This article discusses the value and definition of myths within the Christian religion and the role that women play in the stories of our beginnings. It is part of one course on Mystical Christianity.
The Beginning: Tales Of Our Origin and Creation
Since the dawn of time, cultures have told tales about their origins and of their Gods. The Jewish peoples had been the same, entrusting to us the work of these ancient storytellers memorialized within the very first parts of the testament referred to as the Torah, which Christians refer to as the Bible (Old Testament). The creation stories from the Old Testament (also referred to as the Torah), as a result of misinterpretation and misogyny, have been utilized to dis-empower or downgrade half the human people - not their original intent! The apple from the Garden of Eden has had a unpleasant effect on all of humanity, both men and women, and we can’t start to bridge the gap between the genders and speak of true partnership until we heal the damage caused by the two-headed serpent of fear and blame. It's time.
A Challenging Situation
As it pertains to how to interpret the Bible, women particularly have determined the situation to be difficult, and challenging at best. There seems to be no middle ground - it‘s either read as literal in all ways or is dismissed as merely a way to keep women down. It is essential that we find the middle ground, one that allows us to take from the Bible the intended messages of love and forgiveness, however leaves out the blame and fear that has been mistakenly woven into it. It is time to take a “time-out”; a deep breath, and a more reasoned approach to these sacred texts.
For yes, they're sacred; sacred mythology of a long ago time that continues to speak to us now. Joseph Campbell has taught us that, far from being lies, myths are consummate truths told in metaphorical language. They take us past the literal and into the arena of soul. Myths are stories of the quest by men and women throughout the ages for meaning and significance; seeking to touch the eternal, and to understand the mysterious; to fully grasp who we genuinely are. Myths provide four separate functions. The expert on myths, Joseph Campbell, felt that myths should be considered sacred and filled four core needs in our societies: Metaphysical, Cosmological, Sociological and Psychological.
Campbell stressed that words cannot fully describe the mysteries of existence. Myths are "being statements" and the fullness of this mystery can be experienced only as a result of participating in mythic rituals, many of which are recognized in the Bible. Myths also provide responses to questions not as yet understood by the society in that stage of development. Mythology confirmed the existing social order and enforces it by weaving it as part of the stories themselves, often describing the way the order was shown to them through divine intervention, as evident throughout the tales within the Bible.
Lastly, myths often help people ease through the stages of their life. For example, most ancient cultures used rites of passage when a youth passed thorugh to adult stage. For instance, there are rites for children to move into adulthood, as well as for adults passing into old age, then finally for how to move on to the place that is beyond this mortal coil. Myths, when used as planned, will be able to help individuals to embrace each stage of our lives and move forward with greater ease.
The author, Cullen Murphy, describes 4 separate changes within our culture, related to the Holy Scripture, with a fifth one now developing. The 1st dramatic revolution happened as a result of the Book of Moses, which introduced the concept of there being merely a single God. The Israelites became known by these twin concepts: they were the people of “the Book” who believed in a single God. That set them apart from their neighbors.
When Christianity was born and a new book emerged, known as the New Testament, the second revolution exploded into existence. Fifteen hundred years later we have seen a similar shift within Christianity, this time exalting the authority and importance of Scripture along with the creating of the opportunity for the Bible to be read by the general public, in the vernacular instead of having it read to them by a priest. The fourth dramatic change unfolded as the advances of science and reason challenge the accuracy of the words and stories of the Bible. In modern times, we are in the middle of the 5th change. Women are becoming integral parts of the academic circles and have been developing new insights based on the feminine perspective. with the expectation, to employ a biblical turn, that the present way’s days are numbered.” Murphy makes additional reference to the Book of Daniel, which may be read as being a prophecy for women, relating to the bible. “On a host of matters involving women and the Bible, the writing on the wall is there to be read. And more and more of it shows itself with every passing day.”
This is a small part of one lesson on Mystical Christianity, by Mother Maryesah Karelon, offered through the ULC Seminary.