Sunday, October 20, 2013

Christians and science of dreams

Dear Christian brothers and sisters all over the world. I've been talking much about daydreaming under my label "dreams" but now I'm going to widen the horizon and talk about the nightly ones adding the scientific and biblical ankles to my contemplation. My central point of this post is dream interpretation and how Christians should deal with it. I used to own a Freudian dream dictionary for dream interpretation but I gave it out in 2007 after my conversion because I thought by that time that it has too much to do with New Age and I stopped reading the horoscopes at the same time. I thought these things had little to do with Christianity so I gave them up but from the other hand some of my Christian friends are reading the horoscopes anyway and by the time of Antique when the Bible was written people believed that God was talking to them in their dreams. Some philosophers of Antique even defined dreams as God's talk. I can also give various Scripture examples of this and of such prophets as Joseph, Daniel and Jeremiah interpreting dreams for kings so this has made me re-think if dream interpretation isn't a taboo for Christians after all! Now we're living in the 21st century though without having the prophets around to help us interpret our dreams. Now in the 21st century we have dream dictionaries and Sigmund Freud's (6 May 1856- 23 September 1939) psychoanalysis as our dream guides.

The Bible

"Some time later, the cupbearer and the baker of the king of Egypt offended their master, the king of Egypt. Pharaoh was angry with these two officials, the chief cupbearer and the chief baker, and put them in custody in the house of the captain of the guard, in the same prison where Joseph was confined. The captain of the guard assigned them to Joseph, and he attended them. After they had been in custody for some time, each of the two men - the cupbearer and the baker of the king of Egypt, who were being held in prison - had a dream the same night, and each dream had a meaning of its own.
When Joseph came to them the next morning, he saw that they were dejected. So he asked Pharaoh's officials who were in custody with him in his master's house, "Why do you look so sad today?" "We both had dreams," they answered, "but there is no one to interpret them." Then Joseph said to them, "Do not interpretations belong to God? Tell me your dreams." So the chief cupbearer told Joseph his dream. He said to him, "In my dream I saw a vine in front of me, and on the vine were three branches. As soon as it budded, it blossomed, and its clusters ripened into grapes. Pharaoh's cup was in my hand, and I took the grapes, squeezed them into Pharaoh's cup and put the cup in his hand." "This is what it means," Joseph said to him "The three branches are three days. Within three days Pharaoh will lift up your head and restore your position, and you will put Pharaoh's cup in his hand, just as you used to do when you were his cupbearer. But when all goes well with you, remember me and show me kindness; mention me to Pharaoh and get me out of this prison. I was forcibly carried off from the land of Hebrews, and even here I have done nothing to deserve being put in a dungeon."
When the chief baker saw that Joseph had given a favorable interpretation, he said to Joseph, "I too had a dream: On my head were three baskets of bread. In the top basket were all kinds of baked goods for Pharaoh, but the birds were eating them out of the basket on my head." "This is what it means," Joseph said. "The three baskets are three days. Within three days Pharaoh will lift off your head and impale your body on a pole. And the birds will eat away your flesh."
Now the third day was Pharaoh's birthday, and he gave a feast for all his officials. He lifted up the heads of the chief cupbearer and and the chief baker in the presence of his officials: He restored the chief cupbearer to his position, so that he once again put the cup into Pharaoh's hand - but he impaled the chief baker, just as Joseph had said to them in his interpretation. The chief cupbearer, however, did not remember Joseph; he forgot him."
Genesis 40:1-23   

Then Daniel (also called Belteshazzar) was greatly perplexed for a time, and his thoughts terrified him. So the king said, “Belteshazzar, do not let the dream or its meaning alarm you.”
Belteshazzar answered, “My lord, if only the dream applied to your enemies and its meaning to your adversaries! The tree you saw, which grew large and strong, with its top touching the sky, visible to the whole earth, with beautiful leaves and abundant fruit, providing food for all, giving shelter to the wild animals, and having nesting places in its branches for the birds Your Majesty, you are that tree!You have become great and strong; your greatness has grown until it reaches the sky, and your dominion extends to distant parts of the earth.
“Your Majesty saw a holy one, a messenger, coming down from heaven and saying, ‘Cut down the tree and destroy it, but leave the stump, bound with iron and bronze, in the grass of the field, while its roots remain in the ground. Let him be drenched with the dew of heaven; let him live with the wild animals, until seven times pass by for him.’  “This is the interpretation, Your Majesty, and this is the decree the Most High has issued against my lord the king:You will be driven away from people and will live with the wild animals; you will eat grass like the ox and be drenchedwith the dew of heaven. Seven times will pass by for you until you acknowledge that the Most High is sovereign over all kingdoms on earth and gives them to anyone he wishes.The command to leave the stump of the tree with its rootsmeans that your kingdom will be restored to you when you acknowledge that Heaven rules. Therefore, Your Majesty, be pleased to accept my advice: Renounce your sins by doing what is right, and your wickedness by being kind to the oppressed. It may be that then your prosperity will continue.
Daniel 4:19-27 

Also examples from the New Testament show how God is talking to us and guiding us in our dreams. 

This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit. Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.
But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus,because he will save his people from their sins.”
All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel”(which means “God with us”).
When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. But he did not consummate their marriage until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus.
Matthew 1:18-25 

I personally see also The Revelation as series of dreams so the Bible offers us lots of material to read about dreams and interpreting them:

I, John, your brother and companion in the suffering and kingdom and patient endurance that are ours in Jesus, was on the island of Patmos because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus. On the Lord’s Day I was in the Spirit,and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet, which said: “Write on a scroll what you see and send it to the seven churches: to Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis,Philadelphia and Laodicea.” I turned around to see the voice that was speaking to me. And when I turned I saw seven golden lampstands, and among the lampstands was someone like a son of man,dressed in a robe reaching down to his feet and with a golden sash around his chest. The hair on his head was white like wool, as white as snow, and his eyes were like blazing fire.His feet were like bronze glowing in a furnace, and his voice was like the sound of rushing waters. In his right hand he held seven stars, and coming out of his mouth was a sharp, double-edged sword. His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance.
When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. Then he placed his right hand on me and said: “Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last. I am the Living One; I was dead, and now look, I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades.
“Write, therefore, what you have seen, what is now and what will take place later.The mystery of the seven stars that you saw in my right hand and of the seven golden lampstands is this: The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches.
The Revelation 1:9-20

Dream psychology 

Sigmund Freud developed a theory that the content of dreams is driven by unconscious wish fulfillment. Freud called dreams the "royal road to the unconscious." He theorized that the content of dreams reflects the dreamer's unconscious mind and specifically that dream content is shaped by unconscious wish fulfillment. He argued that important unconscious desires often relate to early childhood memories and experiences. Freud's theory describes dreams as having both manifest and latent content. Latent content relates to deep unconscious wishes or fantasies while manifest content is superficial and meaningless. Manifest content often masks or obscures latent content.
Freud's early work argued that the vast majority of latent dream content is sexual in nature, but he later shied away from this categorical position. In Beyond the Pleasure Principle he considered how trauma or aggression could influence dream content. He also discussed supernatural origins in Dreams and Occultism, a lecture published in New Introductory Lectures on Psychoanalysis.
I personally find Freud's views reasonable. I wake up over and over again realizing that some old memories won't leave me alone because I constantly see some of my old school friends in my dreams and deceased people. I even see the ones that have hurt me somehow so Freud's idea behind traumas' impact on dreams must be truthful. I've also met many of my idols or role models in my dreams or attended their concerts. I see also lots of animals, especially bears and wolves lately but I've seen also a cheetah, frogs and snakes. 

Carl Jung rejected many of Freud's theories. Jung expanded on Freud's idea that dream content relates to the dreamer's unconscious desires. He described dreams as messages to the dreamer and argued that dreamers should pay attention for their own good. He came to believe that dreams present the dreamer with revelations that can uncover and help to resolve emotional or religious problems and fears.
Jung wrote that recurring dreams show up repeatedly to demand attention, suggesting that the dreamer is neglecting an issue related to the dream. He believed that many of the symbols or images from these dreams return with each dream. Jung believed that memories formed throughout the day also play a role in dreaming. These memories leave impressions for the unconscious to deal with when the ego is at rest. The unconscious mind re-enacts these glimpses of the past in the form of a dream. Jung called this a day residue. Jung also argued that dreaming is not a purely individual concern, that all dreams are part of "one great web of psychological factors."
I also agree with Carl Jung because his view on dreams matches to the ones in the Bible as both Jung and the Bible seem to argue that we should see our dreams as sort of warnings guiding our daily lives. Jung's view is very Christian. I also want to take the chance and argue right now why Christians shouldn't believe in 'the Bible versus science' but why it's OK to follow both of them. I can frankly tell you that I believe both in the Creation and Evolution. Why? Because I interpret some stories in the Bible symbolically and the rest literally. There is reason why I'm telling both scientific and biblical views on dream interpretation because I believe that God created also science as God created human. BUT starting right from Genesis until this day on the 21st century we see every day various examples how people are misusing God's blessings. Science definitely is a blessing because it broadens our knowledge and worldview and the development of  medicine is the best example how science can turn into a blessing. But of course some people are misusing science for bombs, terrorism and warfare and instead of using nuclear power we should prefer more natural options such as solar and wind power to protect our globe from proceeding global warming which is also one example how development of science is harmful from the other hand.  
Fritz Perls presented his theory of dreams as part of the holistic nature of Gestalt therapy. Dreams are seen as projections of parts of the self that have been ignored, rejected, or suppressed. Jung argued that one could consider every person in the dream to represent an aspect of the dreamer, which he called the subjective approach to dreams. Perls expanded this point of view to say that even inanimate objects in the dream may represent aspects of the dreamer. The dreamer may, therefore, be asked to imagine being an object in the dream and to describe it, in order to bring into awareness the characteristics of the object that correspond with the dreamer's personality. 

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