“We must not be ashamed of the mythical radiance resting on our theology.” ~C.S. Lewis
No language can exist without symbols. Letters, speech, Braille and sign language all require some sort of medium or form to transfer information. Symbols vary from age to age, culture to culture, family to family, person to person, but everyone uses them if they want to be a part of a society. Whether it’s out of apathy or resentment, language barriers form when we give up learning the symbols of “the other.”
Mythic Aims is the attempt to break through these barriers by speaking a common language–the language of Story and Myth. It transcends cultures and transforms worldviews and relationships, and I’m inclined to believe it’s the language of God.
Indeed, as C.S. Lewis says regarding the “mythic” nature of Christianity:
“Now the story of Christ is simply a true myth: a myth working on us the same way as the others, but with this tremendous difference that it really happened: and one must be content to accept it in the same way, remembering that it is God’s myth where the others are men’s myths: i.e., the Pagan stories are God expressing Himself through the minds of poets, using such images as He found there, while Christianity is God expressing Himself through what we call ‘real things’.”
Sometimes the truest things in life cannot be quantified, although they are apprehended nevertheless (such as archetypes and the desire for transcendence).
I believe God uses these deeper truths of “the mythic” to sneak into our lives by constantly reminding us that our lives have a plot, a conclusion, and a character to develop.
This belief is no new theology; God has always been covert, talking through visions, prophets, and parables because our stubbornness requires such tactics. His most covert move yet was coming as a man. This man, Jesus Christ, forever changed the world.
A hunter needs a disguise before the prey is within range of his arrow, and God needs to be covert before we can be close enough to hear his language. Whispers are often more effective than shouts, and parables, songs and images are often more effective than facts or arguments. Yes, arguments have their place in the same way a frame has its place in focusing an image, but what matters is the image and its subject.
God’s language is uncomfortable–painful, even, like the arrows of a hunter. But his arrows aim at something dark inside. Something that needs to go before we can really love. We don’t even have to believe in God to know love is hard, but we all want it regardless. We want it, and God wants us to want it.
“Where is God?” many ask, but I believe he’s not the one who needs to be found. We’re the ones who are lost in the dark, and he’s the one with the light. A careful tactic is required for skittish creatures lost in the dark, and that’s why I believe we need his sleight of hand to fool us for our own good.
Jesus may be the one way to God (John 14:6), but there is by no means one way to Jesus. I pray we all feel our way towards him (Acts 17:27), relishing the symbols through which our dark hearts can embrace him.
It must be said, however, that Biblical living is not all about esoteric and mystical theology meant to make one feel “spiritual” or enlightened. It’s about living true to reality, down-to-Earth. That’s where Christianity rises above the rest. There are many rational reasons to proclaim Christianity as true, but just as a picture frame can’t be complete without a picture, the mind and intellect can’t operate well when it’s isolated from a life worth living–a reason for existence.
That reason is Jesus.
“This I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” ~Lamentations 3:21-23
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3 thoughts on ““Mythic Aims””
Dear Dear Alex,
I am from Nigeria. I serve as a church minister, but want to set up an intentional Christian community.
I have read your article :Struggling together: the need for intentional Christian communities. I am touched by the article.
Please can you kindly permit me to download, print and give out to people here.
I would be grateful if you can permit me.
Yes Ernest, you may. Thanks for your support of my writing and I hope God can use what I say for the better.