Mark 16: 1-8, the original text ends just at the word "because." I've always found that eerie and profound. Just because. And then the manuscript ends. Whether there was more to the original gospel or the writer was touched in some way, I don't know. But I like it. Text follows:
“When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they might go to anoint Jesus’ body. 2 Very early on the first day of the week, just after sunrise, they were on their way to the tomb 3 and they asked each other, “Who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb?”
4 But when they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had been rolled away. 5 As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed.
6 “Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him. 7 But go, tell his disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.’”
8 Trembling and bewildered, the women went out and fled from the tomb. They said nothing to anyone, because...”
Who is that weirdo sitting near the tomb? No idea. Is it an angel? A Roman soldier? A time traveler?
Personally, I always read it as an angel, but the text doesn’t say. Oddly, angels don’t appear in the New Testament until Revelation. Another oddity. The Bible is littered with tiny details like this. Echoes of ancient Canaanite myth, of lost stories and syncretism whose original meaning has been wrapped in a warm layer of dogmatic interpretation.
I’m not trying to push some sort of gnostic reading on the Bible, but it is true that non-Abrahamic traditions did play a role in the development of Judaism and hence Christianity. There’s nothing wrong with that. All faiths are inspired by the Holy Spirit to some degree.
In any case, what I really want to talk about today is the idea of myth-making and what a myth actually is from a literary standpoint. While the word itself is often used as a synonym for “lie” or “falsehood,” the term myth refers to a story used to explain some aspect of the physical world. Myths are just stories. Usually larger than life stories, but stories all the same. In that sense, we shouldn’t shy away from the idea of Christian mythology. As Tolkien said, the story of Jesus can be understood as one of myth that happens to be true.
There are certain stories in the Bible that rely on historicity to be of any real value. Christ’s resurrection is one. This does not make His passion, death, and resurrection anything less than mythic in scope. His journey from death into rebirth is echoed in ancient Phoenician and Greek myths common to the Near East. He could be seen as a solar deity, like Ra or Amon, journeying into the underworld before rising again with the dawn.
I’m not saying that interpretation is correct, only that it is a possible interpretation of the story. The truth of course is far grander.
But now I think I’m starting to lose my Christian and non-Christian readers. All this talk of myths and myth-making has a tendency to do that. I have a strong faith and a strong respect for the myths and stories of other faiths. Talking too much about God can turn off non-Christians, just as analyzing Christianity as one faith among many can turn off Christians.
For the rest of you, you’re probably wondering what my point is in all this.
Today I’m just meditating on the power of myth and stories. It’s a fascinating endeavor, albeit sometimes self-serving. Nothing has become so annoying for me as when an author starts pontificating on the power of stories and storytellers. It reeks too much of navel-gazing. Just a lot of self-serving nonsense.
That doesn’t mean they’re wrong, though.
Sorry this edition is a little late. The April 15 issue should be more punctual.
I’ve been working more on my Shakespearean space opera lately. A Race of Heaven is an adaptation of Antony and Cleopatra as a graphic novel. So far, the script is about 100 pages. I’m very excited about it and will be exploring hiring an artist for it at some point in the future. For now, I’m focusing on a possible remastering of Bubblegum-Man, one issue at a time. If I can find someone to clean up the art for a reasonable price, I should be able to start distributing as early as this fall. It all depends on turnaround.
My plan, after a successful crowdfunding campaign which has yet to occur, is to pay my artist a bit up front then a little more with each successive batch of pages turned in. Artists can be a little flaky, but I’m hoping that by structuring payments in this way, I can avoid too much delay. I don’t want to sink $200 into someone only for them to tell me three months later they’ve barely started on page 1. No thank you.
But that would be an extreme case. I’m hopeful I will be able to find a professional who is able to commit to the project for at least a few months’ time.
It should cost about $3000 to remaster, print, and distribute Bubblegum-Man #1 when all is said and done. I haven’t started the crowdfunding site yet. Haven’t decided whether to use Kickstarter or Gofundme. Kickstarter is the preferred site for artistic endeavors, but Gofundme lets you keep all funds raised regardless of whether or not you meet your goal. But if I don’t meet my fundraising goal, what would be the point of hiring the artist in the first place? I’m not going to pay someone to draw half a comic.
This is all for Bubblegum-Man. Hopefully, it takes off. I plan to shotgun blast it across the literary landscape, mailing it to my favorite creators, placing it in local comic book shops, doing more social media giveaways, author signings, convention appearances, all that good stuff. I’m very excited.
What does Bubblegum-Man have to do with mythology? Very little, save the struggle between order and chaos found in the creation myths of many world cultures. The idea of the gods’ imposition of order on the chaotic world of monsters and giants is found in ancient Greek, Phoenician, and Egyptian cultures. Heck, even the Hindus tell stories of divine heroes struggling with demons. Maybe it’s an Indo-European thing?