Saturday, February 11, 2012

Mythicism and the Modern Age

I have been noticing that my posts are becoming less obscure and I don't know whether this has to do with a change in my personal life or simply a random occurrence.  For whatever reason I find myself looking at life with better focus.  I just finished watching the Descendants and while I do not normally give movie reviews at my blog - indeed I rarely write anything which would be easily digested by most people - I thought I would share my thoughts because it touches upon the whole issue of 'mythicism' which seems to be all the rage in Biblical scholarship.

As I noted in a previous post, it seems that atheists want to use the fact that the gospel narrative is developed as a 'myth' to poison the well of belief among religious people.  'You're mother's a whore,' which presumably means that if you continue to hold a warm spot in your heart for the woman that gave birth to you, you are proven to be something of a bastard.

I don't understand the argument that because Mark engaged in myth-making that the gospel narrative is necessarily false or worthless.  This is such a modern sentiment that I find myself struggling to understand it.  I have my own reasons for disliking organized religion or perhaps the traditions that have survived down to our own age.  I am also very well that 'cheating' went on in antiquity to allow certain traditions to thrive and others to disappear.  There is and always has been injustice in the world.  We may have a duty to point out past crimes to world, but at the same time I think we are obligated to keep our objectivity.

All of which brings me to my mini-review of George Clooney's the Descendants.

My wife and I happened to be going on a few 'date nights' which allows me to see movies in their intended format - the theater - as opposed to the small screen at home.  What I like about watching movies is that you get a sense of 'the times' which isn't available to you by just following what's happening on the internet.  Why is that?  Well to be quite frank, I think that myth-making is essential to existence.  The more we just go about our own mundane lives - living, eating, shitting, sleeping - the more that we drift off into non-being.

When you walk into a theater - no less than a church - you not only see other people but you watch together something that a lot of smart money thought 'embodies the modern age.'  I happened to have seen Moneyball earlier this year and I got the sense about that film that I did when I walked out of the Descendants.  Two of the top actors in Hollywood have hired the best writers and producers to help them capture an Academy Award.  George Clooney and Brad Pitt make a lot of money and their ambition likely exceeds even their on screen charisma and good looks.  They have to engage in myth making - no matter how indirect their involvement in each project was - in order to get their 'career to the next stage.'

Yet I walk away from both films getting a profound sense of the emptiness which is the modern age.

It's not that the Descendants or Moneyball are bad movies.  Far from it.  I found both pictures enjoyable to watch.  However I get a deeper sense strangely enough about how small our dreams have all become.  Perhaps I grew up during the golden age of movie making, but films seem to have lost any sense of grandeur.  These are small lives being portrayed on the big screen.  Perhaps many people would find it annoying or distracting to watch greatness being portrayed on the big screen.  Maybe the people writing and producing films no longer believe that such a thing is even possible.

If I were a religious person I would be seguing at this point to the superiority of the gospel because it deals with the 'greatness of Christ' or some such line of reasoning.  Almost but not quite.  I am not 'into' believing in art any longer.  When I was a younger I really did thing that could change the world and better people's lives.  As you get older you become fixated with the mechanics of things.  Maybe that's why older men end up getting so involved with golf.   I don't know.

My only point is that Mark - the guy that wrote the 'screenplay' for the liturgy (= the gospel) as well as the liturgy itself - was engaged essentially in capturing 'greatness' on stage.  Certainly what he established in ancient Alexandria would not likely to find a wide audience in the world today.  Yet if approach the creation of Christianity and its myths from the point of view of a Hollywood production it is impossible to mistake the fact that Mark was thinking big.  He wasn't simply trying to get himself an Academy Award, he wasn't after being famous.  Indeed he established a work of art which quite deliberately left his name off the marquee.

How un-Hollywood is that?

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Stephan Huller's Observations by Stephan Huller
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