I have perhaps identified the single most lethal problem facing modern culture.
Here lyeth the tragedy: A shockingly large (some would say increasingly large) number of Americans — particularly fundamentalists and neoconservatives but plenty of hardcore liberals and vegans too — never get much of an education, and therefore never get past Level One. They are the Rick Santorums and Michele Bachmanns of the world, those who think cavemen and dinosaurs hung out together, Noah built a giant boat and God really is an angry old man in the sky who judges you for supporting gay people and enjoying porn.
They are the Tea Party and the Vatican, the bitter atheists and the NRA, Fox News and George W. Bush, the frat guys and mal-educated teens who think vampires are just hunky, sullen hotties and not dark metaphors for perverse sexuality or maybe faith and rebirth, who think Frankenstein is just a lumpish monster and not a complex literary symbol for the mysteries of science and the dangers of tampering with nature.
They are, perhaps most dangerously of all, the severely religious who think God really did knock up a virgin, Joseph Smith is more than just a polygamist huckster, and a very dead Jesus really did rise up out of a cave like a balloon and no way is the resurrection myth just a nice, universal metaphor for spiritual awakening, for “rising up” to your own higher, divine self — no shame, guilt or blind faith required. I know, right? That’s crazy talk. Just ask Kansas.
Of course, to many on the right, Joseph Campbell would now be considered a heretic, burned at the stake for daring to suggest all bibles, gods, religious stories across the planet are merely the same moral folk tales repeated throughout the ages, that no single religion has dominion over any other, that all such myths are meant to be taken as spiritual signposts and woe to the culture, the leader, the deranged warmonger who takes them as literal fact.
Actually, Mark-o me boy, it's woe to the rest of us who don't.