Bursting Illusions: Part 3, Except for the God-Damned Bloody Corpse

Poor Freud. 

We'll been picking on him pretty hard. But given Freud's ignorance about faith, this has been pretty easy. True, the notion that faith is simply a form of wishful thinking has to be taken seriously, but the idea that faith reduces to wishful thinking is just nonsense. 

One more post to illustrate that point.

I was visiting with a student at school who was taking an honors class about Stars Wars and religion. Each semester our Honor College offers nichey, one-hour seminars to our honors students on fun, quirky topics like this. Years ago I did a "Gospel According to Calvin and Hobbes" class for the Honors College.

The student I was visiting with was doing his final paper for the course drawing connections between Star Wars and Christianity. And you can see some quick parallels. For example, via the force the world of Star Wars is enchanted, a supernatural world. Further, that supernatural world is highly moralized. There are the good (the Jedi) and the bad (the Sith), and those training in the force must choose. The Jedi vs. Sith struggle parallels the Christian notion of "spiritual warfare," how we must resist "turning to the dark side."

The student and I were chatting about all this, about the force and resisting the dark side, the connections with Christianity, and then I said, "Yes, there's a lot of Christianity in the spirituality of Star Wars, except for the bloody corpse."

Frankly, Star Wars is more pagan, magical, occult and Jungian than it is Christian. Quick and easy assumptions, that if something is both spiritual and moral it bears a resemblance to Christianity, are very common. Faith is just moralized supernaturalism. 

Stars Wars is pagan and occult because the force is a morally neutral, impersonal potency inherent in creation. The force isn't personal or transcendent. The force isn't a god or God. The force is a creational energy that practitioners manipulate for good or ill, as either black or white magic. In short, just because something is both spiritual and moral doesn't make it Christian.

What makes something Christian, I shared with student, is the bloody corpse. Golgotha. Jesus hanging on the cross. Christianity isn't spiritualism and supernaturalism. Christianity is a god-dammed bloody corpse. And by god-damned I mean what St. Paul meant in Galatians 3: "Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree."

As Fleming Rutledge has repeatedly pointed out, the god-damned bloody corpse at the heart of Christianity is what sets Christianity apart as being the most irreligious of religions.

To be sure, yes, we must take Freud seriously. We are drawn to the spiritual, supernatural, mystical, magical, and superstitious for therapeutic reasons. My students want to own light sabers and study at Hogwarts. Trust me, they can discourse at great length about the Mandalorian religion and tell you if they are in Gryffindor or Hufflepuff. As I describe in Hunting Magic Eels, we grab onto metaphysics and magic, even if fictional, like a security blanket, sprinkling supernaturalism over our lives to give it flavor and zest. And it's all quite consoling and comforting. And Christianity is constantly being tempted into becoming cozy, therapeutic, magical, and self-indulgent in just this way. 

But what prevents this slide of Christianity into the therapeutic and magical is the god-dammed bloody corpse. It's hard to snuggle with a dead body. Bloody corpses make for poor security blankets.

What makes Christianity unique among world religions and therapeutic supernaturalisms is that Christians worship a crucified God. The central symbol of Christian faith is a symbol of God being found in the midst of torture, horror, suffering, death, evil, and god-forsakenness. The bloody corpse isn't a flight from the harsh realities of the world, it is a descent into the darkness. 

Freud was ignorant, stupidly suggesting faith was an avoidance of reality. 

And sure, it can be, until you trip over that god-damned bloody corpse.

This entry was posted by Richard Beck. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply