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What is mythology?


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#1 Oriental lily

Posted 26 December 2012 - 02:53 PM

Dd 9 got a book from her uncle about mythology for Christmas. She has asked me what it means and I am struggling to find a concise and easy description that she understands.
Cultural beliefs that is known to not be true?
Make believe stories that people once believed?

I am a bit stumped?

Anyone have a good description?

#2 Beanbag Warrior

Posted 26 December 2012 - 02:57 PM

stories from cultures to explain the world

#3 pinkcupcakes

Posted 26 December 2012 - 02:58 PM

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mythology

i thought this was pretty clear and simple! ( its my favourite way to think! wink.gif )

#4 Oriental lily

Posted 26 December 2012 - 03:12 PM

The reason I am struggling I figured out is because their s a very fine line between mythology and religion!

So I guess mythology is like extinct belief systems?

Still might be hard for  a 9 year old to comprehend.....

#5 Mitis angelam

Posted 26 December 2012 - 03:19 PM

I'd say mythology plays a part in (some) current belief systems; for example, plenty of people who don't literally believe in Adam and Eve use their story as a basis for reflection on the world etc.

I like the definition which says that mythology is an expression of creative imagination which interprets the real world.  So it's a story which isn't true, but has connections back into what is true in our lives and experience.

#6 Gudrun

Posted 26 December 2012 - 03:28 PM

Creation stories?  Or even just stories?  Great present IMO.

Edited by Gudrun, 26 December 2012 - 03:29 PM.


#7 ubermum

Posted 26 December 2012 - 03:35 PM

Here

Edited by ubermum, 26 December 2012 - 03:36 PM.


#8 Oriental lily

Posted 26 December 2012 - 03:40 PM

rolleyes.gif

#9 LynnyP

Posted 26 December 2012 - 04:57 PM

Stories used to explain how the world works in a way most people can identify with.  I don't see much difference, if any, between religion and mythology.  I suppose religion is a mythology the culturally powerful believe also?

#10 ~Nodnol~

Posted 26 December 2012 - 05:46 PM

Very basically, mythology is stories that explain creation. Myth also helps to explain reasons behind things like weather (Persephone and Hades for example), man's domination over other animals (Prometheus giving man fire) and so on. A lot of myth is similar across cultures, there are Flood myths for a couple that are similar. I personally don't see any difference between myth and religion, if anything I favour Greek mythology as something I feel a pull to.

hth. Mythology is fascinating. I hope your daughter enjoys it!

#11 Mitis angelam

Posted 26 December 2012 - 07:45 PM

QUOTE (LynnyP @ 26/12/2012, 05:57 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
I suppose religion is a mythology the culturally powerful believe also?


No, religion is more than a collection of stories.  Generally a religion would also entail a way of life, rites of passage, communal organisation, ethical systems, organised worship and so on.  Adherents of religion may have a set of myths to which they refer, but to conflate mythology and religion is to make a category error.

#12 SnazzyFeral

Posted 26 December 2012 - 08:25 PM

QUOTE (Ange Vert @ 26/12/2012, 08:45 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
No, religion is more than a collection of stories.  Generally a religion would also entail a way of life, rites of passage, communal organisation, ethical systems, organised worship and so on.  Adherents of religion may have a set of myths to which they refer, but to conflate mythology and religion is to make a category error.



Does that make the bible a collection of myths? I always thought of the bible as kind of guide book to how to live as a Christian but there are different sects who use the same book but draw different conclusions from it.  so the bible then wouldn't be intrinsic to the religion/practice of Christianity?

The story of the rainbow serpent is a myth that contains guidance on how to live in balance which is a religious practice. Does that make the rainbow serpent story a myth or part of a religion? Given that the story contains information on how to practise a religion.


#13 jayskette

Posted 26 December 2012 - 08:30 PM

the perfect gift for Christmas!  biggrin.gif

#14 Imaginary friend

Posted 26 December 2012 - 08:47 PM

QUOTE (SnazzySass @ 26/12/2012, 08:25 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Does that make the bible a collection of myths? I always thought of the bible as kind of guide book to how to live as a Christian but there are different sects who use the same book but draw different conclusions from it.  so the bible then wouldn't be intrinsic to the religion/practice of Christianity?

The story of the rainbow serpent is a myth that contains guidance on how to live in balance which is a religious practice. Does that make the rainbow serpent story a myth or part of a religion? Given that the story contains information on how to practise a religion.


My understanding would be that the story of the rainbow serpent would be a myth belonging to the aboriginal culture/religion. Likewise one could say the story of Adam and Eve is a myth belonging To the Christian/Jewish religions.

#15 Mitis angelam

Posted 26 December 2012 - 08:48 PM

QUOTE (SnazzySass @ 26/12/2012, 09:25 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Does that make the bible a collection of myths? I always thought of the bible as kind of guide book to how to live as a Christian but there are different sects who use the same book but draw different conclusions from it.  so the bible then wouldn't be intrinsic to the religion/practice of Christianity?

The story of the rainbow serpent is a myth that contains guidance on how to live in balance which is a religious practice. Does that make the rainbow serpent story a myth or part of a religion? Given that the story contains information on how to practise a religion.


I think it would be fair to say that the Bible is a collection of writings, some of which have mythic elements.  For example, no one takes the story of Job as a history; it's a reflection on issues of suffering and justice in the context of faith in God, through story and dialogue centred on a particular character.  In that sense, it's a myth.  But not all the writings in the Bible are the same genre; there are historical writings, legal codes, song lyrics, letters and so on; these are not myths in the same sense.  

I think to take the Bible as a "guide book" is a real problem; for starters, it's 66 books (more if you're not Protestant), written at different times by different people in different contexts addressing different concerns.  The way it shapes how a Christian thinks, lives and worships is complex.  That's not to say it's not important; I think it's enormously important and the Scriptures have always been central to Christian worship.  But you can't reduce a living Christianity to the Bible alone.

I am no expert on indigenous religious systems.  I would have thought the rainbow serpent story was a myth which informed a religion.  But I may not understand how it functions within that belief system.

#16 SnazzyFeral

Posted 26 December 2012 - 09:35 PM

QUOTE (Ange Vert @ 26/12/2012, 09:48 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
I think it would be fair to say that the Bible is a collection of writings, some of which have mythic elements.  For example, no one takes the story of Job as a history; it's a reflection on issues of suffering and justice in the context of faith in God, through story and dialogue centred on a particular character.  In that sense, it's a myth.  But not all the writings in the Bible are the same genre; there are historical writings, legal codes, song lyrics, letters and so on; these are not myths in the same sense.  

I think to take the Bible as a "guide book" is a real problem; for starters, it's 66 books (more if you're not Protestant), written at different times by different people in different contexts addressing different concerns.  The way it shapes how a Christian thinks, lives and worships is complex.  That's not to say it's not important; I think it's enormously important and the Scriptures have always been central to Christian worship.  But you can't reduce a living Christianity to the Bible alone.

I am no expert on indigenous religious systems.  I would have thought the rainbow serpent story was a myth which informed a religion.  But I may not understand how it functions within that belief system.



I think that the rainbow serpent is a myth that informs a religion in the same way that you are saying parts of the bible are myths that inform Christian religions. But Dreaming stories also contain laws and history so that would make them quite like the bible.

I think myths, while they explain creation, also provide a framework for how to live within the cultural context of a society and so they contain the laws and history of that society as well as explaining how things came to be. I think too that the distinction between religion and society did not used to be quite so clear. Even today the religion of Christianity is twined deeply within the structures and institutions that mark Australian society as distinct from Japanese society for example,  though many Australians are not Christian and many don’t have Christian backgrounds.

Perhaps myths are more easily defined not because they are separate from religion or society but because they have become outdated within our society and its belief systems or were always alien to it and so are no longer needed and are more easily recognised. I think we have many myths that we encounter in day to day life that have relevance for us now so we don’t necessarily mark them as “teaching story”.   If religion is defined by its practice then mythology must be part of that practise because mythology really only becomes static after it has become superfluous.

Edited by SnazzySass, 26 December 2012 - 09:41 PM.





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