The “Turn Toward the Subject” is a movement of all of the sciences and societal institutions to examine the human condition. The beginning of this movement is to look at the human condition without the biblical premises, but with the observational, empirical and scientific methodology. This movement presented the contemporary challenges that create the contemporary theological movements that we will be studying for the remainder of the semester. Some of the main thinkers of these movements are presented below. Please read and view these videos. Sigmund Freud – The most significant philosophic and scientific thinker challenging the Christian and theocentric worldview is the work of Sigmund Freud and his understanding of the theocentric worldview as a result of “wish fulfillment.” He thought that because of the human fear of death, humans created religious traditions to address that fear with a worldview that gave humans a theory of the afterlife that was “wish fulfillment” – what humans wanted the afterlife and meaning of the world to be. How he arrived at this thesis is complicated. Here is an introduction to this thinking and scientific methodology. Freud viewed the human condition through the lens of “psychoanalysis.” He is considered the Father of Psychoanalysis. He understood the human condition through the “pleasure principle” and its effect on the anxiety underlying human sexuality and fear of death. Please view the youtube below which presents his general theories and sources.
The psychological model of human behavior begins with his theory of the “unconscious.” Beginning with Freud the psychological worldview displaces the notion of sin in the contemporary worldview and presents a significant challenge and new point of view about sin and suffering and the resolution of conflict through psychoanalysis. Understanding his work is central to understanding contemporary Christian theology and its significant impact on the NOMOS, THEODICY, WORLD MAINTENANCE AND WORLD CONSTRUCTION. In general, Freud presents religious beliefs and practices as childlike responses to the challenges and anxieties of the human condition. Religious beliefs and practices present a magical, defense mechanism and imaginative response to these anxieties rather than the response of a developed ego which self-determined set of controls. We will be studying this view and the challenges to this view in the coming weeks.
let’s begin with this video as we review the expansion of global Christianity until today.
This short video shows the expansion of Christianity from its beginning until present times.
The globalization of Christianity began with the movement of Spain and Portugal to expand their empires and to bring along with that expansion the Christian religion and the fervor to conquer all for “The Holy Church” and their economic and political expansion. Although the first explorer to the Americas from Euro-Asia was the Chinese Admiral Zheng He.CLICK http://www.britannica.com/biography/Zheng-He, the Europeans made their claim s when his voyages were stopped. See below for the expansion of the European empires and their religious claims.
The Eastern Orthodox Church, now located mainly in Russia, expanded along with the Russian Empire. At the same time,came the expansion of slavery accompanied the globalization of Christianity presenting a moral conflict that was to affect Christianity for many centuries to come.
The “colonization” of the Americas represented a synthesis of indigenous religious practices with the religious expressions of the Europeans. We can apply the Niebuhr types to describe these interactions. In each location, Christianity interacted with the culture and religious practices present. The establishment of Our Lady of Guadalupe and the story of Juan Diego is an example of one of the interactions.
The story of Juan Diego represents the synthesis of Spanish Roman Catholicism with the indigenous peoples of Central America
CLICK BELOW FOR the story of JUAN DIEGO:
CLICK BELOW FOR THE WEBSITE FOR THE BASILICA OF OUR LADY OF GUADALUPE MEXICO CITY + the largest center of Roman Catholicism in the contemporary world
The story of Juan Diego and its establishment of Christianity and Our Lady of Guadalupe is an example of how Christianity was synthesized with local cultures and religious expressions in the new world. In some instances Christianity overcame indigenous religious expressions, but in others their were striking movements of transformation and new expressions.
You can see below the pictures of the indigenous or “native” Tonantzin mother goddess of fertility along with the pictures of Our Lady of Guadalupe representing the transformative synthesis that occurred between Tonantzin and Guadalupe.
THE AMERICAN “GEAT AWAKENING”
Along with the outward expansion of Christianity to a global demography, there were also mass migration movements around the globe that influenced the CHRONOS of global Christianity. Missionary movements along with this global migration resulted in a new kind of Christianity – an expressive, non- European CHRONOS. Along with this global migration of religion, ECONOMIC, POLITICAL and CULTURAL realities merge and reform the CHRONOS of global Christianity.
MODERN CHRISTIANITY is formed as a GLOBAL CHRONOS.
The movement of Protestantism to the Americas resulted in a new form of Protestantism which occurred in what is called the Great Awakenings, the first and second and the establishment of African descent forms of Christianity in the slave communities. The arrival of Christianity in the Americas happened without the great cathedrals and monastic institutions of Europe and began with circuit riders, outdoor venues and an openness to changes in the Christian expression.
CLICK Below: for an overview
VIEW from 1:33 – 2:32 one hour
The expansion of knowledge, the revolutions of Europe, the establishment of the new world, the expansion of Islam, the many changes of the 16th – 18th centuries results in an even greater expansion of the spectrum of Christian expressions. The globalization of Christianity is challenged by the evolution of natural science, artistic expression, the Americas and other colonies.
The moral problem of slavery involving Christian colonizers, the rise of science and rationalism, the cultural and geo political challenges of an expanding and globalized Christianity, industrialization and the rise of democracy created a new horizon for Christianity. In addition, the rise of EVANGELICAL FUNDAMENTALISM created a new kind of Christianity that rejected rationalism, science and democratic structures with a new kind of Biblical interpretation – called “literalism”.
CLICK LINK BELOW to view this emerging Protestant evangelical fundamentalism:
Note – this may be difficult to view and you will need to use a full computer screen
All these movements result in the establishment of Christianity as the largest religion on the globe. There are currently, over 30,000 Christian denominations around the globe with many more being established in Asia.
CLICK BELOW TO READ THE PEW REPORT on
GLOBAL CHRISTIANITY 2011
http://www.pewforum.org/2011/12/19/global-christianity-exec/ Read page 1 for the summary. Explore the entire report for more information.
The British Empire ruled almost 3/4 of the world and dominated the Christian global worldview. Roman Catholicism and its Spanish Empire worldview dominated the colonies along with French Catholicism. This religious colonial landscape considered the indigenous inhabitants in different ways. The Missionary movement struggled between an appreciation for the culture and beliefs of the indigenous peoples and an attitude of cultural European superiority. This struggle is expressed from a contemporary viewpoint in the movie THE MISSION which portrays the Jesuit missionaries in South American struggling with their encounter and their own European Christian worldviews. The Jesuits find the values of compassion, agape love and justice in the “savages” to be similar to their own illustrating the eurocentrism of “saving” the indigenous tribes with an understanding of differing cultural referent points. In this scene is is the indigenous peoples and their values which “save” the missionaries and show acceptance and acculturation rather than cultural domination and superiority
The acculturation and assimilation of these two worldviews describes the interaction of contemporary Christianity and the subsequent movement of reverse-colonization that we will be looking at in this section of the course.
Victorian Values were the set of beliefs and practices reflecting the worldview of Edwardian and Victorian England and the forerunner of the contemporary “nuclear family.” The complex interaction between indigenous worldviews and those of Edwardian and Victorian England underly the interpretation of the Bible and preview the conflicts that are part of contemporary Christianity.
Click on the website below to get an overview of these values:
http://victorian values wikipedia
These idealized values are still represented in Prince William and Kate Middleton but began in the idealized family life of Queen Victoria and were, in part, a reaction to western industrialization.
The identification of these values as the Christian ethical system is one of the main conflicts of contemporary Christianity and underlies many of the political conflicts in contemporary global political frameworks.
Read this brief wikipedia article to get a sense of Victorian morality.
NOTE on the use of Wikipedia for this course. This is a survey course and wikipedia articles that are grounded in academic sources are used for overview purposes only. They are introductory readings that allow you to become familiar with terms, timelines and general concepts. Wikipedia is used as an entry into the complex topics that we are considering. They are not considered academic primary sources but are entry secondary sources.
Sigmund Freud and the challenge to the Christian and Theocentric Worldviews
In general, Sigmund Freud viewed religious beliefs and practices as a construction of the imagination that met the fears and traumas of the world by constructing wish fulfillment projections. For example, the fear of death was met with the wish that the afterlife was a place of continual immortality. The Judeo-Christian images of God as a loving and just Father was a wish fulfillment based upon the need to project this in relation to the actual negative experience of the authoritarian father of Victorian England. The story of Mary Poppins is constructed, for example, on the wish that a loving and magical nanny would appear to challenge and reform the Victorian middle class family. One of his significant works on this wish fulfillment process is
Moses and Monotheism in which he states his basic theory:
“[This] conviction I acquired when I wrote my book on Totem and Taboo (1912), and it has only become stronger since. From then on, I have never doubted that religious phenomena are to be understood only on the model of the neurotic symptoms of the individual, which are so familiar to us, as a return of long forgotten important happenings in the primeval history of the human family, that they owe their obsessive character to that very origin and therefore derive their effect on mankind from the historical truth that they contain.” Moses and Monotheism
For Freud, religious myths and narratives originated in the neurotic processes of an undeveloped mindset. This mindset would be better understood through psychoanalysis and the scientific investigation into the fears and traumas of individuals who could better face the reality of their fears through his new method of psychoanalysis. This perspective is one of the major challenges to contemporary theocentric and Christian worldviews. He is considered the “father of psychoanalysis.” It is the worldview of psychoanalysis that significantly displaces the theocentric worldview in contemporary thinking and results in the assimilation or rejection of the psychological paradigm in the determination of reality in contemporary thought and religious worldviews.
In order to understand how he arrived at these conclusions let’s look at his office which illustrates his methodology and theories.
In the first illustration you can see that he has collected objects on his desk. These objects were bought and sold from the global explorations of people and especially missionaries. The missionaries brought back objects from the beliefs and practices of people they were involved. These objects were bought and sold not only as art objects, but as scientific specimens relating the culture of the people in different parts of the globe. For Freud and his fellow scientists, these objects were “specimens” to be collected and studied.
In the second illustration, the psychoanalytic couch is where persons would come, relax and relate their fears and life experiences. People would often experience these in their dreams. The significant observation and “finding” that Freud found was that the content of people’s dreams were the same as the myths illustrated in the objects and rituals relayed by missionaries. For example, a common dream is the snake dream – where a snake might be under your bed as a child or ghosts in the closet. What Freud found was that the dream content of his “patients” matched the beliefs and rituals of the cultures that the missionaries described and were similar to the objects he had on his desk. He wrote “ The Interpretation of Dreams” as the work that related his “discovery.” For the Europeans, who thought themselves very “civilized” with their reading, libraries, scientific experimentations, industrialization and global exploration – this illustrated that those “savages” as the missionaries described them where “primitive” and therefore the religious rituals were more aptly described the psychoanalytic content of dreams. Dreams, in this epistemology ( theory of knowledge) were a lesser in relation to rational thinking and actions.
Freud’s theory along with Darwinism provided the scientific framework for the understanding of theocentrism and Biblical narratives. Myth was equivalent to dreams. Dreams were
“primitive” and therefore religious beliefs and practices were expressions of the primeval structures of human activities. From this he posited his theory of the “inner impulses” of Human activity – the “unconscious” and posited his theory of human development which meant overcoming religious beliefs and rituals. He constructed his theory of the unconscious illustrated in the diagram below:
1) 2) 3) 4) 5)
What he also “discovered” in his “therapeutic sessions” were the relating of many sexual experiences – particularly incest – that his patient were relating. These experiences were common and consistently reported as traumatic and contradictory to the Victorian values. For Freud, the trauma surrounding these experiences made them deviant. So homosexual, incest and other non-familial sexual experiences became neurotic events needing to be integrated into a process of psycho-social development. He theorized a developmental and stage model of human psychology replacing the concept of the devil, sin and the cause of
The conscious mind – what we are aware of is only the “tip” of what lies underneath The preconscious – dreams, active imagination – what we are semi-conscious of The EGO – what we construct as our identity – some of which we are aware The ID – our primeval, savage impulses
The SUPEREGO – our conscience
evil as neurosis. The development of the “Psychological” worldview and paradigm for human actions was/is the most significant and central challenge to the theocentric and Christian worldviews in the 20th century and into the 21st century. Some simple illustrations of his theories are illustrated below:
The Parliament of the World’s Religions met at the Chicago Word’s Fair in 1893.
It was organized by the Hindu religious leaders for the purpose of educating the Christian missionaries about their religion. Swami Vivekananda spoke and organized the main events to communicate to the missionaries that the fundamentals of the world’s religions were not contrary to Christian beliefs and practices – were not”savage” or primitive beliefs and practices – but, in fact, were equal and instructive for Christians. The Swami began the “self-realization” movement in the western world. This event would mark the symbolic beginning of the reverse-colonization movement.
The self-realization center in the Pacific Palisades in Los Angeles County exist today with a museum detailing his famous autobiography “Autobiography of a Yogi” which was the book he wrote to bridge the gap between Hinduism, eastern beliefs and Christianity. In his autobiography, he compares Christianity to Hinduism and illustrates their similarities. He presents Jesus as a yogi master. The Parliament of the World’s Religions which still meets and the template in his book became a paradigm for inter religious dialogue in contemporary movements.
You can find the autobiography in Project Gutenberg link below: ( 500 pages)
Link to Parliament of the World’s Religions
Link to Swami’s Self -Realization Center in Pacific Palisades