Friday, May 16, 2008

The True Myth?

I’ve ran into this argument a few times now. There is a really popular one right now in the internet movie called Zeitgeist that compares Jesus to Horus and the symbology of the zodiac. It’s basically claiming that the Bible is an astrotheological/literary hybrid. Jesus is an amalgamation of previous sun gods and probably didn’t even exist. Religion is the greatest fraud ever perpetrated. Etc. Etc.

The thing about how the Christ story fits so many archetypes is a really interesting subject to me. It speaks to how we perceive God's mechanism for action. Most people think that if a god does a thing it must be a miraculous part-the-red-sea sort of event, without precedence or comparison. I have room in my thinking for that sort of thing, but I think God's activity is more incorporated into the fabric of nature than that. I think He designed human’s minds through an amazing evolutionary process that embedded certain patterns that point towards a transcendent reality.

The result of this universal thinking pattern is the reason that we have archetypes (Like a sun god that dies and is resurrected.) to begin with. Our brains are hardwired by nature, and the software from our culture causes us to respond to certain stories in predictable ways. That's why Hollywood movies are so formulaic. The book The Hero of a Thousand Faces is famous for inspiring Lucas to make Star Wars the way he did. It's based on the idea that there are patterns in most myth that cause us to emotionally absorb and retain them.

So when it comes to the story of the Christ, we have to ask whether or not we are expecting God to work within a structure that he created us to respond to. I mean, does it make sense for God to send a Savior in a manner that we don't respond to well? In a way that we aren't created to digest due to our physical and cultural inclinations?

The way I see it, all those other myths are echoes in time of the one true myth. Like ripples in a pond, radiating throughout the timeline. To me, it makes perfect sense that God would encode us to respond to His activity, specifically the Christ. And the obvious result of that encoding would be numerous similar stories. Stories that stick around because they are embedded in our psyche and resonate with our intuitive spiritual hunger.

But I also think that's only half the story. That only gets us as far as accepting that there may be A true myth out there. Which one IS true must be determined by their distinctive qualities, and can only be found in the details. Once one appreciates the similarities between these stories, if you just stay there in a sort of comparative religion 101 or Unitarian haze of satisfaction you can never really commit to one of the stories as true. Which to me, makes them all false. Which makes me say, "What's the point?" If you are inquisitive like me you will poke and prod at all these myths, examining their distinctive attributes and comparing their fruit.

Of course, I'm most intimately familiar with the Christ myth, so it may be unfair to hold it up as the One True Myth. This is one of the biggest factors driving my self-education right now. I really want to be as thorough and honest as I can in this quest for the True Myth. Even to the point of finding no true myth if that seems to be the case to me.

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1 Comments:

Anonymous lelia said...

You ought to reference C.S.Lewis and the Abolution Of Man.
I can't remember where (Surprised by Joy? God In The Dock?) I read that Lewis said he was so excited after reading The Golden Bough that he read the New Testament because James had convinced him that the Christ story was part of the universal myth. He read it and said something like, Where's the myth? This isn't written like myth! This is written like history!

7:45 AM  

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