Human Need For Improbability

I have often wondered at the efforts the western world has taken in its efforts to bring religion down to earth.  We have tried to abolish excessive ornamentation, the use of statues, and costumes that invoke spiritual imagery.  We have opted for common-sense plainness.  No frills and no idols and no distractions.  Just the words to cling to and even those are presented in the plainest language possible.  And out of all of this, one is supposed to “connect” with something that defies being contained by ordinary and plain words, defies being explained by common sense.

“”Exclusive appeals to faith are a hopeless petitio principii, for it is the manifest improbability of symbolical truth that prevents people from believing in it.  Instead of insisting so glibly on the necessity of faith, the theologians, it seems to me, should see what can be done to make this faith possible . . . .   And this can  only be achieved by reflecting how it came about in the first place that humanity needed the improbability of religious statements, and what it signifies when a totally different spiritual reality is superimposed on the sensuous and tangible actuality of this world.”  (Jung, CW 5, par. 336)

Looking at the actuality of the world, the places of grandeur, the places that invoke awe – this is where our spiritual roots are found.  It is within out attempts to use images and architecture that we have tried to “inspire” a sense of the spiritual, to create a sacred space, a place of temenos, that we have given birth to religions.  And all of this was done so that we can get a sense of the improbable, so that we can be taken outside of our prosaic simpleness to see the depths that dwell “within.”