Hermes, the Bees, and the Tao—with Dennis Merritt

I posit the fifth century BCE Homeric Hymn to Hermes, the myth of day-old Hermes stealing Apollo’s cattle, as a significant mythological base for Jungian ecopsychology. The Greeks joined the opposing forces of Hermes, associated with nature, animals and the somatic unconscious, with his brother Apollo, god of purity, far-sightedness and knowledge of the structure of the universe. Hermes essential nature is displayed in his wand, a figure 8 with a gap at the top. Hermes is what happens in the gap as opposites of any nature interact, including between the opposites of stability and chaos, the domain of chaos theory with Hermes as its mythic base. Hermes’ bee oracle and his association with transitional spaces can be associated to the Taoist link between the “dark enigma” originating source and the yin-yang symbol as the first to emerge towards the “ten thousand things” of existence in space-time. 

A Golden Thread Through the Maze of René Girard’s Thought: His Own Evolution—with Paul Wrightman

What are we to make of René Girard?  In this age, when many commentators think that all academic disciplines are over-specialized, what are we to do with someone who boldly connects literature, psychology, anthropology, philosophy, politics, and theology?  Should we immediately write him off? Or should we take a closer look? 

This presentation will make the case for taking a closer look.  Following the flow of Girard’s own evolution, we will see how his study of one field led him to another. . . and another. . . and another. Many consider Girard’s grand intellectual undertaking to be the most important of our time, giving us the keys to a deeper understanding of what it means to be human, and how we can keep ourselves and our world from self-destructing.  His insights are particularly relevant to the chaos of the early twenty-first century. 

Girard’s thought is controversial and offensive to some. He has a shockingly different approach to literature, human origins, myth, and the real significance of the Bible and Jesus than anyone else.  Be prepared for a lively discussion following the content section of this talk!

Paul Wrightman is an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ and Pastor of the Community Church of the Monterey Peninsula.  He was an undergraduate at Stanford, prepared for ministry at Chicago, and has done further graduate study at Claremont Graduate University, Mt. Angel Benedictine Seminary, and the Graduate Theological Union.  He is married to artist Elizabeth Wrightman, and he also likes to paint in his free time.

Book Reports: Iron John and Racecraft

Iron John, a book about men (1990)

The highly celebrated American poet Robert Bly passed away in 2021 at the age of 94. Bly is well known for his 1990 book Iron John, concerning the importance of mentoring boys across the threshold to manhood. In support of this ancient, initiatory wisdom, Bly references Jung, Hillman, Joseph Campbell and others. In recent times we have witnessed an epidemic of young men committing atrocious acts of violence across our nation. Tonight, we will re-visit Iron John thirty-two years after its first publication. 

     —Gary Lowe  

Racecraft: The Soul of Inequality in American Life (2012)

Racism is a brutal fact of life spanning many centuries. Race, however, is a deeply rooted ideological fiction and falsehood that perpetuates racism. Such is the soul of inequality in American life, as vividly shown in this book by scholars Barbara J. and Karen E. Fields. “You never see it, yet you can always see it. Real-world evidence is ever at hand… The focus of racecraft is not the outward, visible color of a person’s skin (hair type, bone structure, etc.) but the presumed inward invisible content of that person’s character.” With a psychological lens, we will take up the authors’ theme of “the obviousness of the invisible… an invisible ontology.”

A Celebration of Taoist Poetry

The integration of opposites in Jung’s psychology found expression long ago in the work of the ancient Chinese Taoist/Chan Buddhist poets, particularly in the complementary principles of yin and yang.  So too did their recognition of a generative cosmos that encompassed both absence and presence, both emptiness and the “ten thousand things.”  For them as for Jung, it was the embrace of these polarities that leads to wholeness. Thus the world of the human psyche that Jung describes operated in a fashion analogous to the world of nature inhabited by the Taoist poets. Join us for an evening of Taoist poetry read by Suzanne Sturn, Lisa Maroski, and Robert Strayer.  David Alexander accompanies on a variety of Native American flutes.

A New Theory of Time — with Lamont Williams

Based on his book The Greatest Source of Energy—A New Theory of time, Lamont Williams will describe a novel model that unites the Einsteinian view of time as a relative phenomenon with the Newtonian view of time as an absolute and universal phenomenon. He will show how this model of time can also help unite the fundamental forces of nature—gravity, electromagnetism, and the weak and strong nuclear forces—and thereby set a framework for a Theory of Everything. He will connect the various aspects of the time model with facts and established theories about the universe, aiming to help close some gaps in our scientific knowledge. Answers will be suggested to mysteries such as why matter (as opposed to antimatter) predominates our universe, the fundamental nature of electric charge, and the origin of dark matter and dark energy. In all, a new view of energy will be provided that might help in our efforts to become a multiplanetary, interstellar species.

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