Myth is generally dismissed as wishful
thinking, these days, childish, not very
important, not very useful, not very
efficient, not very accurate, not very
straightforward, not at all clear as to what
it is talking about.
Many people put religious faith in the same
category as myth.
On the other hand, there is an understanding
that there is some objective realness, some
empirical trueness, some authentic
genuineness, that stands outside of our
minds and can be observed as stable and
predictable and reliably “true” always and
Conventional thinking understands myth and
reality as opposites, myth false, and
The assumption that we can speak of our
world with absolute confidence, if we stick
to the facts is, just that, an assumption,
in my opinion and experience.
I am always amazed when I sit on a plane
that it actually takes off, stays in the air
and lands without failing out of the sky,
especially when it gets bumpy.
The Boeing 747 is my favorite plane, it is a
massive combination of materials that has
taken off and landed thousands of times just
as the designers and builders and pilots and
passengers have expected that it would.
I am glad and delighted that we have those
facts that keep a 747 exactly where it
should be at all times.
There are other, many other facts that keep
our lives reasonably stable and predictable
and happy, but in regard to that Boeing 747
what if one of our ancient ancestors hadn’t
noticed the inclination that we human beings
have for playing God, our hubris, the
arrogance that we display at times, and
didn’t have the imagination to tell a story
with a character named Daedalus?
In the story about human hubris and
overestimation of our capabilities, Daedalus
is that ancient Athenian architect,
engineer, and project design manager who had
created for his king a labyrinth.
A labyrinth is an endlessly meandering but
very precise path that takes you through
chaos to clarity, only to return you to
chaos again. As the Daedalus story goes he
and his son Icarus fall out of the king’s
good graces and need to flee for their
So, what if Daedalus and his son Icarus
hadn’t tried to escape the kings armies by
attaching feathers to their arms with wax?
And what if Icarus had not flown too close
to the sun and the wax hadn’t melted?
And what if people didn’t tell that story
when they saw human beings get uppity and
over confident and tell of Icarus flying too
close to the sun and the wax melting 5 or 6
hundred years before Christ?
And what if Leonardo da Vinci hadn’t read
the story of Icarus’ fate and tried to
design a flying machine that would not fall
apart when it got too close to the sun?
And what if the Wright brothers had not got
that contraption of theirs off the ground?
Would we even know what a 747 is?
Sure, we would, someone somewhere would have
been inspired by another story filled with
the intuition that humans could fly.
There are what we call “facts,” actual
details of “reality,” that many take for
granted but I think are essentially myths.
We have difficulty acknowledging that they
are not really true because we have built
traditions, morals, behaviors, values,
institutions on what we have collectively
agreed is “reality.”
We make a contract with one another to agree
that some things are real when, in fact,
they are not.
Take for example the following very powerful
myths made facts.
Women are not as capable as men in making
good decisions, enduring suffering, living
with ambiguity, sustaining stamina because
women are seductive, seeking to weaken men.
Race, ethnicity, gender, nationality are
reliable predictors of intelligence,
trustworthiness, libido, honesty,
(Please notice that I did not say success
because success is pretty reliably defined
by the dominant group and when you put race,
ethnicity, gender, and nationality there
will ALWAYS be a dominant group.)
If you want security and peace, you must
have a strong military.
World War II was a unique example of the
necessity of military force to “secure the
peace” but is it a universal truth?
The last 70 years have seen the development
of weapons and armaments and armies of all
kinds but do we have peace? Americans carry
more guns that many armies do but do we have
a sense of security in our cities and towns
and churches and schools and movie theaters?
I offer this just to give you what may be
food for thought this Lent. You don’t have
to agree with me at all but we really don’t
know all that we need to know, we really
ADULT FAITH FORMATION LENT 2018
The first two artists that we will look at,
Paul Klee (b1879) and Alberto
Giacometti (b1901) both born in
But first a word about brothels.
From my very amateur study of art and
artists, it seems to me that many artists
are filled with lots of erotic and sexual
energy, I think all truly creative people
are highly sensitive to beauty and
erotically aroused to create.
Brothels were respected, important
institutions in the cities of Europe through
the 19th century that lasted up
to the mid 20th century. They
offered places for men and women and men and
men to meet that ensured a level of respect
and safety for the prostitutes and their
clients both on equal footing (it was,
perhaps, the crowning achievement of
patriarchy and it gave the prostitutes
especially the women freedoms unknown
outside of the brothel).
They were normal parts of many men’s lives
from adolescence to late adulthood as places
not only for sex but conversations with like
minds and places where ideas about art and
music and politics could be shared between
the older men and younger men and women
without the restrictions of social class,
gender, or academic standing.
We are not going to be spending a lot of
time talking about brothels and prostitution
but it is important to note that painting,
sculpture, music, dance, literature and
drama were radically changing in the 19th
century and these changes laid the
foundation for what we experience as normal
and typical today.
The “secularity” that many believe
challenges religion and religious faith, in
part, was born in the artistic creations
that resulted from the new and welcome
atmosphere of acceptance of human
experience, especially the human experience
of sexual passion.
These changes challenged the ideas of
classical thinking about the human person
and human self-awareness.
The shame associated with the human body and
human passion and that expression of passion
began to fade as a factor in human
relationships, in part, due to the
egalitarian, open atmosphere of the
The dominant role of the Roman Catholic
Church is shaping culture, cultural mores,
and relegating human sexuality to the
utilitarian function of reproduction was
We know that Giacometti almost daily
frequented a large Parisian brothel, the
same one frequented by Edourad Manet and
many other artists of all disciplines.
Paul Klee didn’t marry until he was 26, so
we can only assume that brothels figured
into his life as they would in the typical
young man’s life of his age and
social/educational status as the logistics
of dating were not what they are today.
TUESDAYS 1:30-3:00 AND 6:30-8:00 IN THE
LOUNGE IN THE CASA MARIA BUILDING. ALL ARE