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Mythology is another people's Religions.

PhillieG's picture
PhillieG
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"Mythology is other people's Religions."
That line was spoken by Joseph Campbell on March 1 1967 at a lecture at NYC Cooper Union. I've been listening to (and enjoying) his lectures very much. He does like to have people step into each other's shoes and take a look at religions like that for a better understanding. He asks that "people put themselves into other people's shoes and look at their own (religion) as mythology." I ask that you try to do the same.

He talks about how the "modern human race or cultures" (mongoloid, negroid and caucasoid) are relatively late arrivals to the human species and that long before them (or "us") there were cultures that had religion or mythology. In the Alps in the 1920s, caves were discovered below the level of the glaciers they found shrines that contained the skulls of cave bears. The caves were under ice from before the last ice age and were not accessible by modern man at all. Also, by the time the ice thawed, the cave bear was extinct. The shrines contained only the skulls of the bears plus signs that fires were made and other tools that would indicate some sort of worship. The tools and skulls were dated to around 200,000 years ago.

So Joseph Campbell asks what is it in human nature that makes us want to bow to something that is a mystery.

I was wondering if there is any possibility that man by nature needs to believe in something and that the more modern religions such as Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism are filling that need of ours to question our existence.

Any thoughts?

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Marcia527
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Modern religions fill the need to explain where we go after death. This seems to be a subject we think of more often as we get older or sicker. It's the unknown. I know religions talk about it but really there isn't a whole lot of details. Some people don't care how they got to this point of existence but want to know what is ahead.

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PhillieG
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People are dying to know the answer to that one but nobody knows the answer to that question. I think sometimes people look for a mythology that they can ascribe to for some sort of answer. This ties in with the "What happens to us after we die" that I posted a while ago.

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Marcia527
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Yes, and you know how big that thread got.

PhillieG's picture
PhillieG
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I have my doubts it this post will come close to that. This one just asks people to question their beliefs and to see the POSSIBILITY of something different than what they believe, not an easy thing to do for many.

PhillieG's picture
PhillieG
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there is not any room in any members minds (except Marcia - thank you for adding some input) for the possibility that there could be another religion other than your own that has any importance in the world.

The world is fulled with people who do not accept that there COULD be another "truth". This is a big reason why there have been millions slaughtered in the name of your gods. It's sad that nothing has changed over time and that modern mankind will always be seen as "us against them" until we kill each other in the name of god.

dasspears
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Written, Graci2010. You have expressed what I believe but could not put into words.

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Hondo
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I don’t put much faith in Campbell as I see him no different then most of the other religious leaders of today.

He was a very well educated man and learned to speak many different languages and also studied many different religions. He was so well educated that many people looked up to him as someone who was inspired and someone to follow and that is the problem, people are still doing the same thing today.

There are many good men just like Campbell, Religious and non-Religious all very well educated and all trying to tell us there view of how the world turned, are they right or wrong, I don’t know.

I find it better to just study for myself and not take another mans belief and live my life by what they says. After all did he not say that Mythology was just another person Religion and so this is Campbell Religion.

dasspears
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that Philleg and Gracie are living their lives by him - merely enjoying his book of philosophy - much like some enjoy the bible.

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PhillieG
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I don't live my life by him other than I understand that things are to be taken as metaphors. I don't take it literally that all of mankind came from Adam and Eve (cross-breeding would result in horrible genetic problems, look at royalty) nor do I believe that Noah actually put 2 of every animal on an ark and lived with them for over 40 days/nights. It's a story with a message, a metaphor.

Campbell studied the bible along with the other major holy books as well as looking at societies from a long time ago and their rituals and just saw how they are similar. Of course it could just be coincidence.

I'm just looking for something that makes sense. I'm also able to recognize that there are common themes throughout mankind. I believe that the universe is billions of years old too, not 6000 years old. We are all free to believe what we want to. I was just hoping that people could ask themselves IF there could be something else but when one is certain there isn't because the one book they read says so, putting oneself in another person's shoes becomes next to impossible.

PhillieG's picture
PhillieG
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Hi Hondo,
Campbell said in his lecture that "there is an old saying that Mythology was just another persons Religion", he didn't create the saying. My post wasn't clear with that. It was how he started his lecture. Sorry for any confusion. I'd rather post the audio but that's problematic to do.

I see him as being nothing like a religious leader at all, he is not beholden to one faith. He studied many faiths and came to recognize and understand the common threads in so many of the religions like virgin births, trilogy's, resurrection, good vs evil, etc.

I think that many people look at his body of work and realize that by comparing various religions you can see how they have so much in common at the core. The name of the God may be different but there are the common themes that go very far back, further than "modern" religions do. I think Campbell has taken a long thorough look at where man has been for tens of (if not hundreds) of thousands of years. He understands that so much of what was written by various faiths are metaphors to teach us things, not stories that are to be taken literally.

I do not think that you share that view at all that the stories in the bible are metaphors, you seem to take them literally which is fine, that's your choice. I don't view his work as something that is a problem as you put it but I can understand why you would think that since you are of only one possible belief. I guess it must be hard to put oneself in another person's shoes and ask yourself "could there be something other than what I belive?" When I've tried to look at just one religion it makes no sense to me at all when I got older. How can Catholisims be right if Judeism says it's right? What about Buddahists? What about Native American people? I know most of us are seeking answers to what happens after we die and what purpose we have here.

I understand that you study the bible and believe it. I don't think that's a comparison to what Campbell did at all. He studied many religions, not just one of them.

Thank you for taking the time to respond Hondo but I think you do not really understand Campbell's work and you do not seem to be able to accept that there could be other faiths that are just as right as yours is.
Be well
-phil

Hondo's picture
Hondo
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Its all about what we want to do or believe, like I said Campbell has a lot of good stuff I just don’t put my faith in any man view on how the world turns, I study for myself and if I am wrong then I have only my self to blame.

You might be surprised to find that I am one of the few Christians who believe that people from all faiths will be in heaven, all who have lived by what they know as truth. That goes for Buddhists, Jews, Hinduism, Muslim and even some Christians, and if any agonistics are there I hope you are one of them.

Like always Phil: your tread are always good, they make me study more as I have been getting rusty and a little lazy the passed few years. Thanks again

PhillieG's picture
PhillieG
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Thanks for your response, it's good that you keep an open mind.
I believe it's more how you treat people that's important, not what label one applies to themselves. One has to "walk the walk, not just talk the talk" as they say.
-phil

PhillieG's picture
PhillieG
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We can be pretty sure that the $$$ M.T. raised didn't go for a "makeover".

I know what you mean and this post is meant to give food for thought. I would think that most of us can look at some group (or religion) and think...why do they have exempt status? Or, where does all that money go?

I'm still listening to his lectures and they are a treat. He just asks us to look at things, He makes a great comparison at how the religion and the books from them were the science of the time. Times change, science evolves, maybe we could look at what was written 4000 years ago though "fresh eyes" and learn a lot. It's too bad that religion divorced itself from science around the 16th century. There is room for both.

Marcia527's picture
Marcia527
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We've been watching a series on Egypt's Golden Empire on PBS. Very interesting as each king desides which god will be worshiped. If the following king disagrees or doesn't like the previous one then they chisel his name and accomplishments off the tablets or monuments. They rewrite history by trying to erase him/her. There is info about it online if you google 'egyptian pbs' you can find it to read about it. We are watching it on Netflix so not sure when it was filmed.

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PhillieG
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Usually on PBS's website you can view old episodes of many shows. Thanks Marcia

I saw an interview of a woman the other night, Lisa Miller, who wrote the new book "Heaven: Our Enduring Fascination with the Afterlife". From what I saw the book looks very interesting. The concept of Heaven has changed dramatically over time to where some people view it now as a place where they can eat as much ice cream as they want and gain no weight. The concept of God is often not even there. It looks good, I will have to read it.

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Marcia527
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Sounds like the movie "Defending Your Life". Everytime I watch the movie I want to eat spaghetti, pie, and egg omelettes. It's a fun movie about the afterlife.

PhillieG's picture
PhillieG
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Joined: May 2005

Did you know his last name is really Einstein? That was a funny movie

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