Monday, January 28, 2013

The Sisters of Psyche

My kids love the Greek/Roman myth stories.  Often at dinner, one of them will say, "Tell us a Roman god story, dad!"  I've fallen out of the practice recently, sadly.  So I decided to brush up on some new stories for dinner-time, and I stumbled upon the story of Cupid and Psyche.  In a nutshell, Psyche is the world's most beautiful girl, but since no man has the courage to woo her, she remains sadly alone.  A prophecy then instructs her family to leave her on a hill top, to be claimed as the bride of a terrible monster.  But after being whisked away to a palace of unimagined splendor and comfort, and meeting her invisible groom, she is convinced that he is no monster, but a gentle and handsome lover.  When she relates this to her sisters, they swell with jealousy and conspire to plant doubts in Psyche's heart and mind.  "Of course he remains invisible--he knows you would recoil at his hideous appearance!"  (I'll leave the rest of the story untold.)

Then a connection blossomed in my mind--doesn't this sound *exactly* like much of the "new atheism?"  They frequently wage their war against theism precisely on the same front--trying to persuade believers that God is really a monster, despite our experience to the contrary.  Troubling stories from the early days of Israel's Palestinian conquest are trotted out again and again.  Now, I admit, these are hard to make moral sense of.  They require careful and thoughtful treatment and the answers are by no means obvious.  But, just as we would have advised Psyche, we should be careful about letting these charges wash over us and infect us with doubt before they have been properly tested.  Consideration of the source should lead us to prescribe an extra measure of scrutiny.  Moreover, we should not easily give up the testimony of our own experiences with God as a loving and gracious father!  Otherwise, we may find our ourselves the protagonists of a modern-day Greek tragedy of faith.


Blogger Andrew M. Bailey said...

If you haven't read "Til We Have Faces" by CS Lewis, you really should! It is a (self-described) re-telling of this very myth.

4:24 PM  

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