I have to differ!

In his “New Testament and Mythology”, Bultmann claims that “modern man is convinced that the mythical view of the world is obsolete”, that “all our thinking today is shaped for good and ill by modern science”, “the miracles of the new testament have ceased to be miraculous”, and—astonishingly—that “the mythical view of the world must be accepted or rejected in its entirety”.

I have to differ!

As I do my Christmas shopping and decorate my tree with a plastic angel and fake snow, I know that Santa Claus and his elves are busy working away in the North Pole: I may not believe it rationally, but it has become so much part of my cultural story that demythologizing it would destroy the magical experience which, each year, I choose to enter.

One January, after a festive break reading trashy novels, I struggled through readings for a university Religious Studies paper. While reading Bultmann’s essay on demythologizing scripture, I listened to Mozart’s Great Mass in C Minor. Rationally, literally, I do not believe in an external transcendent God. Yet when Herbert von Karajan conducts the Berliner Philharmoniker in the adagio “Jesu Christe” or “Cum Sancto Spirito”, how could I respond—how can any of us respond—except to join in: “Amen, Amen”?



2 thoughts on “I have to differ!”

  1. Hi Alistair, thanks for your comment and for the link to KB’s letter to Mozart (with some interesting comments as well).
    Please keep posting to the Progressive Spirituality NZ website; we’re keen to include as many progressive kiwi voices as possible.
    Joy and peace! Bronwyn

  2. HI Bronwyn. You set me remembering an essay of Karl Barth’s about Mozart. He actually wrote a “letter of thanks” which you can find online at http://church-alienation.blogspot.co.nz/2006/03/karl-barths-letter-of-thanks-to-mozart.html
    There is a second piece there where towards the end he writes “Dona nobis pacem! This prayer, too, has already been answered in Mozart’s music, in spite of everything. For this very reason his church music has to be called truly spiritual music…”

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