I have to depart.
With these dialogues and my own research as a backdrop, I started to write an essay and article on The Christianity of C.G Jung which will be published next year. A first version of it will be formatted as a lecture for the Jungian analysts in-training at my former institute ISAP Zürich, at the end of this month.
This essay and lecture series is examing the following areas of Jungian psychology’s relationship to Christianity:
- An in-depth study of Jung’s own childhood and adolescent experiences of Christianity, Christ and the numinous.
- A contextualization and study of Jung’s radical rendering of the imitation of Christ and its importance for his theory of individuation.
- Jung’s view on the repression by Christianity of the unconscious and how his psychological theory attempts to compensate for this ( A part based on the unpublished Polzeath seminars 1923. Released by Philemon foundation in 2023).
- How can Jung’s psychological project can be understood as taking place within the spirit of Protestantism and an attempt at reformation of the traditional Christianity he grew up in?
- Jung’s radical Christology, its origins in his “Red Book experience” and how his theology is formulated in his late work Answer to Job.
- A critique of Jung’s version of Christianity by scholars such as Wolfgang Giegerich is examined before concluding with the question, can Jung’s psychological project be understood as an attempt at a reformation or replacement of Christianity?
I hope that this research will continue to be helpful, discussed, and criticized by those of you who are following the podcast. For more information or questions send me a message at firstname.lastname@example.org