mythic shapes: things to come and go…

…History culminating in a terminal season of universal war, and then, with the “Second Coming” of the Savior in the form of Saoshyant, unfold into restitution: the powers of Darkness, Angra Mainyu and his infernal hosts will be annihilated, all creation purified, and the perfect peace re-established.

It is not difficult to relate this to our own tradition. The return of the Jews to Jerusalem, following the Babylonian captivity of 586-539 B.C., was accomplished under the patronage and protection of the Persian Achemenian monarchs whose religion was Zoroastrianism. The earlier Jewish concept of a Messiah had simply involved a king who would restore Judah to its place among nations; now the idea was expanded on the Persian model, and Israel itself became the world savior. In the period of the Dead Sea Scrolls, first century B.C., this idea prompted such a frenzy of apocalyptic expectation that it unsettled a large portion of the Jewish world. Indeed, with this expectation John the Baptist preached and, following him, Jesus: “Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away before all these things take place.” They did not take place, but they have been projected into the future- with revivalists, at every outbreak of conspicuous disorder, predicting Armageddon and the millennium.

—The muscular figures in Michelangelo’s Last Judgment fresco in the Sistine Chapel were based on male prostitutes he encountered in homosexual bathhouses and brothels, an Italian art historian has claimed….Elena Lazzarini, a researcher from Pisa University, believes the enormous fresco is replete with homosexual imagery, including a man being dragged into Damnation by his testicles and kisses and embraces between male figures.
She has explored the theory in a new book, claiming that Michelangelo drew much of his knowledge of male anatomy from his frequent visits to gay brothels and ‘Turkish baths’ in 16th century Italy. Read More:

Every one of the great traditional scriptures through which the “supernatural” decrees of God, or the gods, were delivered to us, we now recognize as being at least touched by the product of the human imagination; profound, edifying, wise perhaps, but all inflected with a human element. Is the prophesied millennium at hand after all, with humankind, as the individual as scientist, in the role of our own savior? Or will the older, cyclical view prove true, and science only advance the hour of doom it was meant to stay?

These then are the two great, traditional views of the destiny shaping our future: the first, the older, sees an unending series of irreversibly declining cycles ever and again renewed; and the second, a singular world-creation, once perfect but corrupted and to be restored- both views prophesying final disaster.

—Triptych by Hieronymus Bosch. The left wing tells the story of Adam and Eve: the creation of man, the eating of the apple and the expulsion from Paradise.
The center panel shows the Last Judgment, a popular medieval subject. Seated in heaven, Jesus decides who will go to Hell and who will enter Heaven. The earth is on fire and strange creatures capture the remaining sinners.—Read More:

What, however, of “free will,” announced in Zoroastrianism and emphatically proclaimed in both Judaism and Christianity? In all three of these traditions- in fact, wherever the human will has been recognized as free- it is circumscribed and limited not only by natural laws but by schedules for salvation and such superordinated theological principles as the “will of God,” “God’s grace,” “foreknowledge,” and “judgement,” Today all those boundaries are being called into question.

This entry was posted in Feature Article, Ideas/Opinion and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>