RE: MD quality religion (Christianity)

From: David Buchanan (
Date: Sun Apr 18 2004 - 23:12:55 BST

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    Dave S and all MOQers:

    Dave Storey said:
    ...and while trying to define one's version of christianity within the
    of unclear terms such as literalist, scientific, metaphorical, etc., is
    to creat even greater confusion,..

    dmb replies:
    Just so you know, when I first started posting here the Dead Sea wasn't even
    sick yet. In that time I've imported lots of Jung and Campbell into the
    discussions here, and so the contrast between literal and metaphorical
    readings of mythology is something Sam is quite familiar with by now. The
    issue is sometimes confused by those who have the postmodern sense of the
    word 'metaphor' in mind. I suspect you already know that Campbell, Jung and
    others who deal in psychological and mythological archetypes don't use the
    word "metaphor' to refer a reality that is entirely interpetive. In that
    field of inquiry, the words 'literal' and 'metaphorical' are used simply to
    make a distinction between two forms of expression. Prose and poetry. The
    point being that when a person reads one as if it were the other, great
    confusion results - among many millions of people, I should add.

    Dave Storey said:
    many times what Christian's call "faith" is unduly thrust above the radar of
    reason (what Pascal called the heart's reasons), and what is really a
    pre-rational hope is passed off as a transrational intuition or something
    like that.

    dmb says:
    Right. This is a good way to get at my concern. Roughly, in Pirsigian terms,
    when the mythic pre-rational is mistaken for transrational, social level
    static quality is mistaken for Dynamic Quality. Or something like that. In
    "The Essential Ken Wilber", there is a chapter titled, "Was Carl Jung a
    Mystic?" where Wilber says ...

    "Jung uses the term (archetypes) as certain basic mythic structures that are
    collective to human experience, like the trickster, the sahdow, the Wise Old
    Man, the ego, the persona, the Great Mother, the anima, the animus and so
    on. These are not so much transcendental as they are existential. They are
    simply facets of experience that are common to the EVERYDAY human condition.
    I agree that those mythic forms are collectivel inherited in the psyche. And
    I agree entirely with Jung that it is very important to come to terms with
    those mythic "archetypes". ...I agree entirely with Jung on that matter. But
    those mythic forms have nothing to do with mysticism, with genuine
    transcendental awareness. ...Jung's major mistake, in my opinion, was to
    confuse collective with transpersonal (or mystical). Just because my mind
    inherits certain collective forms does not mean those forms are mystical or
    transpersonal. We all collectively inherit ten toes, for example, but if I
    experience my toes I am not having a mystical experience! ...There are
    collective prepersonal, collective persoanl and collective transpersonal
    elements; and Jung does not differentiate these with anything near the
    clarity they demand, and this skews his entire understanding of the
    spiritual process, in my opinion. And the same goes for Sam Norton."

    dmb says:
    OK. I added that last sentence, but the rest is pure Wilber.

    Dave S wrote: is merely a prelude to mysticism, and a religion built upon,
    grounded in, and abolutely dependent on faith--that is, in a RELATION to an
    ontologically distinct being--is totally antipathetical to mysticism. Why?
     because mysticism is pure nondual undifferentiated awareness. there's
    nothing relational about, nor is there any social component to it. But, due

    to fundmental doctrines inseparable from the Christian corpus, there is a
    ceiling to the level of ascent, a governer strapped to the engine of
    in short, there is, as history shows us, orthodox and heterodox mysticism,
    if you cross that line then we are going to burn you at the stake. Again,
    why? Because the Christic consciousness is unique and unduplicatable. And
    why won't the Church allow deeper mystical experiences? Because it
    the social patterns of static quality, and reveals the inherently mythical
    structure of the beliefs upon which it is founded. furthermore, it reveals
    its distortion of Christ's own experience and ethic, and it shows how big
    slaughterbench is when someone of his caliber is given corporate and state
    sponsorship. Pirsig's MOQ is absolutely incompatible with "literal"
    Christianity, because it clearly heaps organized religion with social
    of static quality, which are very important and fundamental, but very
    and partial. to call one of these patterns the be all end all is to thwart
    and stifle the evolutionary process.

    dmb says:
    I have nothing to add. I just wanted everyone to read that again. Bravo.
    Well said.

    Dave S added:
    (however, the other popular contemporary alternative, religious pluralism,
    is equally, if not more, problematic, because it tries to reduce the
    qualitative differences between religions either positively (they're all
    false, i.e., hocus-pocus myths) or negatively (they're all true, only
    pragmatically or metaphorically)).

    dmb says:
    I'm not sure if your concern about "religious pluralism" applies or not. I
    mean, if the idea in to reintegrate the big three then part of the task is
    to resolve the conflict between science and religion. And I think both
    Pirsig and Wilber are suggesting we ought to dust off these ancient
    traditions, examine them with the intellect and thereby seperate the baby
    from the bathwater. And this kind a reintegration is helped enormously, I
    think, if we can see through the various cultural forms to detect the
    underlying message. As Wilber puts it...

    "The perennial philosophy is the worldview that has been embraced by the
    vast majority of the world's greatest spiritual teachers, philosophers,
    thinkers and even scientists. It's called 'perennial' or 'universal' because
    it shows up in virtually all cultures across the globe and across the ages.
    ..And wherever we find it, it has essentially similar features, it is in
    essential agreement the world over. We moderns, who can harldly agree on
    anything, find this rather hard to believe. But as Alan Watts summarized the
    available evidence; 'Thus we are hardly aware of the peculiarity of our own
    position, and find it difficult ot recognize the plain fact that there has
    otherwise been a single philosophical consensus of univeral extent.' This is
    really quite remarkable. I think, fundamentally, its a testment to the
    universal nature of these truths, to the universal experience of a
    collective humanity that has everywhere agreed to certain profound truths
    about the human condition and about its access to the Divine."

    Dave's Storey:
    Nevertheless, i was intrigued by something dmb mentioned, that he felt
    christian mysticism was the only defensible mystic position, or something
    that. please elaborate, i am intrigued.

    dmb replies:
    I think insofar as the various forms of mysticism essentially agree, I'd say
    just about any genuine mysticism is entirely defensible. So I'd also say
    that Christian mysticism is the only good kind of Christianity. As you put
    it, the Churches can't allow mystical experience "because it undermines the
    social patterns of static quality, and reveals the inherently mythic
    structure of the belief upon which it is founded." They mistake a partial
    view for the whole and thereby hinder the evolutionary process. They mistake
    the mythic and the transpersonal, the social for the spiritual. Sorry to
    disappoint, but I think you are intrigued by an idea you already know very


    P.S. Sam has unsubscribed to the MD, so I won't be "fleshing out" my
    criticism of his variation on the MOQ. This is disappointing of course, but
    it also saves me a lot of work. Unless someone else wants to hear it....?

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