According to the Religion News Blog, Utah senator Bob Bennet is researching “whether the book Mormons believe was revealed by an angel to their founder Joseph Smith in the 1820s [the Book of Mormon] is authentic.”Â By “authentic” is meant literally true, both in the information given in the book and in the way the book was given by an angel to the religion’s founder.
Normally I wouldn’t mention this at all, but currently there is another discussion going on in the Mind-N-Magic Pagan Forums. In the “Pagan History” sub-forum there is a thread called “Repudiating Bad Wiccan History.” This is a discussion concerning an article that appeared on The Witches’ Voice (AKA Witchvox) with the same name. The basic concept is that the idea that Wicca is directly derived from ancient Pagan traditions and secretly protected by British royalty is nothing but â€śWicca Fantasy-Land,â€ť and untrue. The original Witchvox article concludes by saying, “Regrettably this means we must abandon a lot of what our founding elders declared to us was our past; we must locate ourselves in the genuine records of medieval Europe established by scholars…”
I would say that the researches of Senator Bennet, the article in Witchvox, and the discussion on Mind-N-Magick actually myth miss the point.
We All Need Myths
It is the nature of humans to need myths. Every culture has them. Every religion has them. They are the glue that binds us together. Here, in the U.S., we have myths such as Washington never telling a lie holding us together and giving us our culture. In the 1950s, radio featured mythic heroes like the Lone Ranger for whom everything was right or wrong (there were never grey areas) and you never shot to kill. With religion, Judaism has its mythic Exodus from Egypt, Christianity has its mythic tales of Jesus, Mormonism has its mythic tales of its founding, and Wicca has it’s mythic source as ancient Pagan traditions.
Some people reading this may jump on what I have written above. How dare I imply that the Exodus, Jesus, the founding of Mormonism and the sources of Wicca are fakes and unreal. But please read this again. I didn’t write that they were unreal, I only claimed they were “mythic.” I use the term in its academic sense, a sacred story concerning origins.
We need myths. They identify us as a group and as a source of our beliefs. It’s totally irrelevant as to whether they are objectively true! Mormonsâ€”even those who convert to Mormonismâ€”can look back to the story of the founding of their religion and for what it means to their current beliefs. The same is true for Judaism, Christianity, and other religions. The same is true for countries. Are all the stories of Joan of Arc objectively factual? Probably not. But they helped to form the cloth that wraps French people into a whole. The same is true of the myths of the founders of the U.S.
It doesn’t matter whether the myths are true. They are the stories that make us who we are. That means, too, we can acknowledge that objective history may or may not match the mythic history. That’s okay. Objective history can tell us where we came from. Mythic history tells us who we are.
I believe we need our myths. What do you think?