A Conversation with Rachel Laser, Americans United for the Separation of Church and State - Part 1

Column by Rev. David M. Felten on 22 December 2022 0 Comments

The following is Part 1 of two columns drawn from an interview with Rachel Laser, President of Americans United for the Separation of Church and State, December 1st, 2022. It has been edited for length and focus.

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In my studies of different mystical traditions, including Christianity, I have come to learn that Christ was the Spirit of Love and Jesus was the human soul who personified it on earth. And that He, Jesus, was not the only person to have been able to do that. Others such as the Buddha, Milkezidik had also a certain union with this Christ, the changeless manifestation of the Supreme (God). What are your thoughts on that?


Dear Jean-Jacques,

I’m hearing a couple of different questions, about how to understand the doctrine of the Incarnation? And is it universal - that is, can it be applied to other religions like Buddhism? Wow, this is a big question. And while I am no expert, I too have always been interested in these sorts of questions.

Christianity does have a rich history of mysticism, as does both Judaism and Buddhism. One of Judaism’s mystical-magical lineages is Kabbalah (Qabalah) which is quite ancient. And Christianity’s mystical lineage goes back to Jesus, and early expressions can be found in gnosticism and later desert spirituality among others.

The theological origins of and sources for the Cosmic Christ, folks like Matthew Fox, would be a better resource than I. Quite early on in the primitive Church the image of Christ was associated with a whole constellation of cosmic inquiries: the masculine divine logos of the Greeks or ordering and sentient principle of the cosmos, the feminine and eternal Ruach, the creative breath or Spirit of God, and the feminine personification of Wisdom (Hokhmah) as co-creatrix with God from the beginning. Christ as the preexistent Word for the early church sort of fulfilled all these transpersonal and teleological functions of origins: creation, redemption, and renewal for the cosmos and the individual personality. Folks like Teilhard de Chardin and Ilia Delio, process theologians and evolutionary mystics see the Christ as the Omega point of evolution itself that is part of nature, not just ‘above’ it. There is an implicate order found in the cosmogenic processes of the universe itself that has a divine telos, an inherent wisdom and purpose that tends towards wholeness. But what I hear you processing is what has been termed Christ-consciousness, and perhaps, the Buddha-nature specifically.

The famous Swiss psychologist Carl Jung who discovered the collective unconscious began to view the Christ of faith through the lens of myth which led him to discover and elucidate his idea of the archetypes. He found fertile ground for his development of a new myth of the Self in alchemy, Hinduism, and Christianity. In Hinduism he saw a parallel between the Atman (Self, or divine center of the personality), Brahman (or divine heart of the Cosmos) in Christ and the Godhead. For Jung, Christ was an image of the archetypal Self. That is to say that the microcosm (Self) is a reflection of the macrocosm (the universe), the the true nature of the Self is Cosmic and the true nature of the Cosmos is reflected in the Self. Of course Jung’s inquiry was primarily psychological, not theological.

Regarding your last question, “is Jesus unique?” I defer to mythic imagination as a large enough framework that might hold the possibility of both/and—the possibly that Jesus is both “unique” and “not-the-only-one”, a unique never-before-seen manifestation of Cosmic purpose that evolves the species-in-history-creation toward wholeness. All of what we see is perceived as in a mirror darkly of course, and so we must be content with the divine Mystery on Mystery’s terms. And as the proverb goes, life is not a problem to be solved, but a mystery to be lived. In other words real revelation is not head knowledge but a transformation of consciousness in its inner-ground.

~ Rev. Matthew Syrdal




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