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Von Der Heydt, V. (1977). Jung and Religion. J. Anal. Psychol., 22(2):175-183.

(1977). Journal of Analytical Psychology, 22(2):175-183

Jung and Religion

V. Von Der Heydt

In Discussing Rembrandt it would be essential to mention the fact that he was a painter; when talking about Jung I feel with some people, and on some occasions, that I should apologise for the fact that he was a homo religiosus. This Latin term is the best for what I mean, and it is untranslatable, the English ‘religious man’ not being its equivalent. The Latin refers to ‘feelings, acts and experiences of individual men in their solitude so far as they apprehend themselves to stand in relation to whatever they may consider the divine’ (JAMES I). That is William James's definition and it certainly fits Jung's personality.

When Jung was 80 he wrote a letter to a Swiss theologian, Walter Bernet; Bernet published it in a Swiss newspaper which I happened to come across. The following extract will illustrate what is important:

It certainly was not lack of interest in your book which made me keep it for so long; I wanted to continue to read it, partly from curiosity, but also from a real need to get to know and to understand the theological way of thinking which is completely alien to me. I have only been able to assimilate this kind of thinking in a very small way if at all, in spite of, or perhaps because of, my maternal background and milieu which was a theological one, and that my father was a clergyman. My youth was overshadowed by the tragedy of seeing my father break down before my very eyes unable to cope with the problems of his faith; and he died prematurely.

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