Archive for October, 2006

Rape and Pillage: The Sacred Marriage and the Gospel of John, Take One

Tuesday, October 24th, 2006

The Christian version of the new creation as told in the Gospel of John completes the transition from pre-Western to Western consciousness – a symbolic journey which began in the dark mysteries of the great Mother and moved through the various iterations of the Sacred Marriage to finally arrive at the current version of the story — which reads like wife abuse and an ugly custody battle leading up to an acrimonious divorce.

From a survival strategy based on a worldview which saw all life as dependent on a Sacred Nature, humanity evolved a new survival strategy – a strategy which focused on the domination of a desacralized nature (land) and the conquest of the people most closely associated with nature and the land (women, farmers, peasants, campesinos, etc.). Western culture moved away from a reality which placed the highest value on life-giving activities: the care and feeding of plant, animal, and human life, and constructed a new reality where the highest survival value was given to life-taking activities: the conquest of land and the extermination or enslavement or colonizing of the people on that land. Why did this happen? Is Western humanity cruel and perverse?
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The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins

Sunday, October 22nd, 2006

Dear Richard Dawkins,

I have just read Jim Holt’s review of your new book The God Delusion in The New York Times (October 22), and I have a few comments. First and foremost, I would like to apologize for what I am about to say, because my comments are based only on a review. Although I have not yet read the book, I would like to address some of the issues brought up by Holt while they are fresh in my mind. (more…)

The Sacred Marriage: Analyzing the Symbology That Gave Birth to Christianity

Wednesday, October 18th, 2006


I first ran across the the Sacred Marriage when, as a bored twelve-year-old browsing through my grandfather’s books, I made the amazing discovery of Sir James Frazer’s The Golden Bough. Let me just say that it certainly got my attention and I was bored no more. I next encountered the themes of the sacred marriage a few years later in the novels of Mary Renault, specifically, The King Must Die and again felt the powerful emotional pull of this story. Fifty years later, it continues to fascinate me.
These early exposures to the Sacred Marriage and the emotions which it evokes sent me on a lifetime quest to understand its mysterious power — and the power of myth and symbols in general.

Over the years, through my studies of myth and religion, I have come to believe that the power of symbols derives from their role in the shaping of human consciousness. I believe it is the function of symbols, specifically religious and mythological (other people’s religious) symbols, to shape our psychological and emotional realities in response to the requirements of the physical and social worlds we inhabit.

Pagan myths and symbols found sacred life-giving qualities within nature and created a human consciousness which promoted and sustained a pastoral and agricultural way of life — when that way of life made the most sense with respect to human survival. In contrast, symbologies associated with transcendent patriarchal monotheism (Christianity, as the most extreme and successful example) find the sacred outside of nature, specifically in a transcendent male authoritarian god who looks and acts a lot like a powerful human king. Transcendent patriarchal monotheism creates a type of human consciousness which has the go-ahead, even the mandate, to exploit a desacralized nature including those humans most closely associated with nature — women and indigenous peoples, etc. Transcendent patriarchal monotheism promotes and sustains a social structure and value system which is congenial with an imperial worldview.

Although there is still a great deal of academic argument swirling around the “facts” of the sacred marriage and the dying and rising god, I think there can be no disagreement on the power of its symbology – based as it is on the most powerful of human emotions, surrounding the most powerful of human experiences: sex, death, and birth — nor on its formative role in the evolution of the symbology of the JudeoChristian tradition. Judging from the art and mythology of the ancient near east (ANE), pagan nature religions of that time and place frequently employed the symbology of the sacred marriage. For further proof of the power and ubiquity of these themes in the ANE, one need look no further than the Hebrew and Christian creation myths to detect the symbology of the sacred marriage lurking just beneath the surface – and wreaking a good deal of psychological havoc for all true believers who find themselves faced with endless religious contradictions. For evidence of the power of this symbology, even today, just key in “sacred marriage” in your web browser and see how many references can be found on the internet.

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Delving Into the Mysteries of Human Consciousness

Monday, October 16th, 2006

Readers sometimes ask me to define the word “deconstructing” so, I will try to answer in a way that is meaningful within the context of the essays on this site.

For many years I was a structuralist, i.e., I was convinced that at the deepest level of the human psyche there was a structure of universal values and absolute truths which were common to all people in all cultures at all periods of history. I thought that, if I could just discover this bedrock of values, I could then trust them to guide me through my life – and I was desperate for such a guide. And, so I spent many hours pouring through books of mythologies, books on comparative religion, books on psychology and anthropology, and so forth. But what I found as “universal” was not universal, but merely western; and what I thought was truth was at odds with my own experience of reality.

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