In this second in a new series of mini-commentaries Tom McMahon today invites us to think of the spiritual world view held by American Indians and Ancient Egyptians. His series is partly inspired by the National Geographic book, "Essential Visual History of World Mythology" and he begins today with a further explanation about what he hopes to achieve via this exploration.
A short explanation about what this series is aiming to do...
A short explanation concerning this series: For the first time in months—perhaps even years—our American newspapers have reported on the stand taken by the American Catholic Bishops on health care and contraceptives. I am reminded of Custer's Last Stand*, hopefully that the ultimate outcome is not the excommunication of 90% of Catholic women who have ignored church teaching on contraception for close to three decades. This is not the point of my explanation. What I regret is that in our times of spiritual and religious chaos the media and people worldwide have not taken time to investigate the mystery of what we call GOD. I offer this investigative series as an amateur interested in the the rock bottom foundation of any spiritual endeavour. In my past life as catholic grade school boy, 12 year seminarian, and 26 years active parish ministry the notion of god (recall I said only small g would be used throughout.) was taken for granted, no questions asked and in fear, laziness, and ignorance we put forth no energy to marshal ideas about what we commonly call divine or godly. I sense that we have had the cart before the horse, or interest in a seventh story penthouse before we looked at the foundation. We have a religious house of cards collapsing worldwide, centuries of theological opinions and religious wars and verbal free-for-alls while bypassing the basic appreciation of a Supreme Being (and the hundreds of other human names we have given to this Mystery). As I move along toward my 84th year of life I am hopping aboard my magic carpet, searching early civilizations and peoples for what they conceived of as beyond the power of humankind, aka god.
*BTW, careful investigation of the arrogant misunderstanding by George Custer of the American Indian has led to the renaming of the disaster as THE BATTLE OF THE LITTLE BIG HORN. It is unfortunate that today's Catholic bishops never dialogue, thus having no basic information on human sexuality. But this is not the issue for this commentary. Let's hop aboard the magic carpet that will sweep us in a treasure house of ancient knowledge. All one has to do to buy a ticket is to open the pages of books on mythology.
NEXT MAGIC CARPET STOP: Ancient Egypt...
Long before the pyramids.....20 thousand years ago perhaps?.....We find.....people like us!
According to ancient texts the Egyptians inherited through oral traditions an understanding of the universe as observed, earth, sky, and underworld (Duat). The sun journeyed into Duat at night and yet rose to new life each morning. Thinkers questioned where did the human being come from and was there a power greater than what they could observe? A mound was central to all creation myths. Theologians seem to agree that Tatjensen — Risen Land, based on silt deposits in the Nile — is the first "god", followed by "the group of nine", Shu the god of air, Tefnet the god of moisture, both spat out or sneezed out by the god Atum. Shu and Tefnet coupled to produce Geb (earth) and Nut (sky). From these Osiris (order) and Seth (disorder). From these all other life came into being. Eventually the sun god Ra with life giving power becomes supreme,
Obviously our modern scientific knowledge offers us keen insight into earth and atmospheric phenomenon. The very word phenomenon indicates a "showing forth", which I can readily accept as I study the big bang theory and other creation phenomenon on The History Channel. I find myself in no better position than the early Egyptians with the nagging question of what is the "initial force" that produces the phenomenon? I drop some of my human arrogance as I ponder a mystery that has remained hidden for billions of years. I smile and remain at peace with this Mystery as I bypass who is in schism and which religion has the correct answers to which version of god is best.
Doom sealed the lives of the 7th Cavalry at the Battle of the Little Big Horn in 1876 c.e.. Chief Sitting Bull had done his homework while George Custer fed on his prejudices. Michael Morwood invites us to examine the "new" discoveries of creation (much like the ancient Egyptians) and the place in our lives of Creator and human servant Jesus. Will there be a common ground where opposing factions will meet and dialogue? Jesus warns us of a house built on sand and Jesus offers us a picture (Abba) of his Father, a mystery deity that calls us to love and forgive one another as we trek though life. I never had a course on Creator or Jesus in my 12 years of seminary!
Next Sunday let's rev up our magic carpet as we look into the ancient Greek notion of the gods of Olympus.
Comments (mine and yours) can be found in the Catholica Forum at:
Tom McMahon, in San Jose, Ca. – the 15th St. S.F. kid who happened to become a roman priest! 10Feb2012
What are your thoughts on this commentary?