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A Response to Wayne M. Martin’s “The Judgment of Adam” and the Symbolism of the Snake

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A Response to Wayne M. Martin’s “The Judgment of Adam.”

By Dr. Peter D.S. Krey

A Preface addressed to Prof. Martin:

Thank you for leading me to your article, “The Judgment of Adam[1] after I responded to your study of “Hegel’s Bad Infinity.” Your thorough analysis of Lucas Cranach’s “Adam and Eve” painting in this study helped me see that there is a whole literacy involved in “reading” a painting that I did not know about. Lucas Cranach seemed to be presenting Luther’s theology through the medium of paint. The painting you analyzed was his Courtault picture of Adam and Eve of 1526.[2] In it all the layers of the interpretation of the snake 1) as the bronze serpent lifted onto a pole by Moses and 2) here painted on the tree with Adam and Eve and 3) as the snake that Cranach used for his signature can be reflected upon. Using the snake in his signature, Cranach following Martin Luther’s lead, probably wanted to imply that his painting like images and art per se were not evil, but just good or evil depending on their use or abuse, – the latter case if worshiped.[3] Islam strictly avoids all images. More relevantly for this study, at the time of the Reformation iconoclasm was in full swing, where Zwingli and Calvin white-washed the walls of their churches and proscribed not only art, but even music, both of which Luther championed.

When I first read the Genesis Lectures about how Luther called the tree of the knowledge of good and evil a church, it seemed bazaar to me. Now I realize that it was under trees that the ancients worshiped and they even sometimes worshiped the trees themselves – was it Boniface (or Winfrid?) who chopped down the sacred Oak tree of Thor? He did it to destroy a false ultimate. And in the book of Genesis, God appeared to Abraham by the oaks of Mamre.[4] That these trees are mentioned with the theophany seems significant. They may also have been a place of worship.

According to Cranach’s painting and of course the story of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, shame and consciousness were awakened in humanity there so like a lion, we could no longer cruelly eat the warm meat of an animal that had not yet even died. While nature is red in tooth and claw, we received a conscience and we could feel shame. We could do right and wrong. We became aware that there was such a thing as good and evil. The Garden of Eden story can be related to evolution in the sense that we became human by dint of God, the consciousness of the universe, raising us up.

I also thank you for getting to the basis of Luther’s anthropology by declaring that we are in a helpless estate – Luther calls it being passive before God. Finding ourselves quite a way “east of Eden” and then when we are completely honest, we have to admit that we face evil choices whichever way we turn unless the Holy Spirit helps us live out of a new birth and a new strength from God’s consciousness on high. Perhaps the latter could be opposed to what you call our ontological self-consciousness: Adam knowing himself just enough to recognize Eve as his mate, but not yet really having human consciousness and conscience?

To admit that we face evil choices whichever way we turn, I’m thinking about our negative legacy here in the USA: the genocide of the Native Americans that continues in the reservations; the hangover from slavery and colonialism, where so much of our high standard of living has been at the expense of the oppressed. We never gave the slaves forty acres and a mule and have attempted to short change them at every turn for the unfair advantage of us Whites ever since, now as we realize we are in a new version of a Jim Crow era. Where is our protest against these injustices?

Thank you so much for writing that study and getting me to read it.

Part II: Now I am taking one more step in thinking about the symbolism that Wayne Martin discovers in Cranach’s painting:

Through his painting Lucas Cranach is superimposing the later story of Moses lifting up the bronze serpent in the wilderness[5] upon the snake in the sacred tree of the knowledge of good and evil in the Paradise of the Garden of Eden. The former serpent, perhaps like a scapegoat absorbed all the evil venom of the people bitten by snakes, allowing them to be saved; the latter snake beguiles Eve to eat the forbidden fruit, making her become conscious and ashamed of being naked.

The symbolism of the snake or serpent has so many phenomenological layers, because one can take the next step into the New Testament as well: because Jesus also refers to his crucifixion with the same symbol: “And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, so that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.”[6] And thus the Lenten prayer:

Who by the tree of the cross gave salvation to all humankind, so that where death arose, life might rise up again, and that he (the snake) that once overcame by a tree, might also by a tree (the cross) be overcome, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

(Now we will not go even further and relate the serpent, Tiamat, the nature god of the sea, the personified ocean, representing chaos or Tohu va Bohu in Hebrew. Nor will we delve into the ubiquitous medical symbol, where two snakes are depicted climbing up a pole. Nor will we relate how a stick can be used to render a snake more harmless or the strange fact that poisonous snakes are milked of their venom to be used in vaccinations against snake bite.)

Lucas Cranach himself additionally, uses a winged snake with a crown, also looking like the primordial dragon, for his painting signatures. In this 1526 Courtault painting of Adam and Eve, he places his signature right onto the trunk of the sacred tree of the knowledge of good and evil.[7]

As already mentioned, Luther believed that that the tree of the knowledge of good and evil was the place of worship in the Garden of Eden, and Adam and Eve’s eating the forbidden fruit brought about the Fall of creation. Perhaps we could identify the cross of Jesus Christ as the Tree of Life, which brings about our human ascent and that of all creation, so that God’s will can be done on earth as it is in heaven. We may not be able to experience the feature presentation here on earth, but we can get the previews of coming attractions. We can go in reverse as well and say the same about hell.

Painting as an art deals with pictures and images and can be enhanced into sculpture so that churches are filled with statues and paintings. In Cranach and Luther’s time an iconoclastic movement was in full swing. Image makers had become image breakers. Zwingli in Zurich and Calvin in Geneva emptied their churches of all the images and paintings, white-washing the walls of their churches. They did not even permit music, except perhaps, for intoning a psalm. On the other hand, Luther argued that Moses lifted up that bronze serpent in the wilderness, so an image was not good or evil per se, it all depended on its use or abuse. Thus to worship an image makes a person guilty of having a false ultimate and being idolatrous, but when someone like Cranach expresses Luther’s theology in paint, so that people can “read” his painting, then it represents no abuse, but a perfectly appropriate use of art. Wayne Martin asserts the latter conviction to be the most likely reason Cranach, Luther’s close friend, used the winged snake as his signature.

From the cross of Christ, absorbing all the sin of the world and becoming the scapegoat for the forgiveness of all our sin and evil, Christ was like that serpent raised up on the pole by Moses in the desert; and like that serpent in the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, people trying to be like God, made all things ambiguous, now vulnerable and at the mercy of their use or abuse, able to be used for good or evil. But in the eating of the forbidden fruit consciousness was won as conscience, so that Adam and Eve realized that they were naked and became ashamed; but they became aware as well that they would one day die. After Eve eats the apple, the animals on her side of the painting also awake and the lion gets ready to pounce on the doe and take that poor creature out of Paradise. Thus consciousness was won, but Paradise was lost. They experienced how the earth also could be cursed and not yield its fruit, even with hard labor and the sweat of their brows. But Christ transformed that curse into a blessing on the tree of the cross, when he was lifted up like that serpent in the wilderness, drawing all of humankind heavenward too God:

“For when I am lifted up, I will draw all people to myself.”[8]

These are some of the symbolic layers of interpretation:

  1. Moses lifting up the serpent in the wilderness to save the snake-bitten people
  2. Christ describing his crucifixion by means of the Moses story
  3. Luther seeing Moses’ action as an affirmation of painting, sculpture, music and all the arts, because images are not evil per se, but good or evil in their use or abuse. Images cannot be done without in thought, language, and culture.
  4. Cranach superimposing the Moses story upon the story of the Fall. He depicts the sacred tree of the knowledge of good and evil in the Garden of Eden as a snake on a pole once more, where consciousness and conscience are gained but paradise is lost.
  5. Cranach uses the image of a snake in his own painting signatures, even placing that signature on the trunk of the sacred tree affirming his vocation as an artist. But, of course, when culture represents the worship of elite secular people, it is an abuse of art. When art expresses the human condition before God, places a mirror before people, in which they can see themselves in, (like the deer in the painting seeing its reflection in the pond from which it drinks) generating consciousness and conscience for good and evil, right and wrong. Art can even be the painting the Gospel of Jesus Christ and him crucified showing the way of salvation.


[1] Should you want to read Wayne M. Martin’s Study of Cranach’s painting, click on “Judgment of Adam”

[2] To view and study Cranach’s painting of Adam and Eve with a detail feature tool for the purposes of comparison, click on “Adam and Eve”: by Lucas Cranach

[3] Pope Gregory I (590-604) noted that “the illiterate could contemplate in the lines of a picture what they could not learn by means of the written word.” In a sense, Wayne Martin contemplates Cranach’s painting and in its lines reads Luther’s theology.

[4] Gen 18:1.

[5] Numbers 21:4-9.

[6] John 3:15.

[7] See a detail of his signature with the tool provided: Cranach’s signature

[8] John 12:32.


My Dissertation “Sword of the Spirit, Sword of Iron” has just been E-Published!

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Scholardarity just e-published my dissertation, Sword of the Spirit, Sword of Iron. Its 420 pages are available for a small price. I just developed ideas from its section on the “Freedom of a Christian” into a Lutheran social ethics and a theology of anti-racism. The first part of my dissertation is a manual of Luther’s most often published pamphlets from 1520-1525 and the second part argues my thesis that Luther overcame a juridical ethos of his time for an internal realm of freedom and spontaneity, in which the personal and social agent could act responsibly.

Written by peterkrey

January 14, 2013 at 11:20 am

Announcement of Scholardarity’s First Essay Contest

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Announcement of Scholardarity’s First Essay Contest


Peter Krey and Jason Zarri, co-founders of Scholardarity, are pleased to announce that Scholardarity is now accepting submissions for its first essay contest. The cost of entering the contest is $10.00. There will be prizes for the first, second, and third place winners. The contestant who wins first place will receive at least $200.00, the contestant who wins second place will receive at least $100.00, and the contestant who wins third place will receive at least $50.00; we say “at least” because the money received from the entrance fees will form a “pot”, which will be divided amongst the three winners: 50% of the pot for first place, 25% of the pot for second place, and 10% of the pot for third place.

There are two topics to choose from:

(1) What role should the government play in a society and what is the proper relation of the government and economy in order to best serve the common good? Would new approaches to the discipline of economics—for example, the evolutionary or complexity economics of Eric Beinhocker or other approaches, e.g., the social economics of Anghel Rugina, contribute to the well-being of society?

(2) What is the proper relationship between government and religion in a democracy? What are the effects, positive and/or negative, of government on religion, of religion on government, or of both on society as a whole? Essays may include the pros and cons of the separation of church and state, governmental restrictions on certain religious practices, as well as restrictions placed on a religion, such as wanting to impose its will on the whole society.

There will be two rounds: In Round 1, contestants will submit a proposal of about 500 words in which they give an outline for a paper on their selected topic. From these proposals, twenty will be selected as finalists to enter Round 2.  The finalists will write a paper based on their proposal, of about 2,000 words in length. All twenty of the finalists’ essays will be published on Scholardarity.

The deadline for submissions for Round 1 is November 15th, and the deadline for submissions for Round 2 is January 15th

To enter the contest, go to Scholardarity’s Contest Page to enter,  then send your proposal to, along with your name, address, and any other relevant contact information.

We look forward to hearing from you!

God’s Lamb is the Great I Am: Seventh Sunday of Easter, Resurrection Lutheran Church, Oakland, CA – May 20, 2012

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Seventh Sunday of Easter

Resurrection Lutheran Church, Oakland, CA – May 20, 2012

Acts 1: 15-17, 21-26 – Psalm 1 – 1 John 5: 9-13 – John 17: 6-19

God’s Lamb is the Great I Am

     I thank Pastor Lucy Kolin for asking me to serve you with God’s Word this morning. She is at the Synod assembly and we pray God be with her and the decisions that our Sierra Pacific Synod makes there in San Jose. I’ve been unemployed for about three years, but when God is the one who calls us, when God gives us our vocation, we always have divine employment, and God sees to it that our needs are met, because God provides. We also stand in good stead, because our great high priest, Jesus Christ prays for us as we read in our Gospel lesson for today.

Jesus prays thanking God that he is glorified in us, that we may be one as the Father, the Son, and Holy Spirit are one, and that we become sanctified by the truth. I choose only those three petitions among Jesus’ many others.

During this week I asked myself, what does it mean for Jesus to be glorified in us? This is what I figure: When we die to our old selves, to the old Adam and Eve in us, Christ raises us up into new selves to embark on the new way of life that Jesus taught us. Now it is no longer we who live, but Christ who lives in us. When Christ speaks of being glorified in the Gospel of John, then he is speaking about being lifted up on a cross, dying upon the cross for us, so that he becomes raised up by God to sit at the Right Hand of God the Father Almighty there in the glory of God.

So our glory, joined to that of Christ is suffering and dying to ourselves, so that the life of Christ envelopes all our relationships, everyone whom the Christ in us meets, touches, and heals in body and soul, feels and begins to know that they are in the real presence of God.

Yes indeed, their minds open up to God’s Word, their hearts open up to the good faith, the very good faith Jesus has given us.  This gift of faith that we receive becomes active in love and the love that seeks justice. We receive not only the real wonderful Christ in our hearts, but also his Beloved Community, the Church, the Church that overcomes the world.

The word “glory” became intriguing to me while reading Luther’s Bondage of the Will.  Luther writes of the light of nature, the light of grace, and the light of glory. They are three levels that we live our lives on and levels of thinking and understanding God’s way with us. What can’t be understood on one level becomes clear on the next.[1] Our Lutheran faith is rather wonderful because it relies so much on grace and we preach and live in the light of grace. As unacceptable as we are, God accepts us unconditionally, and God’s acceptance changes us in the twinkling of an eye, into God’s lovable children. We are not loved by God because we are loveable but we are loveable because God loves us. Now imagine that we can live in a light even beyond that of grace, in the light of God’s glory, the glory of God’s only begotten Son, full of grace and truth. That is glory!

Wow! It is the Seventh Sunday of Easter and this whole sermon could unfold around the incredible glory of God and the way the glory of Christ can become ever brighter in us like the increasing glory of the stars. That’s how St. Paul refers to the magnitude of stars. We can become ever brighter like stars. Forget those whom our society calls stars. The glorified Christ is in you. Christ is your true self. Are you almost invisible to the naked eye or are you going from glory to glory? Is your true self coming out and beginning to shine in the glory of Christ?

Let me go to the next part, however, because in the glory of Christ, he also makes us one. Christ prayed that we become one even as the Blessed Three Persons of the most Holy Trinity are one, in the love that sent the only Son of the Father to save us lost sinners, to save this sorry world. Because of that divine love we also become born of God and we have the promise that we will not perish but receive everlasting life; we have the promise of abundant life and eternal life.

Christ is God’s very Lamb and as the Great I Am, he now lives, moves, and has his divine Being in us and we are one in him. Now stop and think how hard it is to believe this. Like Alice said in Wonderland,

“There’s no use trying. One can’t believe impossible things.”

“I dare say,” said the queen, “you haven’t had much practice… Why sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”[2] Dear Lord, increase our faith!

In this oneness, we can all be within each other as new selves in the body of Christ, God’s Beloved Community. Inside us we do not need to have a “Heart-Break Hotel.” Nor does our heart have to be shut down, without any room in our inn, but we can have a full church, a whole congregation in our hearts, like an old usher in our church in Coney Island, New York used to shout: “S.R.O., S.R.O.!” meaning “Standing room only, standing room only!” Meanwhile he came from an S.R.O., which meant “Single Room Occupancy” where those who without a real home could live cheaply. His name was Thomas Worthington Kirkpatrick and he had such a speech defect that it took strenuous attention and listening to understand him. We can have all the people from a congregation in our hearts. How wonderful when our heart becomes a church!

What is really important about the oneness that we receive in Christ is that it is an internal bond, because the Kingdom of God, the Beloved Community is within you. Our bodies are like shells and our true selves are mostly within them. So the bond, the tie that binds us, our relationships with each other, are internal. A saying of a French Jesuit Pierre Teilhard de Chardin has always guided me. He said, “True unity differentiates, it does not confound.”[3] True unity does not homogenize us. When we have it we can be as different from each other as we can be. We can be our unique and individual true selves and still cherish each other and the Beloved Community in our hearts.

There is a difference between uniformity and true unity. Soldiers and police wear uniforms, and in these cases, they give them the right to kill. Unity gives us the gift of life. Uniformity makes everyone have to have the same outer shell. It does not penetrate to the heart. So our society dictates the model of a woman’s body and then batters all women to diet and make their bodies fit into that same slender hour-glass shape, killing many women, who do not have a body anything like that, in the process. I remember the girdles my sisters used to have to struggle into to try to have that hour-glass-figure. Maybe men envision their tummies so small, so they couldn’t imagine a baby would form in it! Believe it or not, the girdle is coming back. It is being called the faja. Wednesday it was written up in the New York Times in an article entitled: “A Clasp from the Past!”[4] Women beware!

The inner bond of unity we have in Christ is held together by trust. A newly married man and woman went everywhere together. People noticed that they were never apart. People said, “Look how they love each other!” No way. He was just always watching her because he didn’t trust her. It is called a couple-front, because they did not have the internal bond made out of freedom, love, and trust.

We are not only speaking about women’s bodies, freedom and trust in relationships, but also the freedom to be different and to think differently. In New England where I grew up, some teachers wanted to be non-conformists and back in the 1950’s conformity was important. In those days every school day began with morning exercises. These exercises consisted in a Bible reading, the Lord’s Prayer, and the Pledge of Allegiance. Instead of reading from the Bible, one teacher read sections from Charles Darwin’s Origin of Species to the class. After she read from the book all about evolution, I don’t remember whether she prayed with us or not. I don’t think so. But in her dissent she was being a non-conformist. She championed the individual and rejected conformity with the group. She did not want to be locked inside that shell. But remember Teilhard’s insight, “True unity does not confound; it differentiates.” He also argues that it is a false habit of mind to keep playing the individual off against the group.[5] The non-conformist can still be caught in the same outer shell of the conformist. Christ teaches us to penetrate to the heart, he prays for us to receive the true unity, which is also in the Blessed and Holy Trinity, where the many can be loved in the one and the one can be loved in the many and in that love we can lay down our lives for each other.

These words from Pierre Teilhard have always helped me. True unity is internal; it is an internal bond that makes our hearts one, so that the loving and compassionate heart of Christ beats in us. Why not also use the Catholic expression: so that the “sacred heart” of Christ beats in us. And because this bond is internal, the group and the individual can also be one in a relationship like that of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, whose oneness is beyond number. The internal individual and the group are beyond number.

Teilhard’s word always helped me, because like here in Resurrection Lutheran Church, back in St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Coney Island, we were so different from each other. We were African-American, Caucasian, and many different kinds of Latinos – we used to say Hispanics there. We had Guatemalans, Panamanians, Colombians, etc. My wife Nora Zapata is Colombian. I was born in Germany. We were all so different. But because our hearts were one, we could say, “Viva la différence!” Like men say about women: “Viva la différence!”

We were sanctified in the truth, because to have one heart and to be of one heart together when we were so different represented a continuous challenge. If you are familiar with the geography of New York, you would know that Coney Island and Long Island are really attached. Many people in Long Island live there because of white flight; they fled Coney Island. In that way Long Island is not at all attached to Coney Island. We had big Vacation Church School and Vacation Day Camp programs and we visited one generous church in Long Island that helped us fund our programs. In the choir we noticed that every woman was a blond, different shades perhaps, but they were all blond nonetheless. They didn’t even seem to accept any woman who had black hair. Perhaps many had died their hair that color, I don’t know. There we were Puerto Rican, African-American, and Caucasian and they were all into having the same outer shell.

This sermon might become too long to delve into the way Christ prays that we become sanctified by the truth. But briefly, in his prayer, Christ makes true unity go together with truth. The truth should not come at the expense of unity, nor unity be maintained at the expense of truth. [Lutherans have had the weakness of sacrificing unity for the sake of truth. It leaves us with a little picture, a more and more provincial perspective on the world. A relationship is strengthened when it is sanctified by the truth.] Both unity and truth have to come together. The glorified Christ in us is the truth and gives us the gift of unity. Let’s praise God for the oneness we receive because of the glorified Christ in us and for the oneness that God continues to share with us. It is such a marvelous gift! And Christ keeps sanctifying us with the truth. God’s Word is the truth. I am sure that God can’t help answering the prayer of Christ. So it’s a promise:  we are sanctified by the truth until we leave these outer shells, these bodies of ours behind us, and in our true selves, we receive the body and blood of Christ in the fullness of God’s joy. Amen.

Pastor Peter D.S. Krey, Ph.D.

[1] Luther’s Bondage of the Will, LW 33:292 and WA 18: 784-785.

[2] Lewis Carroll, Through the Looking Glass, (Old Saybrook, CT: Konecky & Konecky, no date: ca. 2003), page 100. I this beautifully illustrated book, Alice in Wonderland reads from the other side, when you turn the book around.

[3] Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, The Future of Man, New York: Harper Torch Books, 1964), pages 54-55.

[4] NYT 5/16/2012, pages A-1 and A-21.

[5] Teilhard, The Future of Man, page 54.

Written by peterkrey

May 20, 2012 at 9:49 pm

Natural Patterns in Nature and the Organization of Knowledge: the Nonad by John Krey

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My brother John Krey has been a chemistry instructor for many years and now tutors students before they take their SAT and other exams. Basically, he presents a discovery of patterns in nature as well as patterns in the organization of knowledge very helpful for educational purposes for teachers and students in the classroom, for private tutoring, and home-schooling.

In terms of his discovery of patterns in nature, he presents 9 continua and 14 nonads, that is, patterns of nine, in the form of 3-3-3’s with some cases expanding from a sevenfold pattern to a ninefold one, from a heptad to a nonad in his parlance.  He also forms the neologism, that is, the new word, “Jupitorial,” because he finds the same pattern among the planets, with Jupiter being in that pivotal position in his theory.

When you hit the link with the title of his 34 page book below, you can review his table of contents and realize that each page is packed with scientific facts that are made very easy to master because of the organization of the material that his theory makes possible, for example, in astronomy, the periodic table, number systems, genetics, etc.

Click here to acquire John Krey’s work from Scholardarity.  Natural Patterns in Nature: the Nonad by John Krey

A Real Delight! How Jazz Was Born: Louis Armstrong, Benny Goodman, and Danny Kaye

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This video from Dick Solberg is just wonderful and has to be shared!

click on it and enjoy the music!

Written by peterkrey

December 30, 2010 at 8:31 pm

Posted in 1, What's New

A Psychological Analysis of Prejudice for the EALA

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A Psychological Analysis of Prejudice

by Pastor Peter D.S. Krey, Ph.D.

I have been analyzing prejudice and bigotry mostly from experience and from Jungian Psychology.  Conspiracy theories and scapegoat psychology are closely related.

Systems’ analyses and change are also in order, of course, but without changes in the deep self, they will be in vain. What does Christ say? You need new wine in new wine skins or they will burst. But what good is putting old wine in new wineskins? (See Matthew 9:17. The preceding verse about sewing an unshrunk cloth onto old cloth refers to the same thing.)

See the sermon on my website: “Vicarious, Representative Suffering vs Scapegoat Psychology.” If you just click on this title, you will get it.

To the question whether or not anti-racist counseling is possible: The idea is to counsel someone so that they become aware of their own shadow side. (That’s Jungian Psychology.)  We like to see ourselves from our good, sun-shiny side. In scapegoat psychology, we see goodness in ourselves and we project our shadow side onto those whom we do not know, who are a blank screen, so to speak, upon whom we can project the evil that is in our own hearts. Good people can have hearts that are full of evil desires and “bad” people can have hearts that really desire the good. Have you ever seen The Ref? (Kevin Spacey, Dennis Leary, and Judy Davis play in it.) It is a video movie about a criminal that takes a family hostage over Christmas. It is a good illustration of what I’m talking about.

Once I took my inner city Black kids from St. Paul’s Church in Coney Island to a Long Island Lutheran Church that supported our summer programming. I was inside a stall in the men’s room when the white kids from that church were talking with each other not knowing I was there hearing them. I was so shocked by the evil and violent way they talked! They considered my Black kids criminals. My kids were hard, because they had really hard lives. But the Long Island suburban kids took violent language to a whole new level.

The sermon above was based on my study called “A New Ethics for the Total Person.”  I translate portions of Erich Neumann’s book, which can be quite difficult. Check my footnotes. It has also come out in English. His idea translates to the insight that a person can be quite ethical from a rational point-of-view and have an ego aware of his or her consciousness alone. But a person also has to take responsibility for his or her unconscious as well, for one’s shadow side in the deep self. Interestingly enough prejudice, bigotry, a search for scapegoats, and conspiracy theories are all related and can be understood from this perspective. I can’t say that I understood Neumann completely, but he certainly throws a great deal of light on the psychology of personal prejudice.
I believe that prejudice, bigotry, and racism could probably be dealt with in counseling.  Going to therapy and learning to take responsibility for our shadow side is a harrowing experience and it should help a person deal with the externalization of our own undesirable self. Myself, I worked on it by knowing I did not want to be prejudiced like the German people had been under Hitler and I stayed with the people who confronted me enough and did some painful growth that made me somewhat more humane, a Mensch, so to speak. Jeremiah says, “The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately corrupt. Who can understand it?” Christ is the one who can and does.

My Gettysburg lecture on “Luther’s In Depth Theology and the Possibility of Theological Therapy” is in the Gettysburg Seminary Ridge Review, Volume 11, No. 1-2, (Autumn 2008- Spring 2009). I have only a little summary of it in my website. I usually correlate Luther with In Depth Psychology as I did with Erich Neumann, because Luther had to struggle in the reaches of his deep self in order to overcome his episodes of spiritual distress (his “Anfechtungen”).

Written by peterkrey

October 27, 2010 at 9:42 pm