11 July 2006

I love a good myth

The Bible is not a book of moralities. The Bible is the ultimate myth. Now, before I am misquoted and extracted from context (although, to be honest, I am not famous enough to warrant quoting or misquoting), let me explain what I mean; let me define myth. Merriam-Webster defines myth as “a usually traditional story of ostensibly historical events that serves to unfold part of the world view of a people or explain a practice, belief, or natural phenomenon.” Joseph Campbell says in his work, The Hero with a Thousand Faces, that “throughout the inhabited world, in all times and under every circumstance, the myths of man have flourished; and they have been the living inspiration of whatever else may have appeared out of the activities of the human body and mind. It would not be too much to say that myth is the secret opening through which the inexhaustible energies of the cosmos pour into human cultural manifestation.” Everything in life, our philosophies, our behaviors, our arts, is couched in the myth we believe of our world. I do want to clarify that while I have learned much from Campbell’s work, I do not go to the extreme of interpreting all of our dreams as an Oedipus syndrome. I also believe that God did historically and literally meet His people, that the accounts of the Bible represent historical occurrences. That being said, I believe that the oral tradition before Moses, the written account of Moses, the judges, the prophets, the kings, the poetry, the wisdom, the gospels, and the letters, are important to us because they are our myth, our story that marks us.
The Bible is a story, or a collection of stories, that define a people, that give the people identity. It explains their worldview. It delineates how they see the world around them. It answers the questions, “Why is the world like this?” and “What is my purpose?” The Bible is the story that explains the world around us (as created by God and fallen, corrupted by sin and evil), the direction of the world (redemption and recreation as seen in Rev. 21 & 22), and our purpose in the world today (glorify this Creator and Savior God, enjoy His presence, and participate in His victory over sin and evil in our lives and in the world by embodying His Truth and love). In the collection of stories, there is nothing special about the people except that they have encountered God. (This perhaps is different than other Ancient Near East stories or Greek and Roman mythos which tended to inflate the heroes.) We read the encounters with God. And we experience the encounters of the holiness of God. We are an extension of this metanarrative.

1 comment:

Margo Carmichael said...

I would be content to be described that way: "There is nothing special about Margo except that she has encountered God." And, I would hope to add someday: "and has written some good stories about it."

Please, God. : )