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Postmodern Children And 'In The Beginning'

February 05, 1989

I would like to tell you about my own meeting with myth. As a young child, I liked many kinds of make-believe stories. I think I was about 10 when I discovered mythology, dipping into Edith Hamilton, checking Padraic Colum's "Northern Myths" out of the school library innumerable times, and later moving into the Eddas. My parents taught me, in effect, that religion provides an outline and a reason for creation and that science explains the details. The differences among the "reasons" didn't bother me a bit; I don't think I thought about them.

As an adult, I understand that the distinction between myth/religion and science, between the play--space and the "real world" is not absolute, and that primordial dark is the same as primordial light: each is a field which becomes a ground as its opposite is created.

My point is that, on the surface, healthy kids get into myths as stories, not as competing world views. At a deeper level, the psyche is absorbing what it can, on its own terms. Only much later will a few children, or adults, look at myth from the outside, whether with positivist condescension, fundamentalist outrage or humanist interest.

NANCY BROTHERS

UPLAND

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