Tuesday, June 9, 2009

2 Corinthians and Joseph Campbell

For those who don't know it, I am a music director for a Lutheran church. When choosing hymns for each Sunday, I read the lessons for that Sunday and attempt to select hymns accordingly. It doesn't always work out great, but I try nonetheless. One of the readings for this coming Sunday (2 Corinthians) caught my eye.

4:8 We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair;
4:9 persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed

This lines up perfectly with a quote from Joseph Campbell that has resonated with me for awhile.

The achievement of the hero is one that he is ready for and it's really a manifestation of his character. It's amusing the way in which the landscape and conditions of the environment match the readiness of the hero. The adventure that he is ready for is the one that he gets ... The adventure evoked a quality of his character that he didn't know he possessed.

Campbell later states his message even clearer (although I can't find the direct quote)--the hero is never given a quest that he is not ready for. The importance here is that WE are the hero. Hero myths are life lessons for US—not some washed up story from centuries ago.

Whatever challenge, crisis, or hardship we are facing—it is not one we are incapable of overcoming. God does not give us more than we can handle. We may be struck down, but never destroyed.

Incoming non sequitur. This last Campbell quote may not be directly related to the subject at hand, but is the most meaningful to me and hopefully will have meaning for everyone. It is found in the book version of The Power Of Myth—a series of interviews he had with Bill Moyers.

Moyers: Do you ever have the sense of... being helped by hidden hands?
Campbell: All the time. It is miraculous. I even have a superstition that has grown on me as a result of invisible hands coming all the time — namely, that if you do follow your bliss you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while, waiting for you, and the life that you ought to be living is the one you are living. When you can see that, you begin to meet people who are in your field of bliss, and they open doors to you. I say, follow your bliss and don't be afraid, and doors will open where you didn't know they were going to be.