religion and myth

Who was Joseph Campbell? What is a myth? What does "Follow Your Bliss" mean? If you are new to the work of Joseph Campbell, this forum is a good place to start.

Moderators: Clemsy, Martin_Weyers, Cindy B.

Locked
hyeyong
Associate
Posts: 3
Joined: Tue May 20, 2003 5:00 am

Post by hyeyong » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

I truely confess that I had joys and confusions while reading Campbell's books and watching his DVDs. I am a graduate student who study Catholic theology for my master's degree. I am still a fresh new student-that's how I feel about myself in my progress as a graduate student of theology. Campbell's explanation on some of the mistakes people with religion make helped me to understand why we get stuck in the unresolvable dilemas in religious belifs.

However, myth itself do not explain where our life comes from. It tries to explain the phenomena but not the origin. I understand that some of you easily refute my argument by questioning who in the world knows for sure the origin of life.

I may not understand fully what Campbell says in this topic. However, I just have to come back to my faith that there are transcendent mind with power, which Christians call God, out there, not just in our minds and spirits, that oversees our life and the universe. Morality, faith in our divinity and humanity in relation to God, the creator, and our judgment on what is truly good for us are important to acquire through listening to the voice of God that speaks through our hearts and through the teachings in the Scriptures. We may not have to belive everything in the Scriptures literally but I do know that there are truth that cannot be denied or belittled as mere metaphors or our mere psychological projections. I cannot but think that there are more than that in our faith in God, the creator.

I can't articulate what is disturbing me, but I just want to say that I have been through confusion about my Christian faith after reading Campbell's books. It also helped me to understand how metaphors in the Scriptures have been misconstrued as absolute facts by Christian thinkers.

Hyeyong
User avatar
ALOberhoulser
Associate
Posts: 2952
Joined: Wed Mar 27, 2002 6:00 am
Location: Delphi
Contact:

Post by ALOberhoulser » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

It's nice to have you here...we all get confused sometimes. Campbell's work might help more when you get into comparative studies in a practical setting. It might help you understand superstitions and rituals that are unfamiliar to your Christian beliefs.

Please let us know if you neeed clarification on any areas of Campbell's work.

peace,
AL
User avatar
Martin_Weyers
Working Associate
Posts: 4054
Joined: Mon Mar 25, 2002 6:00 am
Location: Odenwald
Contact:

Post by Martin_Weyers » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

Hyeyong,

Campbell has not much to say about the origins of being, because what he says is that there is nothing to say about it.

Maybe for you as a theologist, who is open for Campbell's ideas, the admission has to be not to agree fully with Campbell, but to build a new and more appropriate theology? Reading and discussing Campbell, learning from his point of view without assuming it, could help you doing that.

We are a community of individuals which ideally represent a cross cut of society. Good, that there are also theologists!

_________________
"Draw a straight line and follow it." La Monte Young, Composition 1960 No. 10

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: Martin on 2003-06-06 03:05 ]</font>
Monoimus
Associate
Posts: 14
Joined: Mon May 05, 2003 5:00 am
Location: Pleroma

Post by Monoimus » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

Hyeyong,

Some time ago I had the same feelings about Campbell(I used to be in a very Fundamentalist Church), so you can imagine the confusion I had when I first read "Power of Myth".

A friend had left the book for me to read(it was at my house for a year before I read it) ,of course I never did, until my Church split due to derision between people in the church.

That was truly a blessing in disguise of course! In order to better understand Christianity and myself I became familiar with the writings of the Christian mystics and saints(something I would have never done had I not left that church.)

To me Joseph Campbell gave me another pair of eyes to look through and truly strengthened my faith,albeit I had to empty my cup(or bucket, to be truthful) first.

To me it is actually astounding how much some of the "Christian Mystics,Saints and Fathers" agree with Campbell on a number of things! In fact im reading a book by the now deceased Catholic Priest Henri Nouwen and some of things he says in his book seem to echo many things Campbell has said.

So as Martin said you might just need to think about emptying your cup and build a new and more appropriate theology.

As far as Joseph Campbell or Myth not being able to tell us "from whence we came"...I would say as I feel Mr. Campbell would ,"It's much more important to focus on the journey ahead of us".

Hope this helped,
Ben
Asked at one time if he believed in God, the controversial but influential depth psychologist Carl Gustav Jung gave a famous reply: "I do not believe. I know ."
Liminal
Web Developer
Posts: 107
Joined: Mon Apr 07, 2003 5:00 am
Location: Morristown, Tennessee, USA
Contact:

Post by Liminal » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

My own answer to your question is to look at the issue of time. The entire idea of creation relies on the precept of before and after, beginning and end. But what if there was no time? There would be no beginning, no before. Thus, there would be no question of creation. I believe that this is the case. I think that time is a human construction and a far narrower perception than that of God.

Keep chasing your confusions. It is when catch them that your joys are born!

--
Liminal
http://www.vitalumen.org/

Illusion only exists when you do not see it.
Robertthecampbellstudent
Associate
Posts: 103
Joined: Wed May 21, 2003 5:00 am
Location: NYC

Post by Robertthecampbellstudent » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

Hyeyong, as you probably know, Joe was raised as a catholic. Probably Martin or Al or someone else can help you track down info on that.

It will be nice to have a theologian in our midsts.

About synthesising Campbell with theology,I seem to remember hearing a long time ago somthing that went a lot like this:

"Religions may tend to differ, but when you find things that are spiritual, they tend to agree."

Sometimes it helps to quote the obvious.

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: Robertthecampbellstudent on 2003-06-08 02:48 ]</font>
Robertthecampbellstudent
Associate
Posts: 103
Joined: Wed May 21, 2003 5:00 am
Location: NYC

Post by Robertthecampbellstudent » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

Hyeyong,

Keep it up man, don't get dicouraged, stick to you religion as much as you can or want to, it can be a real central focus of life, I wan you to keep that, don't get confused or distacted with us mystics, I'm glad you are here and that we can all talk, I would like to hear more about your religion becuase we mystics tend to talk a lot about myth, but primary source is always good to know about too.

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: Robertthecampbellstudent on 2003-06-08 18:07 ]</font>
User avatar
Martin_Weyers
Working Associate
Posts: 4054
Joined: Mon Mar 25, 2002 6:00 am
Location: Odenwald
Contact:

Post by Martin_Weyers » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

On 2003-06-08 18:05, Robertthecampbellstudent wrote:
[...] don't get confused or dist[r]acted with us mystics [...]
Robert, I'm not a mystic, because I never had a significant mystical experience. I've had many "visions" so far, mostly evoked by a kind of écriture automatique which I'm sometimes using when I'm drawing. But those "visions" and also my deep "mystical" experience of nature are not mystical in the deeper sense of the word. I think I'm an artist and a "metaphysician", but not a mystic. I'm fascinated by the mystics, but I have not reached their depth of experience.
On 2003-06-07 10:25, Robertthecampbellstudent wrote:
Hyeyong, as you probably know, Joe was raised as a catholic. Probably Martin or Al or someone else can help you track down info on that.
Until I was twenty-five-years old I took Christianity concretely. And I must say I'm grateful for having been exposed to such rich symbolism.

Joseph Campbell, The Campbell Companion
Where you stumble
there lies your treasure.

Campbell (Companion. Again.)

_________________
"Draw a straight line and follow it." La Monte Young, Composition 1960 No. 10

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: Martin on 2003-06-08 19:29 ]</font>
Robertthecampbellstudent
Associate
Posts: 103
Joined: Wed May 21, 2003 5:00 am
Location: NYC

Post by Robertthecampbellstudent » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

To All:

I've got web burnout but I'll be back in about a week. I hope everyone is doing well.
A picture is a thousand words.<br><br>
Susie
Associate
Posts: 241
Joined: Tue Dec 10, 2002 5:53 pm
Location: Ohio

Post by Susie » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

Hello Hyeyong:
What some people call God, others call the collective unconscious or such.
You see it as a driving force with intention. Some people think there was no intention in creation-just creation and lifeforms aligning to the patterns of the creator.

I am undecided. I know there is something more than we are as individuals-something we are connected to. But as to whether that created us with intention and works with a purpose-I do not know.

I am still in awe.
...with the heart and mind united in a single, perfect sphere
mihelich
Associate
Posts: 151
Joined: Wed Aug 28, 2002 5:00 am

Post by mihelich » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

I've held off for a time responding to this thread, but in the end I found that I had to say something. I can't think of anything more intriguing, and more important for the 21st century and beyond, than the relationship between religion and myth.

I think this connection is particularly troubling to the Western individual because our Christianity, as defined by St. Augustine in 'The City of God,' has been seen as being superior to the world of what Augustine termed "mere myth." Such myth was "mere" because it was humanly inspired whereas Augustine's Christianity was "divinely inspired" and given to man by God. Myth, in this context, is created by man and cannot be read in the same breath as "religion," with Augustine's original sin Christianity standing for religion. So, in the Christian West, with the best of intentions, the separation between myth and religion goes back a long way -- which helps account for problems contemporary thinkers may have in making that connection.

For whatever it may be worth, like Joseph Campbell I grew up with the pre-Vatican II Catholic Church, and although I am close to 40 years younger than Mr. Campbell would be today, I think I probably made the break he spoke of at approximately the same age -- 25.
I may have been a bit younger because the Second Vatican Council, 1962-65, accelerated my thinking with its proposed, and then implemented, liturgical reforms. Like Mr. Campbell, I took Christianity concretely, in obedience to the "dicta of authority," but, also, like him,I was exposed -- through the celebration of the altar -- to the rich symbolism that remains the essential ingredient in Christianity.

I think that symbolism had left its mark on me by the time Vatican II convened, and by the time it disbanded and implemented its reforms, I found that I could no longer embrace any church that had reformed the altar to reinforce the pulpit. The Church's reform helped spark my own reform, but I think I instinctively took a different path. In my own individual quest, I sought to reform the pulpit to reinforce the altar. In the process I later found an ally in Joseph Campbell, which helps explain my presence in these forums.

Some of you have read my thoughts on the Garden of Eden story and the role of the serpent that changes dramatically when Christianity is read not primarly as history but as myth instead. In this regard then, Christianity, now without the influence of original sin, is like all myth. It is created by us and therefore given to ourselves not as a means to change life but as a means to show us how to live in it with dignity and honor and pride and compassion and love. In short, we have provided ourselves with the means we need to learn how to live as heroes, revealed -- in myth --as a level of psychological maturity attainable, consciously or unconsciously, by any individual human being. In the world of Christianity as myth, creation is an on-going process, in evolutionary time, in which we all can participate and should be encouraged to do so. If Christianity as history, complete with lessons, is for a time and thus trapped in time, Christianity as myth is projected onto time and therefore exists for all time -- free to work its magic through the eyes to any "listening heart."

This relationship between religion and myth is a "pregnant" topic, and by the 21st century, with science refuting the claims of traditional Christian historicism, it is a topic that we have to pursue with courage and humility to discover the truth that always has been there. Unfortunately, the institutional church, Catholic or Protestant, doesn't exactly lead the way in this search for what it undoubtedly considers "disturbing truths." However, the truths, or truth, of myth, specifically Christianity as myth, are far more necessary than disturbing. As individuals we have the likes of Joseph Campbell, accompanied by the honest world of "creative mythology," to help show us the way. In the final analysis truth is far more certain and objective than it is uncertain and relative, and in the world that accepts Christianity as myth, the journey starts in the Garden of Eden with Adam and Eve and the serpent. If we embark on the journey, eventually we will "arrive at the point from which we started and know the place for the first time."

Emil

_________________


<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: mihelich on 2003-06-10 16:47 ]</font>
Molly J
Associate
Posts: 174
Joined: Fri Jan 17, 2003 6:00 am
Location: SC

Post by Molly J » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

Hyeyong, I hope you are not frightened by all the free-wheeling thinkers around here. I must confess I was petrified of them all at first, because I had so much personal history within the church (Baptist), I was sure Satan was tempting me with Joseph Campbell. But after reading and contemplating alot, I began to feel less threatened by these different ideas, and actually was freed to become comfortable with my own thought processes. I had always had doubts and questions about God and the Bible. Dr. Campbell, especially in the Bill Moyer interviews, brought up questions that I had always been afraid to contemplate. The people in the forum here are also asking alot of the same questions, and most are extremely open minded and willing to entertain many different views. As a theologian, you have asked yourself to study God and His relationship to the world. This is a worthy pursuit, in my opinion. But the world is so much more than any religion's theology, and God is so much more than our conception of same. We can intuitively discern more than what can be taught, or read. Maybe this intuition is what faith is. A person such as yourself, dedicated to finding the truth and studying God, can be a gateway to illumination for all of us. Please consider sharing your search with us here. I would enjoy hearing about your path and where it takes you.

Also a searcher,
Molly J
User avatar
JR
Associate
Posts: 720
Joined: Mon Nov 11, 2002 6:00 am
Location: transition to permanence
Contact:

Post by JR » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

Nice reply Molly. It's a testament to your ability to think that you can question your faith in an open way and still maintain it without refuting other points of view. I wish there were more people in the world like you, as well for Hyeyong. I think the true study of faith and religion is one of only a few exceptionally important developmental paths one can take in life. Like psychology, natural sciences, astronomy, politics, history, and sociology, theology gives us the perspective to look at the human experience in terms of the nature of humanity.

Many people, notable and otherwise, have criticized Joseph Campbell's studies of mythology. Mythologists have claimed that his facts aren't straight or that he over generalizes and throws out local meaning. Theologist have claimed that he isn't a mythologist at all, that he's a new age guru or an atheist and his “message” is entirely his own. Anthropologists and historians have claimed that the plain historical "facts" of human society don't mesh with his findings and that he bends his interpretations to fit his theorem of a global mythology.

Each one will provide their evidences, and each one will be right in their own mind (and even perhaps in their own field of expertise), but as I see it, Campbell was no more mythologist, theologian, or anthropologist than he was psycho-analyst or astronomer. Joseph Campbell was simply a brilliant and insightful man who had found (stumbled perhaps) on the key to understanding the human life experience, that nature of humanity I referred to earlier. The fact that it was right there, in the mythology of the world, all the while only goes to show that Campbell merely re-presented it (and yes, represented it) to the modern vernacular.

Human beings have always inherently understood our own imaginings. How could we not? We are the creators. Yet, in the midsts of this over populated and cacophonous world it is easy to forget the actual meanings and intentions behind those imaginings. Joseph Campbell simply drew a circle around them all, then held them up for us to see their commonality and said, "Now do you remember?"

So, if you had joys watching and reading professor Joe’s work, it was only because you did remember, and if you had confusion, it was because you had forgotten. And if you think that Campbell's "message" is that mythology holds the answers, that there is a new religion in myth, then you have missed the point. <i>We</i> hold the answers; <i>We</i> created the myths to prove that; <i>We</i> created religion to remember that; And <i>we</i> created the gods to explain that, in spite of whatever might have ultimately created us.

Theology is the study of a human endeavor, and though the spirit is a physical reality, we should leave the physics to the Physicists (or quantum physicists). There is enough to try and understand right here and now, without expecting to unravel the secrets of the universe let alone understand them. That after all is why we created myths and gods and religions in the first place, because we couldn’t possibly understand.
JR
Faolan
Associate
Posts: 55
Joined: Mon Aug 26, 2002 5:00 am

Post by Faolan » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

"Joseph Campbell was simply a brilliant and insightful man who had found (stumbled perhaps) on the key to understanding the human life experience, that nature of humanity I referred to earlier"
Campbell was no doubt brilliant. Did he indeed find the "key to understand the human life experience"? Did he believe so? Did he present his ideas as if he in fact had such a "key"? Nobody seems to agree on that simple question. I think he did have faith that he had found such a universal key to unlock the door leading to that Mystery of life, and I am inclined to agree with him, but nobody can prove it beyond a doubt.

User avatar
JR
Associate
Posts: 720
Joined: Mon Nov 11, 2002 6:00 am
Location: transition to permanence
Contact:

Post by JR » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

I think he did have faith that he had found such a universal key to unlock the door leading to that Mystery of life, and I am inclined to agree with him, but nobody can prove it beyond a doubt.
As Joe said to the priest "if (they could) father, what would be the value of faith?"

_________________

_______<font size=1><b>JR</b></font>_______
<font size="1">Wherever I go, there I <a href="http://www.missingkids.com/missingkids/ ... PageId=169" target="blank"><b>am</b></a></font>.
¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: JR on 2003-07-24 22:58 ]</font>
Locked