Materialist Myth


We have accepted, unquestioningly, the dogma of materialism that myths and fairy tales are lies. In another time, a thoughtful man described them as lies breathed through silver. Yet, we all indulge in, fully engage with, and enjoy these lies. We create them, but they are not true. Our truth is four walls. On every side we are surrounded by the physical. The open sky bids us rise to explore the utmost height, yet there is a point when with outstretched arm it decrees us go no further. The floor below, our immediate contact with our limits, grounds us and pulls us downward– or upon finding the edge beside an unknown depth it strikes fear that we may be lost in the abyss of darkness. The hard material truth, if one may rightfully see his surroundings, is that all of us are in prison. There is nothing beyond the limits of the material, and we cannot go any further. There is no light on the other side, no hope for escape. The four walls, the roof, and the floor testify we are inside a great expansive prison. It is the greatest jail anyone has ever devised and no one has ever escaped, still yet, no one has ever come to visit. If a wall were suddenly to break down or the whole prison itself were destroyed by the decay of time, we would break down with it. So that just at the point where it were possible to leave, we would lose all life within us. No strength would remain to cross that great boundary. I0015827A

Myths and fairy tales are the result of man dreaming of a place beyond the prison. They are windows summoned by the magic of words that allow us a glimpse into the possibilities beyond our prison. The light truly shines through the window baptizing us into the new world, whilst in this one we appear still, as one dead, we are revived into another land. And while on our new journey, through the course of the story we find ourselves vanquished by our foe or traveled so far that we have come to the end, we are resurrected back into this world having become so much the better and grateful for the experience. And once awakened again to our surroundings, we see as with eyes afresh our own world colored with new light, the light from the window.  It is here that we regain the perpetual wonder we once held as a child. We are reborn. lightbeam

But, there are those of us who travel to and fro walking up and down the earth with the laws of nature in their mouths and jail keys in there hands who take upon themselves the duty to make us see the walls of our prison and remind us there are no windows to go through and no light to shine in. The stories are wrong. But, is it ever wrong for the prisoner to think of life outside of his prison? Who, indeed, is telling the lie?

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3 thoughts on “Materialist Myth

  1. Dan, you create yet another false dichotomy in suggesting that those who understand why symbolic myths and fictional stories are not literally and historically true do not and cannot appreciate the value they offer.

    This is false.

    Like so many determined to vilify those of us who understand why reality – and not our faith-based beliefs – needs to arbitrate claims made about it, you presume far too much (and far too negatively) about the character of others who do not and will not share your respect for faith-based beliefs to arbitrate and adjudicate the reality we share.

    Myths and stories are rich in life-affirming value for navigating this ‘prison’ we share. One does not require myths and stories to be literally and historically true to have this positive life-affirming value. Like usual, you confuse the reality (this material world) that is the same for everyone everywhere all the time with the faith-based beliefs you empower to be equivalent. They are not. Nor do they need to be. And this is where your reasoning breaks down.

    Myths and stories offer us ways and means to understand and learn about common yet complex relationships, common and complex problems, common yet complex experiences, common yet complex development, and so on. The specific individual circumstance can be understood and examined within the context of the more generic myth or story for real world value without requiring the myth or story to be literally and historically true. In fact, myths offer us very clear signposts (obvious symbols) that they are NOT literally and historically true (with the intentional inclusion of the supernatural used to symbolize something important, something shared, something beyond our personal control). You confuse these symbolic signposts with factual claims and this mistake reduces your ability to gain the full value from the myths (because you don;t understand what the symbols mean but take them to be at face value!) in order to apply the lessons intended appropriately to your personal, literal, and historical real, situation-specific, life. Myths are the public dream we can share (because they are symbolic, you ninny), and we can gain value from them without assuming that headless green knights must have existed, that there really was a round table and a real magic sword, that snakes can really talk, and so on.

    To reduce these myths to the false dichotomy that only by being literally and historically true can they have value to the materialist (an understanding that circumvents their central messages) or the world is too bleak to bear is no excuse to intentionally malign those of us who understand the difference between reality-as-material and myths-as-symbolic-stories. By believing in your own false dichotomy, you impede yourself as well as malign others without justification.

    1. It’s possible to dress up as an elf in Santa’s workshop and have a thoroughly good time entertaining children during the holiday season and not actually accept the existence of elves.

      I read Lord of the Rings at the age of fifteen from cover to cover in three days. Loved it.
      Never occurred to me to entertain the idea of Balrogs seriously.

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