Islamic Garden

Islamic Garden
Islamic Garden in Lausanne, Switzerland

Sunday, December 2, 2007

The psychology of the Wrath of God

When reflecting on the image and archetype of the Wrath of God, which is mentioned in al-Fatiha and hence common to all Muslims, I came across an analysis by Greg Mogenson, a Canadian Jungian analyst and analytical psychologist, whose book "A Most Accursed Religion - When a Trauma becomes God" is very illuminating about this topic. He comments on the language of wrath in the Hebrew Bible and its meta-messages using verses from Isaiah and Job and comes to this insight:

"The wrath of God and the kindness of God are complexly interwoven. When we are crushed and broken by an overwhelming event, we experience firsthand what the ancient Hebrews knew as the rod of His wrath. A natural piety is called into play, a piety of terror and dread. Brought low, broken asunder, we prostrate ourselves before the stimulus that threatens to annihilate us as if before our Maker. Typically, there is a moral moment. It seems that we are being punished. But what are we being punished for? What have we done to warrant this affliction? We search ourselves for sin. If we can find ourselves guilty of some error or indiscretion, our suffering will at least make sense and we can set about making our atonement.

Often, however, we can find no sin and our affliction seems quite senseless. But here, too, we are easily given over to piety. As the pain increases so, too, does our sense of relationship to an omnipotent being. As the persistence of our suffering mocks our ability to understand it within the categories of our usual existence, our sense of relationship to a wholly other will and purpose grows. Gradually, conversion dawns. The ontology of the event that traumatizes us upstages our own ontology. In order to survive, we enter into the route of that which afflicts us and allow ourselves to be re-created by it. Submitting ourselves to its epistemology, we become the keepers of its law. "Glory, Glory, Glory, for the Lord, God, Omnipotent reigneth!" As piously as the phobic patient propitiates the eliciting stimulus of his phobia, we propitiate the overwhelming event that has transcended us, acknowledging its holiness. Only in the eye of the storm do we feel safe. Only in those ritualized observances that the faithless call our "symptoms" are we the children of God."

~ excerpt from "A Most Accursed Religion", by Greg Mogenson, pp. 28-29

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