Religion as Metaphor : Beyond Literal Belief book cover
1st Edition

Religion as Metaphor
Beyond Literal Belief

ISBN 9781412856102
Published May 30, 2015 by Routledge
286 Pages

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Book Description

Biblical stories are metaphorical. They may have been accepted as factual hundreds of years ago, but today they cannot be taken literally. Some students in religious schools even recoil from the "fairy tales" of religion, believing them to be mockeries of their intelligence. David Tacey argues that biblical language should not be read as history, and it was never intended as literal description. At best it is metaphorical, but he does not deny these stories have spiritual meaning.

Religion as Metaphor argues that despite what tradition tells us, if we "believe" religious language, we miss religion's spiritual meaning. Tacey argues that religious language was not designed to be historical reporting, but rather to resonate in the soul and direct us toward transcendent realities. Its impact was intended to be closer to poetry than theology. The book uses specific examples to make its case: Jesus, the Virgin Birth, the Kingdom of God, the Apocalypse, Satan, and the Resurrection.

Tacey shows that, with the aid of contemporary thought and depth psychology, we can re-read religious stories as metaphors of the spirit and the interior life. Moving beyond literal thinking will save religion from itself.

Table of Contents



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


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