Story-telling Myths

Story-telling myths exist in fictional realms which point to ideals in real life. 

The tale of Cinderella and the prince signals, for example, an ideal happiness wished for every loving couple.  Visits to earth by aliens from other planets express human longing to interact with other life-forms beyond earth’s lonely orbit. “Sherlockian” powers of acute observation are wished for all.  Many other stories told on television, film, and in print are to be taken less literally than symbolically. Through mythic symbolism they present insights which help guide or comfort.  The philosopher Aristotle insisted that even sad myths like Greek tragedies have useful, cathartic effects. Even comic-book characters like Wonder Woman, Superman, or other Super-heroes present ideals and explore directions which may prove helpful to everyone.

Examples of religious myths abound in most, if not all religious traditions and dogmas. They range from the creation of the universe in seven days to claims of “chosen-ness” made by believers of many religions. Further examples include the virgin births of Jesus and Buddha; Muhammed and Confucius as the greatest prophet or teacher, Jesus as the only Son of God, or faith as the sole source of salvation. While some take these teachings literally, others take some or all of them as symbols for universal truths or ideals. They defragment and integrate human goals and visions.  For them the question is not whether myths exist but if they have meaning. Some see myths not as literal narratives, but as didactic stories about goals large and small. Understood as symbols they teach ways of life. Taken as literal facts, they have led nations to war and individuals into robotic failure to think for themselves. Taken literally myths may indoctrinate and imperil critical thought.

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