One summer day when Carl Jung was a 12 year old schoolboy in Basel, Switzerland, he fell to admiring the cathedral in the town square. In his autobiography called “Memories, Dreams, Reflections” he recalls his train of thought:
The sky was gloriously blue, the day one of radiant sunshine. The roof of the cathedral glittered, the sun sparkling from the new, brightly glazed tiles. I was overwhelmed by the beauty of the sight, and thought: “the world is beautiful and the church is beautiful, and God made all this and sits above it far away in the blue sky on a golden throne and …” Here came a great hole in my thoughts, and a choking sensation. I felt numbed, and knew only: “Don’t go on thinking now! Something terrible is coming…”
He was completely panicked and dared not finish the thought. He agonized over it for days, having trouble sleeping and feeling tormented, trying so hard to not finish the thought. In the middle of the night of the third day, he finally decided that “It must be thought out before hand.” So he went through a long process of thinking why he should not think “that thought”. His rationalized reasoning went on for three pages! Now remember, this is a 12 year old boy. Carl finally decided it would be okay with God for him to finish, saying “Obviously, God also desires me to show courage. If that is so and I go through with it, then He will give me His grace and illumination.”
Jung continues, “I gathered all my courage as though I were about to leap forthwith into hell-fire, and let the thought come. I saw before me the cathedral, the blue sky, God sits on His golden throne, high above the world — and from under the throne an enormous turd falls upon the sparkling new roof, shatters it, and breaks the walls of the cathedral asunder.”
Even as a boy, Jung found the scatalogical image redemptive. “I felt an enormous, indescribable relief. Instead of the expected damnation, grace had come upon me… I wept for happiness and gratitude.”
From the start, Jung understood this newfound connection to the deity to be different in kind from anything he’d been offered by his own church. Jung’s father was a Protestant minister but one, we gather from Jung, for whom the church had become lifeless. As a child he thought his father was reliable but powerless, and after his epiphany, he says, “a great many things I had not understood became clear to me. That was what my father had not understood, I thought; he had failed to experience the will of God, had opposed it for the best reasons and out of the deepest faith. And that is why he had never experienced the miracle of grace.”
Hyde also points out in this chapter that “dirt is always a by-product of order”. My take is that if our gods are too clean, too orderly, they cannot lend us any creative energy, and our lives become too sterile, too orderly. By placing the gods high above us, not allowing them access into our lives or us access into theirs, we limit our own creativity. You have to get a little dirty and messy to truly feel the divine. Make your rituals too sterile, too structured, and they bring no spirituality into your life. Make your home too sterile, too orderly, and it becomes a place where you can’t relax and enjoy life itself. If you’re afraid to get messy, it’s hard to really make interesting art. If you’re afraid of your life getting messy, it’s hard to care about other people and be willing to get involved in their problems.