Beginning with Blessing

Carl Jung wanted to bring externalized religion back to its internal foundations. He saw how religion kept emphasizing the split and unbridgeable distance between the Creator and Creation, between God and the human, between inner and outer, between the One and the many. In spite of the ecological unity of all creation, Christianity too often began by emphasizing a problem (“original sin”) instead of beginning with the wonderful unity between creation and Creator (original blessing), which we called “Christ” or the Primal Anointing of all things.

God inhabits all creation from the very beginning. Genesis 1:9-31 makes this rather clear. All our distinctions are merely mental and therefore deceptive. Except for the experience of many saints and mystics, religion has greatly underemphasized any internal, natural resonance between humans and God. This gives us clergy a job! We first remind you that you are “intrinsically disordered” or sinful–which then allows us to just happen to have the perfect solution. It is like the vacuum cleaner salesman first pouring dirt on your floor, so he can show you how well his little Hoover works. As if the meaning of the universe or creation could start with a foundational problem!

Christianity rarely emphasized the importance, the plausibility, or the power of inner spiritual experience. For Catholics, you were to believe the pope, the bishops, and the priests. For Protestants, you were to believe the Bible. But they’re both the same game, I’m sorry to say. It’s all about trusting something that is outside of yourself. When this is encouraged, there is little deep conviction or passion, but only hard-headed and often arrogant “belief”–which then feels like a game of pretend both to the believer and to those who observe such people. We gave people answers that were extrinsic to the soul and to anything you knew from the inside out. “Holiness” largely became a matter of intellect and will, instead of an inner trust and any inner dialogue of love. It made you think that the one with the most willpower wins, and the one who understands things the best is the beloved of God–the opposite of most Biblical heroes. It kept us gazing at our own “performance” instead of searching for the Divine in us and in all things.

The God archetype, the whole-making instinct, reveals itself as a drive to give yourself totally to something or someone. Love! The inner God image shows itself as a desire for an Absolute, a Center, a Ground to everything else. This is deep and necessary for the human soul, and when it is missing, very neurotic, confused, and unhappy lifestyles seem to emerge, even widespread mental illness, as we see in most Western countries today.

We must begin with a foundational “yes” to who we are and to what is. This is mature religion’s primary function. It creates the bedrock foundation for all effective faith. You must begin with original blessing and not original sin. If you begin with the negative or a problem, the whole journey remains largely a negative problem-solving exercise.

If you begin with the positive, and get the issue of core identity absolutely clear–a clear “Identity Theology” instead of endless moralisms about who is in and who is out–the rest of the journey is ten times more natural, more beautiful, more joyful and all-inclusive. What else should the spiritual journey be? When we started in the lower basement, most people never even thought they could get to the first floor, and just opted out. Isn’t this obvious at this point in Christian history? We clergy became angry guards instead of happy guides, low level policemen instead of proclaimers of a Great Gift and Surprise both perfectly hidden and perfectly revealed at the heart of all creation. When you can see your connection with others before emphasizing your differences, you will be much happier, and it will be a much happier world, too.

Adapted from Richard Rohr’s unpublished “Rhine” talks


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