Friday, October 15, 2010

Joseph Campbell, 2

The Great Seal of the United States suggests the kind of new myth we need. Its on the dollar bill, a statement of the ideals that brought about the formation of the United States. Look at a dollar bill. There is the Great Seal. Look at the pyramid on the left. This pyramid has four sides, for the four points of the compass. When you’re down on the lower levels of this pyramid, you’re either on one side or the other. But when you get to the top, the points come together, and there the eye of God opens. And to the Founders, it was the god of reason.

This is the first nation in the world that was ever established on the basis of reason instead of warfare. The Founders were eighteenth century deists. It also says, “In God We Trust.” But that is not the god of the Bible. These men did not believe in a Fall. They did not think the mind of man was cut off from God. The mind of man, cleansed of secondary and merely temporal concerns, beholds with the radiance of a cleansed mirror a reflection of the rational mind of God.

Reason puts you in touch with God. Consequently, for these men, there is no special revelation in the Bible or anywhere, and none is needed, because the mind of man cleared of its fallibilities is sufficiently capable of the knowledge of God. All people in the world are thus capable because all people in the world are capable of reason. That is the fundamental principle of democracy. Because everybody’s mind is capable of true knowledge, you don’t have to have a special authority, or a special revelation telling you that this is the way things should be.

All the symbols the Founders used are mythological but arise from a non-biblical mythology that rejects the idea of the Fall in the Garden, and the idea that human beings are cut off from their source, must be redeemed and need a special revelation. For the deist Founders, human beings are not cut off from their source, need not be redeemed and need no special revelation.

Back to the Great Seal. When you count the number of ranges of the pyramid, you find there are thirteen. And when you come to the bottom, there is an inscription in Roman numerals. It is, of course, 1776. Then, when you add one and seven and seven and six, you get twenty-one, which is the age of reason. It was 1776 when the thirteen declared independence. The number thirteen is the number of transformation and rebirth. At the Last Supper there were twelve apostles and one Christ, who was going to die and be reborn. Thirteen is the number of getting out of the field of the bounds of twelve into the transcendent. Similarly, twelve signs of the zodiac and the sun. The Founders were very conscious of the number thirteen as the number of resurrection and rebirth and new life, and the played it up here, in the dollar bill, all the way through.

Of course as a practical matter there were thirteen colonies, and that’s symbolic and not simply a coincidental. That’s why it says, Novus Ordo Seclorum,” a new order of the world, and “Annuit Coeptis,” he has smiled on our accomplishments or activities. “He” being what is represented by the eye – Reason. In Latin you would not say “He” you would say “It.” So the divine power has smiled on our doings; and this new world has been built in the sense of God’s original creation, and the reflection of God’s original creation, through reason, has brought this about.

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