Two questions about how central the question of origins is to your core beliefs

Look around. Sadly the answer is yes. It is something worthy to be esteemed as highest yet people dismiss it out of hand or reduce it a book full of written edicts to be employed to argue ones own impulses are holy and treatment of others always justified.

No doubt. But ultimately? I often wonder what would happen if on the day of judgement, that if a person agrees with verdict of the judge that searches the heart, that if they are in fact that bad, that if they agree with God (as did I), that they would willingly submit their self to his judgement, and then find a small measure of joy in his glory…

I once heard a conservative pastor a while back, make a reference to some historic figure who I cannot remember at all, about how if he should find himself in hell, he would call out to Jesus, the Christ, and in hell he would experience a measure heaven, and it would cancel out the darkness (or something to that effect).

The other day, while reading and writing, I was utterly bogged down with things that didn’t reflect well in my writing and that did nothing to further a discussion in which you’ve patiently answered loads of questions from me.

I’ll use my most favoritest open-ended question (because I have come to HATE being asked questions where I’m given answer choices that only reflect the thoughts of the questioner):
Could you, please, tell me more about your thoughts on this:

and the connection Jungian psychology?

[I did go search for and find references to Bill, so I understand your reference to him. I’m sorry you lost a friend. He sounds like a delightful person.]

I wonder which Bill you found. This was our Bill.

Honestly not much. It is too new as an idea for me. I had always taken the measurable as primary and assumed that life and consciousness somehow emerged. That may still be true but I’m no longer willing to let the measurable alone dictate how I understand my experience as an embodied subject in this world. Measurement is the Royal road for understanding the world but not for understanding subject-hood. The tipping point came in reading Robert Pirsig’s Lila early during the pandemic when for a while my local library was not available. It was a book I’d picked up ages ago since I’d liked his zen-and book so much. It made me see that there many transitions in the universe necessary to our existence long before humans which seemingly go against what one might expect from a winding down bang. One way to explain it is that an all powerful, timeless being did some quick adjustments to keep the possibility of us afloat But that doesn’t seem likely or satisfying to me. But if consciousness is co-basic with matter then somehow the need for course adjustments can be met by some primordial form of intentionality distributed everywhere. Not entirely a satisfying answer either but somehow more palatable to me than the notion of a master watchmaker working behind a curtain.

Looks like I’ve run out of time for now for the Jungian connection. I’ll have to let that one sit a while longer while I get going.


I can’t speak to the same aspects of this as Mark probably has in mind, but it seems like it might be also be related to Richard Rohr’s recent book: “The Universal Christ” which I have read, and recommend.

While heresy hunters are always itching to pull out one of the pan[en]theism labels about such things, it can also be seen as the meaning and significance of incarnation itself as exemplified in Christ. While this may be significant for believers, Rohr also does a good job (I think) keeping such important truth from becoming too proprietary and parochial. [As one might hope, given the first word in his title.]


While I haven’t followed the conversation completely, I did click the link for your friend’s obituary, and saw a most compelling description of a wonderful life lived. To go from studying philosophy, to medical school, to practicing psychiatry. And to have a family. Truly honorable.

With the mention of Jung, a person whom I am vaguely familiar through one of those very short introductions from Oxford Press, I’d like to share an experience I had. While I am at best a novice, I did come to Jung via Robert Bly and a mentor who encouraged me to read Bly. With the introduction to Jung, Bly could be better contextualized, and I appreciated him more.

But what do you do with Jung’s synchronicity?

I once told my philosophy of religion professor at the time, Paul Draper, a student of Plantinga, that the strangest coincidences (or historical-religious experiences) happened to me when I began to ask myself if I was the eternal necessary being.

For me, the arrow went from Jung to Bly in a very round about way. Watching Joseph Campbell being interviewed by Bill Moyers for his Hero With a Thousand Faces series on PBS put Jung on my radar and into books I read though not with a great deal of understanding. I was reading a little of everything at all woo-y too when I came across a book with chapters devoted to various traditions including one on James Hillman.

Hillman met Jung in 1953, trained to be an analyst under him and when Jung died he took over as director of studies at the Jungian institute in Zurich. Somehow I learned he was organizing a seminar in San Francisco on archetypal psychology in the mid 70’s to which I applied and was accepted. In addition to other people into psychology there was also philosopher of phenomenology and Robert Bly who as you know reads a mean poem. Bly was great but Hillman brought Jungian psychology alive for me and I ended up buying and reading all his books. So I don’t really know Jung so much as i know the way Hillman describes and elaborated on his ideas. The Jungian guy I had lunch with says he wasn’t so much a Jungian as he was the first Hillmanian so I may not be the best one to talk about Jung.

One thing I liked about Hillman was he recognized that all psychology is confessional in nature. He approached it more as a humanities guy than as a scientist. When it comes understanding our humanity I don’t expect too much from science. The other idea I took from him was the distinction between spirit and soul. Spirituality is about the view from on high, non attachment and being unmoved by the things of the world. But soul is about the valleys and depths where life thrives and one cannot always see their way forward. He described his as a psychology of the soul. What is the word you guys use - convicted? I felt exposed in my pursuit of spirituality as being an escapist and have endeavored to become a soul man instead. Soul may not have as good a view but boy the depth of feeling and meaning there more than make up for it.

@Kendel from what I gather Jung thought there were recurring themes in the depths of our consciousness revealed in dreams, creative arts, daydreams as well as in our obsessions and psychopathology generally. As Joseph Campbell had noted in his study of mythology, there are definite and recurring patterns. By paying attention to these, we can connect to (integrate with) what may add significance and meaning in our lives. It is from Hillman that I got the idea that what we believe matters less than how well it helps us integrate more deeply. That disposes me think stories, iconography, ritual and music can all have that effect and those are all things which can be found organically in religion. So I tend to think there can be more than more way to the Truth. Anyone already immersed in a satisfactorily rich religious tradition can spare themselves the cost of analysis assuming they go about it in a (not ‘the’) good way. There are plenty of examples of Christians in such relationships here on these forums. It can be an enriching and fulfilling life without owning an exclusive trademark.


A few passages come to mind from Iron John, my primary window into Bly, but man, your comment is beautiful. Thanks for taking me there!

1 Like

I forgot this part it isn’t that important I don’t think. I suspect it has to do with noticing what are only coincidences from the POV of our deliberate intentions but which might also indicate deeper intention at work beneath our notice. If that’s right then it is like a Freudian slip which indicates a motivation or intention not held consciously.

Another Hillmanian idea I like but forgot is the use of “as if” in describing unconscious content one discovers in something they draw or dream. Frankly I think it might work for religion too. So rather than say as acting badly can lead to hell and damnation, one might say instead acting a jerk toward others can lead to a quality of experience that feels “as if“ you were in hell.

1 Like

It helps to have objective evidence that points to the reality of the God who is sovereign over timing and placing. Jung will have been exposed to the truth of the doctrine in his youth but he failed to connect the dots, or refused to.

That does not adequately explain Maggie’s, Rich Stearns’ or George Müller’s experiences. The sequence of his several were against Rich Stearns’ POV and intentions.

Important enough in the several accounts we are all familiar with as to be life-changing. They should count and not be dismissed offhandedly out of cognitive bias.

Ooops. I wanted to work on this more before I replied.

Merv, thanks so much.

I’m adapting to a new element here, after living my whole “outside the very small world of our home-life” life in two distinctly different places, where there was nearly no (permitted) overlap:

  1. theologically conservative, increasingly fundamentalist Baptist churches, where I have fit less and less well as the evangelical culture has shifted in many ways, particularly after we moved to a different part of the state where I have nearly always lived to find ourselves in a foreign country. (that “we” is comprised of my husband and me)

  2. secular academic and work worlds, surrounded with brilliant people who were worthy of my great respect, with whom I shared (nearly) no spiritual assumptions.

I can switch codes like a pro, when I know them. I am good at hopping between these categories and have very little experience with categories in between. And certainly no experience, except at our little kitchen table and in my own head, merging anything.

You learn quick, who will tolerate references out of category, but doesn’t like it, and who will do anything to shut them down immediately. It happens everywhere I’ve spent time. Few people will put up with it. You just don’t find people, who are willing to say, “That’s an interesting idea. I’ve never heard about it. How did you find out about that? How do you think that works? How did you draw that conclusion?” I’m really grateful to be meeting some who will and who will even have a discussion, share ideas, consider thoughts without labeling one a heretic, or intellectual troglodyte, who recognize that people have different backgrounds, experiences, have read different libraries that have molded their thought differently or richly in different ways.

It’s good to be here. Thanks for being a good part of it.


Not that important. You must be kidding.

I was so looking forward to the topic, that I started reading Jung’s essay on synchronicity.

In looking it up I found he discussed these ideas with Einstein before WW1, and a long correspondence and friendship with Wolfgang Pauli matured his understanding about coincidences and is found in the essay.

On a sidenote, I am wrapping up Keener’s book on miracles, he had a small part in the book where he considered the possibility of coincidences with respect to the number.of people in his extended family who have been witness to a miraculous resuscitation. Pretty jaw dropping numbers when you do the math.

While those were family members whose testimony he considered reliable, Keener also had a very well documented account of Dr. Sean George coming back to life after suffering a cardiac arrest. After an hour of chest compressions, chest compressions then being halted for a documented period of time, his wife who is a doctor arrived at the hospital. She prayed for him and the moment she asked God for a miracle, his heart started beating. He came back from a coma after 3 days with no brain damage.

Sorry. No offense intended. Just a different point of interest. I remember buying that one used and looking into it eagerly but I don’t remember a thing forty years later.


I found a reference to Bill that you made [here]. Thank you for sharing the tribute about him as well. He sounds like a really interesting person. I’m often more than a little amazed at the number of wonderful people, who have given me the honor of even learning my name. Bill sounds like one of that kind.

I think your points about measurement and subject-hood1 are correct. After spending most of my time relying on the fuzzy sciences, particularly psychology, information sciences related to working with humans2, and then in the fuzzy non-sciences of language and literature, I’ve worked with plenty of attempts to quantify the unquantifiable. We may be able to quantify our observations to a point, and describe patterns. But to actually measure – what? Our observations don’t get to the subject-hood under the surface of the observable. Howard Gardner’s (Howard Gardner - Wikipedia) and Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s (Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi - Wikipedia) helpful research in multiple intellegences and flow (respectively) are some examples I’ve dealt with. So much useful information, but gathered from “subjective” subjects. Is it research? Well, yes. But it is not like measuring “stuff.”
And even, if subject-hood were measurable, what would those measurements tell us? I expect, we would find out that the tools available are not going to tell us what we hope to learn.

I’ve been eavesdropping at times, while you and @mervin_bitikofer have spoken before regarding consciousness, and I need to go back to those discussions and rereread them. This is obiously an important concept in your thinking, and foreign one to me. However your points about a winding down bang, tuning, watchmaker-type being tinkering make sense to me.3 Honestly, as far as the material is concerned, I find Klax’s description of an eternally cycling/processing universe (or multiverse) taking infinite shots on goal in the development of life far more aesthetically pleasing, which really has nothing to do with anything, I guess. But having stepped away from a literal reading of Genesis, I see nothing preventing the possibility. But I wasn’t there! Like you, however, I can’t accept the loneliness of mere Stoff. The presense of a creator God in that picture is necessary for me, as consciousness seems to be for you.

Thanks for adding your discussion of Campbell, Hillman and Jung, and spirituality and soul. Actually, some of this sounds familiar, I think from some of the femininst criticism I read many, many years ago, but I lacked the background to recognize the connection. That was a time of great soulish anguish for me, which would have been lessened if the categories I had to jump were not so clearly defined and guarded. It took years to recover a sense of balance, but I’m sure I acheived some of that through some forms of escapism myself. Setting some things aside was preferable to metaphorical schizophrenia.

I do want to return to your description of “an all powerful, timeless being did some quick adjustments to keep the possibility of us afloat.” You are welcome to stick with the description, but I find it a bit of a strawman. I’m going to pull in some ideas that I’ve encountered elsewhere, that make sense to me. I hope you find it at least worth consideration.

I make stuff. I can’t help it. I do it all the time.
Yesterday, I wound into balls some wool I had bought recently, because I liked the colors in it and the feel of it. The tiny slubs wound into the otherwise smoothly plied wool in radiant shades of my oak and maple and birch trees. What will it be? I really don’t know. Eventually, it will tell me. We will work back and forth, trying rows of stitches to see how the colors behave and what fabric it yields. What structures will work with this? How to show these colors so others see what I see, when it comes from the needles in my hands, so it expresses what I feel in my mind?
The process is joyful work. It will never be until I make it. The Stoff will just remain Stoff. The other yarn in the trunk that is still unformed is still just Stoff and remain so, until we spend a lot more time together. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter whether the yarns become something other than Stoff, but when they do, the process and product and giving are a joy.

I’d like to propose that there is a maker who makes what is for the pure joy of it and the delight of making something that will eventually lead to living things (as well as many, many other things) in which that maker can delight, and who can delight in the maker. I am proposing that what is is made as an expression of joy and love, as well as an object of joy and love, and capable of spreading that joy and love. The making wasn’t necessary or even useful. But yet…

Footnotes (OH JOY!)
1I will be adopting and plagerizing this term from now on.
2The LIS folks who work with things go into tech services and shake their heads at the rest of us. Many of them are more akin to serious computer scientists, rather than the stereotypical “librarian.” A very special few, such as my colleague, the incomparable TW, incorporate the very best of all human qualities. Such people are a pecurliar joy to work with.
3This causes me to request an alternative number be created between 3 and 5, after noting hints of fine-tuning and intellegent design, both of which I find uncompelling, in the description of choice number 4 at the beginning of this thread.

1 Like

I like to say I have a memory like a steel sieve with a cocky inflection. Thanks for filling in and I’m sure he would’ve been interested to talk with and remember your name.

I completely agree. Good examples I think. Flow especially shows an interesting and surprising side of subjecthood, that not only do we not need to consciously control every detail of a complex action but we can actually be more effective sometimes just by stepping out of the way in that regard.

Exactly. That was why I started this thread was to put the idea out there that even if creation wasn’t direct as a species and even if God like consciousness is universally distributed among everything ourselves included that can still be entirely satisfactory if we question the obviousness of some of the common assumptions. We’re too quick to assume something so sublime is nothing but the little bit we’re directly aware of.

But how many threads can be changed out without taking down the whole cloth? Science has got to be accommodated without diminishing it. Consciousness though is just too poorly understood to replace the (to me) odious supernatural. If I was part of a community that was keeping faith alive and no one had an issue with it, I’d go along to get along. Not that important. But for those for whom the supernatural is just a stopper I think there is still good reason not to throw out the baby with the bath water. And I for one am not in favor of dismantling anything I don’t know how to put back together.

Maybe this is enough for tonight. I really enjoyed your post and look forward to taking a fresh look tomorrow.

1 Like

A primordial form of intentionality distributed everywhere. That’s one way to say it. The remark about the master watchmaker is what drew me back here after reading the paragraph from Bill’s book:

“… We need to acknowledge the fact that there was neither a single line of evolution nor a simple progression of complexity and efficiency of organisms, that there were ups and downs and even extinctions…”

Something about the complexity in those statements stood out for me. And yet the philosophy (or faith) of a child can see it so much more easily:

“But Daddy,” Sarah insisted, “it can’t go on and on like that forever; the only thing that goes on and on like that is numbers!”

While my memory is also the pits, it does hold some moments well. Sitting in Draper’s class and hearing about Hilbert’s Hotel, my intuition was that infinity is a non-numerical value. I shared it in class, and have worked with it in forums like this since then.

3 possible statements, and one has been determined by me and you to be metaphysically impossible. The other 2 are whether the universe comes from nothing or an uncaused cause.

Phenomenologically, how appropriate would it be to identify an uncaused cause that is unaware of its action as Heidegger’s nothing?

1 Like

That echoes Jesus’ love for children. They’re more ingenuous and honest than many (most?) adults.

(I hit a paywall because I had used up my freebies, but if you’re in the Apple ecosystem, this should work):

Whatever you make of an infinite regress of causes, it’s hard to imagine an infinite regress of cats.


“I don’t like to talk about this,” he said.


“Because God would find it insulting—if he’s real.”


And that last line. Pow. It brought me to tears.

And then I thought (as I’m sure Maggie and George Müller would as well), if I’m dreaming about God (as the godless imply) and his very cool activity in my life (including in some difficult parts), then I don’t want to wake up.

1 Like