Thursday, October 22, 2009

(1) Jungian Prelude

Chapter One. Jungian Prelude

My name is Matthew Stuart, and I am both a priest and a
psychologist. But right off I must say that I am not a priest
of any religious denomination, so how did I become a priest?
Well that's a curious story that will unfold within my journal.
As for my being a psychologist, well that also is a curious story
that takes me down an equally curious road. So let's move
into this story that spans over most of my years. Overall, I like
to think about it as an experiential adventure. But I need to
begin at the beginning.

After I graduated from the College of William and Mary, in
Williamsburg, not too far from my birthplace in Tidewater
Virginia, I moved south to Durham, North Carolina. A
"psych" major, I was lucky in that I had won a scholarship
from Duke University wherein I would work towards a Phd
in Clinical Psychology.

I enjoyed my years at Duke and nearby Chapel Hill, where
we thirsty students would enjoy the "Rathskeller." Reasonably
priced, once in awhile we could enjoy some steak and ale.
Duke was more on the serious side, and I had to work my
back-end off to keep up my grades in order to retain my

However, a slight diversion entered into the picture. During
my last year at Duke I quietly started taking long, pondering
walks in the university's beautiful gardens. And this was
followed by my sitting in the pews of Duke Chapel, letting
my soul speak to me. I felt drawn spiritually to this magnificent
place, especially on the weekdays when it was fairly empty
and quiet.

I mentioned this strange condition I was experiencing to a
friend, who was studying for the ministry at the Duke Divinity
School. Same age as me, he wasn't set in his ways and
seemed open-minded when it came to my discussions with
him. I wasn't "churched," and I really didn't want to be. He
understood this. Nonetheless, he respected my need to be
involved *spiritually.* But how?

Through our talks, we came up with the wildest answer--an
answer that became my life all through. My friend said that
during the course of his own studies at the Divinity School
that he had encountered the depth psychology of Carl Jung.
Oh no! We clinical psychologists weren't going to get into
that--no, no!

"Okay", my friend said--but Jung blends the Psyche with the
Spirit, so to speak. Jung, himself, was the son of a minister
and was gravely disappointed by institutional religion. He
was seeking spiritual answers that might be meaningful to
him, and none were forthcoming from either his father or the

Hence Jung extended himself, moving far beyond just being
a Freudian psychiatrist. Treating his patients, noticing the
similarities in their dreams, he began to relate their motifs to
mythological material and ultimately began to realize that he
was dealing with a "Collective Unconscious" that connected
people in a mysterious spiritual way. Consequently Jung
started traveling all over the world--interviewing all manner
of people, from different backgrounds and cultures, and
discovered these very same dream motifs circulating in their
minds. For Jung, God was working through our human psyche--
and he felt that there was a need for "Priests for the Psyche."

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