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Religion as Metaphor

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Table of Contents

Preface Acknowledgments Personal Introduction 1. Miracles as Imagination Mythos and History; The Miracles of Jesus; Metaphor and Its Hazards; Preserving the Spiritual Meaning 2. Religion as Metaphor The Literary Mode of Scripture; Myth, Metaphor and Jesus; Literal Thinking as Idolatry; Religion as Unconscious Poetry; Pious Fraud; The Greatest Story Ever Sold? 3. The Soul's Symbolic Code Why Myth Matters; Myth as Ancient Psychology; When Mythos became Logos; The Ancestral Mind; Mythos, Soul, Eternity; Mythos in Art and Entertainment; Mythos as a Structure of Thought; Mythos Downgraded; Myths, Dreams, Religions; Something Continues to Speak 4. Jesus the Metaphor Imagination and Reality; Fear of Myth; The Secret Life of Us; Personifying; Spirit Personified in Jesus; Ongoing Incarnation; The Messenger as the Message; An Eastern Moment in the West; Gnosticism and other Heresies; Absolutism, Violence, and Conflict; When Jesus became God; Onward Christian Soldiers; Jesus the Mirror of Our Projections 5. The Myth of the Virgin Birth The Dead Hand of Patriarchy; Can We Be "Moved" By Myths?; Sexual Politics and the Uses of Myth; The Myth and its Background; Divine Insemination; Spiritual Rebirth; Institutional Literalism; The Less We Believe the Better 6. Waking Up The Kingdom; Putting on the New Self; Waking Up to a Higher Authority; Reversal of the Ego's Values; Losing and Finding Life; The Mustard Seed; Many are Called, Few Choose; Completion, Not Perfection; Transformation, Not Repentance; Jesus, Socrates, and Waking Up 7. Apocalypse Apocalypse as Psychology; Coming of the New Self; Destruction and Renewal; Spiritual Event and Pathological Obsession; Violation of the Ego's Boundaries; New Self as Original Self; Judgment; Destruction and Punishment; God as Interruption; Rapture; Founding a New Order 8. Satan and Literalism Nicodemus and the Rebirth Story; Incest Fantasies and Sexual Abuse; Satan as the Personification of Literalism; The Sublimation of Base Instincts 9. Resurrection: Ascending to Where? The Resurrection Conundrum; Joseph Campbell's Straight Talking; Jung: Cutting through Spiritual Materialism; Paul's Mysticism; The Parable of Emmaus; Emmaus Never Happened, Emmaus Always Happens; The Unacknowledged God in Our Midst 10. Psyche and Symbol Dreaming the Myth Onward; Reworking the Past; The Therapeutic Function of Myth; Myth as Psychic Truth; Mystery Without Literalism; Respect to a God Unknown; The Assumption of Mary; Elevation of the Symbolic 11. After Belief After Literalism; Faith Without Belief; Vision and Uncommon Sense; Bultmann's Progressive Thinking; Saving the Myths; Throwing Out the Baby; Progressives in the Rationalistic Mode; The Sea of Faith at Ebb Tide; From Passive Belief to Active Faith; Stages of Faith; Recreating the Fables Conclusion: Unveiling the Soul Rebirth of the Sacred; From the God-Shaped Hole; Depth Psychology as Midwife; Psyche as an Opening to Infinity Index

About the Author

David Tacey is Emeritus Professor of Literature at La Trobe University, Melbourne, Australia. He has written extensively on spirituality, religion, youth experience, and mental health. His most recent books are Gods and Diseases: Making Sense of Our Physical and Mental Wellbeing and The Darkening Spirit: Jung, Spirituality, Religion.


"In an environment where a mindless biblical fundamentalism has been identified with Christianity and where, as a direct result, the culture has become both non-believing and thoroughly secular, David Tacey, a proponent of a modern understanding of Christianity does his work. Rejecting both the hysteria of the biblical literalists and the emptiness of modern secularism, this book dares to engage both a deeply held Christian faith and the thought forms of the 21st century. As a Christian I welcome his contribution to the debate of our generation." --John Shelby Spong VIII, Bishop of Newark and author of The Fourth Gospel: Tales of a Jewish Mystic "Professor David Tacey's book is of vital concern for those who are confronted with the challenges facing religion and especially Christianity in the Western world." -- Catholica website "[T]his book is an eloquent, impassioned, and erudite plea for the renewal of Christianity that draws on extremely diverse sources, including G. W. F. Hegel, F. W. J. Schelling, Ludwig Feuerbach, David Strauss, Friederich Nietzsche, Matthew Arnold, Northrop Frye, Rudolph Bultmann, Paul Tillich, Harvey Cox, Karen Armstrong, and Dominic Crossan, among others." - Daniel Burston, PsycCRITIQUES

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