Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Holiness Permeates Everything

by Kristen Filipic (one of the Levites)

So, I hang out with some families on a regular basis and have discovered that with certain kids, asking "Do you want to read a story?" ALWAYS works as a child-wrangling technique. We have gotten to the point where small children will sometimes climb into my lap and wordlessly hand me a book. This is excellent.

One of these small children has recently become interested in Greek mythology and is currently quite enraptured with an "introduction to the Olympians" book. Now, I love Greco-Roman mythology. I got drawn into this when I was a older then he is, but thought this was the most fascinating thing ever and it ended up leading me into taking Latin in high school, occasionally flirting with the thought of a classics major (ended up minoring) and other hopelessly nerdy things. So I particularly enjoyed helping introduce him to these stories, and am not especially concerned that this will lead him to abandon the faith of his family and church and instead worship Zeus and Athena.

It occurred to me that come January I won't be able to read this particular book to the children. It further occurred to me that this truly stinks.

So I was gearing up to write a post about how much this stinks, how there's really no harm in reading these stories at all. And even assuming that we were living in a society that actively worshipped the Olympians, a faith that's shielded from all challenge isn't much of a faith and how am I supposed to interact with the nice pagans enough to tell them about Jesus if I'm so walled off from their way of seeing the world. If I was in a particularly nerdy mood, which let's face it I usually am, I might even cite C.S. Lewis talking about how the similar themes throughout various cultures' mythologies (e.g. a dying and rising god is a very common theme) point to the One True Myth of Jesus.

I was going to say "Well, I can't cite chapter and verse, but I'm sure it's in there ..." and then continue on with my rant. But then I decided that it would be a much better post if I cited the specific law that was getting my goat. So I started paging through. And skimmed and skimmed, and flipped through some more pages. There's something about not worshipping idols, OK of course that's a bad plan. Not planning on doing that. There's something on not creating idols, ok, that's not what we're talking about either. Skim skim skim some more, haven't found it yet ... and now here we are at the end.


So apparently as long as we're very clear that we're not worshipping Athena, enjoying Bulfinch's Mythology is just fine.

This is good news. I wonder what other "well of course that's forbidden" assumptions I have will also be groundless.


Anonymous said...

I homeschool my kids using Sonlight curriculum, and studying other cultures and the literature of other cultures including mythology is part of that, and my eldest son has already noticed for himself the remarkable way Biblically-sounding stories are mirrored in the mythologies around the world over and over again. The prime example is that of the Flood.

I really don't think that it threatens our faith at all, rather it confirms it - if you ask why should it be that these stories exist everywhere, I suspect that it shows that all people everywhere, descended from Noah's sons, originally had a knowledge of the Truth (and even the prophecy in Genesis 3 of a Messiah to come).

Sharon in the UK

Anonymous said...

I didn't think to ask why you won't be able to read those things in January... am I missing a mitzvah??

Sharon in the UK

The Levite Lisa said...

Personally, I am planning NOT to refrain from ordinary usage of things tainted with someone else's idol worship. For example, I will continue to say the word Thursday even though it originally derives from a contraction of "Thor's Day." Since that meaning is not at all recognized by me in saying that word. The meaning I have is "almost Friday" and unless you can say I'm idolizing the end of the work week, I think I'm doing nothing wrong.

kristen said...

Hey Sharon,

You're not missing anything. Somehow I had thought that this would be forbidden but I was wrong. I was getting all frustrated by a command which doesn't actually exist!