Outline: Cunningham, Sacred Quest: Myth

I. Myth: definition

--narrative concerning sacred reality and its relationship to humanity

--designed to disclose the ultimate truth about crucial human questions

--How did things begin? What's the origin of evil?

II. Religious stories

--Stories are central to humans

--Stories are about identity, disclosure, relationships

III. Functions of religious stories

--pass on information, insights, lessons

--recall paradigmatic moments

--vehicles for disclosure

IV. Other kinds of religious stories

--parable: fictional, with goal of getting reader to think in new ways

--allegory: characters and actions stand for something else

V. Preservation of sacred language

--Oral: transmission entrusted to certain people, families, or at certain times

--Written: measure the rightness of ideas or practices in a culture

--Invoke the presence of the sacred by being chanted or read

--Define a community

VI. Summary: Sacred stories

--means of connecting with the sacred dimension of life

--order the cosmos

--sustain and nourish a tradition

--serve an ethical function

VII. Theology

--second-level discourse: thinking about meaning of stories

--exegesis: explanation

--history of a tradition and connection to other traditions


--apologetic (why we do things this way and not that)



VIII. Visual Language

--places, art, shrines

--anteroom of the divine

--teaching function

--statement of identity

IX. Language and Truth

--cannot be scientifically proven

--religious truth is not identical with factual truth

--more important to know what practitioners think than to evaluate truth claims