The “Collective Shadow” partaken of through the Cross with Christ
OK, some weird sounding religious philosophy I had posted to a Facebook group, and don’t want it to get lost on the bottom of that wall.
Having Asperger’s Syndrome, and needing routine and convenience gave me a strong fear of punishment, which would mean disruption to life and loss of privileges.
This (In addition to temperament – Supine) gave me a strong guilt complex, and a feeling of compulsion to be “good” (even if I don’t always DO good) to stay out of trouble.
This came out as not cursing because my parents told me not to curse (which I interpreted in a universalistic sense, which made it include even when not in their presence, when all other kids would totally abandon the rule. I then wondered how to fight, when fighting always seemed to involve cursing).
In other areas, other forces overwhelmed this guilt complex, leading me into other kinds of “trouble” anyway. Like the imperative to do good in school, household chores, behavior with other people. AS and likely ADD made these things feel impossible to me, but not recognizing the conditions, it kept my parents forever unsatisfied. This just further and further increased my guilt.
Totally frustrated by what I perceived as rejection by “the world” I was told I was so at odds with, I was ripe to turn to Christianity, which was long despised in my family as a neurotic control tool or “crutch”, with all of its limiting rules on everything from sex to personal beliefs. But by this time, I was so desperate and angry I did not know what else to do. Maybe that was the way after all, and God would “take care” of you, and use all the pain of life for some “good”, and the people in the world can’t see it because they simply don’t try, (because they don’t want to give up all their personal freedoms, especially sexual).
So I plugged on in it, trying to be the best, most Biblical evangelical defender of truth I could be (even going against the rest of the Church in some areas where I saw problems, and of course, trying to convert my family and others as well).
I knew I wasn’t perfect, and felt I might not have completely “given” all of my life to God, as I still had doubts about His involvement in light of experience, plus whether I’m supposed to open my emotions up and “let go” like charismatics seemed to believe, or give up all my music and secular interests like others would argue, etc. Plus, while I rigorously obeyed the letter of the Law regarding sex (would not even date beautiful women I knew who did not clearly identify as “born again” evangelicals, and as desperate as I was), inside, I was still totally filled with lust, in my frustration.
So this just made finding a relationship harder than ever, and when God did not “help” with either that or other aspects of living, I became bitter about my whole life, and then was basically told I was being a bad Christian, maybe not even really saved or “sanctified”, and God’s “helping” of us was then reinterpreted as Him simply changing our attitudes towards the pains of life, rather than decreasing or otherwise compensating for them. If anything, He would increase them as a “test” for us (as if life wasn’t hard enough without that). This you could find trumpeted all over Christian media (a multi-million $ industry) as well as local preaching. It sounds so “simple”, but really is not.
My complete brokenness also made the marriage I waited so long for difficult.
When I basically fell off on praying, and the Internet arrives and minimizes Bible study time, I’m told yet again, essentially, that I’m a bad Christian and Christ would spit me out of His mouth. My wife at the same time begins becoming more fervent, and moving closer to charismaticism, with its claims of frequent supernatural activity in daily life.
So at every turn, my sense of guilt was compounded, and I often felt I was bearing the sin of the world. All my life, especially in the perspective of the Sensing-Judging types all around, the world is “what it is”, but I’m the one who is out of place and needs to “change”.
We eventually learn about AS, and then the loved ones become all remorseful (though still cross and impatient at times), but it’s too late.
I eventually become interested in typology (which explains some things, such as what I just mentioned about the Sensing-Judging perspective), and this is connected with Jungian psychology. So in a discussion with someone, the subject of Job came up. According to a Jung (Most likely his book Answer to Job), he was said to symbolize Israel (didn’t really realize this), who was a type of Christ (which I did realize to some extent), in what was termed “bearing the collective shadow”.
The shadow is all of those things we shut out of our consciousness (which the “ego” is the seat of). Hence, this includes sin in general. We are quick to see it in others, but not in ourselves. (For any fundamentalists, or anyone else reading this who don’t like the Jungian concepts; this one is basically what is described in the familiar Romans 1 and 2 passages!)
Job was a righteous man, who fell on hard times, and while he insisted he didn’t deserve it, his “friends” insisted he must have had some sort of sin in his life. Both views were basically in agreement that suffering is strictly for the punishment of sin. So the debate was “deserving” it versus “not deserving”. And this basically relied on God’s Law, which is the basis of concepts such as “deserve” and “justice”.
To continue to protest his suffering would ensure his experience of the “dark” side of God; so he had to ultimately learn to bear his suffering as a sign of faith.
God’s harsh response to him is often used by Christian teachers to support the “you better have a good attitude toward your suffering” teaching, but this was in answer to his self-justification (32:1, 2), not his dislike of pain (which he at first actually did accept with a “good attitude” —the familiarly cited 1:21 and 2:10!) And this paralleled Israel’s history.
Israel was given the Law, which stipulated that if they obeyed, they would prosper and rule, and if they disobeyed, they would lose all their blessings and be dominated by others. They of course kept failing, and the prophets like Jeremiah then lamented how they were being punished for their sins. Others; however, maintaining their own righteousness, had to isolate sin onto others to blame. (In fact, by Christ’s time, when the leadership of the nation did a complete turnaround and became rigorously legalistic, physical infirmity and misfortune was seen as likely punishment for sin).
Yet, ultimately, as God’s chosen, they were bearing the collective shadow by carrying the Law, which highlighted their own sin rather than making them truly righteous. Hence, them always ending up under domination rather than enjoying rulership.
Their purpose for existence as a nation was really to bring forth the Messiah, who would be the only one to be able to keep the whole Law, and yet end up truly suffering to bear sin for the world. The true spiritual Israel following Him would then understand itself as the suffering servant rather than a people chosen by God to rule over others. (The whole purpose of the Law was to write the lesson in history that man needed Grace, and could not perfect himself).
(This is, the faithful within Israel, or “spiritual Israel”. The unfaithful, of course, continued to look for the “warrior messiah”, leading them to reject the Messiah actually sent to them, and instead set up leaders of their own, who would be crushed in the wars against the Romans.
This essentially paralleled the life of a shaman, who undergoes a total breakdown of his ego, but not for God; and then becomes a messenger of demons; and this is actually what happened with Israel, as much as they kept the Law! It would be seen even more after the NT writings, during the final war leading to their demise. This is why we saw a heightening of demonic activity from the time of Christ to the Temple destruction. (Sabbatarian groups will portray people like Simon Magus as “pagan gentiles”, but people like him were involved with Israel, and those on its fringes like the Samaritans!) It got significantly worse in those last few years leading up to this (going beyond the NT canon, but covered clearly by Josephus). Note especially Rev. 16:13-16.
Christ also underwent the same process, with the 40 day fast, and then who appears at the end of it, but Satan! However, as the Son of God, He was the only one equipped to do that, and thus defeated Satan rather than becoming a messenger of him.
We tend to think demons are only concerned with “pagan” religion, but a human attempt at justification or merit through the Law is actually the biggest attack of Satan against the Cross. The whole thing falls if man could really do it himself).
When we as mortal humans suffer pain and privation (a lot of it not for anything we have done wrong), we are in a way “partaking” of this.
All of this spoke to me, who has been struggling (“mid-life crisis”) with God’s involvement in life, and Christianity’s tossing around the “suffering as tests from God; you better have a good attitude toward it or you’re a bad Christian” jargon, in light of my own experiences, and fit in with the “Comprehensive Grace” premise I had adopted. (That redemption has spread to the world – 2 Cor. 5:19; not all still being held under the Law save a relative few who must make the right choice and then behave to match it. This shown by the fact that it is not only Christians who suffer, as the popular Christian teaching on “trials” in light of this often would imply).
Nobody is supposed to bear the collective shadow (sin) except for Christ. The world however does not really recognize Christ, but instead relies on a sense of human goodness, and even the religious world falls into this (where the Christians are supposed to know better).
So the world of people tend to pass the buck, and dump the shadow on others. Particularly whoever is in a vulnerable position and can’t pass it off on someone else.
The black race has borne the shadow of much of the world. We have been made into the most evil and backward race, based on stuff like crime, morality, “civilized society” and technology. (Just look at this, especially the comments, for an example: http://www.hiphopmusicdotcom.com/why-i-hate-blacks.html) However, those who believe themselves “superior” and saying all this stuff ignore and excuse the barbarism (wars, conquest, pillaging, etc.) their ancestors had often employed to become “superior” in the first place! They’re looking at their own evil; evil that is really common to all of man, in fact (Romans 3:9-12, Gal.3:22) yet seeing it instead in another group of people (and based on outward “works”, and trumped up with a lot of overgeneralization and stereotype).
We are blamed for the state of the US economy, and when suggested that it’s the fruit of the capitalist system, this too is turned back on us, as the rich are seen as “earning” it, and we’re just trying to “take” what’s rightly theirs.
It’s all based on an attribution shift. When they took what was others’, it was “God” divinely “blessing” them. NOW, when someone else is perceived as doing it, it’s just plain wrong. When others blame their system, it’s refusal to accept “responsibility”, but when they blame others, it’s “the hard truth”!
As a “‘Safety sensitive’ worker”, we on my job are constantly under the gun regarding mistakes or rule violations, while upper management and contractors (including for computerized operation systems) seem to have total freedom to screw up (especially when it comes to money and efficiency). Then, when service is bad, fares go up, sometimes we are the ones the public blames.
Neither of these two groups really had any [official] identity of following God’s Law like Israel did. (Though the blacks did eventually become Christian and read their experience into Biblical stories of Israel in Egypt, and the Church under persecution).
It’s whoever is more “bad” (like in the street sense) that gets to set the game and put people into these positions (while often thinking they themselves are the “chosen” ones, with “chosenness” always interpreted in terms of power and privilege over others).
So it seems anyone who attempts to be “good”, for any reason (including in a passive sense; just not striving to be “bad”, or not having the opportunity to gain power), will have this burden fall on them.
No one can be “good” enough to meet God’s requirements, but the world does not know this anyway. (And even much of the Church still thinks trying to be as “good” as one can is necessary to “prove” oneself “elect”).
So they proceed to project their shadow (sin) onto those not as powerful or as good at passing the buck as they. Gaining such power often involves doing things “not good”, or “taking risks” (as they often brag).
We with less power are taught things like the “serenity” of changing what we can, accepting what we can’t, and knowing the difference. If you don’t have the power over others to main equilibrium of respect in a relationship (i.e. if one person offends another, there will be a consequence), and they “get away with it”, then we are counseled to “forgive”, get over it, and go on.
Looming over our head, from a Biblical perspective, is that God has forgiven us. This effectively becomes the “Cross” we are to bear, like Christ bearing our sin on the original Cross. Even though we are not actually bearing the other person’s sin, it does feel like it is falling on us in such a situation where we are not able to either get the person back, or take it out on someone else, or gain any other form of immediate compensation.
Then, in counseling, we’re even told to forgive ourselves! Like we are the ones who did all this to ourselves. I guess, what it is, like in my case, is being angry at yourself for not being able to protect yourself from the pains of life more. Not being able to do more for yourself. So we basically have to forgive ourselves and the whole world. Just like (we believe) Jesus did.
So it’s almost as if we really are bearing the collective sin. But I guess we aren’t; it is “partaking” in Christ, who did.
Life, the way it is set up, favors the powerful; those with the drive and/or advantage to do whatever it takes to achieve their goals.
They then use that advantage to essentially place burdens on others they will not bear themselves. (e.g. Matt. 23:4)
The Beatitudes then come to make more sense as to why negative circumstances seem to carry a virtue in themselves. (The immediate context was the followers of Jesus being persecuted by the religious establishment of the day).
Perfect example is forgoing the potential romantic partners of “the world” and settling on a monogamous “Christian” life. But now restricting yourself to only this one other person in the whole world, it does not stop the curiosity about what else has been “missed”. Yet if you lust/desire/imagine, etc., you’re “sinning”. Not just against God now, but also against your spouse, causing pain, and problems! It’s like all your righteousness and sacrifice of staying literally monogamous is wiped away!
As many of the most fervent preachers have shown in their own lives, no amount of “standards” is able to keep you pure, spiritually and/or physically. (The higher they are, the harder the fall!)
It’s like you just set yourself up. You’ve taken on more sin it seems, than if you had just gone and lived out the secular “single life” of “swinging” or whatever. And for someone who trusted in this as proving they were “holier” than others; it’s like a total waste. You do all this, for what? You’re spiritually no better off than the swingers. And heaven help if people in the “world” see your problem. They will dump on you all the guilt every preacher (or their own conscience) ever dumped on them.
But we’re still supposed to “obey”, whether it makes us more righteous or not. The purpose is to be love.
Those who do are basically taking the collective shadow on themselves. Or, again, partaking in Christ.
(Just sorting out all of this stuff, trying to make sense of it all).