It’s a love story, a mystery, and a story of self discovery. But most of all, I wanted to write something fun to read.
I began writing The Mythics 30 years ago when I was still an agnostic. From the beginning I intended it as Christian allegory, and though I didn’t know it yet, I was nowhere near ready to complete it. It began with a character, Elm, who was a religious outsider like me. His story leads him between the simplistic, often legalistic beliefs of the society he lives in, and the mysterious person and beliefs of “the old man.” a nameless monk who lives in a lost city in the mountains who receives visits from an even more mysterious old woman who may or may not actually exist. Even in those early days, I recognized the mystery of God. Indeed, God was so mysterious that I had yet to find him!
But society tries to make belief easy. On the one hand there is the legalistic tradition that tells us to fit in and do what everyone else is doing. The Edict and the Station represent these, a system of keeping everyone in their place, similar to a caste system. Though Christianity doesn’t have caste, it does have the tradition, emphasized by Martin Luther and John Calvin, that God puts everyone in a particular role and we should be happy with what we have. Some are born rich; most are born poor. This has often been used to justify economic oppression.
The other religious fallacy in the book is represented by the followers of Trinus, a twisted representation of God masked in a holiness tradition and led by men seeking power. Trinus, of course is a thinly disguised metaphor for the Trinity– not the true Trinity but a popular belief that disempowers God to make him nothing but our judge in the afterlife. Many theologians, for example, believe that the Holy Spirit works in us only as we read Scripture. They leave no room for healing or revelation. The religious leaders hold the power, and they allow only conventional interpretation of Scripture, often from a particular English translation. But Scripture is richer than that. It contains multiple voices seeking to explain complex mysteries that cannot be put into words. And English, flexible as it is, nevertheless cannot capture the richness of Hebrew or Greek. The Bible, especially in translation, only points us to God. It cannot contain God. Nor can any human person comprehend the mind of God.
While some may balk at my representation of the old (perhaps apostolic) religion as a pantheon of Gods, this was intentional: God does indeed have many faces, from the three men who ate dinner with Abraham and Sarah and the mysterious figure who wrestled with Jacob, to the burning bush seen by Moses and the still small voice heard by Elijah. But at the root, God is what Genesis tells us: all powerful, male and female. When we dissect God and choose to honor only parts of the whole, we aren’t worshiping the true God, hence the prophecy in the book of the reunification of Sun and Moon.
All of this was envisioned in my first few years of writing the book. But I couldn’t finish it. I continued to work on the book off and on for many years. I’d make some progress, develop the world and its characters. But I couldn’t see the ending because my own spiritual path was still too incomplete. I had studied theology at a university. I came to believe in God about a decade after I started writing because of a powerful spiritual experience. I began reading the Bible regularly. But I still had no real knowledge of Christ or the Holy Spirit. I tried several times to bring the book into a final form, but none of my attempts satisfied me.
It wasn’t until four years ago that I truly met Christ and saw the Holy Spirit at work. Only then could I tie all the pieces of this story together coherently.
There is much more to the story than religion, of course. It’s a love story, a mystery, and a story of self discovery. But most of all, I wanted to write something fun to read. Religion provides an inescapable backdrop, but I didn’t want the story to get lost in it.
You get to judge whether I succeeded. Those who have read it have enjoyed it. I hope you will, too.