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A Response to Anton Drake from Reverend Ed Hird



A Response to Anton Drake from Reverend Ed Hird

Wednesday, May 15, 2013 23:50

(Before It’s News)

Hollywood, CA — Last week I wrote a press release to promote the new book Atheist Yoga by Anton Drake. As part of that press release, which can be foundhere, I conducted an interview with Mr. Drake, and one of the topics of discussion was a recent article by Reverend Ed Hird that centered on the idea that the practice of yoga is something unsuitable for Christians. Anton had read that particular article, and had several comments about it; Reverend Hird subsequently contacted me and requested a chance to offer a rebuttal, feeling that some of what he had said had been misconstrued.


Here is Reverend Hird’s response to the Atheist Yoga press release:

[ Having read Anton Drake’s new book ‘Atheist Yoga’, I am fascinated by the extent to which so many atheists are focused on a God that they ostensibly don’t even believe in; many of them seem to think more about God than most Christians do, and I can’t help thinking that it’s almost as if they are obsessed with this allegedly non-existent God. When I think of God, I see the face of Jesus.  Anton is correct when he said “if someone is an atheist, they lack a belief in God.” This is undebatable. Many people don’t realize that Buddha, as a reformed Hindu, was an atheist who continued to do Hindu yoga; one of the most famous pictures of the Buddha shows him in the yogic lotus position. Buddhist usually call their yoga ‘meditation’, but a rose by any other name is still a rose. Buddhism was founded as an atheistic religion. In this sense Anton Drake is clearly right—there is no incompatibility between Anton being an atheist and doing yoga. Anton, like his fellow atheist Buddha, is clearly involved in a spiritual/religious practice.


In an interview released May 9th 2013, Mr. Drake made some comments about my article “Culture Wars: Yoga, More than Meets the Eye” that clearly demonstrate the extent to which he has completely misunderstood the meaning and intent of the article. In the interview, Anton stated that “although I am what you might call a dogmatic atheist, I find the reverend Hird’s ideas on this matter to be quite prejudicial, and even somewhat racial and xenophobic” While I enjoyed reading the interview, I find it unfortunate that Anton will dismiss someone as racist and xenophobic simply because they have reservations about syncretistically mixing two different religions. My hero E. Stanley Jones, who lived for 50 years as a Methodist missionary in India and wrote a book about Gandhi called ‘Portrait of a Friend,’ actually started the United Christian Ashram movement, of which I have served on the international board. My main point here is that I have always had great respect for the East Indian people, just as my friend Stanley Jones did.


In the same interview, which was titled “Ed Hird, Encinitas, and the Fear of Yoga, An Interview with Anton Drake Part 2,” Anton mentioned that “Many of the Hindu friends I’ve had through the years have actually kept a picture or a statue of Jesus on their altar or puja, right next to the other pictures of gurus and deities they revered. That always impressed me.” It is a good thing to show respect to other religious traditions; however, because Hinduism allegedly has 330 million gods, adding Jesus to the Hindu pantheon does not really respect the integrity of the Judeo-Christian heritage. To serve two masters, as Jesus cautioned against, is not showing true respect for other religious traditions. I do not question the prerogative of new-agers, atheists, or Hindus to practise yoga. I am asking for some transparency about what yoga really is about, particularly when they package it for Christians. Yoga is the very heart of Hinduism. Nine out of ten Hindus agree that yoga is Hinduism. Without yoga, there is no Hinduism. Without Hinduism, there is no yoga. Many Hindu gurus claim with no evidence that Jesus went to India and became a yoga teacher. They also hold that Jesus as a yogi was teaching reincarnation because he wanted us to be born again. Once again, this does not show respect or understanding for other important religious faiths.


Mr. Drake also seemed particularly offended by my comment that yoga ‘kills the mind’. This is merely quoting key yogis who see that as one of the key benefits of yoga. Christian meditation is about focusing on God’s Word thoughtfully rather than the elimination of thought. Sensory deprivation and sensory overload, both key aspects of advanced yoga, are proven techniques for the ‘killing of the mind’. Yoga does not require belief to alter the mind. It just requires intensive yogic practice. It is the technique that produces the effect. Yoga asanas appear to the uninitiated as if they are just stretching exercises. The more fully initiated realize that asanas are worship postures to Hindu deities. The Warrior asana, for example, is identified with the worship of Lord Virabhadra who has a thousand arms, three burning eyes, and a garland of skulls. The Cobra asana is about identification with and worship of the Kundalini snake, yogically awakened in the chakras. The yoga insiders all know the real scoop. They also know that North Americans are not quite ready yet for the full truth about the religious identity of yoga.


Further into the interview, Anton stated that “Although his [Rev. Hird’s ] article is fairly well written and seems to make some good points on the surface, if one looks a bit closer it reveals itself as absurdly, almost comically xenophobic; simply consider how easy it would be to apply the same arguments he uses to sushi, origami, or Asian forms of dance.” Among other things, I am particularly curious about Anton’s teaser comment “Good points on the surface.” I am hoping that in the future, Anton could perhaps elaborate on this. As for the xenophobic comment, this was clearly not one of Anton’s strongest arguments. To suggest that people who have reservations about yoga must also be against sushi, chai tea, and curry is comical. Anton, who has never met me, keeps saying that I am xenophobic simply because I dare to question yoga. I find Mr. Drake’s comments along this line to be unfortunate and even intolerant. I ask, is there still room within our Western democratic cultures to raise questions without being stereotyped or villified?


Anton Drake then goes on to say that schoolchildren should obviously be taught yoga: “Schoolchildren should obviously be allowed to learn yoga; restricting western children from learning yoga on the basis of religion is barbaric, and not just from an atheistic point of view.” The terms ‘should’ and ‘allowed’ go in two different directions. Public schools do not ‘allow’ religious practices, whether Hindu, Christian, Muslim, or New Age, to be mandated for the children. If yoga is in fact inherently religious, this would be violating the Encinita School Board’s own legal parameters. Is it really respectful to mandate yogic Hinduism for children attending the Public School system? What if this violates the faith perspective of the children’s parents? Should they be dismissed as barbaric, to use Mr. Drake’s words? At the core of democracy is the freedom of religion, and the freedom to question. No one will win if yoga ever becomes so culturally entrenched that our schools begin imposing it as part of their everyday curriculum, and thereby elevate it to the status of an unquestioned academic truth or authority.


Drake also says, and I quote, that “He [Rev. Hird] of course takes it completely for granted that any spiritual tradition outside of Christianity or western culture is intrinsically evil and antithetical to every form of goodness.” However, where he is wrong is that I am in no way a defender of Western culture as somehow superior to Eastern culture. I find much wisdom and value in all cultures, and in all religions. We need to be respectful to other religious traditions, especially when we do not understand them. I simply ask that Christians be not asked to compromise their religious identity in the midst of a well-packaged yoga marketing strategy. Yoga is a ten-billion dollar industry these days in North America, and we simply cannot overlook our core cultural principles in rushing to spread the indoctrination of yoga into our schools. While Anton Drake “the atheist” spoke a lot about demons and evil, you will notice that I did not, and this was not at all the focus of my article. I simply wish to affirm the Lordship of Jesus Christ in one’s life. And my contention is that if Jesus is my Lord, then yoga is not. I can live without yoga, while still respecting the right of others who wish to practice it. ]


I am scheduled to do another interview with Anton soon, and I will be sure to bring this topic up to him again and ask him some additional questions as well.


Media Contact
Karen Anderson
Marketing Director
Puragreen Productions LLC
717 Hollywood Blvd
Hollywood, CA, 90024
Email: Karen@puragreen.com
Web: http://puragreen.com

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Carl Jung and the Gnostic Reconciliation of Gender Opposites

By the Rev. Dr.  Ed Hird

Have you noticed that some are teaching, even in our school systems in North America, that being male and female are just interchangeable social constructs? Does undergoing genital surgery and taking hormones really change one’s gender, as many are suggesting? Can a man ever become a woman, or a woman become a man? Is not one’s XY DNA as a male and XX DNA as a female essentially unchangeable? No one should be bullied over their perceived gender identity. Likewise no one should be bullied and coercively silenced if they raise thoughtful questions about what it means to be male or female, particularly from a historic Judeo-Christian perspective.

What if I told you that the current gender confusion particularly in the younger generation goes back to Dr. Carl Jung’s mixing up of gender opposites? Leanne Payne wrote an unforgettable book in 1995 entitled ‘Crisis in Masculinity’. We live in an age where equality is equated with sameness, where men and women are deeply confused about their gender identity, about what really is authentic male and authentic female. I believe that this gnostic Reconciliation of gender opposites, this gender-blending about authentic maleness and femaleness, is the direct result of our culture’s unconsciously embracing of the Jungian agenda.

A good friend’s mother said that she cried at her daughter’s birth.  This caused my friend to dislike her mother and try to act like a boy, in order to be accepted. After being sexually abused as a teenager, she had even more difficulty in accepting and celebrating her gender identity. Through reading Leanne Payne’s books and going to her School of Pastoral Care, her mother repented to her in tears, resulting in reconciliation between my friend and her mother. As a result, my friend has been able to accept and celebrate her gender identity as a woman, even ministering to others who have felt the same gender rejection from their parents.

I, like many North Americans, used to be very naïve about the impact of Carl Jung on our culture.  In 1991, I had the wonderful privilege of attending the Episcopal Renewal Ministries(ERM) Leadership Training Institute (LTI) in Evergreen, Colorado. Following that, I encouraged Anglican Renewal Ministries Canada to endorse the LTI approach, including the use of the MBTI (Myers-Briggs Temperament Indicator). However, as I later listened to tapes by Leanne Payne and Dr. Jeffrey Satinover[1], I rethought the Jungian nature of the MBTI, writing a report entitled Carl Jung, Neo-gnosticism, and the MBTI. After much prayer and reflection, ARM Canada decided unanimously in November 1997 to no longer use the MBTI in the Clergy and Lay Leadership Training Institutes.

Over two and a half million people are ‘initiated’ each year into the MBTI process. [2] It is now the most extensively used personality instrument in history. [3] There is even an MBTI version for children, called the MMTIC (Murphy-Meisgeier Type Indicator for Children)[4], and a simplified adult MBTI-like tool for the general public, known as the Keirsey-Bates Indicator. Rev. Robert Innes, of St. John’s College, Durham identifies “the two indicators most widely used by Christian groups – Myers-Briggs and the Enneagram.”[5] One of the key questions is whether the MBTI is an integral part of Jungian neo-gnosticism or alternately a detachable benevolent portion of Jung’s philosophy in an otherwise questionable context. To use a visual picture, is the MBTI the ‘marijuana’, the low-level entry drug that potentially opens the door to the more hard-core Jungian involvement, or is it just a harmless sugar tablet?

Researching the roots of the MBTI showed me Jung’s far-reaching influence in our culture, particularly in the area of gender confusion. In 1946, Jung said: “Biographies should show people in their undershirts…This way of looking at people is better than false hero worship!”[6] In this essay, we are looking at Carl Jung in his undershirt. Stripped down, we see aspects of Jung and his work which some good church people refuse to acknowledge. You could call this article my search for the historical Jung, looking past the Jung Myth for the real Jungian undershirt. Carl Jung is described by Merill Berger, a Jungian psychologist, as “the psychologist of the 21st century”.[7] Dr. Satinover says “The moral relativism that released upon us the sexual revolution is rooted in an outlook of which (Jung) is the most brilliant contemporary expositor.”[8] Leaders of the 1960’s hippie movement like Timothy Leary were heavily influenced by Jungian teaching[9]. One could say without overstatement that Carl Jung is the Father of Neo-Gnosticism & the New Age Movement. That is why Satinover comments that “One of the most powerful modern forms of Gnosticism is without question Jungian psychology, both within or without the Church”.[10] Dr. Satinover notes that “the ultimate aim…of all Gnostic systems is a mystical vision of the union of good and evil.”[11]

Gnosticism, which is the exalting of esoteric knowledge and experience, is rooted in monism[12]. Monism, the claim that all is one, is the major competing worldview to Judeo-Christian Monotheism. Monotheism of course holds that there is one God. Carl Jung advocated monism, a philosophy that treats all differences as ‘maya’, as illusion.[13] The monistic worldview in Hinduism and the New Age sees the earth and ourselves as the Lord God Almighty. It holds that all is God, including light and darkness, good and evil, right and wrong. Jung’s monism was the core of his advocacy of the reconciliation of opposites, including gender opposites of male and female.

Jung held that our ‘central problem was of course the coniunctio’, the alchemical symbol for the union of opposites.[14] Dr. Satinover notes that Jung “devoted most of his adult life to a study of alchemy…”[15] Alchemy is the search for the Philosopher’s Stone that transmutes lead into gold, a search which Jung resymbolized as psychic and psychological transmutation and wholeness.[16]

In 1929, Jung wrote a commentary on the Secret of the Golden Flower, which he said was “not only a Taoist text concerned with Chinese Yoga, but is also an alchemical treatise.”[17] He comments that “…it was the text of the Golden Flower that first put me on the right track. For in medieval alchemy we have the long-sought connecting link between Gnosis (i.e. of the Gnostics) and the processes of the collective unconscious that can be observed in modern man…”[18] Jung comments: “…a large part of my life work has revolved around the problem of opposites and especially their alchemical symbolism…”[19] Tracy Cuotto comments that “Alchemy involves the uniting of opposites…the fusion of male and female, good and evil, life and death — whose union eventually creates the perfected and completed, ideal personality called Self.”[20]

Many people are not aware that Jung collected one of the largest amassing of spiritualistic writings found on the European continent. Jung wrote the first introduction to Zen Buddhism and the first western commentary on the Tibetan Book of the Dead.[21]Dr. Richard Noll comments that “the divinatory methods of the I Ching, used often by Jung in the 1920s and 1930s, were a part of the initial training program of the C.G. Jung Institute of Zurich in 1948, and its use is widely advocated today in Jungian Analytic-Training Institutes throughout the world.”[22] Jung was also a strong promoter of the occultic mandala, a circular picture with a sun or star usually at the centre. Sun worship, as personified in the mandala, is perhaps the key to fully understanding Jung.[23] Jung taught that the mandala [Sanskrit for ‘circle’] was “the simplest model of a concept of wholeness, and one which spontaneously arises in the mind as a representation of the struggle and reconciliation of opposites.”[24]

During the hippie movement of the 1960’s, the Rock Opera Hair boldly proclaimed the alleged dawning of the Age of Aquarius. Once again Carl Jung foreshadowed this emphasis in a 1940 letter to his former assistant, Godwin Baynes: “1940 is the year when we approach the meridian of the first star in Aquarius. It is the premonitory earthquake of the New Age.”[25] In a letter written by Jung to Sigmund Freud, he said: “My evenings are taken up very largely with astrology. I made horoscopic calculations in order to find a clue to the core of psychological truth…I dare say that we shall one day discover in astrology a good deal of knowledge which has been intuitively projected into the heavens.”[26] In the 1950’s, Jung began to use Tarot reading as part of his astrological psychologizing. [27] Jung was known among his intimate colleagues as the ‘Warlock” (Hexenmeister) of Zurich.[28]

Jung’s family had occult linkage on both sides, from his paternal grandfather’s Freemasonry[29] involvement as Grandmaster of the Swiss Lodge[30], and his maternal family’s long-term involvement with séances and ghosts. Jung was heavily involved for many years with his mother and two female cousins in hypnotically induced séances.[31] They ‘used a primitive, homemade Ouija board and a glass that moved over the letters to spell out answers to questions.”[32] Jung eventually wrote up the séances as his 1902 medical dissertation entitled “On the Psychology and Pathology of So-called Occult Phenomena”.[33] His Preiswerk relatives were outraged that they were ‘shamefully’ included, and blamed Carl Jung for the inability of several of his cousins to find husbands.[34] James A Herrick notes that Jung’s mother ‘introduced him as a child to Hindu gods, for which he maintained a life-long fascination.’[35] After the death of three babies in a row before Carl Jung’s birth, his mother “Emilie withdrew, taking refuge in the private interior visions of the spirits.”[36] Emilie often had to be hospitalized, leaving Carl Jung with the feeling of the feminine as ‘natural unreliability, one can never rely on it’ and the term ‘father’ as ‘reliability and powerlessness.’[37]

Jung’s maternal Grandfather Samuel Preiswerk, a Basel pastor, had weekly séances attempting to contact his deceased first wife in the presence of his second wife, (Jung’s grandmother) and his daughter (Jung’s mother).[38] Jung acquired a spirit guide and guru named ‘Philemon’ [who was described by Jung as ‘an old man with the horns of a bull…and the wings of a fisher’]. Before being Philemon, this creature appeared to Jung as ‘Elijah’, and then finally mutated to ‘Ka’, an Egyptian earth-soul that ‘came from below’.[39] It may be worth reflecting upon why Jung designated his Bollingen Tower as the Shrine of Philemon.[40] Carl Jung commented: “Philemon represented a force which was not myself. In my fantasies I held conversations with him, and he said things which I had not consciously thought. For I observed clearly that it was he who spoke, not I. . . . Psychologically, Philemon represented superior insight. He was a mysterious figure to me. At times he seemed to me quite real, as if he were a living personality. I went walking up and down the garden with him, and to me he was what the Indians call a guru.”[41]

Jung’s fascination with the occult (the hidden) was at the root of his painful break in 1913 with his mentor Sigmund Freud.[42] Freud saw everything through the lens of sexual obsessions, and described the occult as ‘a sea of black mud’ which he feared would compromise the respectability of psychoanalysis.[43]

Jung’s “family was steeped in religion – he had eight uncles in the clergy as well as his maternal grandfather and his earliest playgrounds were churches and graveyards.”[44] The famous Ulysses author James Joyce disparagingly referred to Carl Jung as the Reverend Dr. Jung[45], hinting that Jungianism was really a religion. Carl Jung’s pastor-father loved theological school reflections, but deeply disliked rural congregational life and was losing his faith.[46] The famous Liberal German theologian Friedrich Schleiermacher had converted and baptized Carl Jung’s grandfather. Carl Jung was deeply aware of and damaged by his father’s spiritual emptiness, saying “What he said sounded stale and hollow, like a tale told by someone who knows it only by hearsay and cannot quite believe it himself.”[47] Carl Jung’s first and only time of taking Holy Communion was a devastating experience for him: “Slowly I came to understand that this communion had been a fatal experience for me. It had proved hollow; more than that, it had proved to be a total loss. I knew that I would never again be able to participate in this ceremony. ‘Why, that is not religion at all,’ I thought. ‘It is the absence of God; the church is a place I should not go to. It is not life which is there, but death.’”[48]

When younger, Carl Jung had a life-changing dream of a subterranean phallic god which reappeared “whenever anyone spoke too emphatically about Lord Jesus.”[49] Jung commented that “…the ‘man-eater’ in general was symbolized by the phallus, so that the dark Lord Jesus, the Jesuit and the phallus were identical.”[50] This “initiation into the realm of darkness”[51] radically shaped Jung’s approach to Jesus: “Lord Jesus never became quite real for me, never quite acceptable, never quite lovable, for again and again I would think of his underground counterpart…Lord Jesus seemed to me in some ways a god of death…Secretly, his love and kindness, which I always heard praised, appeared doubtful to me…”[52] Jung later confessed to Sigmund Freud that as a boy he had been ‘the victim of a sexual assault.’[53] To what degree, I wonder, was Jung’s ‘revelation’ of the phallus god a fruit of childhood sexual abuse? The next major ‘spiritual breakthrough’ in his life was what Jung described as a “blasphemous vision”[54] of God dropping his dung on the local Cathedral. This vision, said Jung, gave him an intense “experience of divine grace”.[55] These early experiences birthed what many see as a new religion, clothed in a psychological undershirt. Dr Richard Noll notes that “in his December 1913 vision, Jung assumed the stance of the crucified Christ and then was transformed into the lion-headed god.”[56]

How serious, you may wonder, is the Jungian Reconciliation of Good and Evil? Leanne Payne says of Dr. Jeffrey Satinover that “like (C.S.) Lewis, he knows that this synthesis or reconciliation is the greatest threat facing not only Christendom but all mankind today.”[57] “For Jung”, says Satinover, “good and evil evolved into two equal, balanced, cosmic principles that belong together in one overarching synthesis.”[58]

Jung believed that the “dark side” of human nature needed to be “integrated” into a single, overarching “wholeness” in order to form a less strict and difficult definition of goodness.[59] Jung significantly said: “I would rather be whole than good.”[60] Wholeness for Jung is really the gnostic reconciliation of opposites.

“If Christ means anything to me,” said Jung, “it is only as a symbol…I do not find the historical Jesus edifying at all, merely interesting because controversial.”[61] Jung believed that “the Christ-symbol lacks wholeness in the modern psychological sense, since it does not include the dark side of things…”[62] For Jung, it was regrettable that Christ in his goodness lacked a shadow side, and God the Father, who is the Light, lacked darkness.[63] Jung sought a solution to this dilemma in the Holy Spirit who allegedly united the split in the moral opposites symbolized by Christ and Satan.[64] “Looked at from a quaternary standpoint”, writes Jung, “the Holy Ghost is a reconciliation of opposites and hence the answer to the suffering in the Godhead which Christ personifies.”[65] Jung believed that Satan and Jesus, as spiritual opposites, were gnostically reconciled through the Holy Spirit. “It is possible”, said Jung, “for a man to attain totality, to become whole, only with the co-operation of the spirit of darkness…”[66]

After experiencing Goethe’s Faust, Jung came to believe in the ‘universal power’ of evil and “its mysterious role it played in delivering man from darkness and suffering.”[67] “Most of all”, said Jung, “(Faust) awakened in me the problem of opposites, of good and evil, of mind and matter, of light and darkness.”[68]

In post-modern culture, the Judeo-Christian worldview is often dismissed as too narrow-minded and dogmatic. Jung saw the reconciliation of opposites as a sign of great cultural sophistication: “(Chinese philosophy) never failed to acknowledge the polarity and paradoxity (sic) of all life. The opposites always balanced one another – a sign of high culture. One-sidedness, though it lends momentum, is a sign of barbarism.”[69] It would not be too far off to describe Jung as a gnostic Taoist. “The book on types (PT)”, says Jung, “yielded the view that every judgment made by an individual is conditioned by his personality type and that every point of view is necessarily relative. This raised the question of the unity which must compensate this diversity, and it led me directly to the Chinese concept of Tao.”[70] Being influenced by the Yin-Yang of Taoism, Jung believed that “Everything requires for its existence its opposite, or it fades into nothingness.”[71] The Batman movie ‘Dark Knight’ has a very Jungian moment where the Joker says to Batman: “I don’t want to kill you! What would I do without you? Go back to ripping off mob dealers? No, no, NO! No. You… you… complete me.”[72] George Lucas’ ‘dark side of the Force’ in the Star Wars series is another epic Jungian moment that conditions post-moderns to see spirituality as a reconciliation of light and darkness.

In the book Psychological Types, Jung comments that “Yoga is a method by which the libido is systematically ‘drawn in’ and thereby released from the bondage of opposites.”[73] Jung entitled an entire section in PT: “Concerning the Brahmanic Conception of the Reconciling Symbol”. Jung notes: “Brahman therefore must signify the irrational union of the opposites – hence their final overcoming…These quotations show that Brahman is the reconciliation and dissolution of the opposites – hence standing beyond them as an irrational factor.”[74]

While in India in 1938, Jung says that he “was principally concerned with the question of the psychological nature of evil.”[75] He was “impressed again and again by the fact that these people were able to integrate so-called ‘evil’ without ‘losing face’…To the oriental, good and evil are meaningfully contained in nature, and are merely varying degrees of the same thing. I saw that Indian spirituality contains as much of evil as of good…one does not really believe in evil, and one does not really believe in good.”[76]

In a comment reminiscent of our post-modern relativistic culture, Jung said of Hindu thought: “Good or evil are then regarded at most as my good or my evil, as whatever seems to me good or evil”.[77] “We must beware”, said Jung, “of thinking of good and evil as absolute opposites…The criterion of ethical action can no longer consist in the simple view that good has the force of a categorical imperative, while so -called evil can resolutely be shunned. Recognition of the reality of evil necessarily relativizes the good, and the evil likewise, converting both into halves of a paradoxical whole.”

“This work Psychological Types (1921), said Jung, “sprung originally from my need to define the way in which my outlook differs from Freud’s and Adler’s. In attempting to answer this question, I came across the problem of types, for it is one’s psychological type which from the outset determines and limits a person’s judgment.”[78] Freud called Jung’s Psychological Types book ‘the work of a snob and a mystic’.[79] Jung was deeply traumatized by his split with Freud, and used the Psychological Types book to rationalize the Jung/Freud split. Jung saw himself as the so-called introvert, focusing on thinking, in contrast to Freud who was allegedly the extrovert, focused on feeling.[80] Many are unaware that the terms ‘introvert’ and ‘extrovert’ were invented by Carl Jung, and mean far more conceptually than simply being outgoing or shy.[81]

Dr. Gordon Lawrence, a strong Jungian/MBTI supporter, teaches that “In Jung’s theory, the two kinds of perception – sensing and intuition – are polar opposites of each other. Similarly, thinking judgment and feeling judgment are polar opposites.”[82] It seems to me that the setting up of the psychological polar opposites in PT functions as a useful prelude for gnostic reconciliation of all opposites. The MBTI helps condition our minds into thinking about the existence of polar opposites, and their alleged barriers to perfect wholeness. To accept the eight polarities within the MBTI predisposes one to embrace Jung’s teaching that the psyche “cannot set up any absolute truths, for its own polarity determines the relativity of its statements.”[83]

Jung was accused of anti-Semitism because the Zentralblatt für Psychotherapie journal, which Jung edited, endorsed Mein Kampf as required reading for all psychoanalysts.[84] His defense was that he was trying to save psychoanalysis from being obliterated by the Nazis as a ‘Jewish science.[85] In 1936, Jung said of Hitler: “[Hitler] is a medium, German policy is not made; it is revealed through Hitler. He is the mouthpiece of the Gods of old… He is the Sybil, the Delphic oracle.”[86] The influence of Germanic anti-Semitism on Jungianism can now be seen in a secret quota clause designed to limit Jewish membership to 10% in the Analytical Psychology Club of Zurich. Jung’s secret Jewish quota was in effect from 1916 to 1950, and only came to public light in 1989.[87] While it would be a mistake to paint Jung as an outright Nazi sympathizer, there was much confusion, almost a gnostic reconciliation of good and evil, in how Jung responded to Hitler’s Germany.[88] The Rev Charles Raven, Director of SPREAD, comments that “Jung’s confused response to Nazi Germany and anti-Semitism contrasts sharply with the clear-sightedness of Karl Barth and the Confessing Church expressed in the Barmen Declaration in 1933. This helps to underline the way that Jungian psychology saps the ability to recognise and resist evil.”[89]

Two of Jung’s ‘most influential archetypes’ are the anima & animus, described by Jung as “psychological bisexuality”.[90] Jung teaches in PT that every man has a female soul (anima) and every woman has a male soul (animus).[91] Noll comments that “Jung’s first encounter with the feminine entity he later called the anima seems to have begun with his use of mediumistic techniques…”[92] Based on the recently discovered personal diary of Sabina Spielrein, John Kerr claims that Jung’s so-called anima “the woman within” which he spoke to, was none other than his idealized image of his former mistress, patient, and fellow therapist, Sabina Spielrein.[93] After breaking with both Spielrein and Freud, Jung felt his own soul vanish as if it had flown away to the land of the dead. Shortly after, while his children were plagued by nightmares and the house was seemingly haunted, Jung heard a chorus of spirits cry out demanding: ‘We have come back from Jerusalem where we have not found what we sought.’[94]

Jung’s next mistress Toni Wolff also started as Jung’s patient and became a Jungian analyst. Toni Wolff was hugely influential in the forming of Jungian Psychology. Jungian Analyst Dr. C.A. Maier holds that ‘when it comes to psychological types, (Toni Wolff) played a very important role there.’[95] “In this unfamiliar, terrifying underground of the collective unconscious, (Toni Wolff) was Jung’s guide to such an extent that she lived with him…She reflected his anima in a way that Mrs Jung didn’t.”[96] Baroness Vera von der Heydt comments that “It was (Toni Wolff) who introduced him to all the Eastern things, Eastern spirituality, Eastern philosophy and so on.”[97]

Part of the gender-bending and gender-blending of our post-modern culture is rooted in Jung’s androgynous teaching about the so-called anima and animus.[98] In the Jungian ‘Matter of the Heart’ video series, Dr Joseph (Jane) Wheelwright comments: “This is built into the heart of Jung’s whole psychology that one should develop one’s contrasexual components, as Margaret Mead so quaintly phrases it. Jung prefers to talk about the anima and the animus…All of us who are really committed and involved in the Jungian world are very busy trying to develop our animuses or our animas….This androgynous, or almost androgynous, state of being, is the way that one hopes to be before they throw the switch.”[99] Dr Richard Noll comments about Jung’s pansexual practices: “Emma Jung did not choose polygamy freely. The situation was presented to her by her husband. At best, she freely chose to adapt to it”[100] In a letter to Freud dated January 30, 1910, Jung wrote: “The prerequisite for a good marriage, it seems to me, is the license to be unfaithful.”[101]

Jung’s sexual views were profoundly influenced by the German physician and psychoanalyst Otto Gross (1877-1920). Otto Gross advocated the “life-enhancing value of eroticism which is so great that it must remain free from extraneous considerations in laws, and above all, from any integration into everyday life…. Husbands and wives should not begrudge each other whatever erotic stimuli may present themselves. Jealousy is something mean. Just as one has several people for friends, one can also have sexual union with several people at any given period and be ‘faithful’ to each one…. Free love will save the world.”[102] As a child of the 1960’s and ‘70’s, I cannot read Otto Gross without thinking of Haight-Ashbury. Is it merely a co-incidence that Timothy Leary was psychoanalyzed by Joseph Henderson, a California Jungian analyst, before he birthed the hippie/drug movement?[103]

Otto Gross and Jung sometimes psychoanalyzed each other for up to twelve hours non-stop. Speaking of Gross’ sexual/religious orgies, Jung commented: “The existence of a phallic or orgiastic cult does not indicate a particularly lascivious life any more than the ascetic symbolism of Christianity means an especially moral life.”[104] Jung’s patient/mistress Sabina Spielrein comments: “I sat there waiting in great depression. Now he [Jung] arrives, beaming with great pleasure, and tells me with strong emotion about Gross, about the great insight he had just received [i.e. about polygamy]; he no longer wants to suppress his feelings about me…”[105] Gross’ motto was ‘Nichts verdraengen!’ (repress nothing!)[106]

After being haunted by ghosts, Jung wrote his Seven Sermons to the Dead book in 1917. In these seven messages, Jung ‘reveals’, in agreement with the 2nd century Gnostic writer Basilides, that the True and Ultimate God is Abraxas, who combines Jesus and Satan, good and evil all in one.[107] This is why Jung held that “Light is followed by shadow, the other side of the Creator.”[108] Richard and Linda Nathan, long-term ex-Jungians, commented that “In true Gnostic fashion, Jung shared the Seven Sermons to the Dead book with close friends but hid it from the public.[109]

You may be asking yourself: “How much influence does Jungianism actually have on the Church and postmodern culture? The answer is that there is an enormous and sometimes subtle influence. “Jung’s direct and indirect impact on mainstream Christianity – and thus on Western culture,” says Dr. Satinover, “has been incalculable. It is no exaggeration to say that the theological positions of most mainstream denominations in their approach to pastoral care, as well as in their doctrines and liturgy – have become more or less identical with Jung’s psychological/symbolic theology.”[110]

There are key individuals promoting the Jungian gospel to the Church, such as Morton Kelsey, John Sanford (not John & Paula Sandford), Thomas Moore, Joseph Campbell, and Bishop John Spong. Thomas Moore, a former Roman Catholic monk, became widely popular through his best-seller: Care of the Soul. John Sanford, the son of the late Agnes Sanford, is an Episcopal Priest and Jungian analyst, with several books promoting the Jungian way. Morton Kelsey is another Episcopal Priest who has subtly woven the Jungian gospel through virtually every one of his books, especially those aimed for the Charismatic renewal constituency. Satinover describes Kelsey as having “made a career of such compromise”, noting that Kelsey has now proceeded in his latest book Sacrament of Sexuality to approve of the normalization of homosexuality.[111]

Joseph Campbell, cited by Satinover as a disciple of Jung, is famous for his public TV series on “The Power of Myth”.[112] Bishop John Spong, who has written two books (Resurrection: Myth or Reality & The Easter Moment) denying the physical resurrection of Jesus Christ, gives Joseph Campbell credit for shaping his views on Jesus’ resurrection. “I was touched by Campbell’s ability to seek the truth of myths while refusing to literalize the rational explanation of those myths…Campbell allowed me to appreciate such timeless themes as virgin births, incarnations, physical resurrections, and cosmic ascensions…Slowly, ever so slowly, but equally ever so surely, a separation began to occur for me between the experience captured for us Christians in the word Easter and the interpretation of that experience found in both the Christian Scriptures and the developing Christian traditions…”[113] Few people have realized that Bishop Spong’s spiritual grandfather is none other than Carl Jung.

While in theological school, I became aware of the strong influence of Dr. Paul Tillich on many modern clergy. In recently reading C.G. Jung & Paul Tillich [written by John Dourley, a Jungian analyst & Roman priest from Ottawa], I came to realize that Tillich and Jung are ‘theological twins’. In a tribute given at a Memorial for Jung’s death, Tillich gave to Jung’s thought the status of an ontology because its depth and universality constituted a ‘doctrine of being’.[114] It turns out that Tillich is heavily in debt in Jung for his view of God as the supposed “Ground of Being”. As well, both Tillich and Jung, says Dourley, “understand the self to be that centering force within the psyche which brings together the opposites or polarities, whose dynamic interplay makes up life itself.”[115] As a Jungian popularizer, Tillich saw life as “made up of the flow of energy between opposing poles or opposites.”[116]

So many current theological emphases in today’s church can be traced directly back to Carl Jung. For example, with the loss of confidence in the Missionary imperative, many mainline church administrators today sound remarkably like Jung when he said: “What we from our point of view call colonization, missions to the heathen, spread of civilization, etc, has another face – the face of a bird of prey seeking with cruel intentness for distant quarry – a face worthy of a race of pirates and highwaymen.”[117] In speaking of Buddhism and Christianity, Jung taught the now familiar inter-faith dialogue line, that “Both paths are right.”[118] Jung spoke of Jesus, Mani, Buddha, and Lao-Tse as ‘pillars of the spirit’, saying “I could give none preference over the other.”[119] The English Theologian Don Cupitt says that Jung pioneered the multi-faith approach now widespread in the Church.[120]

In light of the current controversies around “Mother Goddess” hymnbooks, it is interesting to read in the MBTI source book Psychological Types about the “Gnostic prototype, viz, Sophia, an immensely significant symbol for the Gnosis.”[121] You are probably well aware that in the best-selling book The Shack, God the Father is portrayed as an Aunt Jemima/Oprah Winfrey blend named Elouisa, and the Holy Spirit becomes Sarayu, an eclectic woman of Asian descent. While I personally enjoyed reading much of the popular Shack novel, I have unresolved concerns about how The Shack may be used, even unintentionally, to deconstruct people’s classical understandings of the Trinity and replace it with mother/father god/dess worship.[122] Postmodern thinking, even among evangelicals, is remarkably subjectivist and fluid, easily leading to a gnostic reconciliation of gender opposites even in the Godhead.[123]

I have another friend who watched her mother being raped in the back seat of their car. This so traumatized her that she rejected her female gender identity, deciding to become the gentleman that the male rapist should have been.  Just before her scheduled gender reassignment surgery, my friend had a powerful encounter with the Lord Jesus Christ that enabled her to cancel her surgery and accept her female gender identity, that she was fearfully and wonderfully made as a woman.  She has gone on to help hundreds of other people struggling with sexual and gender confusion.

My challenge to those reading this is to seek the Lord about where God may be calling you to renounce any false gods, any secret idolatry, any gnostic reconciliation of opposites, particularly in the area of Jungianism and the New Age. May we never forget the warning of the prophet Isaiah, “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness” (Isaiah 5:29)[124].

You may not like your DNA gender. You may have sadly been bullied over your gender ambivalence. Some of you reading this may have even been sexually abused. What if you chose to radically embrace rather than reject your God-given gender? What if God did not make a mistake in the XX male or XY female DNA that he gave you? What would it take for you to thank God for how he has made you?

What might happen if we stood up and affirmed the authentic male and authentic female in an age of Jungian-inspired gender confusion? Will you join me?

The Rev. Dr. Ed Hird, BSW, MDiv, DMin

-previously presented and published at the Think Tank Conference in San Diego, California

-award-winning author of the book Battle for the Soul of Canada


[1] Dr. Jeffrey Satinover’s critique of Jungianism came with unique credibility, given his background as an eminent Jungian scholar, analyst, and past President of the C.G. Jung Foundation.
[2] Isabel Briggs Myers with Peter B. Myers, Gifts Differing, Palo Alto, CA: Consulting Press, Inc., 1980,p. xvii. Many charismatics have a soft spot for this book, because it quotes portions of scripture from Romans 12 and 1 Corinthians 12. The actual link, however, between those bible passages, and the Jung/Myers-Briggs theories is rather questionable.
In an October 29th, 1996 letter from Rev. Fred Goodwin, Rector of National Ministries for ERM, Fred Goodwin commented: “I would suggest that in light of your concerns, you drop the MBTI and use some of the material out on small group ministry and discipling instead—which we find are desperate needs for leadership training in the church.”
[3] Ibid., p.210; also Dr. Gordon Lawrence, People Types & Tiger Stripes, p. xi; A book Prayer & Temperament written by Msgr. Chester Michael and Marie Norrisey in 1984 has been very effective in winning Roman Catholics and Anglicans to the MBTI. The book claims that the MBTI designations will make you either oriented to Ignatian prayer (if you are SJ), Augustinian prayer (if you are NF), Franciscan prayer(if you are SP), or Thomistic prayer(if you are NT). In the MBTI, the four sets of types are Extravert(E) & Introvert(I), Sensate(S) & Intuitive(N), Thinking(T) & Feeling(F), and Judging(J) & Perceiving(P). None of these 8 innocuous-sounding type names mean what they sound like. Instead each of the 8 type names has unique and mysterious, perhaps even occultic, definitions given by Jung himself in a massive section at the back of Psychological Types.
[4] Dr. Gordon Lawrence, People Types & Tiger Stripes, Gainesville, FL: Center for Applications of Psychological Types, 1979, p. 222
[5] Robert Innes, Personality Indicators and The Spiritual Life, Grove Books Ltd., Cambridge, 1996, p.3; The Enneagram is significantly occultic in nature and origin, coming from Sufi, numerology, and Arica New-Age sources. George Gurideff, Oscar Ichazo of Esalen Institute, and Claudio Naranjo are the prominent New Agers who have popularized it, and then introduced it, through Fr. Bob Oschs SJ, into the Christian Church. For more information, I recommend Robert Innes’ booklet and Mitchell Pacwa SJ article’s “Tell Me Who I Am, O Ennegram” Christian Research Journal, Fall 1991, pp. 14ff. My article on ‘George Gurdjieff and the Enigmatic Enneagram’ can be read at http://www3.telus.net/st_simons/arm04.htm
[6] CG Jung, 1946 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sJhblm4KUmo
[7] Merill Berger & Stephen Segaller, The Wisdom of the Dreams, C.G. Jung Foundation, New York, NY, Shamballa Publications, Front Cover
[8] Dr. Jeffrey Satinover, Homosexuality and the Politics of Truth, Baker Book House Co., 1996, p. 238 “Because of his great influence in propagating gnostic philosophy and morals in churches & synagogues, Jung deserves a closer look. The moral relativism that released upon us the sexual revolution is rooted in an outlook of which (Jung) is the most brilliant contemporary expositor.”
[9] Robert Greenfield, Timothy Leary: a Biography, Harcourt Books, 2006, p. 86; Robert C Fuller, Stairways to Heaven: drugs in religious history, Westview Press, Boulder, Colorado, 2000, p. 126, “That is why Carl Jung, Joseph Campbell, and mystics like Allan Watts or Aldous Huxley were important to the spiritual underground; they were purveyors of the alternate myths and pathways to spiritual experience.”
[10] Jeffrey Satinover, The Empty Self, p. 27. Jung has “blended psychological reductionism with gnostic spirituality to produce a modern variant of mystical, pagan polytheism in which the multiple ‘images of the instincts’ (his ‘archetypes’) are worshipped as gods”, Satinover, Homosexuality and the Politics of Truth, p. 238: Carl Jung “explicitly identified depth psychology, especially his own, as heir to the apostolic tradition, especially in what he considered its superior handling of the problem of evil.”
[11] Jeffrey Satinover, The Empty Self, p. 23 Jung claimed that “In the ancient world, the Gnostics, whose arguments were very much influenced by psychic experience, tackled the problem of evil on a broader basis than the Church Fathers.” “Whatever the system, and however the different stages are purportedly marked, the ultimate aim, the innermost circle of all Gnostic systems, is a mystical vision of the union of good and evil.”
[12] Monism: “a view that there is only one kind of ultimate substance b: the view that reality is one unitary organic whole with no independent parts” http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/monism
[13] Walter Shelburne, Mythos and Logos in the Thought of Carl Jung, 1988, Sunny Press, Albany, New York, p. 18
[14] Bair, Ibid., p. 526
[15] Ibid., p. 27, Ft. 28
[16] Carl Jung & Aniela Jaffe, Memories, Dreams, Reflections, translated from the German by Richard & Clara Winston, Vintage Books-Random House, 1961/1989, p. 205 “The possibility of a comparison with alchemy, and the uninterrupted intellectual chain back to Gnosticism, gave substance to my psychology.”
[17] Carl Jung, Psychology & the East, London & New York: Ark Paper Back, 1978/1986, p. 3
[18] Ibid., p. 6
[19] MDR, p. 233
[20] “Psychology, Astrology and Carl Jung”, Metamorphosis Newsletter, August 2004, by Tracy Cuotto, http://consciousevolution.com/metamorphosis/0408/jung0408.htm
[21] Jeffrey Satinover, The Empty Self, p. 28 Dr. James Hillman, the former director for the Jungian Institute in Zurich, commented, “(Jung) wrote the first introduction to Zen Buddhism, he…brought in (Greek Mythology), the gods and the goddesses, the myths,…he was interested in astrology…” The Wisdom of the Dreams: Carl Gustav Jung: a Stephen Segaller Video, Vol. 3, “ A World of Dreams”. Jung also wrote the first western commentary on the Tibetan Book of the Dead.( Psychology & the East, p. 60)
[22] Dr. Richard Noll, The Jung Cult.: Origins of a Charismatic Movement, Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1994, p. 333
[23] Noll, The Jung Cult, p. 137
[24] MDR, p. 335
[25] Merill Berger & Stephen Segaller, The Wisdom of the Dreams, p. 162; Jung & Jaffe, Memories, Dreams, Reflections, p. 340; In Jung’s book Aion, he holds that “…the appearance of Christ coincided with the beginning of a new aeon, the age of the Fishes. A sychronicity exists between the life of Christ and the objective astronomical event, the entrance of the spring equinox into the sign of Pisces.” p. 221
[26] Richard Webster, Why Freud Was Wrong: Sin, Science, & Psychoanalysis, Basic Books: Harper Collins, 1995, p. 385. Jung comments: “For instance, it appears that the signs of the zodiac are character pictures, in other words, libido symbols which depict the typical qualities of the libido at a given moment…”
[27] Bair, ibid., p. 549 “Both Hanni and Gret used several different sets of cards when they taught (Jung) how to consult the Tarot, before they settled on the Grimaud cards of Antoine Court de Gebelin, the Ancien Tarot de Marseilles. Jung thought it was the only deck that possessed the properties and fulfilled the requirements of metaphor that he gleaned from within the alchemical texts.”
[28] The Gnostic Jung and The Seven Sermons to the Dead By Stephan A. Hoeller, A Quest book, The Theosophical Publishing House , 1982. p. xiii
http://books.google.ca/books?id=XDSSXDezdBMC&pg=PR13&lpg=PR13&dq=Hexenmeister+of+Zurich&source=web&ots=aXYRkrGcqp&sig=z1rtge0YGGQdgYNNEoxQFugI2i8&hl=en&sa=X&oi=book_result&resnum=2&ct=result ; Carl G. Jung: Man of Science or Modern Shaman?, By Richard and Linda Nathan http://www.crossroad.to/articles2/08/nathan/jung.htm
[29] Dr George Puritch, a Prayer Ministry leader, commented recently to me: “I have felt for a long time that many of the false beliefs within the church had their foundations in the occultism of Free Masonry. Your research that Jung’s grandfather was a Grand Master of the Lodge reveals the roots of his deep occultism, not to mention his occultic roots on his mother’s side.” All the occultic practices of Masonry as described by Ankerberg and Weldon (1990. The Secret Teachings of the Masonic. A Christian Perspective. Moody Press Chicago) are revealed in Jung’s philosophies, the relativism of good and evil, the denial of the deity of Jesus, universalism, worship of the dead, deification of man, etc.”
[30] Jung & Jaffe, Memories, Dreams, Reflections, p.232
[31] John Kerr, A Most Dangerous Method: the Story of Jung, Freud, & Sabina Spielrein, New York, Alfred Knopf Books, 1993, p. 50 & 54
[32] Deirdre Bair, Jung: a Biography, Little, Brown and Company, Boston, p. 46
[33] John Kerr, ibid., p. 50 & 54; The New Encyclopedia of the Occult, by John Michael, Llewellyn Worldwide Publisher, p. 250
[34] Bair, ibid., p. 64 “Later generations held Jung’s dissertation directly responsible for the fact that many of the younger Preiswerk daughters in Helly’s generation did not marry.”
[35] James A Herrick, The Making of a New Spirituality, Intervarsity Press, 204, p. 191; Campbell, Portable Jung, p. viii; Deirdre Bair, Jung: a Biography, Little, Brown and Company, Boston, 2003, p. 18
[36] Bair, ibid., p. 18
[37] Bair, ibid., p. 21
[38] “Session 11: Jung and Pagan Psychology”, Temple of the Sacred Spiral, http://www.fortunecity.com/victorian/palette/187/session11.html
[39] Satinover, The Empty Self, p. 37; The spirit guide Philemon/Elijah later mutated into Salome, who addressed Jung in a self-directed trance vision as Christ. Jung ‘saw’ himself assume the posture of a victim of crucifixion, with a snake coiled around him, and his face transformed into that of a lion from the Mithraic mystery religion.(C.G. Jung, Analytical Psychology :Princeton University Press, 1989:, p. 96, 98)
[40] Jung & Jaffe, Memories, Dreams, Reflections, p.223. “Shrine of Philemon: Repentance of Faust” was the inscription carved in stone by Jung over the entrance of the Bollingen Tower, where he lived and wrote.
[41] MDR, p. 183
[42] The final straw was when Jung published Wandlungen und Symbole der Libido (translated as Psychology of the Unconscious.) http://everything2.com/title/Carl%20Jung
[43] Alex Owen, The Place of Enchantment: British Occultism and the Culture of the Modern, University of Chicago Press, 2004, p. 143
[44] “Session 11: Jung and Pagan Psychology”, Temple of the Sacred Spiral, http://www.fortunecity.com/victorian/palette/187/session11.html
[45] Bair, ibid., p. 407
[46] Joel Ryce-Menuhin, Jung and the Monotheisms, Routledge Publisher, p. 183
[47] MDR, p. 42-43
[48] Ibid, p. 55
[49] Ibid., p. 12
[50] Ibid., p. 12
[51] Ibid., p. 15
[52] Ibid., p. 13
[53] Bair, ibid, p. 70
[54] MDR, Ibid., p. 58. Jung concluded from this ‘Cathedral’ experience that “God Himself can…condemn a person to blasphemy” Memories, Dreams, Reflections, p. 74
[55] Ibid., p. 55
[56] Dr Richard Noll, The Aryan Christ, Random House,1997, p.138.
[57] Satinover, The Empty Self, p. 3; Dr. Satinover sees the temptation facing our generation that”…on a theological plane, we succumb to the dangerous fantasy that Good and Evil will be reunited in a higher oneness.” Satinover, Homosexuality and the Politics of Truth, p. 238
[58] Satinover, Ibid., p 240. “…This relativization of good and evil by their reconciliation is the heart of the ancient doctrines of gnosticism, which also located spirituality, hence morality, within man himself. Hence ‘the union of opposites’.” Keirsey & Bates, authors of Please Understand Me, and creators of the more popularized Keirsey-Bates adaptation of the MBTI, teach openly in their book on the Jungian “shadow…It’s as if, in being attracted to our opposite, we grope around for that rejected, abandoned, or unlived half of ourselves…(p.68)”
[59] Satinover, Ibid., p. 240
[60]http://www.trans4mind.com/jamesharveystout/jung.htm ; Spirituality and Psychological Health By Richard H. Cox, Betty Ervin-Cox, Louis Hoffman, COSSP Press, p. 199
[61] Bair, ibid., p. 526; Carl G Jung to Adolf Keller, CL-2, March 20th, 1951, p. 10
[62] Jung, Aion, Collected Works, p. 41
[63] John P. Dourley, C.G. Jung & Paul Tillich: The Psyche as Sacrament, Inner City Books, 1981, p. 63 “(Jung) also feels that it is questionable in that (the Christ symbol) contains no trace of the shadow side of life.” Fr. Dourley, a Jungian analyst, also comments on p. 63 about Jung’s “criticism of the Christian conception of a God in who there is no darkness.”
[64] Dourley, C.G. Jung & Paul Tillich, p. 70
[65] Carl Jung, ‘A Psychological Approach to The Trinity’, CW11, para. 260 “Thus for Jung, says John Dourley, the Spirit unites the exclusively spiritual reality of Christ with that which is identified with the devil, including ‘the dark world of nature-bound man’, the chthonic side of nature excluded by Christianity from the Christ image.” para. 263; In a similar vein, Jung saw the alchemical figure of Mercurius as a compensation for the one-sideness of the symbol of Christ. Carl Jung, ‘The Spirit Mercurius’, Alchemical Studies, CW13, para. 295. Jung comments, “As early as 1944, in Psychology and Alchemy, I had been able to demonstrate the parallelism between the Christ figure and the central concept of the alchemists, the lapis or stone.” MDR, p.210
[66] C.G. Jung, ‘The Phenomenology of the Spirit in Fairy Tales, CW9, para. 453
[67] MDR, Ibid., p. 60
[68] MDR, Ibid., p. 235
[69] Jung, Psychology & The East, p. 11
[70] Jung, MDR p. 207; Carl Jung, Psychology & the East, p. 15 “The wise Chinese would say in the words of the I Ching: ‘When Yang has reached its greatest strength, the dark power of yin is born within its depths, for night begins at midday when yang breaks up and begins to change into yin.”
[71] Jung, Psychology & the East, p. 184
[72] Dark Knight movie, http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0468569/quotes
[73] Jung, Psychological Types, p. 149-50 “The Indian (Brahman-Atman teaching) conception teaches liberation from the opposites, by which every sort of affective style and emotional hold to the object is understood…”
[74] Jung, Psychological Types, p. 245-46
[75] MDR, p. 275
[76] Ibid., p. 275
[77] Ibid., p. 275
[78] Berger & Segaller, Wisdom of the Dreams; p. 103, MDR, p. 207
[79] Bair, Ibid., p. 286
[80] Bair, ibid., p. 286
[81] The Old Wise Man, By HP-Time.com, Monday, Feb. 14, 1955 http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,807036-3,00.html ; “According to Carl Jung, introversion and extraversion refer to the direction of psychic energy. If a person’s energy usually flows outwards, he or she is an extravert, while if this energy normally flows inwards, this person is an introvert.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Introvert
[82] Lawrence, People Types & Tiger Stripes, p. 113
[83] MDR, Ibid., p.350
[85] “Carl Jung”, Crystalinks, http://www.crystalinks.com/jung.html
[86] C.G Jung Speaking, Interviews and Encounters, Princeton University Press, 1977, p. 93
[87] Noll, Ibid., p. 259
[88] Dr. Richard Noll, The Aryan Christ: the secret life of Carl Jung, Random House, 1997
[89] SPREAD, http://www.anglicanspread.org/
[90] Ibid., p. 391; Henri F. Ellenberger makes a strong case that Jung borrowed his matriarchy and anima/animus theories from Bachofen, an academic likened by some to the scientific credibility of Erik Von Daniken of The Chariots of the Gods and Maharishi Mahesh Yogi of TM and its Yogic Flying. (Ellenberger, The Discovery of the Unconscious, Penguin Press, 1970, pp. 218-223); Philip Davis, “The Swiss Maharishi”, Touchstone Issue 92, Spring 1996, p.13); Richard Noll, The Jung Cult, p. 188-90
[91] Jung, Psychological Types, p. 595
[92] Noll, The Jung Cult, p. 202-203; Philip Davis comments: “Jung’s therapeutic technique of ‘active imagination’ is now revealed as a sanitized version of the sort of trance employed by spiritualistic mediums and Theosophical travelers, with whom Jung was personally familiar.” (Philip Davis,”The Swiss Maharishi”, Touchstone Issue 92, Spring 1996, p.14)
[93] John Kerr, A Most Dangerous Method, p. 12; 49;191; 498 “…there (the Russian-born Spielrein) remained (in almost complete obscurity) until the publication of the Freud/Jung correspondence in 1974.”; p. 502;503: After the collapse of the Spielrein affair, John Kerr notes that “Jung’s condition had so deteriorated that his wife allowed Toni Wolff openly to become his mistress, and a sometime member of the household, simply because she was the only person who could calm him down.”; p. 507- Jung’s stone bear carving in his Bollingen Tower specifically symbolized the anima . Curiously the inscription said: “Russia gets the ball rolling”
[94] Kerr, Ibid., p. 503; MDR, p.190
[95] Carl Jung- Matters of the Heart Video – Part 6, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c3nKlA-Z-P0
[96] Matters of the Heart Video – Part 6, ibid.
[97] Matters of the Heart Video – Part 6, ibid.
[98] Matters of the Heart Video, Part 3 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sJhblm4KUmo
[99] Dr Joseph Wheelwright, San Francisco Jungian Analyst, Matters of the Heart Video, Part 3 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sJhblm4KUmo
[100] Dr. Richard Noll, The Aryan Christ: The Secret Life of Carl Jung, New York: Random House, 1997, p, 96; “The Erring Christ”, by the Richard Kew, Touchstone Magazine, July /August 1998, http://www.touchstonemag.com/archives/article.php?id=11-04-052-b
[101] Sigmund Freud/Carl Jung Letters, edited by William McGuire, 1974, p. 289
[102] “The Jung Cult . . .” by Paul Likoudis, The Wanderer Magazine, December 29, 1994, St. Paul, MN http://www.ewtn.org/library/NEWAGE/JUNGCUL1.TXT
[103] Robert Greenfield, Timothy Leary: a Biography, Harcourt Books, 2006, p. 86
[104] Likoudis, ibid., http://www.ewtn.org/library/NEWAGE/JUNGCUL1.TXT ; Carl Jung, Transformations and Symbols of the Libido, Collected Works of CG Jung, Volume 5
[105] Seduction of Unreason, by Richard Wolin, Princeton University Press, 2004 p. 79; Wolin notes that ‘Gross met an untimely if foreseeable end on the streets of Berlin where he was discovered starving and homeless in 1920’, p. 78.
[106] Frank, Links wo das Herz ist, p. 49; Bair, ibid., p. 136; Gross’ motto reminds me of the 1960’s slogan ‘if it feels good, do it.’
[107] MDR, p. 378
[108] MDR, p. 328
[109] “Carl G Jung: Man of Science or Modern Shaman?”, by Richard and Linda Nathan, 2008, http://www.crossroad.to/articles2/08/nathan/jung.htm When a famous Jewish theologian, Martin Buber, happened upon it, he accused Jung of being a modern Gnostic. Jung vehemently denied it, claiming the book was only a “youthful frivolity,” but in other places he called it central to all his later work.”
[110] Satinover, Homosexuality and the Politics of Truth, p.240. Satinover dryly comments that “in the United States, the Episcopal Church has more or less become a branch of Jungian psychology, theologically and liturgically.” (Empty Self ,p. 27, Footnote. 27)
[111] Satinover, Homosexuality and the Politics of Truth, p. 241
[112] Satinover, The Empty Self, p. 9; Joseph Campbell in fact worked personally with Jung and published through the Jungian-controlled Bollingen Foundation , ( Philip Davis, “The Swiss Maharishi”, Touchstone Issue 92, Spring 1996, p.11)
[113] The Right Reverend John Spong, Resurrection: Reality or Myth, Harper, 1994, p. xi. His parallel book is The Easter Moment.
[114] A Memorial Meeting : New York, Analytical Psychology Club, 1962, p. 31
[115] Dourley, C.G. Jung & Paul Tillich, p. 17
[116] Dourley, Ibid., p. 48 The persistent modern emphasis on the so-called ‘inner child’ makes a lot more sense when seen as a spin-off from Jung’s teaching that the symbol of the child is “that final goal that reconciles the opposites.” (Dourley, p. 83)
[117] Ibid., p. 248; www.thejungiansociety.org/Jung%20Society/Conferences/Conference-2004/Colonial-Postcolonial-Context.html
[118] Ibid., p. 279
[119] Dourley, C.G. Jung & Paul Tillich, p. 65
[120] The Wisdom of the Dream, p. 99
[121] Carl Jung, Psychological Types: or the Psychology of Individuation, Princeton University Press, 1921/1971, p. 290. Dr. Jeffrey Satinover memorably comments as a former Jungian that ‘Goddess worship’ is not the cure for misogyny, but it is its precondition, whether overtly or unconsciously. (The Empty Self, p. 9); Marija Bimbutas, the late professor of archeology at UCLA, included Jung and more than a half dozen of his noted disciples in the bibliographies to her books on the alleged matriarchies of the Balkans:The Language of the Goddess(1989)and The Civilization of the Goddess(1991),(Philip Davis,”The Swiss Maharishi”, Touchstone Issue 92, Spring 1996, p.13)
[122] Ed Hird, Battle for the Soul of Canada, 2006, p. 44, “It is not by accident that virtually every new-age fad, including the DaVinci Code deception, sooner or later draws people into mother/father god/dess worship and sexual immorality. I have found that idolatry and immorality are identical twins that always hang out together, especially around god/desses… I know of Anglican Cathedrals in Canada that both endorse the pan-sexual agenda and twist Jesus’ own words to pray “Our Father/Mother in Heaven, Hallowed be Your Name”. As Jesus clearly taught us, God’s name is Father, and He likes His name.”
[123] In the key Montreal Declaration of Anglican Essentials, section 1 says: “The Triune God: There is one God, self-revealed as three persons, “of one substance, power and eternity,” the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. For the sake of the Gospel, we decline proposals to modify or marginalize these names and we affirm their rightful place in prayer, liturgy, and hymnody.” For those wishing to study further on the mother/father god/dess issue, I commend ‘Speaking the Christian God’ edited by Alvin F. Kimel, Dr. Donald Bloesch ‘The Battle for the Trinity’ and John W Miller’s ‘Biblical Faith and Fathering: why we call God ‘Father'”. http://www.anglicanessentials.ca/pdf/montreal_declaration_aec.pdf
[124] The Apostle Paul cautioned: “See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ.” (Colossians 2:8)

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Managing Anger in Marital Conflict

by the Rev. Dr. Ed Hird

DPM 929 ( a doctoral paper for Dr James Ponzetti submitted to Carey Theological

St Jerome



St Jerome, translator of the Vulgate, agonized over how anger destroyed his relationship with his aunt. He wrote: “Tell me, how are we two going to face the Day of Judgement? The sun is witness that it has gone down on our anger not one day, but for many a long year.” (Ketterman, 2000) While St Jerome was obviously not married, his impassioned letter alluding to Ephesians 4:26 shows how vital it is to manage anger in marital and family conflicts.

Segrin, C. & Hanzal, A. (2009) observe that “no marital communication process has generated more scholarly interest than conflict.”  This is probably because as Garland (1998) puts it, “Whatever a family’s style of communication, conflict and anger are inevitable.”

The social sciences and seminaries often function in an academic apartheid. Never the twain shall meet. Both are poorer for it. My aim with this paper is to integrate the best of the social science and theological research in how we can help our families more effectively manage anger in martial conflict situations.

It was noted in the DPM 929 class how marital conflict has had more social science attention than the anger component in marriage.  Yet marital conflict involves many emotions, including both ‘hot and cold’ anger.  Hebrews 12:15 describes cold anger as ‘the root of bitterness which defiles and harasses many’.  Garland (1998) says that we must avoid allowing anger to take up Root of bitternesspermanent residence in our hearts. That is why anger, while encouraged in Ephesians 4:26, must be without sin or harming of others, and must not be taken to bed.  Wisely Ephesians 4:26 suggests that going to sleep with unresolved anger gives a foothold for the negativity which sacramental Christians would describe in their baptism as ‘the world, the flesh and the devil.’

We know that anger can be expressed without sin because even the sinless Son of God in Mark 3:5 was legitimately angry at people’s insensitivity to others.  The challenge is how in the words of James 1:19 to be slow to anger.  Anger can easily take on a life of its own.  Waddell (Browning, D. & Evison, I.,1998) wisely comments: “Nothing kills marital love more than hardness of heart.”

In preparing to write this essay, fifty-five books on anger and martial conflict from the Regent/Carey and the Public Libraries were either read or scanned. The overall impression is that there are a lot of angry people stuck in conflictual marriages.  Greeff, A. and De Bruyne, T. (2000) observe that the ability of couples to manage marital conflict is key to the success of healthy marriages.  Some of the solutions in the books were creative, but many of them after a while seemed rather repetitive and predictable.  As well, around one thousand social science articles on anger and marital conflict were scanned through the UBC Library, of which one hundred and two were downloaded for closer examination.  It became clear that not all articles are created equal.

Managing conflict, says Gottman (Garland, 1999), is one of the central tasks of maintaining a marriage.  Gottman’s research Dr John Gottmanwas described both in class and in an article as the ‘Gold Standard’ of marriage research.   The Gottmans (2006) recommend that we husbands need to embrace our wife’s anger and learn the meaning behind the emotion. We need to rediscover anger as a healthy emotion that has its own wisdom if we will stop being so defensive. Gottman’s evocative phrase is “Look for the longing in each other’s complaint.”   Brain scans have shown us that we experience anger on the right side of the brain, unlike fear and sadness which is on the left side.  While fear causes us to withdraw, anger can actually stir us to make a difference and bring constructive change.  The challenge is how to harness the power of anger, much like people in BC harness the power of our mighty rivers for electricity.

Dr Gil Stieglitz, our past Coach for the Anglican Coalition in Canada, has been a major influence in helping our congregation become more proactive in strengthening and building marriages. Reminiscent of social exchange theories, Stieglitz (2004) says that love is meeting needs and that each marriage partner needs to aim to out-give the other at a 70/30 ratio.  We have found his ‘Five Problems of Marriage’ videos and books to be very practical in helping our couples manage anger in marital conflicts.

Thirty-four years of ordained Anglican ministry have taught me that alcohol abuse has a huge effect on anger and marital life.  Johns, A & Newcomb, M (2007) draw a strong research correlation between alcohol problems and anger-related marital conflict. Alcohol abuse has been scientifically linked with a much higher rate of physical violence during anger in marital conflict.  One study quoted by Johns (2007) showed that the rate of verbal aggression was 5 to 7 times higher among such couples experiencing marital conflict. Since 1982, I have been privileged to do many AA ‘Fifth Steps’ which has convinced me that supporting people’s recovery from addiction is a key to helping them manage anger better in marital conflict. When feelings and pain are suppressed through substance abuse, the checks and balances around anger in marital conflict often disappear. The Bible describes this phenomenon in 1 Timothy 4:2 as ‘the searing of the conscience’. One of the reasons I strongly value the Twelve-Step process is not only for its helping people stop abusing substances, but also for its value in helping people manage anger and repair the damage done to marriages through past inappropriate anger.

It was reported by Vogel, D and Werner-Wilson, R (2008) that men are more likely than women to withdraw during marital conflict which results in wives feeling rejected. This withdrawal (Gottman, 2006) heartbreakcauses emotional distance, loneliness, and a lack of romance.  Ironically this is not about the husband not caring but because his over-caring makes him so anxious (Garland, 1998).  The husband’s withdrawal is associated with increases in the wife’s blood pressure, norepinephrine and cortisol, all of which are linked to poorer cardiovascular and immune outcomes (Loving, T., & Heffner, K., 2004) Cortisol is a useful hormone in the short-term ‘fight or flight’ response, but is very destructive long-term to the white T cells which fight off cancer.

Stonewalling in marital conflict (Gottman, 1999) is one of the more serious indicators of future marital collapse.  Faulkner, R., & Davey, M. (2005) observe that “women have considerable tolerance for physiological arousal and, thus, can maintain high levels of engagement. Men, in contrast, experience this arousal as being highly aversive and act to dissipate it by withdrawing from the conflict”.  The tendency for men to withdraw seems to be linked with the higher tendency for men to physiologically ‘flood’ during marital conflict. When the heart rate goes above 100, the ability to rationally process marital conflict significantly decreases (Gottman, 2006).  Gottman recommends the strategy of an agreed-upon ‘Time-out’ until the spouses can emotionally de-escalate.  This gives the wife more security and hope for resolution rather than when the husband just shuts down and goes away without any context for readdressing the conflict later.  Thomas Jefferson wisely said: “When angry, count ten before you speak; if very angry, an hundred.”  (Tavris, 1992)

Marital anger for women (Cox, D & Clair, S, 2005) is often experienced as a threat to intimacy and connection.  This results in many women internalizing their anger in the form of self-hate, obsessive thoughts, and guilt, which paralyzes their ability to constructively make use of the emotion.

Anger, even when inappropriately processed in marital conflict, has a number of payoffs.  When we are hurt or threatened by our spouse, we tend to feel helpless and weak.  When the anger emotion clicks in, it can give us a surge of strength, power and control.  This need for control has been linked with some of the worst of the physical violence in marriage.  In the Twelve Step process, we reverse the control need by admitting in step 1 that we are powerless over our condition/addiction/marriage.  ‘Letting go letting-goand letting God’ is at the heart of true recovery.  I am reminded of Paul saying in 2 Corinthians 12: 9-10 that God’s grace is sufficient for him, enabling him to realizing that when he is weak, he is strong.


Anger is associated with physiological and biological transitions, with the increase of our heart rate, blood pressure, adrenaline, and noradrenaline.  The instinctive, natural way to express anger, says Spielberger (APA, 2009), is to respond aggressively.  Assertiveness training has been developed as a more effective way of managing marital anger than either stuffing one’s anger or dumping it on others. I have read many books on assertiveness training over the years which have been helpful but sometimes lack the needed gentleness of the ‘soft startup’ recommended by Gottman.

Much of the 1960’s counselling encouraged couples to let it all hang out and dump our anger on the other spouse. Research has shown that this actually makes things worse. Garland(1999) comments that “anger expressed in venting becomes the first step toward murder, not toward reconciliation (Matthew 5:22).”  Neither blowing up or clamming up really helps us manage anger in marital conflict (Cosgrove, 1988).  Tavris (1982) found that “aggression frequently has precisely the opposite effect of catharsis: instead of exorcising the anger, it can inflame it.”  Many people are afraid of marital anger because of its tendency to get away on us.  Plato wrote “[when reason] is asleep, then the wild beast within us, gorged on meat or drink, starts up and having shaken off sleep, goes forth to satisfy his desires; and there is no conceivable folly or crime it won’t commit.”


Lambert, N. & Dollahite, D. (2006) reported that spirituality, especially practices such as prayer between a couple,  is closely linked with reduced marital conflict.  The shared Praying Hands picturevision and relation virtues such as selflessness and unconditional love have been linked with better marital functioning in times of anger and conflict. Couples indicated that their involvement in scripture reading and regular church attendance increased their commitment to relational permanence.  Marsh, R. and Dallos, R. (2000) found that couples were able to increase their sense of interpersonal space by detouring their anger to God in marital conflict.  In my pastoral work, I have found that praying together can really help a couple, though most find such activity too intimate.  It is vital that the couple do not use prayer or the bible as weapons to win a fight, but rather as a way to resolve conflict and build a healthier marriage.


Mahoney, A. &  Pargament, K. ( 1999)  found the benefits of spiritual involvement as a couple to include greater global marital adjustment, more perceived benefits from marriage, less marital conflict, more verbal collaboration, and less use of verbal aggression and stalemate to discuss disagreements for both wives and husbands.  Before my spiritual breakthrough at age 17, I viewed marriage as just ‘a piece of paper’.  Marsh, R. and Dallos, R. (2000) observe that couples who view their marriage as being a sanctified object (whom God has joined together) are more likely to act and think in ways that protect their marriage.  Part of the improved handling of anger in marital conflict comes out of the religious couple’s allegiance to their meta-narrative and their God’s ethical expectations.  Even after thirty-two years of marriage, I still have to resist my tendencies to selfishness and irritability.  My faith is a major motivator to keep working on myself.


Lambert, N. & Dollahite, D. listed studies showing that the value of forgiveness is linked with better managing anger in marital conflict.  Gordon, K. &  Hughes, F. (2009) identified three elements of forgiveness:

 (a) regaining a more balanced and compassionate view of the offender and the event,

(b) decreasing negative affect towards and avoidance of the offender, and

(c) giving up the right to seek revenge or lash out toward the offender.


Ketterman (2000) observes that couples who refuse to forgive pay a heavy price:


“The physical costs of unforgiveness may include hypertension, chronic headaches, high blood pressure, cardiovascular ailments, and gastrointestinal disorders, to name just a handful.  Because negative emotions have a depressive effect and can suppress immune function, unforgiveness may even have an indirect link to major and severe disorders like rheumatoid arthritis and cancer.”


Jesus’ words ‘forgive and you will be Jesusforgiven’, say Ketterman, lie at the heart of marital harmony and health.  She speaks both as a psychiatrist of the Christian faith and as a victim of infidelity who remarried her husband.  Forgiveness is indeed a practical proven key to managing anger in martial conflict.


Another key to managing anger in marital conflict is the reduction of blaming behaviour.  Gottman (1999) calls this learning how to complain without criticizing.  Gottman (1999, 2006) talks about the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (criticism, defensiveness, contempt, and stonewalling) which are greater long-term indicators of divorce than mere anger. Research by Madden, M. & Janoff-Bulman, R. (1981) showed that blaming one’s spouse for marital conflict is negatively associated with marital satisfaction.  Couples that habitually blame one another are some of the most difficult to help.


Contempt has a major impact on how we manage anger in marital conflict. Day (2003) noted how “Husbands who were more extroverted were more likely to express anger and contempt during times of relational difficulty.”  Gottman (2006) defines contempt as including “hostility or disgust (rolling their eyes). Contempt often involves sarcasm, mocking, name-calling or belligerence.”  Contempt is the opposite of honour and respect.  Steiglitz (2004) teaches extensively in his books and videos on the need for husbands to honour their wives daily, which he defines as ‘adding value’ and ‘putting them first above our other priorities’.  He also emphasizes the need for wives to respect their husbands, which he defines as ‘acknowledging value’ by ‘finding and affirming his strengths in the sea of his weaknesses.”  Such acts of love go a long way in repairing the damage done through what he calls our S.A.D. (Selfish, Angry, Demanding) behaviours that we may slip into when our needs are not being met.


One of the more recent emphases in marriage research has been to study not only dysfunctional couples, but also long-term successful couples. Matthews, A. and Hubbard, M. (2004) noted one study of 576 couples who had been married for 50 years or more.   The three qualities attributed to such long-term success were trust (82 percent), loving relationship (81 percent), and willingness to compromise (80 percent).


Matthews and Hubbard also noted that the wedding ringsindividualism of North American culture militates against healthy anger management in marriage conflict. They suggest that the way forward is to rediscover a theology of marriage that focuses on the common good, the value of community, discipleship and missional orientation. Marriage, said Matthews and Hubbard, ‘must have a purpose, a goal, a task beyond ‘being together’.


Osborne (1988) insightfully noted that “Marriage is the most rewarding and the most difficult relationship known to man.”  As Gottman and others have observed, no married couples have been found to be free from anger in marital conflict. Gottman (2009) commented: “when Julie and I do our workshops with couples, one of the main messages we give is that we’ve found that really good marriages, people who are really happy, have terrible fights, where they’re thinking at the end of the fight: Why did I marry this person?”   Some marital problems never go away, but the wise  couple doesn’t get gridlocked on these unsolvable problems.  The AA Serenity Prayer expresses this wisdom of ‘the serenity to accept the things that cannot be changed.”  David Mace, in Ridenour, F. (1989) notes how the Lauers studied three hundred marriages lasting fifteen years or longer. All the couples had times of anger and marital conflict. The key to these marriages was that they chose not to attack each other, but rather work on the anger. Mace (1986) compares anger to the squeak in your car’s engine that tells you it’s time for a tune-up. Anger can be your family smoke-alarm.  In our DPM 929 Class, I was reminded how healthy marriages and families are foundational to the health and stability of our society


How we interpret the meaning of anger in marital conflict is just as important as the conflict itself.  Lester (2003) holds that

“the hermeneutical process is central to the experience of anger. Individuals and communities decide what is threatening as they interpret life situations through the lens of their own narratives – their values, meanings, and beliefs.”


Our values and hopes for the future profoundly affect how we navigate the gottman-love-lab-3challenges of marital conflict.   This is why Gottman, J. & Silver, N. (1999) encourage couples to explore each others’ dreams and hopes, with an aim to create shared meaning.  It is important that couples in conflict do not give up on their ideals and dreams.  Higher expectations for romance and passion have been linked with increased marital satisfaction.  Sometimes in a desire to get along, spouses give up something essential that actually fuels the romance and passion of their lives.


Positive affect (such as humour or affection) during marital conflict was the only predictor of both marital stability and marital satisfaction 6 years after the wedding. This has also shown to be true for long-term couples dealing with conflict (Gottman, J. and Driver, J., 2004). Positive affect cannot be faked but rather cultivated over time with a series of enjoyable events. As suggested in DPM 929, a healthy marriage has learnt to celebrate the ordinary not just the extraordinary. My wife and I handle anger in marital conflict better when we take regular time together for peaceful walks, for chatting and listening, and for physical exercise.


In Gottman’s interview with Wyatt, R. (2009), he emphasizes the value of a soft-startup in managing anger in marital conflict.  Many couples, commented Gottman, say to their spouses “The problem is you, and your personality, your character; you’re a screw-up.” Such personal “you message” attacks do not help couples manage anger better. Garland (1999) says the “I and we’ messages of a soft start-up are “the difference between speaking the truth (Eph 4:25) and the judging of others that Jesus warned against (Mt 7:1).  Carl Roger’s active listening model has not born up under clinical research with married couples. It seems to be too demanding to expect one’s spouse to act as a detached Rogerian therapist in the midst of marital conflict (Gottman, 2006).


Anger in marital conflict is handled better when there are approximately five times as Making Marriage Workmany positive behaviours as negative behaviours. Couples in crisis usually only show a corresponding ratio of 1:1 (Gottman, 1999, 2006).  The need for a five to one ratio seems to come from the greater emotional impact of negative behaviours on a marriage. Garland (1998) poignantly notes that “truth, especially when it leads to conflict, must be wrapped in words and actions that build rather than tear down love for one another.”


Another well-researched principle for managing anger in marital conflict is the willingness to accept influence from one’s spouse. Gottman (2009) says “If you don’t accept some influence, then you become an obstacle and people find a way around you and you have no power.”  This is an area that I have had to work on our thirty-two years of marriage.  My wife reports that I have improved in this area.  Sometimes it is hard to recognize our own stubbornness and defensiveness because it may be hidden in strengths like perseverance.  Going for marriage counselling from time to time can be a real strength, though it is challenging to motivate both partners to be willing to go.  We have many couples in our congregation whose marriages have been deeply restored through a willingness to do the hard work of going to a professional marriage counsellor. The particular clinical counsellor that we bonnie chatwinmake the most use of in our church is Bonnie Chatwin who is both a nurse and a clinical counsellor trained at Trinity Western University.  I have been invited in a number of times by Bonnie and the couple to co-counsel in particularly challenging situations. One of my greatest joys each Sunday is to see couples in church whose marriages were over, but they did the hard work with a counsellor that enabled them to find new ways to rebuild their marriages and to handle anger more effectively.


We have one couple in our previous congregation who were divorced for six years after an angry misunderstanding.  The man kept on serving his wife in practical ways.  The wife kept saying to me: “Some day I would like to marry my husband again”. Finally on Father’s Day 2002, they were both kneeling to receive communion and she said to me: “I would like to marry him again some day.” We married them that Sunday at the end of the service, and then remarried them legally later that week.  I have followed up that couple with the Dr. Gil DVDs on marriage, and they are still together seven years later.  This remarriage not only affected the couple but also their extended family and friends.  Every restored marriage give hope to many others, especially to the younger generation that often lives together in a misguided attempt to marriage-ringsavoid the pain of divorce.


 I have seen some couples who refused counselling because they thought that it would be too expensive, only to spend far more on a divorce settlement.  I can think of a case where a successful entrepreneur was so devastated by the divorce that years later, he is still trying to rebuild his life and his career.  Bray, J. & Jouriles, E. (1996) confirmed that marriage counselling actually saves couples money compared to the costs of divorce and the medical costs associated with the reduced health of couples involved in marriage breakdowns.  Sadly though marital counselling is cost-efficient, many insurance plans do not reimburse for martial therapy.  Several couples I know have initially experienced great resistance from their insurance company over the area of paying for marriage counselling. Thankfully this was often positively resolved.


Sometimes Christian couples on the North Shore are suspicious of counselling in general, based on horror stories that they may have heard from others.  Not all counselors have the same professional competence or sensitivity to the Judeo-Christian values.   By the time that a man may be ready to go for counselling, the woman may have already emotionally detached years before. She may not have physically moved out, but she is no longer there.  Both husbands and wives on the North Shore often stonewall each other as to whether they are willing to try out marriage counselling. Many men see counselling as an admission of weakness, neediness and failure. I see it as an act of great courage that will reap great benefits if the couple does not give up.  Sometimes just when the couple are making progress in their counselling and the woman feels safe enough to finally open up, the man will pull the plug and claim that the counsellor is biased towards the wife.  “I will never go back to counselling”, a man told me. “We will just live as roommates”.  I encouraged this individual to rethink his stance.  Because many people on the North Shore are wealthy and successful, they are used to getting their own way all the time. Dominating their spouse from a power position does not work these days, especially as women have the ability nowadays to be financially independent.


In conclusion, I am grateful for the work of Dr. Gottman and others who are offering practical social science insights as to how we can better manage our anger in marital conflict.  The irony is that many of these research-based insights such as soft-startups, accepting influence, forgiveness, and positive affection all take us back to the historic Judeo-Christian teaching on marriage and healthy relationships.

The Rev. Dr. Ed Hird, BSW, MDiv, DMin

-author of the award-winning book Battle for the Soul of Canada


American Psychological Association (2009).  Controlling Anger — Before It Controls You. Retrieved June 20th 2009 from http://www.apa.org/topics/controlanger.html

Bray, J. & Jouriles, E. (1996) Treatment of Marital conflict and prevention of divorce. The American Journal of Family Therapy. 24, 461-473.

Browning, D. & Evison, I., Series Editors (1998) The Family Handbook. Louisville, Westminster John Knox Press.

Cosgrove, M. (1988) Counselling for Anger. Dallas, Word Incorporated.

Cox, D. & Clair, S. (2005).A New Perspective on Women’s Anger: Therapy Through the Lens of Anger Diversion, Women & Therapy, 28, 77-90.

Day, R. (2003) Introduction to Family Processes, New Jersey, Lawrence Earlbaum Associates.

Gottman, J. and Silver, N. (1999) The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work. New York, Crown Publishers.

Faulkner, R., Davey, M., Davey, A. (2005) Gender-Related Predictors of Change in Marital Satisfaction and Marital Conflict. The American Journal of Family Therapy. 33, 61–83.

Garland, D. (1999) Family Ministry: a Comprehensive Guide. Downers Grove, IVP Academic.

Greeff, A. and De Bruyne, T. (2000) Conflict Management Style and Marital Satisfaction. Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy, 26, 321–334

Gordon, K.,  Hughes, F., Tomcik, N.,. Dixon, L., and Litzinger, S. (2009) Widening Spheres of Impact: The Role of Forgiveness in Marital and  Family Functioning. Journal of Family Psychology, 23, 1–13.

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P. S. Click this Amazon link to view for free the first two chapters of our new novel Blue Sky.

“I’m afraid there’s been an accident…”

12bdf6ff-3021-4e73-bccd-bc919398d1a0-7068-0000031133e7b4d9Sandy Brown and her family have just moved to Spokane, Washington where her husband, Scott, is pastoring a new church. With a fresh start, Sandy is determined to devote more time to her four children. But, within weeks of settling in their new life, the Brown family is plunged into turmoil.

Sandy receives shocking news that her children aren’t safe, which brings back haunting memories of the trauma she experienced as a girl. Then, the unthinkable happens…

A brutal attack puts Sandy on the brink of losing everything she’s loved. Her faith in God and the family she cherishes are pushed to the ultimate limit.

Is healing possible when so many loved ones are hurt? Are miracles really possible through the power of prayer? Can life return to the way it was before?

Blue Sky reveals how a mother’s most basic instinct isn’t for survival… but for family.

If you’re a fan of Karen Kingsbury, then you’ll love Blue Sky. Get your copy today on paperback or  kindle.

-Click to check out our marriage book For Better For Worse: discovering the keys to a lasting relationship on Amazon. You can even read the first two chapters for free to see if the book speaks to you.


-The sequel book Restoring Health: body, mind and spirit is available online with Amazon.com in both paperback and ebook form.  Dr. JI Packer wrote the foreword, saying “I heartily commend what he has written.” The book focuses on strengthening a new generation of healthy leaders. Drawing on examples from Titus’ healthy leadership in the pirate island of Crete, it shows how we can embrace a holistically healthy life.

In Canada, Amazon.ca has the book available in paperback and ebook. It is also posted on Amazon UK (paperback and ebook), Amazon France (paperback and ebook), and Amazon Germany (paperback and ebook).

Restoring Health is also available online on Barnes and Noble in both paperback and Nook/ebook form.  Nook gives a sample of the book to read online.

Indigo also offers the paperback and the Kobo ebook version.  You can also obtain it through ITunes as an IBook.

To receive a signed copy within North America, just etransfer at ed_hird@telus.net, giving your address. Cheques are also acceptable.

-Click to purchase the Companion Bible Study by Jan Cox (for the Battle of the Soul of Canada) in both paperback and Kindle on Amazon.com and Amazon.ca 

Indigo also offers the paperback and the Kobo ebook version.  You can also obtain it through ITunes as an IBook.

-Click to purchase the Companion Bible Study by Jan Cox (for the Battle of the Soul of Canada) in both paperback and Kindle on Amazon.com and Amazon.ca 

To purchase any of our six books in paperback or ebook on Amazon, just click on this link.