Friday, 13 September 2013

Christians *must* have mythic thinking

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Just something that struck me this morning - what lifted me from a mood in which legitimate and necessary pessimism was in danger of going into sinful despair - was the mythic mode of thinking.

Simply reading a couple of psalms then just recalling the spirit of Tolkien's work was effective - this was lifting my mind from the deadly pseudo-precision of the pervasive bureaucratizing of modernity, and opening it into the primal world of the human condition: which is mythic in form.

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Before I was a Christian I focused a lot on the problem of alienation and its solution in 'myth'  - and was a part of that 'post-Jungian' movement which seeks to restore mythic modes to modernity.

The diagnosis was correct - partially - but it didn't work because a mode of thinking has neither meaning nor purpose, is self-subvertingly unreal, and anyway cannot be pursued in isolation. Trying to think mythically in a context of modernity is progressively less and less effective.

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Yet Christianity as is - is so often so very dry, literalistic, legalistic, bureaucratic - that it is itself alienating.

We crave myth and we get crushing, oppressive dullness or mere cheerful entertainment - the two poles of modernity - meaningless procedure or meaningless laughter.

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For Tolkien Christianity was the frame, in a vital sense just there and taken for granted. It was the metaphysics and meaning and tidal purpose - and within it was, properly, mythic thinking: with all the intrinsic imprecision but associative richness of myth.

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Myth means; but we cannot say exactly just what it means, and when we try we get it wrong and what results stops being myth.

Myth is what we crave: we crave it like we crave wholesome food and drink; earth, wood, stone and water; trees and skies - not as abstractions but as palpable realities; and we find these in myth and only in mythic thinking, and in real myths.

And three of the most vital myths we lack are: Man and Woman, Marriage, Family. From a mythic perspective, all complications and arguments fall away, we know where stand - the human condition - we know what we want and feel why this must be.

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Surely myth ought to be what we think about and the way we think - as Christians? Surely the content and mode of our thinking should be mythic, and this within Christianity?

Rather than, as so often - almost universally it seems - Christianity being non-mythic (legalistic, philosophical, bureaucratic, dead and deadly) modes of thinking but with with a (tediously, monotonously) Christian subject matter.

'Memo wrt. Jesus: Executive Summary and Action points...'

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