Now, I have nothing against mythology. Earlier this year I read Jean Shinoda Bolen's book Goddesses in Everywoman. I saw myself in the stories she related about the Greek goddesses, particularly Artemis and Persephone. I recognized patterns of my behavior--some of them counterproductive--in these mythological goddesses and the insights I gained were life-changing, even though I know full well that these goddesses never literally existed. We need stories, as Joan Didion attests in the title of her collected non-fiction volume We Tell Ourselves Stories in Order to Live. Stories endow us with inner strength as this post from my friend Liz's blog illustrates.
But, and this is very important, we need to know when to recognize that a myth is a myth. In his talk, Devdutt Pattanaik explains it this way: "Every culture is trying to understand itself...and every culture comes up with its own understanding of life, its own customized version of mythology." Where we get into trouble is when we start taking our myths too seriously and begin to say, "My stories are correct and yours aren't." Pattanaik says, "Both paradigms are human constructions. They're cultural creations, not natural phenomenon."
Stories are wonderful. I think every culture's stories have something of value to offer.
But we need to know when a story is just a story.