Messianic Mystique and Mythic Mistakes
I suppose I wouldn't so much mind their strange gods if it didn't cost me so much in the form of tribute every April 15. Also, it's not fair, since while we are not permitted (and rightfully so) to establish a state religion, they are permitted to establish a religion of the almighty state.
At least a religious person is aware of the fact that he has "faith." But another annoying characteristic of the left is that they also have a faith, except that it is detached from right reason and moral imagination, so that it is ultimately and literally grounded in "nothing."
Let's begin with the dictionary definition of myth, which is "a traditional story of ostensibly historical events that serves to unfold part of a worldview of a people or explain a practice, belief, or natural phenomenon." It is a parable or allegory, meaning that it must be interpreted, not taken at face value.
In this regard, myth is to exegesis as empirical reality is to the scientific method. Both science and religion begin with a certain type of "material," but do not end there.
Again, as I mentioned the other day, science begins with the empirical world -- rocks, animals, planets, whatever -- but searches for deeper principles to unify the seemingly disconnected events that present themselves to our senses. For example, it requires a huge leap of imagination to realize that the falling apple shares an underlying principle with the circling planet, which we call gravity.
Religion also begins with empirical (or experience-close) reality, e.g., existence (both in its subjective and objective modes), scripture, beauty, virtue, the sacred, etc. Consider Eckhart, whom we've been discussing. He begins with scripture in its literal sense, just as the scientist begins with matter in its empirical sense. But as McGinn explains, "the literal sense of the biblical text is only the starting point for grasping the inner meaning of what God wants to convey to humans."
In this regard, I think you can see a rather transparent parallel between religious and scientistic fundamentalists who cannot see beneath the matter because of a misguided fidelity to biblical literalism, i.e., to the surface only. Materialists take the most stupid possible approach to scripture, and then call it "stupid."
But in reality, just as the material world has layer upon layer of deeper meaning, so too does scripture. Again, "For Eckhart, the profundity of the Bible, indeed, of every text in the Bible, means that it contains an inexhaustible fecundity of truths." But you cannot expect the uninitiated to be capable of articulating the inner richness of this truth, any more than you can expect him to understand quantum mechanics.
For Eckhart, the Bible reveals a densely interconnected spiritual world beneath its superficial diversity of source, mode, and style. But always, he focuses on the distinction between inner and outer, in that, in the final analysis, everything in the Bible is about the soul.
As such, more than the surface understanding, "it is the presence of the Word made flesh here and now that is his concern." Indeed, to engage in this activity is to mirror the Creator in the highest sense, in that "the very act of preaching, as creation of the word to be heard by others so that they too may find the source from whence the word is formed," is a reflection "of the God-world relation."
Now, back to the impoverished mythology of liberalism and scientism, which are deeply related and arise from the same meta-cosmic blunders (and which then become the foundation for an intrinsically disordered world, since it can no longer be a terrestrial reflection of the celestial archetype, i.e., the "shining city on a hill"; and disordered souls cannot be expected to be capable of a properly functioning political order -- I mean, if you can't even master your own domain, please don't presume to master mine).
First of all, we need to distinguish between the real mythos and the counterfeit variety, which we'll call mythical, since it connotes fantasy in the purely imaginary sense, e.g., the myth of JFK's "Camelot," or of Obama's "hope and change," or that FDR saved us from the Great Depression instead of making it worse. These are not true myths, since genuine myths are not manmade. While they come "through" man, they do not, and could not, originate in him.
As Russell Kirk explains, "Real myths are the product of the moral experience of a people, groping toward divine love and wisdom -- implanted in a people's consciousness, before the dawn of history, by a power and a means we have never been able to describe in terms of mundane knowledge."
For example, to appreciate the depth of Genesis is to understand that no primitive tribe of wandering barbarians could have possibly come up with a body of timelessly true divine wisdom that utterly transcends their own (quite limited) experiences. After all, the Jewish tribes that were vouchsafed this spiritual treasure were not more advanced than the civilizations around them, but less advanced. They only became more advanced through fidelity to the Covenant.
In contrast, the "false myth," or mythical, results only from "the fancies of individuals," whether of a Paul Krugman or an L. Ron Hubbard. Nevertheless, irrespective of its spiritual poverty, "no great ethical or political movement comes to master the minds of men without some sanction of myth." And "the ephemeral character of the liberal movement is in consequence of the fact that liberalism's mythical roots always were feeble, and now are nearly dead." Superficial appearances to the contrary notwithstanding, liberalism "is expiring under our very eyes for lack of higher imagination." (Of course, we may perish with it, but that's a different subject.)
Let's contrast the examples of Reagan and Obama. Both men rode into office on a wave of myth. However, one was genuine and rooted in the transcendent truth of collective American memory and experience, while the other was a pure counterfeit -- like a psychic poultrice that drew the immature and unarticulated spiritual energy of the left up into it. In this regard, real myths are regenerative (since they are close to the Source), whereas false ones are degenerative and rapidly exhausted. This is why, for example, Christian truth has flourished for over 2000 years, while the myth of Obama couldn't even sustain its spiritually drunken illusion for a year.
To be continued....
(The Kirk quotes are taken from The Essential, which is highly recommended, but more importantly, cheap; the Eckhart quotes are from McGinn's Harvest of Mysticism.)