Christianity, Existentialism, and Symbols of Transformation —with John Dotson

The term existentialism was prominent at the end of World War II into the 1960s—
with themes of despair and dread, the absurd, existence-precedes-essence, freedom,
intentionality, intersubjectivity, etc. Ideas such as these appear in a classic
book Christianity and Existentialism (1963), with essays titled “The Paradox and
Death of God” by William Earle and “The Absence of God” by James M. Edie. In the
final essay, “The Rebirth of the Divine,” John Wild concludes, “God may have died in
the mass culture of the nineteenth century. He may now be absent from us…. But as
he has returned in the past, so he may return again, but now making use of new
images and new symbols.” How may we visit these thoughts in 2020 as pandemic
and climate crisis bring forth urgent needs for living symbols? And as we hear Jung:
“Psychic development cannot be accomplished by intention and will alone; it needs
the attraction of the symbol. But the formation of a symbol cannot take place…until
the inner or outer necessities of the life-process have brought about a transformation
of energy.”

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