Myths may be filled with the irrational and fantastic, but neither the process of creating them or of assimilating them is irrational. In fact the orchestration of myth creation can be detected repeated with new content.
Recently I had an engaging dinner with friends who were very concerned about world events and global conspiracies. All kinds of wild and disjoined assertions were flying out – bits of truth projected like so many pellets from a shotgun, each capable of doing some damage to a naïve believer. The only commonality among those hard balls of truth was their source in the voice of a dear friend, and their negative nature. Everything from the meaning of a president’s name to the Federal Reserve to the Catholic Church to the Illuminati to homeland security barbed wire pens to Beyoncé’s satanic signs and symbols during her performance at the super bowl was allegedly hard evidence of a centuries old conspiracy by a corporation that controls all others. All real power in all the world is controlled by a few at the ‘capstone’ of the corporate pyramid. And there were plenty of freakish and well produced videos on YouTube to ‘prove’ it.
As I sought to untangle the reasonable concerns from the irrelevant or downright zany assertions that would pollute any solid understanding of the real situation, my friends got defensive. It seems that you either buy into the general angst, or you get put in the bucket labeled ‘non-believer’. One friend in particular kept bringing up points of religion in defense of certain orthodox positions on Christ. ‘He is the Lamb of God’, ‘He died for our sins’, ‘He was resurrected’. ‘Why would someone die for the sin of others if He wasn’t God?’ she asked.
In my usual fashion I was countering the assertions with non-standard viewpoints. For example, why would God need someone’s blood be shed in order to forgive? Blood atonement has its origins in ancient pagan rituals of animal and human sacrifice to appease the gods. Also, how do we know he was raised from the dead? Only the testimony of a handful of people stand between the universal traditions of the Christian church at Easter and what really happened. And so on.
I was actually less interested the particulars and or winning a theological argument than I was in the phenomenon. Like me in the past, she was programmed and it was coming out. What struck me was the way many of these ‘facts’ of myth were spewed out from some inner repository with no logical connection. In their import those facts were as real as first hand events, and more meaningful. The resurrection is as true as the last presidential election or even the half empty glasses of wine in front of us.
As I listened and bantered tenderly with her, in my mind the only real truth was the phenomenon of how mythical stories were used by her brain to both explain and defend doctrines she had absorbed in religious training in the past. She was also in the process of training herself in the new dogma of world domination by a similar mechanism. Using the media of the internet, she was streaming videos and filing the new ‘facts’ away with those old ones.
Whether true or not, the doctrines of Christianity are highly systematic. It has taken theologians millennia to streamline the thinking and give a defense of their faith. Any good second year seminary student could have countered my bantering with talking points about God’s justice and evidence that demands a verdict about Christ’s divinity. The world conspiracy allegations, however, were new and somewhat disjointed in her mind, even though a richly produced ‘leaked’ video about Illuminati induction talk does a fairly nice job of typing everything together into a one world power narrative worthy of a Hollywood production.
A barrage of facts from both of these more or less systematic streams of thought came gushing forth at the same time in what could be taken by some as a nutty jumble of incoherent thoughts. The religious mind, it seems, needs to have a coherent narrative for history with a greater meaning. Here, right before my ears, I was confronted with both the all-powerful Christ and the all-powerful evil world power. (This brings up an interesting point for another day: the indoctrination of those who do not think systematically results in piecemeal understanding and a sporadic, spotty defense of the faith.) It was interesting to see the dynamics of myth at play, both on the input of new doctrine and the use of that in defense of a world view. She brought up every snowball in her arsenal to lovingly throw back at me, even as she was legitimately concerned and wanted another opinion on the matter.
My view on the matter, for what it’s worth, is that there are nuggets of truth in these urban myths. There is also a lot of fear being fostered by these ‘leaked’ disclosures about what is really going on. If they are so powerful, why would they allow such propaganda to be released? We always have to think about who stands to benefit from fear and the negative imagination. Remember the arms race in the cold war and the MAD (mutual assured destruction) doctrine? Russia and the US kept building up their nuclear stockpiles an industries based on fear, and greatly expanded the great military complex. The same can be said for the exponential growth of Homeland Security in response to 911. Now the dynamic is shifting from external to internal threats. The more the rednecks arm themselves to the teeth to defend themselves against the one world government, the more Homeland Security has to be prepared to deal with them. Fear and rumor are sadly fueling an internal arms race in America.
There is another way, one of positive imagination and local thought. Not that we ignore world events, but the focus of community movements like Transition US is to un-plug from dependency on the global economy and monetary systems that will fail and or dominate us. We can come together and form resilient communities. Transition communities farm, barter, trade services and seeds and generally take very healthy positive steps towards a sustainable lifestyle.
Of course that only works while there is law and order in the land. If everything really unravels, a half million starving city dwellers will overwhelm a transition community like a pestilence of locusts eating everything in their wake. If it comes to that, God help us because not even medieval-like walled cities would stop those with modern tanks and missiles. Only the few with enough wealth and forethought to build bunkers and fund defensive forces can survive. We can’t let it come to that, and the only way to avoid that is if everyone collectively calms down and starts making the right choices driven by a faith in universal goodness.
The bottom line for me is choice: we can’t prove or disprove the Illuminati conspiracy any more than we can disprove Christ’s divinity or alien visitation of the ancient Aztecs. Our fundamental choice then is about the direction of our beliefs: do we take the negative fear driven arm-yourself-to-the teeth view? Or do we tie back to our first principle for life, that fundamental human aspiration toward God, and the genuine assertions of individuals achieving a personal, recurring, momentary connection with a God? It is the human experience of the Divine that keeps the aspiration going, along with an inner good-god awareness.
This aspiration towards God has been present across time and civilizations. Call it the God-principle, good vs. evil, Christ against Lucifer, good / bad karma or whatever. All cultures have similar notions, some with personalities in the metaphors for good and evil, others impersonal energies. Our fundamental choice is whether we are going to believe the aspiration can be realized. That is the only source of hope and positive energy.
Personally I have to believe God is there because I actually had a mystical experience, an exorcism and a ‘baptism in the spirit’ in my early twenties. I can connect with God and have faith in the progress of goodness, as have many in other faiths. The Biblical statement about the Spirit of God that ‘He is near you, He is in you’ rings very true for me personally. My assertion of that can’t be denied, as neither can yours. No do we need to deny each other’s experiences of faith. The new normal has to be tolerance for good behavior, regardless its sources.
In other words, the spiritual consciousness, which is full of metaphor and story, is necessary for us to make good choices. That is Enlightenment to me. Not the melting away into a state where you are not aware of temporal concerns and understand that all is illusion. That doesn’t bring forth proactive good choices. We have to avoid world views that result in passivity and inaction; our problems need attention! Solid focus and mass-decision making for a positive direction in our only salvation. The mechanism for this choice is to unplug for the media and take ownership of the myths and mental ‘proof-points’ we will us to defend those choices. Each community has to make its choices locally.
The ruling elite do have a choice – and they can only make it themselves, i.e. it has to be a local re-programming, and it has to happen soon. We can’t wait a generation. This makes documenting and disseminating the process for community mythology urgent. Those in the inner circle have to diffuse their own negative tendencies. Whatever it is about capitalism that isn’t working has to be changed, and not necessarily swapped out for an equally bankrupt version of socialism. There is another way that is sustainable. We can plan it; some are living it.
There is no proof in an appeal to mythical facts beyond the deep knowledge that these new local beliefs are part of a social contract. This is The New Sacred, as I have called it elsewhere. They are not ‘true’ because the miracle making characters in our myths are actually historical figures with ‘real’ supernatural powers. They are true because we created them together in a solemn process of collective sacred myth making based on shared values we hold Holy in the deepest sense of the word.
— Roy Zuniga