God: an Anatomy, and Other Recent Readings

Francesca Stavrakopoulou, in her most recent book, God: an Anatomy, presents a vivid portrait of Yahweh, primarily as seen by his ancient devotees. She takes us on a journey throughout the Levant and Mesopotamia, covering thousands of years, multiple empires, and dozens of gods and goddesses. It’s rigorously researched throughout, and she (literally) gives us chapter and verse for each point along the way, using Akkadian, Babylonian, Assyrian, Persian, Greek, Roman, and Jewish texts and art to support her portrait.

The Yahweh of her book evolves over time, his body changes, his focus and activities shift. Starting out as a Canaanite storm god and fearsome warrior, a deity among many other deities, he’s usually depicted as a young god, but morphs over the centuries into a supreme being in his own right — from the son of El to the father god himself.…

More short fiction plus Campbell

We’ve added a short story by William Kitcher to the Spinozablue mix, and some more paintings by yours truly. As always, your comments and suggestions are most welcome.

Finished Campbell’s fine collection of lectures and informal talks, Goddesses, and had some additional thoughts to share.

First off, I imagine my main takeaways are not the same as other readers, and what stands out for me now may not resonant with the majority. This is likely the case, as they probably wouldn’t have resonated all that much with my younger selves. I remember focusing more on the mythological stories as stories in their own right, their beauty, strangeness, and mystery, mostly delinked from current concerns or implications.…

Joseph Campbell and the Feminine Divine

I’ve been reading Joseph Campbell since I was nine. He was foundational for me, along with Robert Graves, Lady Gregory, and Jane Harrison, sparking a greater love of world mythology, its roots, its scope and diversity. Going back to him as of late, I’m uncovering things I either forget about or missed entirely the first go round, and it has me rethinking more than a few things these days. Nearly halfway through his posthumously published book on goddesses, and I’m hooked again.

Goddesses (2013) is basically a collection of his lectures and talks between 1972 and 1986, with a focus on the Female Divine in myriad incarnations — Sumerian, Egyptian, Babylonian, Greek, Hindu — and a few mentions of its tragic, world-altering suppression along the way.…

Forget the Alamo, and Other Myths that Divide Us

I love mythology. Reading it, studying it, pondering its sources and patterns. I love uncovering common mythic threads in multiple cultures, and how we humans repeatedly tell stories about ourselves that strike the same or similar chords — usually without realizing this. East to West, North to South, and all points in between, our myths, when studied holistically as myths, remind us of our commonalities far more than our differences, which is one of the reasons why that study is imperative.

If we take a bird’s eye view, if we fly above it all, mythic journeys generally follow the same basic routes, and they’re naturally, deeply connected with our own, personal travels from birth to death and beyond — often in hopes of that beyond.…

The Tree of Knowledge

The Expulsion From Eden, by Thomas Cole. 1828

Philip Pullman’s usage of the myth of Adam and Eve had me revisiting the metaphors, symbols, and scenarios in that ancient garden. While there are many different interpretations of the myth, and a wide range of disagreements between Jewish and Christian exegesis, I thought Pullman was really onto something fundamentally important.

Contrary to much of the received wisdom about that story, Adam and Eve did the right thing. They sought knowledge. In effect, consciousness. Had they stayed in the garden, they would have remained unfree, ignorant, and stunted. The god of the story wanted them that way, apparently.…

Northern Lights

I finished Philip Pullman’s wonderful The Golden Compass last night, and can’t wait to read the rest of the trilogy. It’s very well written and surprisingly thought provoking. A page turner, to be sure. Also hoping that the sequels will be filmed, even though mixed messages abound about that. I’ve read on the Net that the next movie is in the bag for 2009, and, that it won’t be filmed at all. The two major reasons given for not filming are the lack of box office success for the first movie and opposition from church groups.

The novel is set in parallel universe to our own, with many similarities, but some striking differences.…

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