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Thursday, 2 September 2010

Meeting psychobabble with psychobabble

Fr Z writes about a piece by Eugene Kennedy, ex-priest and humanistic psychologist, (whose book was required reading at the seminary back in the day) on the reform of the reform, stating that "His piece is so turgid that it is hard to know just what he is driving at." As an example he quotes:
Joseph Campbell termed this massive tear in the fabric of life as "Mythic Dissociation." When this occurs we find ourselves in what poet T.S. Eliot describes as The Waste Land. This basic estrangement from any feeling for the mystical energy of the church as the Sacramentum Mundi, the mystical mirror in which the beleaguered world can see a reflection of its profound longings and strivings, can be observed in the way the sacraments are almost exclusively discussed. They are spoken of as static objects to be regulated rather than living symbols to be celebrated.
The Department of Experimental Psychology at Oxford generally looked down on dynamic psychology and psychoanalysis in my day, and I expect it is still the same. Nevertheless, I did try to keep up with the depth stuff a bit, since in every religious institution where they heard that I read psychology, they expected me to know all about it. So I would like to reply in kind, studiously contradicting the principles set out in the first pages of Fowler's The King's English:
I think it was Jung who said “Nobody, as long as he moves about among the chaotic currents of life, is without trouble.” Confronted by this disturbing affront to our sensibility panning out through the, chronos we risk finding ourselves in the kairos, the here and now, grappling with what Marshall McLuhan identified as "cultural transition". The refocusing of a damaged mindset as it adapts to the profundity brought about in the process of adjustment to movement and alteration is none other than that painful task-gift of birthing which has the potential to drain us of the psycho-spiritual dynamism on which we have formerly relied in comfort and security. Taking those first infantile steps away from the warm and soft embrace of ecclesia as mystical mirror of our own inchoate, unfulfilled, and perhaps unconscious aspirations, is a journey that cradles us into the deepest regions of the self, calling forth the disturbing yet necessary archetypes both of warrior and mother. The transactional exchange that unfolds in the process-as-journey places us at risk of dissociating from the symbols we formerly cherished as living expressions of our own approach to celebration, as they appear to crystallise in stasis before our eyes. The beckoning forth that summons us then is to a deeper connectedness with symbol as both living and truth-filled.
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