"I tell you this solemn truth. Unless a seed of grain falls to the ground, it remains a single seed. If it (falls to the ground and dies) it becomes many seeds."
——-St. John 12:24
Religious leaders too often sound like secular politicians; manipulating public opinion by promotion of class warfare and appeals to a non-existent body of opinion they hope to shape. Hence cometh the fundamentalist fantasies of over concern about sexual practices, gender alienation and abtruse doctrinal definitions.
This is religion as the political cliche.
A myth, on the other hand, makes sense only if translated into action. The people who first heard the Christ say, "Except a grain of seed fall into the earth and die, it shall not bring forth fruit," had no idea of the scientific realities behind His brilliant saying.
The action of the myth is holy, mysterious and luminous. The myth can be translated into cliche but only at great spiritual expense. A myth is truth from the deep. This truth is rarely on display in the strip-mined religiosity of Post-Modern Western culture. In short, popular religion is probably neither one.
Myth is enacted either ritually or behaviorally. The myth can put you in the right spot but you still have to act from there.
The cliche does not demand action. One can simply accept the cliche.
A woman is kidnapped and taken to the nether regions. Another woman, her mother, searched the earth for her, until finally she found her in Hades. The Mother-Rescuer was betrayed by an informer and the rescue turned into a fitful negotiation. The daugther is released but not to real freedom. She came to represent the ancient explanation for agriculture, present in abundance for a third of the year, kept in the heavens for a third and in Hades for a third.
Ancients could accept this story as explanation but still had to plant seed in season. Acceptance and repetition is the cliche. Action is the result of the mythical mist at work in the depths of a human soul.
Centuries later comes the Christ. He explains agriculture in terms of scientific observation in a pre-scientific age.
Yet, His scientific observation is included as part of the myth He vocalizes. That is, He tells a story, as He so often tells stories, appropriate to His audience. The John 12 passage is in response to a general question put forth by a group of Greeks, who would have known the first agricultural story I recounted, that of Demeter and Peresphone. Jesus understands the cliche but layers it over with the mystical tale, rooted in the common things of life and growing into deep consideration of what it costs to actually go with Him.
The cliche says a simple prayer will save your soul forever. They myth says you have to lose your life in space and time to gain eternity.
For most of recorded history humans lived in isolated clumps, where what happened to one group amounted to a blip on the eternal radar screen. In terms of social evolution, it is still in our DNA to promote our group over others, to protect (and more than occassionally expand) our territory, to deregionalize our gods.
Today, however, selfishness is the kind of pandemic virus that could prove to be the human extinction event. The entire world is so closely related, one cannot turn a blind eye to a pandemic in China, social upheaval in Egypt, government repression in Bahrain.
Cliched religion does ignore social evolution. Territorial expansion, covetousness for power and prestige, blind loyalty to the leader and group, suspicion of outsiders and a continuous desire for more resources to use are cliched religion. In fact, they are religion as business.
At some points, the politically and commericially cliched religion grows frustrated with itself. At these points, for they are legion, persons within the cliched cult suddenly cry for "revival," by which they mean some kind of return to the myth. Then they begin to tell us what the myth represents for them; discipleship, freedom in worship, careful study, real fellowship.
All of these are derivatives of the cliched cult. The Christian myth itself is about the saturation of Creation with the God-essence, represented by the Holy One whose Heavenly Father will not suffer Him to see corruption in the grave.
Opinions expressed here are mine alone. You chide me but you use my stuff. Then, that is why it is here.