http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CGX4-Wv9UD0 I started this morning to watch and listen to Youtube videos of Howard Thurman. I have often seen his books on my suggested Amazon reading list but with the structure of PhD studies I have tried to basically focus on what will actually go in my dissertation for the time being. At this point, I just have to finish writing the dissertation so I have been free to read and write generally what I want. Listening to Thurman speak has been a real treat. I have also started rereading James Cone so for the last week my love of theology has been renewed somewhat. There are a number of Youtube videos featuring Thurman but an interview where he reflects on his life is amazing and grabbed my attention. I was simply glued to my computer screen when Thurman talked about his meeting with Gandhi. There is just so much important history here (of course it is the kind typically missing in History class). The way Gandhi requested to hear the hymn below "Were You There" from Thurman's group illustrates the way Christianity as generally practiced among the British could never be an option for him. When I have students read Gandhi's biography and see his discussion on religion they have a hard time identifying with him. How can he like Jesus but see Christians as hypocrites they often ask? The dynamic of colonialism is something I and my students can never truly understand and no manner of apologetics can convince someone of Gandhi's experience that official Christianity has too many problems to be profitable for his cause. However, like Bonhoeffer, Gandhi recognized the authenticity of Black theology. I thought it interesting that Gandhi would have thought that they would turn out to be attracted to Islam instead (good point for those out there that paint a negative picture of Muslims). However, as the conversation developed the theme of human suffering and misery found in the crucified Christ is what linked Gandhi and Thurman (and Bonhoeffer, King). On another level, this discussion also reminded me of my general dislike of Christian music. I actually enjoy older hymns and spirituals because of the identification with the suffering Christ (granted, a lot of hymns are also NOT very good). I have seen Black, Hispanic communities that can identify with the gospel in these songs (the same goes for people at the Mission I go to every now and then). It is to take the narrative of the Bible and apply it to the experiences of the people. There is no detached attainment of truth here. Were You There Were you there when they crucified my Lord Oh were you there when they crucified my Lord (Oooh sometimes it causes me to tremble) tremble Were you there when they crucified my Lord Were you there when they nailed him to the cross Were you there when they nailed him to the cross (Oooh sometimes it causes me to tremble) tremble Were you there when they nailed him to the cross
(Were you there when they laid him in the tomb Were you there when they laid him in the tomb Oooh sometimes it causes me to tremble) tremble Were you there when they laid him in the tomb Well were you there when the stone was rolled away Were you there when the stone was rolled away (Oooh sometimes it causes me to tremble) tremble Were you there when the stone was rolled away
I've been doing a bit of reading in
Jungian psychology. Jung, of course, is well known for his
relationship with Freud and his unique perspective into the human
psyche. If I'm reading Jung correctly, the Swiss psychologist
asserts that various personalities make up the fabric of the human
psyche. In order to define these “personalities” Jung used
archetypal language. One of these personalities is the Shadow.
This personality represents the darker
aspects of the unconscious and presents itself in divers guises like
a demon or foreigner. However, the Shadow represents those aspects
of our personality that creates guilt, denial or projection – or so
says the Short Introduction to Jung. Jung believed that the
Western obsession with morality created a large Shadow that would
ultimately threaten society. Once more, on a personal level,
projection often leads to hostility towards other undesirable persons
despite the fact that the Shadow belongs to the accusers. In order
to create wholeness, the Shadow needs to be brought to consciousness.
The Shadow is not necessarily “bad”, but it needs to be
acknowledged and controlled. I found a good example of this in
Square-Enix's game Final Fantasy IV
and its sequel The After Years.
In Final Fantasy IV and the
After Years, 2 major characters confront their own Shadow in a
mirror chamber. One character is the protagonist Cecil Harvey. The
other character is Kain Highwind. Nevertheless, both characters
resolve their issues in drastically different ways.
In the original game, Cecil leads
Baron's Red Wings, an air fleet comprised of specially designed
airships. The game opens with Cecil leading his fleet in order to
steal a crystal from a town. This is done to bolster the power of
the Kingdom of Baron. Cecil, however, becomes riddled with guilt
over obeying this command. To make a long story short, he eventually
begins a quest to find redemption. Furthermore, he needs to face his
Shadow, which he defeats passively (just defend and heal and you'll
be all right). Nonetheless, in the After Years Cecil becomes
controlled by dark forces and must defeat his Shadow once again. The
objectives appears to be obliteration of the Shadow ( see here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eT52NwstF5E&list=FLot7RWVin8EPUr9Cnmx8Vzw&index=28); nevertheless,
the first attempt apparently failed. Even Kain observes that the
return of the Shadow isn't really unprecedented, and Cecil along with his family need to defeat the Shadow again (see here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VwgaDq1ueWI&list=FLot7RWVin8EPUr9Cnmx8Vzw&index=30). With that, we can
turn to Kain.
Kain is probably the coolest character
in the game and the most flawed. In the first game he spends most of
his time under the influence of dark forces. However, we learn that
the dark forces utilize existing angst and jealousies in order to
manipulate him. Eventually, he is freed from that control, but he is
left with the need to expunge himself of his Shadow. Unfortunately,
things don't go over so well for Kain. His Shadow breaks loose and
tries to abduct Cecil's wife Rosa, whom Kain also loves, and murder
Cecil. Then, the other Kain (we'll call him Persona Kain) catches up
with Shadow Kain. The 2 face off and Persona Kain defeats the
Shadow; nevertheless, Persona Kain does not destroy the Shadow.
Rather, he acknowledges his Shadow's existence and owns him. At this
point Kain becomes whole (represented by becoming a Holy Dragoon).
Then, a voice proclaims that justice has been done (see here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J8cSM-Y4o0I&list=FLot7RWVin8EPUr9Cnmx8Vzw&index=31).
I think a lot can be gained from these
insights. Many Christians have grown up in very conservative homes,
which tend to be highly moralistic. Moreover, morality can
often lead to both condemning attitudes and hypocrisy. For Jung, the
emphasis on Persona masks and hides the Shadow. This gives the
Shadow power over out unconscious. I believe that if we are more
honest about our own personal demons we might be better equipped to
handle some of the issues facing American Christianity and politics
Jimenez received his BA in English Literature at Biola
University. He received his MAT in Theology and Culture at
Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, CA. He currently
teaches Sunday School at Calvary Community Church in Torrance, CA.