Thursday, 14 April 2016

Of Myth and Mystery

It's always seemed to me that the Doctrine of the Trinity gives Christians amazing flexibility. And, if Beaker Folk like anything, it's a bit of flexibility.

See, it's claimed that we are a monotheist religion. And yes, in a way we are. But our God is a God of diversity in unity. We have what some, in these jargon-laden days, might call "flex".

As a Christian, would I totally reject the Norse religions, for example? Would I relegate them to a category called "myth"? Well, no. And for two reasons.

The first is that you can't relegate anything to myth. Because myth is one of the most powerful things we have. Myth is what we make to explain the most important things we hold. Myth is a form of language we use when history and science are inadequate to the job.

Myth is when UKIP harks back to a 1950s Britain where everyone was happy and English - even the Scottish. Myth is when Donald Trump tells the people of the U.S. that, just by electing him, everything will be alright. Myth was Tony Blair telling us that things could only get better.

But then myth is saying that a basic British value is decency - and then trying to live up to it. Saying to ourselves that Britain has accepted all sorts of races and religions over the years and just got on with things - so we shall do so now. That's a foundation myth.

Myth says that a witch turned a king to stone at Little Rollright in the Cotswolds. A load of drivel unless you think that little story is maybe a story about human limitations and the way that ambition may be powerful, but you can't control everything, no matter how talented or aspirational you are.

"Coulda been a contender"
And if you're in that pagan place, then you'll know that there's more in heaven and earth than we can contain in our philosophies.

Myth says that God created the world in 6 days. And most Christians don't really believe that in a historic sense. Some of us have degrees in science, for goodness sake. But the Big Bang theory (invented by a priest) doesn't tell us if there's a point. Physics tells us that the universe is orderly - myth tells us that's because it was created in a rational way. And yes I've picked the word deliberately.

And the second reason is because I don't believe any religion is a write-off. I'm a Trinitarian, and the Son of God is called the Word  - the Logos in Greek. That Logos is the log-ic behind the universe. He is the one who bears the universe into being - the one who's writing the rules of who we are.
And if the Logos defines us like that then everyone, regardless of their background or religion of choice or upbringing, is constantly afloat, if you will, in the sea of logic that is the Logos.
And then the creation myth says that God breathes the Spirit into humanity. So of course the truth of God will pour out into all our beliefs and religions. If we're a bit nerdy, maybe we can respond only to the beauty of Science. If we're not, then maybe we just have a general feeling that it's not too bad - that everything will be OK.. And if we belong to a polytheistic religion then we will know that God is fantastically diverse and eternally creative and revealed through story and myth and wonder. And if we are a member of monotheistic faith then we will know that God is rational, and all-powerful and eternal.

And if we are Trinitarians then we will have a myth that God pours the Spirit out on the creation, at the beginning and forever. And we will look on the face of God and see - not just an endless loving parent and creator, but a vulnerable and broken human being holding out two shattered hands and calling to us. And if we don't get too hung up on church doctrine - we're not stuck being too pure an evangelical, catholic or liberal - we'll see that there's more God beyond the boundaries we're given than our boundary-putter-uppers always let on or imagine.

Myth? It's all myth. It's just that some of it is also historical.


  1. Write-off!

  2. I recommend Joseph Campbell's "The Hero With a Thousand Faces".

    1. Thanks, CB. I always enjoy a crime thriller.

    2. I'm not sure we're talking about the same book, unless I just don't get the comment (I'm always last to get the joke, and then sit there chuckling to myself for hours).


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