New

Joseph Cambell is clear on this: our challenge is to communicate the eternal truths in modern language, to tell the essential stories in a contemporary and immediate way.

We don’t live in a culture that holds stories sacred, though.  We have so many stories coming at us over the air that we have no need to discover new and deeper meanings in the old stories, no incentive to watch for the differences in how the old stories are told to point out nuance, commonalities & differences.   We don’t have to internalize those stories and come up with our own version to tell the people who look to us for wisdom, insight and revelation.

Instead, we just let stories wash over us, enjoying the juicy bits, taking the points that we agree with and letting the rest fall by the wayside.

We take scrape up some bits and roll our own myths, the tales that we go back to for motivation and wisdom, the stories that put our lives in context.  The theology of these stories, the razor which slices god from rationalizations, which confirms the balance that includes obligations with priviledges, and which adds the touch of death which empowers living for the eternal rather than the ephemeral, well, that theology is just dropped as not relevant.

It’s all in our genes, we really are just recreating an old form, defending the faithful is more important than defending the faith.  We know the ways to justify our current creation.

But the only way to be really new is to use the fires of the old to burn away the bits where we have made it too easy, too oversimplified, too self-justifying.  The point is not that our ancestors would have made the same decisions that we would, rather than we have the obligations to let the questions that drove them challenge us.

The believer is happy, the doubter is wise, goes an old Hungarian proverb.

The only thing that can make us truly new, though, is offering our beliefs to doubt.  That lets our faith guide our choices with challenge, rather than having our choices shape our beliefs with rationalizations.