The story of Jesus Christ
Special attention must be given to the biblical story of Jesus Christ, a story of reconciliation with shame (Miles, 2001). Jesus is the ultimate hero who provides a model for the transformation of shame for all of mankind: and this story is told through the idea of the Christ principle. God incarnates into Jesus through the Virgin Mary and is being crucified as the Christ so that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life. The Old Testament God is one of unquestioning invincibility, a wrathful warrior who through his mighty power torments His Chosen People. His shame and failure, however, is great: he has never fulfilled his promise to them. He simply protects the people of Israel by destroying their enemy, or curses and abandons them to their conquerors. The Israelites become either the winners or the losers.
The idea of Jesus, the very antithesis of a warrior, is conceived in God’s realization of his failure. Just like any other man, God was blind to his weakness and had to discover his vulnerability by succumbing to it. Rather than projecting the blame blindly, the ultimate party finally accepts responsibility. When shame is included, the new creation somehow requires in turn the death of the creator. The “improbable and appalling conjunction of expiatory lamb and messianic warlord” is conceived; the disturbing power of Jesus as a character has everything to do with these two images (Miles, 2001: 27). “All mankind is forgiven, but the Lord must die . . . This victim is God Incarnate, the Lord himself in human form”
(pp. 3-4). “As God, the Lord cannot cease to exist; but as Jesus Christ, he can taste death [cease to exist] in the same way Adam and Eve were cursed to suffer their shame” (p. 4). God chose to undergo a human death in order to reveal to the world the full, mixed truth about Himself. The image of Christ on the cross depicts both the essence of His woundedness, His humanity, and yet these are visible signs of His powers of transcendence that triumph over shame, the sins inherited by all of humankind from the succubus.
When looked at through the eyes of shame, the story of Christ becomes a story of the warrior hero transformed into a resurrected victim. God, a messianic warlord who became human to cleanse the world of the sins brought on by the succubus Eve has revoked his ancient curse. The pacifist power of Christ is not power over, but the power of the victim against the victimizer - in other words, the power of that flicker of shame in the soul of the victimizer, the spark of conscience, activated by the empowerment that comes to the submitting shamed self through sacrifice. Miles (2001) provides a visceral image that amplifies the transformative power of shame and the face in such a process:
What Jesus said, to quote the shocking line again and this time in Mathew’s more revealing formulation, is “If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other to him as well” (Matt. 5:39). Supposing a right-handed attacker, the blow should fall on the left cheek. That it falls on the right means that it is a backhanded slap, the kind delivered by a master to a slave or a ruler to a subject. If the victim then turns his left cheek towards his attacker, he places the features of his face where his right cheek had been when the first slap landed. He dares his master, his ruler, or whoever it is who has insulted him to insult him further by landing a second blow squarely on his nose and mouth. Thus does the victim shame the victimizer, forcing insolence into consciousness of itself and then, perhaps, into repentance.
When conscience develops, shame has served its purpose. The death of John the Baptist, the man ultimately beheaded for speaking truth to Roman power and shaming Herod’s wife (engaging the succubus), actually serves a much greater purpose: Herod, a man of great power without a conscience, begins to have one (Miles, 2001). Later, he does not sentence Jesus to death, but sends him on to Pontius Pilate to decide. With the restoration of Herod’s conscience, the meaning of Salome is also transformed. Instead of remaining an evil and seductive succubus who beheads John the Baptist, she can be envisioned with the Prophet Elijah (of the Old Testament), who later returns as John the Baptist (of the New Testament) “for all eternity” (Jung, 1965).
Jesus “takes away the sins of the world” through his submission to shame. Through the resurrection of his victimized body, shame is transcended and the succubus in the form of Mary Magdalen is redeemed, the wronged and lost sacred feminine sought after by countless knights in what has been called the quest for the Holy Grail (Brown, 2003: 257). She is the first to discover his resurrected body in the tomb.