Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Truth and Myth

The story previously posted is most likely apocryphal--(these are embroidered and unverifiable stories which make up most of our world religious literature). Many good friends have written me about it and, suspecting this, I deleted the "This is a true story" from the end of the original E-mail.

Growing up in Appalachia my childhood was spent listening to stories--stories about family, stories about past history such as The Depression and World War II, stories about people in the town, stories about why things were they way they were. My conservative "Missionary Baptist" grandparents told me the stories of their conversion where one day they were one way and the next they were another.

I have always liked the Zen approach to objective truth---things happen, and immediately we make up a story about it to have power over it, control it, make it fit into our world view. The Zen masters loved stories and told many, but the truth behind them was the key element. They had no illusion that the stories were ever objective.

Jesus spoke in parables--he knew the power of myth and story to change lives. It doesn't matter one whit that he made them up. It doesn't matter one whit that the writers of the Old and New Testaments embroidered on an event in which they saw Divine power and working. I believe all of the stories because they contain deeply objective truth for my subjective life. Do I say they all have to have happened just the way they were written? No. Does this mean they are any less valid if they are embellished? No. Do I need to choose between Noah and Darwin? No.

Human beings are Meaning Mills, creating meaning out of almost nothing sometimes. Its what we do, we are hard wired for it. Its not bad or good---its just what we do. And we learn best that way--to hear a well worn story is truly the Balm of Gilead for the illusion of our seemingly objective and quantifiable lives.


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