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Fishing for Our Souls

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When I lecture I always describe myself as an avowed Marxist-Leninist. My audience hears "Marxist-Leninist" but what I'm really saying is Marxist- Lennonist - that's Groucho and John, not Karl and Josef.

I identify with Groucho because he said he would never belong to any club that would have him as a member. In my Jungian analytical work and my early work as an Episcopal priest, I've often heard this same sentiment echoed about organized religion or church. I love John Lennon because he exhorted us to "Imagine," which is where we ultimately find God and the Divine.

For myself as a Jungian analyst, one of the most important lifelong tasks I continue to undertake is to offer hope, insight and healing for people who feel wounded by religion.

If I could somehow by proclamation heal every broken and self-estranged soul out there, I would gladly retire to a life of fishing.

I believe that each person can claim our true religious nature and untangle ourselves from that punitive old-time religion and re-vision a healthy spirituality for the twenty-first century. The most basic function of religion has to do with making us whole, as suggested by the etymological root of the word. Legare means to connect, so re-legare, which gives us religio and religion is essentially about reconnecting our broken, disconnected, and split-off parts to become whole again. Humpty Dumpty may have been a lost cause, but the healing resources of religion offer
us an opportunity to put ourselves back together again. Religion originated as a resource for finding and attaining wholeness.

What may be surprising to many is that the United States has the highest rate of church attendance in the developed world, with nearly half of the Americans reporting they attend regular church services at least once a week.

It is hard to think of another first-world nation with more extroverted religious fervor than the United States, where 90 percent of citizens believe in God, 80 percent identify themselves as Christians, and fully 40 percent are self-professed evangelicals, or born-again Christians.

The American religion is a set of deeply held values, largely unconscious which has a tremendous influence over our attitudes, both religious and secular. It is the filter through which we form our worldview. Instead of being rose colored, the lens of our national ego religion is red, white and blue. This may seem sentimentality patriotic, but clear vision it is not.

The main problem with American religion is that, for a nation, where so many millions are so deeply and sincerely religious, the values of our own national cultural religion are often at odds with the true Christian values as Jesus taught them.

What I will write about in these posts is how one can find the divine without fundamentalist self-judgments about whether we are good or bad, worthy or unworthy - whether we've been productive enough to earn God's grace and abundance, or whether we're doomed to a life of inner and outer impoverishment.

As a fisherman I see a metaphor for our souls thrashing too often in rivers of fundamentalism without understanding that we are already enough and we need do nothing more than simply let our soul swim on its own and find its own place in the stream of God's divine and abundant love.

Too often we let the shiny bait of good vs. bad, guilt, powerlessness take us out of this stream and put us in a shallow place that is barren of individual soulful buoyancy.

It has been said, ""The charm of fishing is that it is the pursuit of that which is elusive but attainable, a perpetual series of occasions for hope." I believe the same holds true when we are fishing for our soul and its divine transcendence in the river. Spirituality is like a fingerprint, each must find his/her own way.

Here's to our fishing together in these posts.

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