"Pagan spirituality long preceded written texts, sacred or otherwise."

Beliefnet has a Pagan blogger again, and this entry is a doozy

I don't usually quote other Pagans that much here, that isn't what this blog is about. But Chas Clifton pointed out that Beliefnet has a Pagan blogger again, and at least one post is worth your time.

Pagan spirituality long preceded written texts, sacred or otherwise.  

Early Pagan traditions were oral.  Even when they became literate, societies such as the Celts refused to write down sacred teachings.   Some scholars claim writing down the Odyssey helped kill the power of myths for the Greeks.  Taken literally the stories depicted Gods who were anything but divine in their behavior.  But they were never meant to be taken literally.   Transferring oral stories to written words took the life from them, and opened them to misinterpretation.

Two Greeks famous for their writings are important here.  Plato, one of Greece's greatest writers, was himself very skeptical of its value for truly important issues.  In the Phaedrus Plato gives an account where the deity Toth offers the Egyptian King Thamus the gift of writing for his people.  The king gave many reasons why he thought it a bad idea, concluding "you give your disciples not truth, but only the semblance of truth; they will be hearers of many things and will have learned nothing; they will appear to be omniscient and will generally know nothing; they will be tiresome company, having the show of wisdom without the reality."

Unlike a teacher, the written word simply repeats itself when questioned what it means.  A person who did that would not understand what he said.  It is our ability to rephrase what we know in other ways that indicates we really understand what we are talking about.

Significantly, on two occasions Plato indicated that he never wrote down his most important teachings.  Those who say they know what he was teaching often argue among themselves, but how could they know?  Nor did Aristotle ever describe what he meant by what he regarded as our highest, semi-divine capacity: contemplation.  A hint that he knew words could not do it justice was when he wrote it characterized the awareness of the Gods.

Go and finish reading it. You won't be sorry. Very thought provoking.

Posted: Wed - February 11, 2009 at 02:01 PM
 ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊ 

Random selections from NeoWayland's library

Technopagan Yearnings
© 2005 - 2010   All Rights Reserved