Shalom Bevan and Elder Gideon!
What a fortuitous discussion this is, since my current studies, which have largely taken me away from forum, are right in the realm of this discussion!
When I contemplate these ideas of how the story of scriptures is evolving and growing, as well as how we participate in this story telling as well as in what these old and new stories are doing to us, I am drawn to something mentioned in your discussions:
"You state, “Our environment is unraveling. Life for many beings now is drying up. With what mind—with what narrative—will one view what is and proceed?” In this context, one approach to narrative might be to setup a dualism and then transcend it revealing an integrated need for both. For example, the duality of “life drying up” is the struggle of life and death. Could we resolve this separation by looking deeper and seeing how each works with the other?"
Many schools of psychology are abandoning the notion of some "self" that exists within the person and adopting a couple notions relevant to this discussion. One is the notion that "self" may be more an ever shifting position within an inner conversation with a polyphany of perspectives. That means we are literally not a "self" that this idea is an illusion. We may actually be a bunch of characters and we are jumping around from character to character, changing "positions" while we "think" about our day. Funny, we can watch this in meditation and throughout our day!
Second, the notion of a cohesive self that allows us to interact with other people and even have an experience that we call "subjective" - the reason there is subjectivity at all, is because we create a story about who we are, which allows us to embody that role, and viola! That's one of our "positions." We are both living into the stories/selves we create, and at the same time, creating and re-creating new stories/selves to live into, all of the time.
Making stories, then isn't only an "artistic" act, it is the act of living itself, and it is the way we form the "reality" we live in/into.
Now, the next notion relevant to this discussion, laying a groundwork to the discussion on stories in spirituality and religion, is the notion that in order to interact with one another, to have relationships and society, we have to "coordinate" our stories with one another. That means we have to create stories together that allow us to take up roles within a shared story. These stories we create together must also coordinate with our own personal "self-stories," or we will find ourselves marginalized by society, or society will marginalize us -who is to say which is doing what? To be part of society, we must either coordinate our self-stories to fit society, or we must shift the cultural narrative to fit our self-story. This isn't so radical as it seems, according to these theories, society isn't "solid," it is an ever ongoing negotiation, and we are being shifted by society and shifting society all of the time. The margins become central, creating new margins who become central. As The Bard says, "All the world's a stage, and we are merely players." This may be far more literally true that originally conceived!
There is another layer to this that participates in the discussion about how the stories of spirituality and religion evolve and grows. All our identity stories, personal and shared, are built according to the models we know. The stories we have heard and know about direct how we construct out identity/society. Even the forms and format. The "three act film" Bevan refers to, is a relatively "new" shift from the five act play. But since we watch three act movies nowadays, not five act plays, it is therefore not only the new structure of modern stories, but the new structure of modern selfs and modern society. We "write" and live into the stories of who we are based on the stories we know. This isn't only the stories we have lived and seen lived, this includes the FICTIONAL stories. The story of The Great Gatsby, Abraham and Sarah, or of the Kardashians, whether it be the story of Yeshua and Magdalene, or the story of Two and A Half Men participate in how we form ourselves and our society/culture. We ACT INTO and create the stories that we know. Stories we know are the contexts into which we write ourselves, and our world.
Now, we all know that all Occidental stories go back to the bible, one way or another. To Jung and Campbell, there is something deeper within us that generates these stories, something archetypal. Either way, there is a kind of referencing back, while simultaneously creating forward.
The problem I hear you both pointing to seems to rest with the premise that I heard from the great english writer GK Chesterton: "When people stop believing in God, they don’t believe in nothing — they believe in anything." Along this line, Nietzche claimed that "God is Dead" and much of our secular society has adopted Nietzche's narrative.
With this in mind, let's go back to this issue of interacting among human beings and the premise Elder Gideon layed down for us:
"Our environment is unraveling. Life for many beings now is drying up. With what mind—with what narrative—will one view what is and proceed?"
If modern psychology is right, we have always existed within a polyphany of narratives, that this is the nature of ourselves and our world. The challenge of creating a world together is not an issue of which narrative, or narratives, since this may have always been based in a belief in a solid single self that can never be achieved. The unravelling may be an issue of an attempt to break with our foundational narratives. The issue is how do we COORDINATE with one another's narratives, within a society that is attempting to separate from the foundational narratives that make up Occidental/Western identity and culture?
I think that Bevan pointed out the huge importance and purpose of the creative act of story/myth and spirituality with his appreciation of the Gospel of St. Mary Magdalene, referencing "myth" not as some abstract notion that is absent of magic and power - in fact we learn that these "myths" are not "mythical" at all, because we LIVE INTO THEM AND CREATE THEM! What I mean by this is exactly what gave Science Fiction literary credibility. Science Fiction writers have written the stories of what will be and science and scientists have been guided by science fiction to create the advances Science Fiction envisioned. Could not this phenomena also be true in the mysticism, visions and magic of "mythology"? If it is not "true," in the time the "myth" is told, does not the compelling story compel us to create it to BE true? This may be far more literally the case than we ever previously conceived in secular society (though mystics may have known it for a long time, those who valued stories for so long).
Stories, narratives on the level I hear you speaking about must somehow tell the story of what we are deeply and profoundly seeking to become, not just as individuals, but also as a species, as a humanity, yet they must carry within it, the force and power of what we were, so that contextual power can be powerfully referenced and drawn forth into the re-creative act.
We cannot create a powerful narrative that re-tells the future while divorcing the past. Stories only have power, dimension and depth through their ability to allude, reference and refer to other stories. Powerful stories are such because they speak to who we were, who we are and who we wish to become simultaneously. I believe that such an effort to break future narratives from past narratives leads to exactly the conflicts we are experiencing all over the world right now. On one side we have a strong secular movement in societies all over the globe that is often dismissive of religions, and therefore the stories within those religions. On the other side we have a strong cleaving to those stories and religions in extreme literalism and destructive reaction to the secularism that holds political power.
The power of the Gospel of St. Mary Magdelene is that it acts into where we are today, without abandoning who we were, but re-referencing it powerfully into the future. Stories are powerful also because, while they give direction, they also give the space for creative rendition for those who act into those stories.
Yeshua did this, the entire Gospels are full of references to the Torah as testimony of Yeshua's embodiment of the prophecies, while at the same time, re-envisioning the story into the future - "Before Abraham, I AM," and "I have not come to abolish the law, but to fulfill the law," and "The human one was not made for Shabbat, but the Shabbat was made for the human one."
Stories in this sense, in the sense I see you both questing for, are prophecy, true prophecy, or theurgy or Gospel - God-Spell. They are this creative reference to the stories we have told to ourselves about ourselves for generations that yet re-creates them into the future and so re-envisions us into a future, a future that as you have said, is one that invites us to embody Faith, Hope and Love.
To tell a powerful story is to re-create humanity.
May Messiah who is The Word be with you! Shalom!
Last edited by Phillip
on Fri Apr 10, 2015 7:11 pm, edited 1 time in total.