Joseph Campbell’s “little sermon to the churches of the world”

Our culture has come to a crisis: the total disintegration of the inherited myths. They can no longer be read in the concretizing way that is fashionable and almost inevitable in undeveloped societies. Now we realize that the mythic force comes from within us. But it’s got to come from within us. You can’t take over someone else’s inside.

And my little sermon to the churches of the world is this: you have got the symbols right there on the altar, and you have the lessons as well. Unfortunately, when you have a dogma telling you what kind of effect the symbol is supposed to have upon you, you’re in trouble. “It doesn’t affect me that way, so am I a sinner?”

The real, important function of the Church is to present the symbol, to perform the rite, to let you behold this divine message in such a way that you are capable of experiencing it. What the relationship of the Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost to each other might be, in technical terms, is not half as important as you, the celebrant, feeling the Virgin Birth within you, the birth of the mystic, mythic being that is your own spiritual life.

[from Pathways to Bliss: Mythology and Personal Transformation by Joseph Campbell]

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