Hugh Baker concludes his examination of Screwtape’s predictions with a look at the dangers of contemporary psychoanalysis and comparative religion
The Life Force, the worship of sex, and some aspects of Psychoanalysis may here prove useful’, writes Screwtape, in the seventh of his letters to young Wormwood. Today, we come to the third and last of what he hopes will lead you and I away from orthodox Christianity, and salvation itself.
Freud was the man who tried to convince us that all things, eventually, come down to sex, or at least to our material needs and wants. To him, supernatural beings were no more than the big people from whom we once derived comfort and life, writ large on the clouds for our continuing emotional succour. He has a point.
Jung, by contrast, is a different matter altogether. He is religion-friendly. Like his contemporary explorers of the human psyche, he saw similarities, over the centuries and across the continents, between the gods people worshipped and the symbolic rites by which they communicated with them. There were, he concluded, archetypes to be found in the human soul. The basic building blocks of our inner life were more than our own constructs from experience: they were the standard, commonly shared hardwiring of the human soul.
We could pause, and learn, from all of this. There are things to be gleaned here about our common relationship to our creator, our being made in his image. Since the Holy Spirit leads us into all truth, insofar as Jung uncovered truth about us, we could say the Holy Spirit was at work. Why, then, does Screwtape view the emergence of ‘some aspects of Psychoanalysis’ with expectant glee?
Our children, broadly speaking, now learn that one religion is as good as another. They learn a bit about Hinduism, go to a mosque, take in the holy things of Sikhism, and get a bit of Christianity thrown in. The comparativeness of Comparative Religion may never be made explicit, but the method holds its own message: ‘One religion is as good as another: why not construct your own from the components we’ve given you?’
At this point, Jungianism can provide the scaffolding on which we build our shining new world religion. We can go beyond what many Comparative Religionists are wont to do, and point out the many similarities between the different religions’ ethical systems, or ritual practices. We can say that this is so because they are a priori the same. To the Christian, such similarities show that God is not without his witness throughout what he has made. The Religionist draws different conclusions. To him, the sameness of it all witnesses to the sameness of our destination. If we all deal in the same symbolic currency, we’re all OK at the bank. With a logical sleight of hand, the realities of judgement and hell are spirited away into non-existence, as though by magic.
How many people do you know who would unquestionably trust everything they were told by a second-hand car salesman or an estate agent? Far fewer than forty years ago! This is because, in the intervening years, we have all had experience of these people and learnt that behind glossy brochures and honeyed words lurk half-truths and deception. The similarities of the gods men worship may well show they are approaching the same supernatural beings, albeit under different titles. They are hard, blood-demanding controllers of men: they are the agents of an Enemy from whom Jesus came to free us.
‘In this world you will have trouble’, says Jesus. ‘But take heart! I have overcome the world’ [John 16.33]. Does one have to be a bleak Calvinist to believe in ‘the world’, a system of things divorced from the will of its creator? Or can one see it for what it is – a subtle, ever-hanging chameleon, making itself look as much like God’s salvation as it can? Type ‘Jung’ into Google, and it is not long before you find yourself wading through the cloying mud of New Age thinking. The words ‘touch’ and ‘barge pole’ come to mind.