Monday, January 12, 2015
Jeremiah & Joseph Campbell: Part 1
Recently, our pastor preached on the Book of Jeremiah. He's someone who loves reading great stories, particularly mysteries and Fantasy by early British writers such as G. K. Chesterton, C. S. Lewis, and Charles Williams. In fact, he attaches such importance to these stories that he believes that, before any pastor gets ordained, he should have a thorough understanding of how Fiction influences our lives. Still, he surprised me when he likened the prophet Jeremiah to the ancient myths, legends, and sagas concerning such heroes as Gilgamesh and Jason of the Argonauts.
Personally, I've never really gotten Jeremiah. To me, he was just somebody who sat around and wailed a lot. "Oh, why can't you do it my way! Why can't you see things the way I see them! If only you'd listen to my words, you could have a bright future--the best of all possible futures!" And, let's face it: nobody likes a whiner.
A few years ago, I read Joseph Campbell's classic book The Hero with a Thousand Faces. In it, he expounded on his philosophy of the Monomyth, or the Hero's Journey. He studied these ancient heroes of mankind, and detailed the various stages each story had in common. Thus, he wrote, these stories grew important to mankind. They were passed down orally, and later in written form, from chiseled cuneiform on stone tablets, to carefully written sentences on papyrus.
Just like the stories detailing the classic heroes' feats, the Israelites recorded all that Jeremiah said and did. But why? I mean, no one listened to Jeremiah when he railed against the Israelites, did they? So why take the time to record and preserve his words? And how could he possibly be considered a hero?
Jeremiah: a hero? I don't know about you, but I need to think about that a little more.