Genesis and Other Storytelling

Genesis and Other Storytelling March 7, 2014

The day before yesterday, I learned that a friend of mine had previously interviewed Tony Banks and chatted with other members of the band Genesis, of which he is a huge fan. Yesterday, the Genesis album The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway was the focus of an article that came to my attention in The New Yorker. One of the things mentioned in the latter article is the appropriation of Biblical and classical literature in Genesis songs. As I was pondering this, I also saw the image below, which suggests that science provides a narrative which eliminates the need for fairy tales. I don't know about you, but fairy tales are not in my experience focused solely or even primarily on explaining where the matter we are composed of comes from. That tends to be myth. Fairy tales tend to focus on navigating the challenges of life, avoiding being deceived, finding true love, and other such concerns. And suggesting that scientific understanding somehow invalidates the usefulness of such stories seems to me to be a profound misunderstanding of what stories are and how they function in our lives. As yet, I have seen no evidence which suggests that we as a species can do without stories – factual stories, but also fictional ones. New discoveries may indeed make old stories seem obviously dated. But storytelling has always involved updating and adapting. Why should our era be any different?

You can listen to the entire album The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway on YouTube:


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  • Michael Wilson

    I guess they feel myth really doesn’t communicate how little they appreciate origin stories. I share their pain that many still take the creation myths in Genesis at face value (well kinda, Ken and co. do a lot of modifying themselves) but I’m not sure who this is supposed to convince other than wavering atheist. Regarding the format of the myth, while the above is a interesting collection of facts, it isn’t a gripping story and that’s where myths come in. I could take a work like Theogony take out the anthropomorphisms and you would have an early Greek theory of the creation of the universe. Not very accurate, but the Greeks lacked the tools and data available to Stephen Hawkins, and does a better job I think, than other creation accounts. But back to the point, this account would not have made for good reading in the presences of a king or a band of illiterate shepherds. So instead of just saying, the ultimate order of the cosmos made the world suitable for human life by trapping the forces of volcanoes and tempest deep underground, you say Zeus, king of gods, battled the giants and titans and banished them to the pit of darkness. This telling also has an immediate relevance to the listeners because it establishes that their own kings should follow Zeus’s example and banish the unlawful.

  • • Jesus dying so that you may live.
    • Stars dying so that you may live.
    But don’t forget Jesus; that’s atheism. Some theologian should syncretize it. Christianity’s pagan roots, astrotheology will help. I’ve got the book if somebody wants to borrow it.

    • Astrotheology seems to me rather dubious. Surely one can do syncretism better than that in our age of accessible scholarship, and not distort the ancient sources in quite the way astrotheology does!

      • With the two major Christian holidays falling on winter solstice and vernal equinox seasons, one with magic men following a star, and the other with roving date being governed by the moon’s position, I think there is something to it.

        • There certainly is an ancient interest in astrology, and we see this in some Christian sources. But in the one case the holiday is connected with a particular Jewish holiday on the lunar calendar, and in the other the fixing of that holiday comes about long after the origin of Christianity. And so if you are talking about astrological influence, that is one thing, but if you have in view the idea that Christianity originated as stories symbolic of things astrological, that is a much harder claim to defend based on the evidence.

    • Greater love hath no Father Star than to lay down his Elements for his Star Children.