"Dreams as God's Forgotten Language: Understanding the Symbolic Interpretation of the Unconscious"


In this thesis, John A. Sanford argues that dreams should be regarded as expressions of our nature and as God's forgotten language or

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Slide1By John A. SanfordCentral Thesis: Dreams should be regarded as God’s “Forgotten Language” or “Voice of God”

Slide2Dreams: clear expressions of our nature  Problem: dream speak in symbols  Solution: talk to dreamer to understand symbolic language  Source: the unconscious: What if it has something to say?  Meaning of Dream: not found in conscious

Slide3Psychosomatic symptoms  Repeated Dreams: unconscious psyche communicating an important idea/theme  Hints at a spiritual or psychological problem  Golf dream; Sinister adversary 1 and 2  Who is trying to “kill” the dreamer?  What does it mean to die in a dream?

Slide4The enemy is our self  Difficult to face our self  Guilt, shame, weaknesses  We banish these unacceptable things to the unconscious : becomes our Shadow  Death: extinction or transformation?  Change, transformation, growth, only occurs when the “old” in us dies  Mystery (paschal) at heart of Christianity  Paul: “I die daily” (Cor 15:31)

Slide5Perhaps shadow wants to transform Tom  Inner conflict and running away from self  Third Dream: facing the Shadow  Biblical parallel: Jacob Wrestling with Adversary  Physical condition immediately improved  Intelligence behind these meaningful dreams? God?

Slide6Louise: middle age, capable, respected  The “important things” in our lives and the anxiety when we lose them  The “dark maid” and cleaning up the back yard  Who is the servant woman? A positive shadow  Clothes usually represent persona

Slide7Insisting on a one-sided personality and becoming its victim  Behind every human attribute there hides it’s opposite  Meeting the “beatnik” at the round table  Do you recognize me?: A vital relationship of the two  Who is the real self?  Symbol of Wholeness? The Table  Religious symbols of squares, circles, spirals

Slide8Cain and Abel; Jacob and Esau; Mary and Martha; The Elder and Prodigal son  Message for Today?  Unrecognized Shadow projected out to society and “Other”  Example: the demonic side of Humanity: WWII, the Holocaust  Darfur: Israeli/Palestinian conflict; culture wars  Talking of peace, preparing for war today  Where is our unredeemed shadow found today?

Slide9The Shadow is real  Our dreams compensate our conscious attitudes by exposing us to our shadow  Shadow has value  Feared and rejected, it becomes evil: recognized and accepted it becomes part of whole person  Projection of Shadow onto Other  Dreams tell us there is something important beyond ego  Unity of self is needed if world is to escape disaster

Slide10Dreams not nonsense but intelligible communications from Self (Image, or Voice of God)  Jesus: “Agree with thine adversary quickly while thou art in the way with him (Math 5:25)  Not just our outer adversary but our inner

Slide11Margaret : cruel, abusive childhood; successful, multiple marriages  Dream 1:  large square, shadowy room: tubular iron shift in center with shining white paper floating in water  Dog jumps in and she screams  Dream 2: Looking up and seeing shower of square paper: blank, shiny: pleasant feeling

Slide123 main ingredients:  The iron well, the paper, the dog  Well: symbol of earth, hell, also life, fruit: center of things, must be looked at, entered into  Paper: clean, totality, wholeness; symbol of her life: promise of renewed, whole life received from up high (Heaven, God)  Dog: domesticated animal: saving significance: instinctively knows what our conscious mind does not

Slide13Isaiah 1:18: “Though your sins be like scarlet, they will be as white as snow”  Guilt eventually removed  Sequel dream: man pushes her into well: finds a pleasant garden: fear reduced after  Cross as symbol of forgiveness  Forgiveness as ‘Work of the Soul’: an inner experience  Belief in Christ’s redemption of us: many still don’t feel redeemed

Slide14Cause? Lack of recognition of own guilt  Pop culture promotion of guiltlessness  *You can and should “have it all”!  Casual Christians: Christ has forgiven so why feel guilty?  Guilt often repressed, not resolved  Unconscious guilt prevents resolution  Result: nameless anxieties, self-sabotage, psychosomatic illness

Slide15Freudian approach: guilt caused by overbearing super-ego (reflects what Jung calls collective thinking)  Development of conscience key tool for ego: to rise above basic animal desires  For Jung, source of morality beyond collective or parent’s morality:  God’s morality communicated through the Higher Self within (Dreams  Conscious acceptance, unconscious rejection of behavior

Slide16Freud: Cannot repress our sexual nature in name of religion  However, we also cannot repress religious or moral nature in name of our instincts  Strive for balance of two  Redemptive potential of guilt  Tend not to take our guilt or potential for forgiveness serious enough

Slide17Dreams remind us both of our guilt, and our forgiveness  Compensates for one-sided conscious attitude   appears that an unconscious wisdom lives within: sees ourselves differently  Goal: healing and wholeness  Dreams speak in symbols: source both personal and collective unconscious


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