Perhaps the most difficult question posed in my entire life is this one: is Christianity a permanent, true, and enduring expression of the divine logos, or merely the form taken by that logos in one particular mode of human history, destined to be replaced like all prior mystical sects and priesthoods, such as the Mysteries of Eleusis, or the dream of “Becoming as Osiris”?
The psychological interpretation of Christianity, practiced by Carl Jung, and revived recently in the public eye by Jordan Peterson, leaves much to be desired. When reading Jung’s most skeptical and personal works, such as Aion, or Answer to Job, Jung makes it abundantly clear that he does not believe God is a being of pure good. He views this theological assumption as an unhealthy psychological conviction which has repressed the shadow of the Western world, and made Christianity incapable of dealing with the darkest sectors of the personality of man.
Today, the repressed content of Western civilization is emerging in the form of a new religion. Social justice ideology is incredibly robust because it is based in the repressed content of Western tradition, or more specifically, the Western attitude toward blackness and the feminine. These two elements of reality, which have been crucified under the traditional Western narrative, are now breaking free as the spearhead of a new religion in which Christian guilt is transmuted into guilt for the contents repressed by Christian civilizations.
While figures such as Jordan Peterson and the Intellectual Dark Web have challenged this new religion, their central problem is that the Western world has been hollowed out by neoliberalism. The logos of the West is not worth defending, because today it stands for authoritarianism, surveillance, and a non-existent upward mobility eradicated by the financialization of the economy in the 1970s. To quote Mark Fisher, the future has been cancelled. This is the same problem that faces America in terms of its rivalry with China – the United States cannot adequately rebut the lies and authoritarianism of the Chinese Communist Party, a la a new nationalism akin to the vision of Steve Bannon, because the United States is trying to become an efficient authoritarian state that would make the Chinese Communist Party proud. The West simply has nothing left to offer to its people, and so the appeal of alternative religions is accordingly extraordinarily high.
Social justice offers a redemption narrative applied to all of Western history – the resurrection of the lynched African and the denied dignity of the woman as the new face of a redeemed world. Of course, the compatibility of this myth with neoliberalism is part of the reason why it, too, is shallow, but if the face of our techno-capital is black and female, it is at least “different” in some sense that is deeply appealing to the guilty, uncertain psyche of modern people. A redemption and turning-of-the-tables narrative applying to the past several hundred years of history is deeply psychologically compelling right now, and it seems to be the novel breakout ruling ideology of the moment.
I ask only the obvious question: why did Lucifer fall? The answer, of course, is simple. God permitted him to fall. There is no other alternative. God allowed Lucifer to fall because the fall of spirit into matter and the evolution of psyche in flesh, tempted and cruel, was God’s intention. The problem is that his wonders and signs have ran out, and by the clear standard set by the temptation of Christ, no more will be given. Humankind, in the sayings of Rudolf Steiner, is now set to refine its human “I”. We are on our own, left to cultivate the divine seed in isolation.
Yet, the “hero’s journey” and the archetypal marriage of opposites does not apply cleanly to modern life. Getting a job and cleaning your room ultimately means siding with the impulse of playing the game to succeed within techno-capital. It begs the question – if being thoughtless and desiring a position in the world is identical to being supremely religious and viewing your goal as securing a place in the world, what is so special about a religious or spiritual path? Absolutely nothing. Which is why the treasures of the Kingdom of God are not of this world, and a message not of this world is falling apart inside it.
Christianity has died and returned before, but something about this moment, to my brief, insubstantial lifespan, feels different. The information ecology is now more fractured than ever while simultaneously being ruled by secular techno-capital. Christian memes, insofar as they spread, do so on the terms of techno-capital, and they inspire actions within techno-capital. Christian ideas are entirely powerless. They manifest as businesses, as public speakers, as peddlers of a vision, indistinguishable from the whole host of pagans wandering in the desert, promising nootropics, or self-improvement, or any other vision which is effective at spreading.
Christianity, where it is effective at spreading, is reduced to marketing, to shallowness, to something unworthy of its heritage. It is Joel Osteen giving a speech with Kanye West, or a preacher speaking into a whirlwind that is not listening, or the promise of silence, meditation, and solitude, which I find impossible.
The only question that really matters is this one – is the future Christian? Because if it is, then the religion is a permanent rock and a description of the eternal unconscious. If it is not, we are entering an age deeper in uncertainty than one ever before. And here’s the thing – Carl Jung did not think the future was Christian. Carl Jung thought the Christian myth was exhausted, had repressed the reality of human evil, and that World War I had revealed bare the truth that Europe had imploded, finally, into a story of Christians killing Christians for no reason.
Thomas Mann’s The Magic Mountain chronicles the unseen forces of violence slowly climbing up the unconscious of sick men in The Alps until it implodes all over Europe, resembling Jung’s dream of blood-stained mountains predicting the pointless and monstrous war. Rudolf Steiner claimed World War I was the consequence of a downcasting of evil beings from the heavens in the year 1840, taking on delayed effects in the human world years after. Herman Hesse had perhaps the most nihilistic view possible, portraying God as an ambivalent symbol of good and evil as one, called Abraxas, and narrating the emergence of World War I as the emergence of a dark destiny foretold to the soul by the attraction of Abraxas. This attraction was embodied by the presence of the immaterial spiritual guide called Demian, who presented the realization that individuation and becoming oneself found its fulfillment in the coming of war. Thomas Mann chronicled the profound debates about progress versus tradition occurring in this time, but in the end of his story, only violence and anger remained. A literary work on the meaning of human suffering, mentioned throughout the story, remains unwritten. Europe has exploded, and books and ideas did not produce an alternative. Man wanted the rule of Abraxas.
Carl Jung viewed the age of Christ as an astrological era synonymous with the sign of Pisces, which is the fish, or the philosopher’s stone, the true “self” hidden within the unconscious. And yet, the Christian era of the fish is coming to an end. The age of Aquarius, of the water-bearer, of Temperance, is coming now, the age of the grail filled with liquid, the vas of alchemy.
God let Lucifer fall because passing through all these stages was essential. It was good. But on Earth, Christ is powerless, and given over to the will of Abraxas. Because of this, I find Christianity on Earth to be impossible, and I do not think it is a guide for human behavior which will continue to find success. Replacing it will be the faith of social justice, or artificial intelligence, or any number of “new” ideas which fascinate the unconscious which yearns for Abraxas.
All of history resembles more and more a trick – and for thousands of years, the central question of history was one man who died at Golgotha. All political and theological debates were one, and revolved around this question. We have a different world now, one ruled by politics and secular ambition. I do believe it is worse. But I don’t believe there’s any way back. It’s a new astrological era.
Of course, if I am to love my fate and trust in God, I know all this is essential. Because thinking is what separates us from the animals. History is not a mistake, because God allowed Lucifer to fall, and to tempt man. Without these psychological/historical realities, there is no world. The world is good, and must exist. And we must say this no matter what it becomes. But in the end, it all still resembles something of a trick.
The “hieros gamos”, or the conjunction of opposites, the alchemical wedding of alchemy, the cosmic marriage, is not between a man and a woman. It is a psychological fact of the interactions of the opposites which compose Abraxas within each human soul. But the dissonance between the soul and the world is enormous. If I have any wisdom, perhaps it is related to that: do not expect your psychological processes to reflect the world condition. You are a microcosm of the world, but the world is beyond your control. Take the marriage of opposites within yourself, and leave the world alone. It is now too complex and too broken to reflect any mystical truths, other than the dark God of Abraxas.