Jung: Does God play favorites?

Monday May 27, 2013, Memorial Day.

I awoke thinking the Conspiracies book [a projected novel eventually published as Dark Fire] should perhaps show people that even in defeat we may carve out, not victory, perhaps, but a new set of goals. No, that isn’t it. Very difficult to say something on an accustomed subject and not have it follow script. Let’s call in the big guns.

Dr. Jung? (And don’t think I don’t realize that this may not be my idea.)

No, and it required the overcoming of resistances to get you to listen and to do the necessary follow-up, even this consultation. But we are here.

You must realize, watching those interviews [on YouTube, interviews of Dr. Jung from the late 1950s], that the plans of the universe require quite a bit more time to play out than do the plans of any individual, or set of individuals, up to the highest level of organization.

The tendency on any given level is always to centralize, to make rational, to establish and enforce rules, to try by force of any one will to create maintain and develop a larger, less mortal, less individual and accidental will. Powerful individuals try to be immortal. They do not realize their pre-existing immortality: They try to create a timeless entity, and identify with it, in the way an author or an architect or anyone who creates may try to be “immortal” through his work.

Such a centralizing, immortalizing tendency may or may not be countered effectively by contrary tendencies. Usually the result lies between victory and defeat: The anti-centralizing trend holds its own but does not overcome. It settles for embodying balance in the largest scale of things. Thus, for instance, the American Indians of the Southwest. Their victory was merely in enduring unvanquished. They hold the seeds of eventual vindication.

These things take place in history, in time, and they are seen according to human scale. But they also take place on what we might call the divine scale, beyond or beneath history, motivated and influenced by non-human factors. When this always-existing sate of things becomes obvious, you may say, “Aha, God took a hand in things, and so the English Channel was smooth while the skies over Germany were stormy, and so the British and French armies got off at Dunkirk in 1940.” This is an entirely legitimate was of seeing things and – I might add – more realistic than calling God by names such as luck, chance, fate, history. But to say this is not to mean what the pious mean when they say “God is on our side.”

It might truly be said by anyone and everyone that God is on their side. Do you think God has personal favorites? And yet in contests, one side will win and one will lose, and it is no disgrace and no injury to have a favored side! But that does not mean that the disfavored side is to be put to death at the end of the contest.

God favors everyone as individuals. They are doing what they were created to do, each in turn (as God’s agent, you might say) choosing who they will be, creating a real out of so much potential. So God cannot be said to be for some and against others even if some are expressing and developing and fostering traits and goals contrary to what God “wants” at the moment. You could say, God has a favorite team but encourages and supports all athletes, or that God has a favorite player but approves the entire team. Better – God enjoys some outcomes more than others, but will not forget that any one game is but one game in a season, or one season in the life of  a league.

Do you see what this somewhat forced analogy tries to show? If you will say God, I will say “God favors all individuals.” God is on every side in every conflict in the sense of being with everyone, always. If God wanted to play favorites, could he not take away the breath of those he disfavored – quite regardless of anything their human opponents could do? But how could the game go on, how could human freedom manifest, if the penalty for being disfavored as an individual was divinely-effected death?

However, that is not the end of the story. There is no culture more real than any individual. There is no society more real, no organization more real. Such things are real enough (they are facts, after all) but they are to a great extent abstractions, hence less real than any person.

The working-out of the play is on a different time-scale than the human scale. For the same reason, its values are different, its judgments are different, its goals are not only different but often are incomprehensible when seen through human eyes. This disparity is one reason why medievals lived assuming that God had his own plan, incomprehensible to them, and moderns live assuming that God does not exist.

But just as the life of an individual human could not be comprehended by an insect that lived only days, so the life of the species cannot be well comprehended by someone living a day-to-day life  and assuming that his own time-scale is the only relevant yardstick.

If a civilization is being nudged into reorganization so as to produce a workshop or garden for future use, you can see that certain characteristics will be favored, and others not. To produce a rose, you suppress what is not-rose. This may seem very unfair to cells that prefer non-rose, or cells that cannot be allowed to live their lives if not-rose is to be suppressed. This does not mean that their own struggles “anger God” or “displease God” or even provoke anything but “God’s” supreme approval and sympathy. It means merely that the tendency they approve, perhaps embody, is being disfavored.

So. let us suppose that America’s long run is at the end of its usefulness because it is decided that the age of the nation-state having ended, now it is the turn of the successor empires. (You will have noticed that of all the empires existing in 1913, only the American still stands.) Or let us assume, instead, that the experiment of political self-governance combined with lack of economic freedom is to come to an end. Either would end America as you know it.

This began when you dreamed or daydreamed that a realistic novel about conspiracies or even politics could not have the kind of happy ending you would like. The good guys are not going to win. And yet, that isn’t the full story. As you saw, in defeat can come victory. Sometimes, only in defeat. So, if people are firmly convinced that meaning is to be found in economics and politics and ideology, they will concentrate on those. They will struggle for victory of their principles in those fields, perhaps fiercely. And it may be that only if they see that “victory” is impossible will they be able to redirect their vision.

So if we lose the American Dream of political liberty and economic equality, or anyway equity, so much the better?

What is always better is to see clearly! If you think you have liberty, are you better off than if you know that you do not? If you think your economic system is open and fair, are you better off than knowing that it is mostly closed, and mostly arranged? Is it better to live in fantasy, or to see what is around you?

This is not to say, “All is lost”! it is to say – see clearly! You are here, now, and you are formed as you are formed. What will you make of yourself? What are your opportunities? Why are you here, now? These are big questions, not often enough asked seriously. If you ask seriously, your life will give you the answers.

5 thoughts on “Jung: Does God play favorites?

  1. I’d love to be included too, this is an important, very relevant issue right now. Thanks, Frank for choosing this entry to reprint!

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