Friday, April 25, 2008

Propensity For Myth Part I

In my last post on Propensity for Myth (click here) I talked about "why". It was a bit socio-analytical, and in the light of Obama's "bitter" comments, I am sure it could be discounted as elitist. But then is it elitist to try and find out why? To educate yourself and others on the reasons why things are? Fundy's do this all the time . . . evolution leads to the Holocaust, feminism leads to lesbianism, homosexuality leads to pedophilia and bestiality . . . maybe the difference to Fundy's is that they are "predicting" and projecting, rather than explaining--so to the rational mind it is less objective and therefore NOT elitist . . .yeah I don't get the "logic" either, but I digress. I said all that to say if you found my last post on this topic elitist, and if by elitist you mean intelligent; then thanks for the compliment and you're probably going to have a problem with this post too. :)

The first myth that must be tackled is of course the inerrancy of scripture. As that same assumption kind of stretches over the course of the argument, I won't go into great detail here. But . . . Fundy's have no problem accepting that while their pastor or evangelist may be "inspired and anointed" they do not teach that he is infallible. This is one of the issues Fundy's have with Catholics--no man is "infalliable"; however Fundy's will not only swear that the bible was actually written by Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Paul, and the rest (here on Gilligan's Isle :) ) but that the words they wrote were the inerrant word of G-d. Their explanation on the difference between the Pope, their pastor, latest evangelist and the writers of the bible, is that "It is the Word of G-d"; therefore it is the "word" that is inerrant, not the authors. Bull Shit--that doesn't hold water; because then they have issue (one of MANY) with the Koran and Islam because it claims that Muhammad was just a tool of Allah and the words were direct from Allah THROUGH his prophet. So which is it?? It seems that as with graven images, Christians are wanting it both ways. Now when you look at it, it doesn't make sense, so they have to come up with a story . . . tuck yourself in, here it comes . . ."The bible is the "word" of G-d that he "whispered", "led", "told" "poured out" or some other active communication on/with actual men; who then interpreted the word and wrote it down. So it is somewhere between the authors being mere channelers or conduits and actually being inerrant themselves. HUH?? :) To me it would be (and has been) SO much simpler to just say . . . "these books were the author's interpretation and attempt to convey a spiritual message in the words and paradigm of their day." Now take a breath, read that sentence again . . . "these books were the author's interpretation and attempt to convey a spiritual message in the words and paradigm of their day." . . . now take a deeper breath . . . doesn't that just FEEL better on the inside; your heart and your mind are relaxed aren't they? It makes more sense, it feels more right. Why??, because it is logical and doesn't take a suspension of intelligence to believe; and yet it obviously doesn't undermine the spiritual truth or message as it is presented.

So this bible inerrancy is where the propensity for myth starts, but it extends. I have three main (maybe 4) areas: Old Testament (hereafter referred as the Hebrew Scriptures--HS); the New Testament (hereafter referred to as the Christian Scriptures--CS); and American "history". (The fourth is more of an overall cultural aspect, but it may be contained in the passages of the other three (as with biblical inerrancy).

I'll start at the beginning: HEBREW SCRIPTURES

The propensity for myth runs real deep here. Many Fundy's (as I was) see themselves as the natural extension of the HS. This is where the myth comes in; Fundy's, for whatever reason, like the "idea" of Jesus, but mostly just three parts: 1> birth (Christmas), 2> death (yes, despite what Fundy's say, the death of Christ is much more interesting to them--don't believe me?, go see The Passion of the Christ or ANY local passion play--and think about it, the symbol of Christianity is the CROSS-the vehicle for death; if it was more about the resurrection, the symbol would be a rolled stone or an empty tomb), and 3> REVELATION (the picture of Jesus on a white horse riding in with a drawn sword to smite Satan amd judge sinners; is one Fundy's can really get behind). Less appreciated are the teachings/philosophy of Jesus, except when needed; i.e. getting over a recent bought with sickness, sin, death or financial difficulty; or as a cudgel to judge someone else for lack of faith, etc. Fundy's much prefer the black/white writings of Paul. SIDE NOTE: Good old Paul he makes things so nice: faith not works . . . check; no homosexuality . . . check; if Christ didn't die; this is all in vain . . . check. So it is no wonder that Fundy's prefer the drama of the HS. You get real manly stuff here (even Paul kept having to hide or submit, and Jesus had the worrisome "turn the other cheek" thing). The HS is even more direct than Paul, and you get wrath followed by judgement followed by wicked battle scenes and death and more judgement.

Because Fundy religion strives to do away with myth and the mystical, they have no culture of their own; they stand on the shoulders of giants, and pretend they stand on their own. So there is a very real need to be a part of something larger. Fundy's fulfill that need by tying directly into the HS. They see a natural continuation, much like the way a boy will play baseball and see himself as the heir to A.Rod, Mark McGuire, Hank Aaron, etc . . . Fundy's steep themselves in the stories of the HS. Only problem is they view it with the same lens as the CS. They view it as the continued, connected writings of a movement. With the CS, it is much easier to get away with that; the writings are generally about one movement. The CS was written roughly over the course of relatively short period of time. The authors of the CS did all experience similar situations, lifestyles and paradigms (thanks in part to the Roman Empire). However, to do that with the HS is not only academically irresponsible; it is the equivalent of reading Shakespeare, Nostradamus, the Napoleonic Code, and Charles Dickens and assuming ALL these authors approached life in a similar fashion, ALL these writings are of equal and constantly relevant value, and that ALL of these works share a common message. PREPOSTEROUS! And lets also mention the fact that the HS started out as an oral tradition passed around fires of tribes of nomads in the desert; that the literacy rate was nil; that the concept of G-d in the time of Abraham was VASTLY (I'm talking Hindu to Buddhism) different from the G-d of Moses, and VASTLY (again . . .Catholicism to Mormonism) different from the G-d of David. Not to mention the changes in humanity: human development, human history, human awareness, human government, human concept of community and self. Yet, Fundy's (and I was one of them) like to just wrap everything up with a neat bow--and then ad that they (Fundy's) are the actual spiritual heirs of all this. A large part of John Hagee and other Fundy's fascination with Israel is derived from Revelations and the concept I just described above. Fundy's see themselves as the descendants of the HS. I mean at least the Mormons have the common sense to claim a (by the way completely disproved) biological/genetic connection to the "lost tribes". Fundy's don't even do that! They get the luxury of "spiritual heredity". In the words of Dana Carvey's The Church Lady, "Well, Isn't That Special!"

Again, this is done because Fundy's, like EVERY other human group have a need to belong to something. They have outlawed and excised all mystery, so the human mind will substitute where it can . . . Nature will always find a way.

I think I can stop my argument here without further examples--I might do a separate post (Part 1A) where I just explore some specific examples.
I'd love some good comments on the blog, where readers offer examples/analysis of this propensity for myth as it relates to HS.
For the Propensity For Myth Intro, click here

No comments: