Religion and Mythology

Religion and mythology differ but have overlapping aspects. Both terms refer to systems of concepts that are of high importance to a certain community, making statements concerning the supernatural or sacred. Generally, mythology is platostorytellingconsidered one component or aspect of religion.

I have developed a real love for the works of the very early church. In this discipline, I have discovered a new appreciation of myth. In western thought, myths are “tall tales” that have little or no meaning. For the early church, however,  myths were wrought with deep meaning and were lights along the way to God. Myths were stories that expressed deep faith and allowed God to become real. Without regard to what really happened, these stories were written about what God would do, and they were of great value to the people. I want to share a few with you today.

A wealthy young orphan-girl of Alexandria saved a man from hanging himself by giving him all her wealth to pay his debts. She was reduced to prostitution, but then she repented and sought baptism, not without difficulty — for she must find guarantors. In the absence of any others willing to do so, angels in disguise stood surety for her at the font. The Pope of Alexandria recognized that this was a case of divine intervention. The girl reluctantly confessed her one good deed and then died.

When Julian the Apostate was in Persia, he sent a demon on a mission to the west, but it was delayed by a monk named Publius who prayed all the time. Julian threatened vengeance against this monk when he returned to the west, but he was slain in battle. One of his generals however sold all his goods for the benefit of the poor and became a monk close by Publius.

A brother was granted the privilege of beholding the departure of a just and of an unjust soul. A wolf took him to a hermitage by the city wall where a famous hermit (Sozomen) was expiring. But his soul was delayed in the body by the resentful devil which plunged a fiery trident into him to make him suffer as long as possible. Then, in the city, the brother saw a sick brother, a stranger, lying untended in the square, whose soul refused to be led away by Gabriel and Michael. They were sent to bring it but commanded to use no force. They requested the Lord to send David with his harp to charm the man’s soul out of him.

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