Sunday, July 18, 2010

Lucia Individualism that leads to destruction

Peter Cresswell has posted an excerpt from Joseph Campbell, in his 1971 book Myths to Live By, where Campbell rails against our belief in the Hebrew's God. He would rather we be like an ancient Greek playwright of the same period as Job of the Old Testament who rejects his god as he wants us to reject ours.

...Prometheus—who was also being tormented by a god that could ‘draw Leviathan out with a fishhook, play with him as a bird, and fill his skin with harpoons’—the following stunning words: ‘He is a monster … I care less than nothing for Zeus. Let him do as he likes.’
And so say [all we Westerners] today in our hearts, even though our tongues may have been taught to babble with Job.

Yet the rejections of Zeus with God are not equivalent. One is a rejection of a false God who has been invented by man in his own image and the other is the true God who created man in His own Image. And despite our many failings, which Job recognises, He still loves us and would do anything for us. As I said to Peter Cresswell on his post:

There is a major difference between the Greek gods and the Hebrew's God; the Greek gods are man's idea of what a god could be like and therefore not based on truth, while as the Hebrew's God is real. Therefore, to reject the Greek gods is to reject false gods, but it does not then follow that God should also be rejected.

As unpalatable as the idea that a man such as Job should repent, it shows us that a man who does everything that God requires of him is still nothing in the great scheme of things. Yet this same God, to whom we could be considered nothing, became one of us permanently and offers us His love and salvation.

If we say we do not need that or Him, then we follow the fallen angels into destruction.

The ultimate individualist is Satan. And all Satan can do now is hate, and what type of an existence is that? Far better to purge ourselves of all our earthly attachments as Job did through his acceptance of all the trials God sent his way than to reject the hardships that God uses to purify us as silver is purified in the fire, and thus losing everything. That is what Joseph Campbell and Satan want us to do. Those that are on the road to Hell want company, your company. Don't give it to them.

Related link: Sunday Reading: The “properly human spiritual ideal, true to the highest potentiality of our species,” is freedom & individualism ~ Not PC

5 comment(s):

Big Boar said...

hmmm yes and no. I think there may be an historical/academic error in the assumption that the Hebrew god has no similar characteristics to Zeus.

And the final paragraph is only half the story. God does not abandon people - even if they abandon him. Otherwise repentance would be impossible. The dynamic of the relationship is that whatever we do, god remains the same - always there, like a parent waiting for the return of a prodigal child.

"Giving in" to Satan, or temptation, may be undesirable in the sense that our lives get hard, but it also allows for that moment of connection between mortal and god - Grace. Grace is god's defining moment; an expression of unconditional love. Without grace, god would be just a theoretical concept - an imaginary man in the sky. God even knows and expects us to fall short. We all have and will again. Which is what has lead some theorists to believe that god needs humans as much as we need god. The theory is that without us, god has no consciousness. As a perfect being he has no duality and no idea of right or wrong - nothing to measure against. We are all inextricably linked to god, whether we like it or not and whether we sin or not.

I think to fixate on sinning, or not, above all else, is to lose the point of living. Sinning is an unavoidable byproduct.

Big Boar said...

Ah yeah just to comment on the last bit about getting the pip with all the trials and discarding god. Campbell probably got that wrong. The story of Job is to illustrate exactly what you describe as the "silver purification" process. In a fairly extreme example, it demands that man accept that he must be humble - an opposite to hubris if you like - not thinking you're the biggest thing in the universe. Job wasn't given the option to be the ultimate mortal, unlike Christ when tempted by Satan. He was beset by something much more powerful than him and he had to endure. It's a very interesting book.

In a colloquial sense of the word, it is possible to be an individual and not think you're the centre of existence. I'm not sure I'd go round denouncing free-thinkers as Satans workmen.

I.M Fletcher said...

C.S Lewis thought that the untold god myths of the past were a longing and a premonition by men of what was to actually happen in Jesus. A kind of awareness by men of God foretelling the future.

A writer at the Catholic Resource Centre has an article online about how this thought of Christianity-as-myth struck him one Christmas Eve -

Lots and lots of people have had a similar experience. Reading and listening to thinkers such as Joseph Campbell — vis-à-vis Bill Moyers — has only reinforced for them the possibility that Christianity is just another version of the ancient Roman, Greek, Persian, Egyptian, and Babylonian myths, a set of awesome stories that tell us a lot about the human condition, but still mythical for all that.

And how he read Lewis' essay entitled 'Myth Becomes Fact' -

In the midst of such challenges, I myself was very lucky, or rather, very blessed. Fortunately, and providentially, a ready answer soon appeared, an answer that literally (no pun intended) turned upside down this argument about Christianity as a myth. The argument came from C.S. Lewis, in a brilliant little essay called "Myth Become Fact." Lewis opened up an entirely different possibility for me, based on two insights:

All the myths of mankind's primitive religions were expressions of a deep yearning — the deepest yearning — in mankind's consciousness, namely that the mysterious transcendent God would come into intimate contact with mankind, and do so in such a way that He would repair the damages made by mankind's sinfulness, and would grant to mankind a safety that would last forever.

Christianity, rather than being one myth alongside many others, is thus the fulfillment of all previous mythological religions. It is a myth, like the others, but this time a myth that is also a fact.
Here it is straight from the horse's mouth:

The heart of Christianity is a myth which is also a fact. The old myth of the Dying God, without ceasing to be myth, comes down from the heaven of legend and imagination to the earth of history. It happens — at a particular date, in a particular place, followed by definable historical consequences. We pass from a Balder or an Osiris, dying nobody knows when or where, to a historical Person crucified (it is all in order) under Pontius Pilate. By becoming fact it does not cease to be myth: that is the miracle.[C. S. Lewis, God in the Dock: Essays on Theology and Ethics (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1970), 66-67. ]


Lewis also says -

[T]hey awaken in the reader a longing for something that is beyond his grasp. Myths have this fascination because they effect a catharsis, that is, they move us and purify us; thus they expand our consciousness, allowing us through them to transcend ourselves. So myths are not "poets' deceptions" (as Plato said in his Republic) nor demonic delusions (as many of the Church Fathers thought), nor clerical lies (as many Enlightenment figures asserted), but "Myth in general is . . . at its best, a real though unfocused gleam of divine truth falling on human imagination."

Of course, Lewis and Tolkien (who was Catholic himself) went on to write myths of their own.

Andrei said...

Fletch;
I think God is instinctively obvious to all.

Atheists have to work at not believing which is why they are so loud about it.

They are after reassurance for their
position

MK said...

"Those that are on the road to Hell want company, your company. Don't give it to them."

Wise words.

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