WHAT IS MYTH REIMAGINED

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Before I can tell you what Myth Reimagined is, I must do two things: First, I must clarify what myth is; Second, I must explain why certain myths may require reimagining. Once I have done this, I will be able to tell you what Myth Reimagined is.

Modern man typically defines myth in one of two ways: moral tales of the ancient past or ridiculously strange fables invented by primitive minds to explain natural phenomena. The second is probably the most common. Such a limited and mistaken view on myth is, I think, due to the overall lack of appreciation in the modern world for the ancient world and a misunderstanding of what a myth really is. Myth is both less and more than these views. Less in the sense that it is broader, more encompassing: the Greek word from which we derive myth simply means story. More in the sense that it is more specific: myths are, as C.S. Lewis defines them, particular kinds of stories that have value in themselves—“a value independent of its embodiment in any literary work.”[1] It is the more specific definition that I hold to.

Myth can be applied to any story, not just ancient, and myth does not have to be a fable or fantastic; though such a broad definition is misleading and takes away the value of what myth really is, it could be used as such. Myth can be applied to ancient tales that are obvious attempts to make sense of the larger world, though even such tales usually have more to them than meets the modern eye. Myth can be stories with moral agendas—ancient or modern: strange or otherwise. However, myth is, in the most limited, specific, and truest sense of the word, a story that brings truth that is beyond mankind to life.

Myths are stories that speak to more than our minds; they speak to our souls. Myth is like a song in that it takes you beyond itself; it allows you to experience, at least in part, the world behind the veil of what we call reality. Of course, myth is not truth itself and myth is not truth, in the sense of facts, in story form; myth is a story that puts truths that speak to the soul in the soul’s language. Myth is not just a moral story or the story of an old man trying to teach a young man a lesson or the tried and truth truths of an ancient civilization passing on its wisdom; myth puts the unquestioned moral principles of human nature into written or verbal composition; principled stories which speak to old and young, ancient and modern souls alike. Myths are the laws of human nature working out in story.

Myths that fall in with the descriptions that I have just laid out do not fade with time and are just as true in the east as in the west, in the north as in the south, in Jerusalem as in Athens. However, there is a good point of contention in this blanket statement where I must relent. There are times when the effect of myth, as I understand them, can speak to one person and not another: meaning, a certain myth may hit home with you and not with me and vice-versa. I don’t think this speaks to the validity of the myth, nor does it suggest that the truth in the myth is variable; rather, I think this speaks to the particular experiences of men and the need of their soul at the moment. The moods of men are variable; the laws of human nature are not.

Now that we have a definition of what Myth is, a composition that puts the undeniable and unchangeable principles of mankind into stories that speak to the soul, I can tell you why some myths require reimagining.

My reasoning for reimagining myth is twofold.

First, although myths speak to our souls and put truths that our souls cannot deny into story form, some of these stories do no tell the whole truth. I do not mean that some myths lie; that would be contradictory to my point. I mean some myths, what we call ancient myths specifically, lack an element that we take for granted in the modern world, though the desire for it is written into our souls and the very universe that surrounds us—redemption. Whether you like it or not, you live in a world that is founded on Christianity and it is in Christianity that we have come to enjoy the regularity of stories that end with redemption; we have a hard time seeing the world in any other way. Not that this principle was invented by Christianity, it wasn’t; it is just that it did not become a rule of thumb until Christianity became the guiding force of storytelling.

The ancient world did not have the redemption that is found in the Christian story and, therefore, many of their stories end in despair or, even when there is an element of redemption, it is incomplete to modern eyes. They couldn’t help it. The ancient Greeks, Romans, Norse, and others had myths that didn’t tell the whole truth because they didn’t know the whole truth. They knew redemption was needed; they longed for redemption; they just lived in a world where the Redeemer had not yet revealed himself. Therefore, I think the ancient myths need a bit of reimagining in order to complete the story. I know this may be blasphemy to some; still, I can’t help but ask why we wouldn’t want to know what it would look like if Narcissus had been confronted by a world where true redemption based on eternal faith, hope, and love were possible. It is true that we need the myths which tug on our soul because they are realistic to this world and lack closure. Yet, I think it is truer still that we need to see the ancient world redeemed by reimaging it through Christianized eyes.

Second, and this one is not always necessary and is not the way in which I will always choose to reimagine myth, I think it is good to see myth in modern form. Again, I am speaking of the ancient myths here. Being able to take those truths of the soul that were recognized and brought into a composed form by the ancient world should have the chance to shine in our modern world for those who do not enjoy the more fantastic and far removed feeling elements of ancient myths. I see it this way; the ancient myths were modern to the ancients, so why not modernize them for ourselves.

Hopefully, what I have explained above has told you what Myth Reimagined is. Still, I will give a recapping definition here in order to make sure all is clear: Myth Reimagined takes the stories of old that speak to our soul and provides them with redemption; Myth Reimagined takes the principled stories of ancient man and, sometimes, brings them into the modern world; Myth Reimagined shines a new light on ancient truths—truths that are older than story and men.


[1] C.S. Lewis, “On Myth” in An Experiment in Criticism (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2017), 41.

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