tag : bright yellow-green apples: old time, new time, no time

"I see little point in persisting in a discussion with one so obstinate as you" Martin White

Sunday, August 01, 2004

old time, new time, no time

The theory goes that during the axial age (about 700 - 200 BC) there was a radical shift in religion across the world, and consequently the whole of society. From the Hebrew prophets to The Buddha and Confucius there was a concurring witness to social justice and concrete historical, practical, focus against the mythologies of the times which, though bringing comfort and assurance, did little to confront inequalities and get things done for the better in public life of the communities.

Central to this is paradigms - see below’s foundational entry.

When looking at today, I sometimes wonder if there needs to be a retelling of that witness. After all, many talk of this being a cultural axis comparable to the axial age and the rise of modernity. Post modernity as a new age with necessary rethinking? But I would suggest that, in order to enable a full potential in the name of humane religion here and now, we need both a mythological-transcendent approach and a concrete-this worldly approach. What might be called mythos and logos. Where they are not in living tension, there is often dysfunctional socio-religious life.

Mythos without logos enables the status quo to remain unchallenged. Faith can become a prop for our own prejudices, institutions, structural givens. Of course it’s invaluable for helping us to come to terms with the human condition, life’s complexities, through the unconscious, imagination, story, psychology. But logos is required to ensure that there is an application, social responsibility, surety of action in this world. Private esoteric faith, firmly out of the pub by design or default, is too easy and a subversion of the very golden rule of the world’s major present religions.

Logos without mythos can also lead to that same dangerous status quo. Without any transcendence or reference to the paradigm-bursting ’other’, in terms of ’out of time’ realities which some call God, faith can simply be an exercise in affirmation of prejudices and backing up of what we take as given. The shadow side of myth is that that it buttresses what we project from ourselves by offering only explanation and without challenge.

Holistic social justice and personal health require a valuing of paradigms - own and others - and an openness to their being transcended or extended. Mythos and logos are needed in achieving this. I would recommend the writing of Karen Armstrong on this.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

I guess you don't know you're living in an axial age until someone tells you that you are from the future. Which is impossible. That's the great shame. At present we have so many encouraging developments in inter-faith dialogue, ecumenical movements within the church, the movements for Gay and Lesbian Christians, the increasingly mystical age of modern physics and so much more that should herald a new age of spirituality. Yet we barely get to hear of these things. All we read is the bad stuff, pasted over the face of the Daily Mail, the rifts, the child abuse, the fanatics and bigots. Of course, we must hear of the faults of religion, but when does the media tell us about all the progress?

7:27 PM  
Blogger postliberal said...

It just shows how dull I am this late hour when I have to ask. Are you a 'real' anonymous or someone I know?

Well indeedy. There is an element of attempting washy pseudo-scholarly speculation in all of what I said. There does seem to be some big shift going on, underlying and undercutting all of what we'd see as progressive in religion today. But as to what nay of that means in time, I think all we can be sure of is that we're going to be surprised...

...as for the media, well I could be say they're providing a necessary prophetic witness and a check that calibrates excess and dysfinction on our part. But in many ways it's a little disingenuous; the bad stuff gets attention and that's why it's publicised. It's so easy to knock down, all the quiet good get's passed over.Nothing new there, then.

12:34 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home