ADVERTISING
 
Monday, May 21   Sign in or Register
 
Evangelical Focus
 

 
 
 
FOLLOW US ON
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Google +
  • Instagram
  • Soundcloud
 

Newsletter
Newsletter, sign up to receive all our News by email.
 
 

POLL
State and Religion
Should religious symbols be displayed in buildings of the public administration?



SEE MORE POLLS
 

 
TOP 10 MOST VIEWED



René Breuel
 

The grand, multi-colour story

Our stories cannot help but echo the universe’s defining moment.

CULTURE MAKING AUTHOR René Breuel 03 JUNE 2017 19:00 h GMT+1
christ, painting, resurrection Christ appearing to the Apostles after the resurrection, by William Blake.

“Why is mythology everywhere the same?”  This may sound like a simplistic judgment – there are so many myths across history, from the Hindu Vedas to the Nordic tales and the Babylonian Gilgamesh Epic.



But the person who raises the question is Joseph Campbell, a Columbia University expert in comparative mythology and, according to Campbell, no matter which folk traditions are surveyed, from the peoples of Congo to the legends of the Eskimos, “it will always be the one, shape-shifting yet marvellously constant story that we find…” [1]



Campbell’s major book, The Hero with a Thousand Faces, plots these common themes in the universal figure of the hero, whose adventures follows similar steps even in the most varied cultural settings: he receives a call to adventure, and after initial reluctance, he crosses the threshold to his journey. Here he faces numerous trials and meets forms of gods or goddesses, who mentor him and help he understand his mission, until he returns to reality with a message to proclaim or a mission to fulfill, and saves the community from its perils. (When George Lucas crafted the story for Star Wars and its hero Luke Skywalker, he leaned heavily on Campbell’s reconstructed hero’s journey).



 



Luke Skywalker and Yoda, in Star Wars.

So why is mythology everywhere the same? To explain our common stories, Campbell uses the theories of psychoanalysis, especially the views of Carl Jung, to explain the common source of our kaleidoscopic but similar myths and stories. Myths are reflections of our social mind, of archetypal urges deep beneath our psyches. In Campbell’s words, “They are spontaneous productions of the psyche, and each bears within it, undamaged, the germ power of its source.”[2]



Ok, these stories originate in our minds… but the question still begs itself: why? Why does the human mind keep producing these stories? Why are myths everywhere, and why are they so similar? What do these archetypes point to?



I believe a person’s journey will illuminate us here. C. S. Lewis was another expert in comparative mythology, and as he started to read the New Testament as an atheist, he was at once startled at how different and yet how similar the Gospels were to ancient myths. At first he was struck by how unlike they were to the metaphysical and fantastic shapes of myths: they smelled like real events, taking place in a specific place and a specific time, not like the pre-time, allegorical epochs of myths. “I have been reading poems, romances, vision literature, legends, myths all my life. I know what they are like. I know that none of them is like this [the New Testament record].”[3]



Yet even as Lewis noted that the Gospels smelled like real history, he could not miss the common themes it shared with the great myths. Especially, he could not miss the central plot of “the Dying and Reviving God” common to so many folk traditions. Lewis’ initial reaction was dismiss the story of Jesus as another myth, but as the historicity of the Gospels bogged him, he was further disturbed by a comment he once heard. “The real clue had been put in my hand by that hard-boiled Atheist when he said, ‘Rum thing, all that about the Dying God. Seems to have really happened once’.”[4]



 



C.S. Lewis.

I agree. That hard-boiled atheist is just right. How else would you explain variations of same stories cropping up again and again everywhere? They must be reflections, fragments of the Great Story the human psyche captures and different peoples emphasize differently. They are echoes, daydreams that emerge in fantastic forms from the unconscious, but which articulate the central themes of the human drama – our ideals, perils and longings for our Savior –, packaged with the infinite creativity of the human genius and its multiform cultural riches.



For an expert in mythology like Lewis, the multitude of human myths were not contradictions, but preparations for the true story. They were early echoes of God’s thunderous arrival on the planet in the person of Jesus Christ. “In my mind,” wrote Lewis, “the perplexing multiplicity of ‘religions’ began to sort itself out… The question was no longer to find the one simply true religion among a thousand religions simply false. It was rather, ‘Where has religion reached its true maturity? Where, if anywhere, have the hints of all Paganism been fulfilled?’” And as Lewis surveyed the ages, and found a historical event that culminated all the best of human aspirations and longings, his conclusion could not have been different. “If ever a myth had become fact, had been incarnated, it would be just like this… Here and here only in all time the myth must have become fact; the Word, flesh; God, Man.” [5]



So why are myths so similar? Because they resemble the history of the universe, the drama of our creation, fall, and God coming to rescue us. They sprout little curious buds, small insinuations in delicate poetry, that came to full bloom when eternity entered time, when God became man, and the grandiosity of the myths met the ordinariness of history, and the Dying and Reviving God really did die on a cross in a Friday afternoon in Jerusalem in the first century, and revived on the early hours of the following Sunday. The grand plot of myth took place in history, and our stories cannot help but echo the universe’s defining moment.



 



[1] Joseph Campbell, The Hero With a Thousand Faces (Novato, Calif.: New World Library, 2008), 1-2.



[2] Ibid., 330, 2.



[3]  C. S. Lewis, “Modern Theology and Biblical Criticism”, in Christian Reflections (London: Geoffrey Bles, 1967), 155.



[4]  C. S. Lewis, Surprised by Joy: The Shape of my Early Life (New York: Hancourt, 1955), 235.



[5]  Ibid.


 

 


0
COMMENTS

    If you want to comment, or

 



 
 
YOUR ARE AT: - - - The grand, multi-colour story
 
ADVERTISING
 
 
 
AUDIOS Audios
 
Ruth Valerio: A lifestyle that cares about creation Ruth Valerio: A lifestyle that cares about creation

Are Christians called to make a difference in environmental care? What has creation care to do with "loving our neighbours"? An interview with the Global Advocacy and Influencing Director of Tearfund.

 
Kathy Bryan: Online sex trafficking in the USA Kathy Bryan: Online sex trafficking in the USA

“Prostitution is nobody’s dream,  it’s a very traumatic lifestyle”, says Kathy Bryan, director of the Elevate Academy. She mentors former victims.

 
Christians in politics? Christians in politics?

What is the role of Christians serving in politics? An interview with Auke Minnema, the new General Director of the European Christian Political Movement (ECPM).

 
Michael Ramsden: Communicating the Gospel in today’s societies Michael Ramsden: Communicating the Gospel in today’s societies

RZIM International Director Michael Ramsden responds to questions about the secularisation of Europe, the role of Christians in public leadership and the new ‘culture of victimism’.

 
Michael Schluter: Relationships are the key to build Europe Michael Schluter: Relationships are the key to build Europe

The economist summarises the manifesto “Confederal Europe: Strong Nations, Strong Union” and explains why personal relationships should be at the centre of our economy, education and democracy. 

 
Efraim Tendero: Relationship with Roman Catholicism and other current issues Efraim Tendero: Relationship with Roman Catholicism and other current issues

The World Evangelical Alliance Secretary General participated in the Italian Evangelical Alliance assembly (Rome, 8-9 April). In this interview with Evangelical Focus, Bp Tendero talks about the need to listen to local churches and to face challenges like the refugee crisis and climate change. 

 
Greg Pritchard: European Leadership Forum Greg Pritchard: European Leadership Forum

Pritchard explains the vision of ELF, comments on the 2015 event in Poland and reflects on what it means to have an "evangelical identity".

 
PICTURES Pictures
 
Analysing current issues in the light of the Bible Analysing current issues in the light of the Bible

At the 2018 Apologetics Forum in Comarruga (Spain), Michael Ramsden, Pablo Martinez, Ruth Valerio and José de Segovia analysed how society and the Bible approach the issues of personal identity, integrity, sexuality, pop culture, and environmental care.

 
European “Bridges to Inclusion” gathering 2018, in Riga European “Bridges to Inclusion” gathering 2018, in Riga

The network of Christian ministries working for the inclusion of people with disabilities, celebrated its tenth continental meeting in Latvia with the participation of 12 countries.

 

 
Coexistence in the church - a model for society Coexistence in the church - a model for society

“Gospel, identity and coexistence” were the themes of the General Assembly of the Spanish Evangelical Alliance. Two days in Palma de Mallorca to reflect about the role of evangelical churches in society.

 
'Ungi kulimi changana' 'Ungi kulimi changana'

Educator and journalist Jordi Torrents shares images of the Sekeleka social centre in Mozambique. About 50 children live there, many with some kind of disability. All photos were taken with permission.

 
The President in an evangelical church on Christmas Eve The President in an evangelical church on Christmas Eve

For the first time, the President of Portugal attended a worship service in an evangelical church. It was in Sintra, on Christmas Eve.

 
Stamps to commemorate the Reformation Stamps to commemorate the Reformation

Poland, Lithuania, Namibia and Brazil are some of the countries that have issued special stamps on the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther’s 95 theses.

 
VIDEO Video
 
What are the cultural roots of the transgender movement? What are the cultural roots of the transgender movement?

Peter Saunders, CEO of the Christian Medical Fellowship (UK) summarises>the philosophical framework that made the transgender movement so popular.

 
Pitfalls that Christian artists should avoid Pitfalls that Christian artists should avoid

Delta David Gier, Conductor and Music Director, on some of the dangers for artists.

 
Why are Christian leaders particularly vulnerable to sexual temptation? Why are Christian leaders particularly vulnerable to sexual temptation?

“The reasons why somebody might have sex with a prostitute are very different from the reasons why somebody might want to have an affair with a member of their congregation”. An analysis by John Stevens, National Director of FIEC (UK).

 
Be safe on social media Be safe on social media

A video about the way traffickers target teenage girls online, produced by anti-slavery gorup Abolishion.

 
In Mission In Mission

A 360º lyric video about how all followers of Jesus Christ are called to serve God. Duo in Spanish (Alex Sampedro) and Portuguese (Marcos Martins).

 
Heart Heart

A short animation film by Swiss cartoonist Alain Auderset tells the message of the Bible in four minutes.

 
Philip Yancey interview Philip Yancey interview

An 8-minute interview with Philip Yancey on the role of Christians in a secularised society. Recorded in Madrid, September 2016.

 
An interview with Prof. John Lennox An interview with Prof. John Lennox

New atheism, the definition of "faith", Christianity in Europe, the role of the Bible in mission, and the need to listen more. An exclusive interview recorded at "Forum Apologética" (Tarragona, Spain) in May 2016.

 
 
Follow us on Soundcloud
Follow us on YouTube
 
 
WE RECOMMEND
 
PARTNERS
 

 
AEE
EVANGELICAL FOCUS belongs to Areópago Protestante, linked to the Spanish Evangelical Alliance (AEE). AEE is member of the European
Evangelical Alliance and World Evangelical Alliance.
 

Opinions expressed are those of their respective contributors and do not necessarily represent the views of Evangelical Focus.