Friday, November 03, 2006

Into the Fray

I've been reading with great delight David Plotz's Blogging the Bible at I've been motivated to enter the Fray, the readers' discussion boards.

Too much of that discussion ends up being offended Christians resorting to proselytizing and raging atheists calling Bible believers stupid. Actually, it isn't a large portion of the discussion, but any bit of that is too much for my tastes.

In a discussion about actual warfare (i.e. not simply the culture wars) I posted the following:

I have always been more interested in common ground than winning the high ground. I agree that too much war is either religiously motivated or at least religion is used to serve politically or economically motivated warmongering. If we could learn to get along as people of faith, war may indeed cease to be.

I remember about 20 years ago when a group suggested that a modest proposal for peace would be for the Christians of the world to agree not to kill each other. That would be a good start, but, of course, we need to see the truths taught by other faith traditions as well and extend that peace effort.

What btD calls cynicism, I might consider open-mindedness - at least in relation to my own search for truth. Once a religious practitioner (and I am one) accepts that he/she may not have a corner on the truth a wonderful world of other truth stories (myths in the best sense as Joseph Campbell would remind us) opens up to instruct the seeker. What I continually find is how the truth in other stories points to the same truth taught in my own tradition. Often, I find that what I see in another myth is simply less obvious in my own paradigm.

Once I took Campbell seriously and decided to avoid "getting stuck in the metaphor" I was able to engage in these kind of enlightening discussions.

I'm sorry for this being out of context, but it is an example of what I am striving to accomplish with this blog. You can read the thread that my response started here.


Hollands Opus said...

Hi Ian
Intersting blog.

Don't you get the sense that Joseph Cambell sees himself as able to step outside the plethora of metaphors and individual belief systems, and claim to have the right meta-narrative; the meta narrative that we all may find the same truths if we can escape our own metaphor?

His initial claim though, does not seem to allow him room to do that, does it?

Its kind of like the parable of the man in India who blindfolds all the men and has them touch a different part of an elephant, then asks them to describe what they are touching. The lesson supposedly being we all have part of the truth that makes up the whole truth. The irony though, is that he is not blindfolded and is able to describe in a way he would not allow others.

Do you think that is a fair critique of Joseph Campbell?

Ian said...

Well HO,you found me quickly! Welcome to my forum, I'll try to be as gracious here as you are at yours.

What you are saying about Campbell is fair, but what I would suggest is that even if Campbell (as all of us)is one of the blind men then he is the one going about the room gathering the stories trying to find the common threads in order to create the meta-narrative. In other words I'm not certain that his claim is that he is able to "rise above" the systems and see the one true meta-narrative, but perhaps it is more that he is naming patterns by looking at the plethora of belief systems.