Beyond Yahweh and Jesus: Bringing Death's Wisdom to Faith, Spirituality, and Psychoanalysis

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The first in-depth psychoanalytic study of the Old and New Testaments, Beyond Yahweh and Jesus centers on God's role in enabling humans to cope with death and the anxieties it evokes. Yahweh is seen as tending to increase rather than diminish these death anxieties, while Christ offers near-perfect solutions to each type. Why, then, asks Dr. Langs, has Christ failed to bring peace to the world? Langs's answer focuses on Western religion's lack of a deep understanding of human psychology-an absence of the psychological wisdom needed to supplement the spiritual wisdom of religion. This is a void bemoaned as early as the mid-1800s by the Archbishop Temple and in the early twentieth century by Carl Jung.

The journey on which Langs's study embarks leads us through an examination of the related topics of knowledge acquisition and divine wisdom; the failure of psychoanalysis to provide religion with the psychology it needs to fulfill its mission; and a set of propositions that are intended to bring psychological wisdom to religion and thereby to initiate the third chapter in the history of God, in which a refashioned morality and fresh divine wisdom play notable roles. Simultaneously, the book offers a foundation, for secular forms of spirituality and morality, as well as for human efforts to cope with death and its incumbent anxieties. The mission of this book is a lofty but necessary one: to reinvigorate religion with new dimensions and insights so as to empower it, at long last, to help bring peace to the world, both individually and collectively.

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Editorial Reviews

Midwest Book Review
A thoughtful and meticulously reasoned discussion of where religion and psychology most need to intersect.
Michael Lutin
You don't read Robert Langs. You submit to him. His voracious hunger for wisdom compels you to listen to his words. His work confronts you like a Rubik's Cube, challenging your intelligence as well as your patience. I've been studying the man's writings for thirty-two years, and I assure you that this book will take you deeper into the labyrinth of the human mind than any other so far. One thing is certain: You will emerge from this journey shaken, your perspective on religion and death forever changed.
Gaye Gunton
Carl Jung might have recognized that "we must read the Bible or we shall not understand psychology," but it it Langs who shows us that we need Adaptive Psychology to understand the Bible. Langs demonstrates how a study of the Bible, guided by the deep unconscious system of the mind, brings unique and remarkable insight. Adaptive Psychology offers inspirational and essential new ideas to the world of theology. This book is dazzling both in its richness and in its revelations.
Rev. Bruce N. Teague
In the midst of war, genocide and terror, biblical scholars and theologians have developed elaborate hermeneutic theories on the real meaning of Sacred Scripture. Dr. Langs has proposed something quite new in this book. Although everyone knows that our human life is bound by birth and death, most of us seek to deny our own death. Death anxiety is rooted in the deep recesses of our psyche. Langs argues that Judeo-Christian Sacred Scripture speaks to the deeper questions of death within our deep unconscious. As Moses encountered God in the Burning Bush, transformation and healing can occur when the human psyche and the deep unconscious wisdom system encounters Sacred Scripture. I work closely with palliative care teams and have found Dr. Langs' work quite helpful.
Spring 2009 Bulletin Of The Menninger Clinic
A provocative and thought-provoking account that will challenge many of the convictions and persuasions of analytically oriented thinkers. Anyone who may be interested in the deeper psychoanalytic understanding of religious thinking and belief will not want to miss this stimulating recasting of the interaction of psychoanalysis and religious faith.
Paula J. Hamm
Dr. Langs is a creative, courageous and original thinker in this generation of traditionally trained Freudian psychoanalysts. His prophetic nature shines forth best in this inspired work. Here, he takes the reader to the shadows and valleys of death and tells us there is wisdom to be embraced within the realities of death both consciously and unconsciously. Only in facing this dark side found by decoding the triggers for these painful realities can we fully embrace a more peaceful and loving life. A modern-day sage, Langs' inspired work of faith uncovers the emotionally processing mind as the nucleus of this adaptive approach. Buried in the unconscious, according to Langs, God has given every person his or her greatest mental resource and divine wisdom to lead generative, moral and inspired lives. Divine Wisdom is not found in external gestures of ritual but only by entering the interior world of experiences, memories, anxieties, uncertainties and loving relationships. Langs offers the psychoanalytic profession a way to appreciate the beauty and depth of every person by identifying the Inner God and shows us how to use this as a resource not just for healing self but the world around. This book is a must-read for any clinician, believer or non-believer, who embraces the psychoanalytic vocation as having everything to do with the transcendent nature of humankind.
Spring 2009 Bulletin of the Menninger Clinic: A Journal for the Mental Health Professions
A provocative and thought-provoking account that will challenge many of the convictions and persuasions of analytically oriented thinkers. Anyone who may be interested in the deeper psychoanalytic understanding of religious thinking and belief will not want to miss this stimulating recasting of the interaction of psychoanalysis and religious faith.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780765705310
  • Publisher: Aronson, Jason Inc.
  • Publication date: 10/15/2007
  • Pages: 220
  • Product dimensions: 6.28 (w) x 9.46 (h) x 0.88 (d)

Meet the Author

Robert Langs, M.D. is the author of 45 books and some 170 papers on psychotherapy, psychoanalysis, the emotion-processing mind and its evolutionary history and adapative capacities, the therapeutic interaction and its boundaries, ground rules, and techniques, and the role played by trauma, death, and death anxiety in both human creativity and emotional difficulties as played out in the treatment situation and everyday life.

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Table of Contents

Author's Note     ix
Prologue: My Appointment in Samara     xiii
The First Question and God's Answer     1
The First Question and Eve's Answer     19
Death Anxiety and Divine Wisdom     43
Augustine's Version of Adam's Sin     55
Eve's Motives     65
Cain and Abel     79
Augustine's Reliving of the Sin of Cain     91
The Failure to Master Death Anxiety: Yahweh     105
Resolving Death Anxiety: Jesus Christ     125
The Failure of Religious Beliefs     145
Why Psychoanalysis Failed Religion     155
The Future of Religious and Secular Spirituality     175
References     193
Index     197
About the Author     201
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