From WILLIAM EDELEN
The Contrary Minister
Biologists may classify us as Homo sapiens, “The Wise One,” but I would call us Homo storialus, the animal who tells stories. We tell them through folklore, legend and myth. We then act them out in ritual. It is safe to say that stories plus ritual equal religion. Stories are the threads by which we weave the tapestry of our culture, our religions and traditions.
The literalistic skeptic says: “I don’t want legends. I want facts.” He does not understand the observation made by D. H. Lawrence that there are two kinds of truth, a truth of truth and a truth of facts. A truth of facts has to do with dates, names and places and so forth. But a truth of truth is revealed through legend, myth, folklore and fairytales and has to do with the inner world of the imagination and emotions. They reveal the inner shape and contour of our minds, our longings and needs, our spirits.
We are now entering a beautiful, lovely period of folklore, legend, fantasy and myth.
“We Three Kings of Orient Are” is a perfect example. A beautiful carol, but no one has any idea how many wise men there were. There could have been two or fifty. And they were not Kings and they did not come from as far away as the Orient. They were magicians and came from no further away than Persia. The magicians were not Hebrew and would have been considered pagans. At any rate, through folklore, they and their three camels are with us every Christmas.
We forget that long before the birth of Jesus, Egyptians worshiped before statues of the virgin mother, Isis, suckling her child, Horus, who was miraculously conceived in a stable. Early Christians, for 500 years after the death of Jesus, still worshiped before the statues of Isis suckling her divine child Horus.
We forget that 600 years before Jesus was born, in Persia and India, there was the virgin birth of Mithras with shepherds present. Mithras became known as “the Son of God”… the Way, the Truth and the Light, as well as The Good Shepherd. Everyone knows that December 25th is not the factual, actual birthday of Jesus. It is not a truth of fact. A truth of truth is that all gods were born of virgins during the Winter Solstice in mythology. This included Jesus, Osiris, Mithra, Horus, Marduk, Sol, Saturn and Apollo, among countless others.
Legends, folklore and mythology are the raw materials of our spiritual life and traditions. Where would they end? We are still the storytelling animal who celebrates annually the stories that enrich our lives and the inner world of our emotions and our souls. We still hunger for a story that will in some way dramatize a meaning to our existence. A meaning that gives our lives significance.
It is in our inner world that we take the threads of stories and weave the tapestry of our own life… and the world we live in… a world that is our very own… truth of truth.