Sacred Narratives in Secular Contexts

The European Legacy 16 (6):769 - 784 (2011)
Abstract
Although sacred narratives are thought to have lost their numinous aura for secular receivers (readers/listeners), their presence is evident whenever mythology, usually taken to reflect a mode of thinking typical of primeval cultures, and its associated themes are used in fictional works. This study aims at elucidating sacred narratives for people who do not subscribe to their sacredness. It attempts to show (1) that myths reflect a fictional mode of thinking; (2) that meaningful myths map the unconscious drives of secular readers/listeners, enabling them to confront them in terms of their own culture; and (3) that fictional thinking thus operates as a psychical laboratory. I illustrate these claims through myths that feature animosity between parents and children, such as the stories of Oedipus, Isaac, and Jesus
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