[Carl Jung: “Man must know that he is man’s worst enemy just as much as God had to learn from Job about His own antithetical nature.”]
To Father Victor White
Dear Victor, 2 April 1955
Thank you for your letter and all the criticism it contains.
As long as you do not identify yourself with the avenging angel, I can feel your humanity and I can tell you that I am really sorry for my misdeeds and sore about God’s ways with the poor anthropoids that were meant to have a brain enabling them to think critically.
Just as I am grateful for the fact that you call me to order and that your judgment-be it correct or not-does not spare me, so I assume God will listen to a mortal voice, just as much as He has given His ear to Job when this little tortured worm complained about His paradoxical, amoral nature.
Just as Job lifted his voice so that everybody could hear him, I have come to the conclusion that I had better risk my skin and do my worst or best to shake the unconsciousness of my contemporaries rather than allow my laxity to let things drift towards the impending world catastrophe.
Man must know that he is man’s worst enemy just as much as God had to learn from Job about His own antithetical nature.
It is obvious that God’s angel (having no will of his own) wanted to have his fight with Jacob and to kill him even if he would not defend himself.
I bet the angel got some good knocking about before he succeeded in dislocating Jacob’s hip.
God surely expected Jacob to answer Him in kind.
I am rather certain that Job’s case was the same.
As a matter of fact there is biblical authority on my side: Isaiah 48:10-11)
“Behold, I have refined thee, but not with silver; I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction.
For mine own sake, even for mine own sake will I do it.”
Should I set the light of such an insight “under a bushel”?
In peaceful and harmless conditions it would have been very unwise to movere quieta.
But in our time everything is at stake, and one should not mind the little disturbance I am causing.
It is a mere fleabite on the immense body of Christendom.
If I am causing trouble to the peace of mind of serious theologians, I am sorry, but I really do not see why their sleep is better than mine.
They have no prerogative to hide from the great wind of the world and to leave uncomfortable things to themselves.
The other day I got a letter from a student of (Catholic) theology who had asked his directeur de conscience for advice as to the study of modern psychology.
Very aptly the rev. father said: “Don’t study what troubles you! ”
I am afraid this is characteristic.
You should be glad that somebody thinks about God at all.
The apostles and the early Fathers of the Church had no easy life and moreover no Christian is meant to go to sleep in a safe pew.
Look at the world-the whole damn thing is rent from top to bottom, and so is man in our infernal epoch.
I hesitated and resisted long enough until I made up my mind to say what I think,
The peace of the Church is one thing and getting behind the times another.
I have asked four theologians (Prot.) about the modern position of the Church with reference to the question whether the God of the Old Testament is the same as that of the New.
Two did not answer at all.
One said that in the last 30 years theological literature does not speak of God any more.
The last one said:
“It is easy to answer your question. Yahweh is merely an archaic conception of God in Comparison with the NT idea.”
I said: “This is exactly the kind of psychologism you accuse me of.
When it suits you, God is suddenly nothing but a conception, but when you preach of Him, then it is the absolute truth.”
What did he say? Nothing.
The old Jesuit father Nicolaus Caussinus had a better answer:
In the OT God was like a raging rhinoceros, but in the NT He turned into a God of love conquered by the love of a pure virgin, having found peace in her lap at last-This is at least a kind of answer.
It is even a profound answer showing the importance of man in the divine drama of incarnation.
It obviously began when God took on personality (in contradistinction to all other god ), i.e., finiteness.
This was the first act of kenosis on the way to incarnation.
This is the “Answer to Job”:
He had to give up being the victim of unreflected opposites.
You lose nothing and you even gain something in contemplating such thoughts.
It affects your ecclesiastical position but not more than it disturbs my scientific position.
The pope breaking through apostolic authority and the theological resistance of his
own clergy got his share too.
After Ad Caeli Reginam he got ill again.
There must have been a terrific conflict in him, being the pope on the one hand and the religious innovator on the other.
Should he have spared his clergy that could not agree with the new dogma?
I have no papal authority; only honest common sense and no power except the consensus of a very few thinking individuals.
As you do not belong to the Church exclusively but also to humanity, it is not in the interest of the Church if you pay no tribute to our time.
Even the pope did in his way.
Your sun in Libra demands undisturbed balance.
You only get it when either side carries equal weight.
Christ is crucified between the one going up and the other going down, i.e., between opposites.
So do not try to escape your fate “written in the stars.”
I know, it is the mistake of Libra people: they are afraid of anything disturbing the balance. But they can maintain it only by “studying what troubles them.”
Your criticism of my motive concerning Job is certainly unjust and you know it.
It is an expression of the mental torment you had to undergo in U.S.A. and in Europe.
Nobody has more sympathy with your predicament than I have, since more than 50 years of uphill work outside, and of the curtain rent inside, have taught me something.
Having chosen the life of the monk you have separated yourself from this world and exposed yourself to the eternal fires of the other.
Somewhere you have to pay the toll either to man or to God and in the
end you will discover that both overcharge you.
In this cruel suspension you will discover that redemption is to be found only on the middle ground, the centre of your self, which is just as much with as against God; with-inasmuch as God wills you; against-inasmuch as man’s Luciferian autonomy exists outside of God.
It is as a matter of fact a product of the opposites in God.
That is exactly the problem I am treating in Job and that is why Job invokes the help of God against God.
It would be a great mistake to think you can slip through such an ordeal without the most violent emotions.
You yourself are profoundly emotional about it and you could not make anybody believe that you are not in a hell of suffering.
There is no comfort and no consolation anywhere except in the submission to and the Acceptance of the self, or you may call it the God that suffers in His own creation.
“Excoxi te . . . et elegi te in camino paupertatis. Propter Me, propter Me faciam” (Isaiah 48:10-11).
My psychology unfortunately tries to be honest.
It is certainly the hard way, neither an easy consolation nor a narcotic.
Nobody touching it in earnest can avoid seeing the dark side and feeling it.
Most certainly I shall never cover up the truth as I see it.
The Church can take it as one of the diabolic temptations of the world, and the world can condemn it as foolishness.
I shall stick to my conviction that my Answer to Job is a straightforward application of my psychological principles to certain central problems of our religion.
They can take it or leave it.
Moreover they will do what they please, without asking me.
Somehow I can afford my independence, but I am fully aware that there are many who cannot do the same without risking their social existence.
They must be able to live and to this end they have to protect themselves as well as they can.
If I had not been able to live an independent life, I should have been far more cautious in expressing my opinions and many things would have gone another way, f.i., I would not even have stuck out my neck for Freud, who had become my first great indiscretion.
Primum vivere necesse est, deinde philosophari-this is the hard rule for everybody fed by an institution for services rendered.
Only the free-lance can risk saying something beyond the conventional and thus cause discomfort to himself without endangering his very existence.
I fully understand therefore your critical outburst, but you must allow me nevertheless to call your attention to the fact that all the martyrs of your Church have been most unwise in this respect.
I have discovered in my private life that a true Christian is not bedded upon roses and he is not meant for peace and tranquility of mind but for war.
And again I am realizing profoundly that not everybody’s nature is as bellicose as mine, although I have attained Deo concedente-a certain state of peace within, paid for by a rather uncomfortable state of war without.
But even if a peaceful nature has reached a certain higher level of consciousness he cannot escape the raging conflict of opposites in his soul, as God wants to unite His opposites in man.
As soon as a more honest and more complete consciousness beyond the collective level has been established, man is no more an end in himself, but becomes an instrument of God, and this is really so and no joke about it.
I have not made this world nor have I put a human soul into it.
This is His work and His responsibility and there is no judge above Him.
That is why the story begins with Job on the human level and with the assumption of personality on the divine level.
One can, like Job, lament about it, but it is to no purpose. It is just so.
If turmoil and torment become too great, there is still the oneness of the self, the divine spark within its inviolable precincts, offering its extramundane peace.
Please spend again some hours reading my Answer to Job with this comment in mind and see whether you still can maintain the idea that it is a case of mere spleen.
Could we not apply the same qualification to your own bad temper?
When you arrive in Zurich I shall be away in Bollingen; but when we return at the beginning of May, I should like you to stay with us in Kusnacht.
C.G . ~Carl Jung, Letters, Vol. II, Pages 238-243.