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A Better Fate: Mythology and the Creation of Meaning

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Jennifer B.
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  1. Introduction
  2. The myths of ancient Greece and Rome
  3. The death of a religion
  4. Finding direction and instruction in the past
  5. Conclusion: The end of Christianity


Mythology: the bookstore catalogue designation where religions go to die. When the believers cease believing in their gods, and when the gods cease believing in themselves. We often forget we once worshiped Zeus and those other ?primitive? gods with the same blind passion and fear as we dedicate to Jesus Christ. Yet religions, like the civilizations founded on their tomes and tablets, exist in cycles. They rise and fall. But during the rise, the fall is never visible; the end is forever beyond the horizon. Rome was not built in a day, but what Roman would not contest that stones crumble far quicker than they are carved? Dead religions, stripped of faith, litter the collective consciousness of mankind. Still, they are more pervasive, more persuasive, than we realize. More pervasive and persuasive, in fact, than they were alive. Embedded in culture, embedded in literature, mythologies reach further into the core of humanity than any active religion through the very distance that delegates them to a shelf somewhere behind history, behind World War II and the Middle East, as a study of ancient ways of life far from the shelves of Bible's and the modern world.

[...] I believe we would learn best from Christianity, from any of the modern religions, when they have achieved the status of mythology. Not a degraded status of barbaric men, of an uncultured past, but the status of meaning. When we can sermonize beyond the Bible, beyond what is simply written, beyond the bare facts and the simple reasoning; when we can question both its creation and its implication; when we can look at it as a literary text as well as a living history of humankind; when it becomes more [...]


[...] I believe mythology is a better guide than religion. I believe we need meaning more than reason. There is a flood in the Bible. There is a flood in the time of Zeus. What changes is the reason, the story behind a common event that must truly exist in history to be shared across civilizations. What matters is the meaning. God flooded the earth to test Noah, to test the man who would eventually give rise to modern man. Zeus flooded the earth to test no one. [...]

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