Mythologems: Incarnations of the Invisible World (2004)

When we take the gods as facts, rather than metaphors, then we get lost in debating the merits of the facts rather than apprehending their meaning. The fundamentalist ties his or her believes to the facts and narrows the spiritual vitality by fighting rear-guard actions against disputation. On the other hand, the atheist disputes the evidence, gets confused by the institutional forms to which he or she has been exposed, and misses the possible deepening which occurs whenever one confronts the meaning of divinity.

When institutions prevail over private experience, the oppression will manifest as depression and reification, precursors to the horrors of pogroms and crusades. This is the meaning behind the critiques of Kierkegaard and Nietzsche in the nineteenth century and the so-called “death of God” theologians in the twentieth. Each had observed that the imago Dei ossified and ceased to move its communicants to awe. In time, the momentum and self-interest of the institution can even serve to prevent people from primal, religious encounter which could actually threaten its stability and the social vision it guards.

As Jung said, the gods had become diseases. The names they once rendered luminous had become husks. As I have previously noted, the oldest of religious sins is to worship the husk after the energy has departed. It is called idolatry, and we have raised up many false gods in our time. Consider our contemporary Pantheon: plenipotentiary Progress, massive Materialism; heroic Health; normative Narcissism, nasty Nationalism; sophistic Scientism, and many others. None saves, none connects, none abides, and we all damn well know it.

The Middle Passage | Swamplands of the Soul | Tracking the Gods | Under Saturn's Shadow | The Eden Project | The Archetypal Imagination | Creating a Life | On This Journey We Call Our Life | Mythologems | Finding Meaning in the Second Half of Life | Why Good People Do Bad Things | What Matters Most | Hauntings