I am a storyteller by profession and imagination is my bread and butter (and more). I spend most of my time inside my head, dealing with abstractions and coming up with ways to express them with language. Mythology therefore, has obvious charm for me.
But mythology is also something that most of us seem to get wrong. I am not referring to details here. Details are immaterial in mythmaking. It is about concepts and higher truths. What gets my gall is when people get the very fundamentals of it wrong.
On one side is the religious fundamentalist who couldn’t spell ‘religion’ even if his life depended on it. He settles for symbols and convinces himself that that’s all there is. He studies mythology as an objective account of history — magic, special effects and all — and balks with righteous indignation at the slightest deviation from what he considers the norms of the myth.
On the other side is the raving atheist who buys all the shit the first idiot is selling. He listens to the fundamentalist’s account of what the world is like, says “Hah! You expect me to believe that load of cow dung?” and erroneously concludes that all of religion is bunk, because if it were not, why would it need him to believe such fantasies?
When you come right down to the details, the two aren’t very different from each other. They are both extremists. They look for ‘either-or’ answers when the actual answer can often be — ‘both’.
Mythology is a set of metaphors created to allow us to better understand higher intangible truths. It often borrows scenarios from actual history, using them as envelopes to carry the necessary meanings. To mistake myths for objective fact is as stupid as to reject religion on the basis that they sound too fantastic.