Saturday, June 25, 2016

The Grand Narrative: The Importance of Myth Today

Today we think in terms of myths as much as we always have. Jacques Ellul, through The New Demons (trans. C. Edward Hopkin, 1975), will guide us in our discernment of this.
An Olympian civilization spans the globe. This civilization is based on Olympianity: the religion of power. The sacred foundation of this religion and civilization are three pairs of gods, each pair including one god of order and another of disorder. Using their Roman names, these three pairs of gods are Jupiter (god of politics) and Mars (god of war), Vulcan (god of technology) and Venus (god of sex), and Pluto (god of money) and Bacchus (god of consumption). Societies, cultures, and personalities around the globe devote themselves to these gods. (Sadly, Christians and churches around the globe do so also.)
Shared devotion to these gods is only possible through an Olympian worldview disseminated through the corporate media and affirmed by each person everywhere. The corporate media and its primary narrators are the authoritative speakers and interpreters of this Olympian worldview.
Every religion has its own distinct worldview. As a religion, Olympianity—just like Judaism, Christianity, and Islam—has a worldview that is mythical in nature.

Religious mythology has three levels (96). At its most elementary, myths identify the gods we worship as a civilization. At the next level, we have the basic stories which describe the gods, who we are in relation to them, our origin and history, the present and future. At the most superficial level we have the little pearls that we take as wisdom and apply to daily life.
Through these three levels, myths provides all of us with the Grand Narrative of our civilization which is universal in scope. This Grand Narrative is known and shared by every participant in a civilization. It includes the past, present, and future of our civilization and of our lives as individuals. It speaks of our personal psychology and has rational, emotional, volitional, and spiritual elements. More superficial stories included today in the Grand Narrative will change but Grand Narratives, like the civilizations based on them, last for centuries.
The Grand Narrative of any religion and civilization serves several essential functions:
1. It explains everything. It explains the nature of the gods, our connections to them, our history and future as individuals and a civilization, and every aspect of our daily way of living. It makes sense of the biggest changes and worst challenges we face. It explains crises in ways that reason can’t.
2. It establishes the meaning of everything. The Grand Narrative contains all the beliefs, values, norms, and goals we need to understand the meaning of our whole civilization and each human and all other creatures in it. It provides us with this meaning in the form of a compelling story.
3. It binds us together. The gods bind us to one another and to them through their Grand Narrative. This solidarity makes our civilization stronger and us happier.
4. It justifies all we do in service to the gods. By doing so, it relieves us of all personal responsibility.
5. It provides deep personal happiness. For us as individual personalities, it expresses our deepest thoughts and greatest desires. It helps us to be happier by integrating us more strongly into our civilization and mitigating its harsher aspects. It reassures us during crises by retelling stories of the past in ways that guarantee a happy future. It is important to ordinaries and elites alike. It is self-evident, certain, and relieves us of doubt.
6. It motivates us to act—even sacrificially.

Copyright © 2016 by Steven Farsaci. All rights reserved.