Literature and Film as Modern Mythology

By William K. Ferrell | Go to book overview
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PART IV
MORALITY AND MAGIC

One of the oldest and so far most evasive human quest has been to find a perfect and universal concept of good and evil--one set of perfect values that everyone can accept and abide by. For the most part, the task, beginning far back in antiquity, has been a province of the various organized religions. Certainly we can all agree that religion has not been very successful. Religious sectarianism has created as many disputes leading to violent behavior as it has been able to solve differences. The "troubles" between Catholics and Protestants in Ireland, the conflict between Sikhs and Hindus in India, and the Middle East where Arabs and Jews have been fighting over land possession for three thousand years are but three ancient feuds that are still manifest. What creates much of the problem is that each religion bases its beliefs on a simple concept: each assumes it alone possesses the real truth. It becomes the truth when a vision of reality, that is, the real world of man and mana is revealed to them and them alone. Religion dictates that a trite vision of reality is realized when we consciously perceive ourselves, both as an individual and as part of its particular abstract belief system, as coexisting within the natural world. However, one similarity between those religious cultures informs us that simply to acknowledge existence is not enough. Mana demands that we need to know why we exist. Once a purpose is established, as fully conscious beings, it becomes important to define the best mode for ensuring that existence will continue. From the beginning of recorded time, humanity has sought a code that will not only ensure human life continues, but will establish how an intelligent being ought to live. Contemporary life has come to place less emphasis on

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