At the heart of every religion, there seems to be a story. And that story is so compelling for some people, they commit to it as though it were their own. In religion, it becomes something other than story; it becomes a fixed and unchanging thing. Religions use the power of story in our lives, but religions only partially understand the foundation for that power. If we were to take one step back, we would find a profound tradition concerned with, ironically, how we face the unexpected but continuous changes that make up our lives.
Storytelling had a long period of refinement through mythological consciousness. Rather than capturing the essence of some “true” objective reality for eternity in stories, mythology provided a map of how to act. Our lives are filled with moments when we face something we don’t know. But at the same time, we find that unknown thing so compelling it affects how we behave. The choices we make when confronted with new information or new experiences have serious and far-reaching consequences for our lives. Ancient storytellers recognized we weren’t concerned with asking, “What is real?” nearly as much as concerned with asking, “What do we do?”
Stories, being fictions or mere subjective accounts of actual events, have sacrificed their authority on objective reality in order to say something more. Stories frame moments of experiences, actions and consequences. Stories are important maps of behavior for us. They are maps that we treasure, share, and even modify as we face changes in our knowledge of the natural world, and changes in our construction of the social world.
At the heart of every story, someone goes through a confrontation with change.
If we were to adopt and study stories, instead of committing to them as “real”, we would find new understandings of their purpose, their value, their emotional hold on us, and their lessons. This is what this series of posts is about – exploring the nearly lost foundation of mythological consciousness and finding the heart of those lessons.
Below is the (edited) Table of Contents for this series of posts.
Part 1: Myth –Old Visions, New Eyes
Chapter 1: The Greatest Story Always Told
Chapter 2: The Psychology of Myth
Chapter 3: The Structure of Behavior
Chapter 4: The Efficiency of Myth, Part 1 and Part 2
Chapter 5: The Known, The Unknown, The Knower
Chapter 6: The Heroine’s Journey
Chapter 7: The Empathic Audience, Part 1 and Part 2
Chapter 8: Scientology and the Hero’s Journey
Chapter 9: The Hostile Brothers – A Story
Chapter 10: Three Sons, Three Stories – Part 1: Horus, Part 2: Jacob and Part 3: Jesus
Part 2: Dragons –Everyone Knows Exactly What a Dragon Is
Chapter 11: Dragons are For…
Dragons are for Cutting
Dragons are for Petting
Dragons are for Flying
Dragons are for Facing
Supplemental Post: New Slogans
Chapter 12: Another Look at God (My Dragon)
Chapter 13: The Messiah Mistakes, How the Empathic Audience can Address the Messiah Mistakes, and The LOTR Lessons for Religious Groups – Helpful Mentors, Ruthless Tyrants, Distant Sponsors
Chapter 14: Contemporary Mythology: Science Fiction – Part 1: Star Wars, Part 2: Star Trek, Part 3: The Matrix
Supplemental Post: The Modern Myth: Information as Sufficient?
Part 3: Today – Have We Learned Our Lessons Well?
Chapter 15: Culture and Story – A Look at the Numbers
Supplemental Post: Agnostic or Ignostic?
Chapter 16: Three Daughters, Three Stories – Part 1: Elizabeth Gilbert and Eat, Pray, Love, Part 2: Joy Kogawa and Obasan, Part 3: Philip Pullman and The Amber Spyglass
Supplemental Post: How Muhammad Won the West
Chapter 17: The New Minister as Bridge Figure
Chapter 18: Atheists are Copy-Cats! The Humanist Bible, It’s Alive!
Chapter 19: Hesitation
Part 1: Witness
Part 2: What the Rain Tells Me (My Superstition and My Supernatural Experience)
Part 3: Futilitarianism
Supplemental Post: The Last Ringbearer
Chapter 20: Scale-Neutral
Supplemental Conclusion: The Narrative Fallacy
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This series is my attempt to process, and reprocess, some ideas. Some of it is fun and light. Some of it is not. Some of it I still don’t fully understand, but I’m trying to. I would love some feedback and guidance from you. Please call me on it if I stray too far or get too weird or just don’t make any sense.
I’m relying a lot on the following sources:
J. R.R. Tolkien
And, of course the Internet