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Carl Jung:  I was forced into a pulpit

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Letters of C. G. Jung: Volume 2, 1951-1961

To Pastor L. Memper

Dear Pastor Memper, 29 September 1953

Please excuse the lateness of my answer.

Your letter was a great joy and brought back memories of old, long vanished times.

It is now 59 years since I left the vicarage in Klein-Hiiningen.

I thank you kindly for your invitation.

Formerly I would have accepted it without a qualm, because I feel a bond with all the stations of my way, but now I am too old and for reasons of health can no longer take on the responsibility of giving a difficult public address.

It is a difficult art to speak to a simple public about a complicated matter.

Anyway I would not have mounted the pulpit.

This happened to me only once, at a teachers’ congress in Bern, which without my previous knowledge was held in a church.

To my terror I was forced into a pulpit, which gave me such a shock that I have never spoken in a church again.

I hadn’t realized how much a sacred and hallowed precinct meant to me.

The profane use Protestants make of their churches I regard as a grave error.

God may be everywhere, but this in no way absolves believers from the duty of offering him a place that is declared holy, otherwise one could just as well get together for religious purposes in the 3rd class waiting-room of a railway station.

The Protestant is not even granted a quiet, pious place where he can withdraw from the turmoil of the world.

And nowhere does there exist for God a sanctified temenos which serves only one and a sacred purpose.

No wonder so few people attend church.

Formerly, in spite of my willingness to oblige, I would also have had to stipulate that the meeting should not in God’s name be held in a church, as I am a practising anti-profanist.

I hope you will forgive me for taking your kind invitation as a pretext for voicing my subjective protest.

But I know from my many years of psychological practice how painful the rationalistic profanation of our churches is for very many educated people.

I have heard that my father’s tombstone was set up near the church.

Unfortunately I did not know at the time when the stone was made that my father was described as Dr. theol. instead of Dr. phil.

He graduated as an Orientalist, in Arabic.

I was very glad to hear once again of my old home where I spent at least 16 years of my youth.

I hope you won’t mind my scruples.

I found a magnificent temple in India now standing derelict in the desert.

It was desecrated by the Moslems 400 years ago, which resulted in permanent desacralization.

It gave me some idea of the strength of this feeling for a sacred precinct, and for the emptiness which arises when the profane breaks in.

With kindest regards,

Yours sincerely,

C.G. Jung ~Carl Jung, Letters Vol. II, Pages 128-129.