Public Schoolers being taught that Goddess came before God, Catholic beliefs come from Paganism


#1

Hey all,

I hope I'm posting this thread on the right board; it concerns education (which is mentioned under the Family Life description) so I think this is the best place to post it.

Anyway, I have a cousin who is currently enrolled in a humanities class at a U.S. public school. One of the books that the teacher has assigned them to read is The Power of Myth by Joseph Campbell. In the book, Campbell claims that worship of a Mother Goddess came before that of the Abrahamic God, and that the Mother Goddess was eliminated as societies grew more paternalistic. In addition, he argues that images of Mary and Jesus are based on those of Isis and Horus. Moreover, Campbell claims that Isis, who turned into a swan at one point, was a precursor to the Holy Ghost, and that Osiris, Horus and Isis were forerunners to the Father, Son and Holy Ghost.

Also, he says that Luke, a Greek, was the only Evangelist who mentioned the Virgin Birth, which came from Greek Myth (Campbell lists Leda and Swan and Persephone and Hades as examples). Furthermore, he insists that Mary is a goddess in Catholicism and that she was given the title "Mother of God" at the First Council of Ephesus due to pressure from the Ephesians, who wanted to continue worshipping Diana.

Now, I was surprised that this book was being taught in schools, considering its inaccuracies. Being an avid reader of Greek Mythology in my youth, I immediately noticed that Campbell's examples were not virgin births at all (Leda being raped by Zeus in Swan form, Hades capturing Persephone and later having sex with her). As far as him claim about Luke goes, we mustn't forget that the virgin birth is mentioned in the Gospel According to Matthew, and that it is based off of Isaiah 7:14. The comparisons between Mary and Isis and the Egyptian gods with the Trinity also seemed to be overgeneralized. However, I do not know too much in regards to Campbell's claim about the Council of Ephesus, so can anyone tell me if Campbell is telling any bit of truth about that?

Now, aside from teaching Campbell in class, I found out something else about the class that disturbed me a bit. The class was given a handout which basically said the same things about the Goddess (came before God, suppressed, revived at First Council of Ephesus under pressure). I managed to find the handout on the internet.

The handout comes from "The Mystica: An on-line encyclopedia of the occult, mysticism, magic, paranormal and more..." The site has many articles, which seem to mostly concern Wiccan/Neopagan beliefs. The website itself seems sketchy and not too credible, and I certainly do not find it to be a valid source. The thing that bothers me the most is that the teacher is presenting the content the article and Campbell's book as being historical fact. Has the teacher crossed the line? Are my cousin and his classmates being taught false history? Should this material even be taught as fact in a public school?

Thanks in advance for any input regarding this subject matter.


#2

This is presumably in part taken from Campbell's most famous work' The Hero with a Thousand Faces', which is well known. He make some useful points but he tends to overexxagerate with his comparisions. The mother Goddess theory is an old one that presupposes (on limited evidence) that worship of a mother goddess preceded that of a masculine deity.

As to aspects of Christianity coming from paganism. Sure, no big problem with that as not everything pagans believed was wrong or incorrect by any means. As to whether it shoulld be taught in a public school I see no reason why not. Schools exist to educate, at least ideally this involves examining a number of viewpoints. So long as the school is open enough to admit other views exist contrary to the ones Campbell presents.


#3

I'd be so far up in that teacher and school district's business the would not know what hit them.

I would immediately take this to the school board.


#4

I think a wee bit of context needed. What age is the person enrolled in the class. I don't think this would be great subject material for younger kids but for older teenagers if taught in the right manner and taught as just one possible view it would be ok. Our English teacher used to invoke John Campbell at points although he most certainly didn't agree with him on every point and I've read some of his work and I don' either. There are useful insights into why heroic myth exists in every culture and so on in his work but he tends to massively overstate points on occassion.


#5

[quote="JharekCarnelian, post:2, topic:216298"]
This is presumably in part taken from Campbell's most famous work' The Hero with a Thousand Faces', which is well known. He make some useful points but he tends to overexxagerate with his comparisions. The mother Goddess theory is an old one that presupposes (on limited evidence) that worship of a mother goddess preceded that of a masculine deity.

As to aspects of Christianity coming from paganism. Sure, no big problem with that as not everything pagans believed was wrong or incorrect by any means. As to whether it shoulld be taught in a public school I see no reason why not. Schools exist to educate, at least ideally this involves examining a number of viewpoints. So long as the school is open enough to admit other views exist contrary to the ones Campbell presents.

[/quote]

No, I disagree with you. Campbell is strongly anti-Christian if not anti-Catholic, and his books DO NOT belong in a public school. If Universities want to teach it (and they probably do anyway) the students then are much older and hopefully question parts of it and make mature decisions, but not in high school. Here's another point for home schooling.


#6

[quote="JharekCarnelian, post:4, topic:216298"]
I think a wee bit of context needed. What age is the person enrolled in the class. I don't think this would be great subject material for younger kids but for older teenagers if taught in the right manner and taught as just one possible view it would be ok. Our English teacher used to invoke John Campbell at points although he most certainly didn't agree with him on every point and I've read some of his work and I don' either. There are useful insights into why heroic myth exists in every culture and so on in his work but he tends to massively overstate points on occassion.

[/quote]

And I bet that Shakespeare isn't taught or any of the great classics we once had to read. I'd be like the poster above and take this to the principal or school board. There are plenty of good classics to read (why not the Screwtape Letters for instance) . Campbell certainly does not belong in an English Class. And what about "The Lord of the Rings"---plenty room of discussion there too.


#7

I would be reporting this to the school, I would make sure that teacher gets punished for making up such lies.

Furthermore, he insists that Mary is a goddess in Catholicism and that she was given the title "Mother of God" at the First Council of Ephesus due to pressure from the Ephesians, who wanted to continue worshipping Diana.

I would definitely report this part to the school board, this is disgusting behaviour.


#8

Hang on I thought public schools in the USA were not explicitly devoted to any one faith tradition nor allowed to promote any one particular religion?


#9

If it's a humanities class, reading Joseph Campbell, i am thinking this must be older students.

First of all, paganism did exist before Christianity or Judaism, so I am not sure why that is a problem as far as teaching goes. No one as far as I am aware argues that - even the Hebrews were polytheists at one time.

Many people think there was worship of goddess type figures early on in human history. It's actually quite interesting. There is some suggestive evidence, but of course there is also a lot of interpretation required.

Joseph Campell - I am not a huge fan, though he has some interesting thoughts, they are pretty much borrowed from Jung. He has, in my opinion, a lot of very questionable interpretations that he makes very assuredly without sufficient evidence. However, he has been extremely influential in the 20th century understanding of myth and religion, and you can see his fingerprints all over a lot of modern fiction as well. Reading The Hero With A Thousand Faces can give a lot of insight into how many modern authors have structured their stories - or even pop culture ideas like Star Wars.

So, if my child was in that class, I would not be particularly upset about it on a personal level. I would encourage him to go more in depth on some of the material and ask some hard questions myself - for example, what really IS the evidence we have about early Goddess worship? Do scholars really connect Isis and the Virgin Mary? Why or why not? What evidence does Cambell have too support his contention that it was increased patriarchy that led to the disappearance of this goddess figure?

I would be a little more peeved that rather shoddy history was being presented to students who didn't know any better. I would like to see that kind of stuff taught with a more critical eye. I'm not sure what I would do about that - I might talk to the teacher about it directly. I wouldn't say that I didn't want it presented, but that it needed to be dome in a more intellectually honest way.


#10

[quote="YodaMan, post:1, topic:216298"]
Hey all,

I hope I'm posting this thread on the right board; it concerns education (which is mentioned under the Family Life description) so I think this is the best place to post it.

Anyway, I have a cousin who is currently enrolled in a humanities class at a U.S. public school. One of the books that the teacher has assigned them to read is The Power of Myth by Joseph Campbell. In the book, Campbell claims that worship of a Mother Goddess came before that of the Abrahamic God, and that the Mother Goddess was eliminated as societies grew more paternalistic. In addition, he argues that images of Mary and Jesus are based on those of Isis and Horus. Moreover, Campbell claims that Isis, who turned into a swan at one point, was a precursor to the Holy Ghost, and that Osiris, Horus and Isis were forerunners to the Father, Son and Holy Ghost.

Also, he says that Luke, a Greek, was the only Evangelist who mentioned the Virgin Birth, which came from Greek Myth (Campbell lists Leda and Swan and Persephone and Hades as examples). Furthermore, he insists that Mary is a goddess in Catholicism and that she was given the title "Mother of God" at the First Council of Ephesus due to pressure from the Ephesians, who wanted to continue worshipping Diana.

Now, I was surprised that this book was being taught in schools, considering its inaccuracies. Being an avid reader of Greek Mythology in my youth, I immediately noticed that Campbell's examples were not virgin births at all (Leda being raped by Zeus in Swan form, Hades capturing Persephone and later having sex with her). As far as him claim about Luke goes, we mustn't forget that the virgin birth is mentioned in the Gospel According to Matthew, and that it is based off of Isaiah 7:14. The comparisons between Mary and Isis and the Egyptian gods with the Trinity also seemed to be overgeneralized. However, I do not know too much in regards to Campbell's claim about the Council of Ephesus, so can anyone tell me if Campbell is telling any bit of truth about that?

Now, aside from teaching Campbell in class, I found out something else about the class that disturbed me a bit. The class was given a handout which basically said the same things about the Goddess (came before God, suppressed, revived at First Council of Ephesus under pressure). I managed to find the handout on the internet.

The handout comes from "The Mystica: An on-line encyclopedia of the occult, mysticism, magic, paranormal and more..." The site has many articles, which seem to mostly concern Wiccan/Neopagan beliefs. The website itself seems sketchy and not too credible, and I certainly do not find it to be a valid source. The thing that bothers me the most is that the teacher is presenting the content the article and Campbell's book as being historical fact. Has the teacher crossed the line? Are my cousin and his classmates being taught false history? Should this material even be taught as fact in a public school?

Thanks in advance for any input regarding this subject matter.

[/quote]

Have we had enough of this garbage yet? Are we willing to say, "NO! It ends here!"

I think we have literally destroyed our own society in the name of a false and wicked 'tolerance.'


#11

That eloquently sums up my own point of view to a tee. Campbell is amazingly influential as Bluegoat says in pop culture but he needs to be (like anyone else) examined rigorously.

As bluegoat says the idea of the mother goddes is a common one, especially in regards to prehistoric religious activity. But it needs to be made clear much of that is speculative to any student.


#12

I am with 1ke on this. The school board is an "elected" position and they are sensitive, or will be soon educated to the impact of their actions or ignorance. I would also forward inform the catholic BIshop office as well, as he will have immediate access to the Superindentents office.
Silence is the desired response, but there must be a response of concern to all the board members to include finding "others" to run in place of those who do not acknowledge the offense this is committing.
Would they allow a similar book be taught against the Muslim or Jewish faiths?


#13

As it's a public school why would the Bishop's office have any interest in this?


#14

A history of religion class might possibly be taught in a public school, but this one is obviously mixing anthropology with opinion, to the exclusion of other opinions and even the majority opinion. Even from a purely secular point of view (which is where we always find ourselves arguing these things, alas) the class described is unacceptable. I don't think defenders would have a leg to stand on.

In the university setting, freedom of thought allows more latitude in pushing your own opinions off as if they were facts. That is the nature of the beast.


#15

[quote="utah_rose, post:6, topic:216298"]
And I bet that Shakespeare isn't taught or any of the great classics we once had to read. I'd be like the poster above and take this to the principal or school board. There are plenty of good classics to read (why not the Screwtape Letters for instance) . Campbell certainly does not belong in an English Class. And what about "The Lord of the Rings"---plenty room of discussion there too.

[/quote]

Indeed and plenty of material drawn from pagan sources too! And in Shakespeare also. So long as the teacher presents it as one possible view amongst others and not the be all and end off of all thought I have no problem with the teacher presenting a range of views.


#16

[quote="Bluegoat, post:9, topic:216298"]

So, if my child was in that class, I would not be particularly upset about it on a personal level. I would encourage him to go more in depth on some of the material and ask some hard questions myself - for example, what really IS the evidence we have about early Goddess worship? Do scholars really connect Isis and the Virgin Mary? Why or why not? What evidence does Cambell have too support his contention that it was increased patriarchy that led to the disappearance of this goddess figure?

I would be a little more peeved that rather shoddy history was being presented to students who didn't know any better. I would like to see that kind of stuff taught with a more critical eye. I'm not sure what I would do about that - I might talk to the teacher about it directly. I wouldn't say that I didn't want it presented, but that it needed to be dome in a more intellectually honest way.

[/quote]

:thumbsup:
I agree... at this age, this is the opportunity we have to teach our children that there are indeed "scholarly attacks" against our faith and that we should approach them with logical, intellectual, in-depth questions.

If we REALLY believe our faith is TRUE, then it's true... you don't have to get defensive about it and run away. God will speak for Himself if the truth is the truth.
Go ahead... research the questions and answer them.

Teaching our kids to run away from the hard questions in life doesn't do them much good. :shrug:


#17

With regard to the first council of Ephesus: this was the council which dealt with Nestorianism. As such, the question of whether the BVM was, in fact, the theotokos was a major point of discussion. Nestorius claimed that Mary had not given birth to the Logos itself.

As far as I know, that is the only reason for the discussion around Mary at that time, and the reason the council affirmed her place. It is simply silly to say that she was not revered before that - it isn't the case, and there is lots of evidence for it.

I don't know if it was the case that there was some resurgence of goddess worship at that time also - perhaps someone else knows.


#18

[quote="JharekCarnelian, post:8, topic:216298"]
Hang on I thought public schools in the USA were not explicitly devoted to any one faith tradition nor allowed to promote any one particular religion?

[/quote]

Didn't you get the memo? That only applies to Christianity.


#19

[quote="Em_in_FL, post:16, topic:216298"]
:thumbsup:
I agree... at this age, this is the opportunity we have to teach our children that there are indeed "scholarly attacks" against our faith and that we should approach them with logical, intellectual, in-depth questions.

If we REALLY believe our faith is TRUE, then it's true... you don't have to get defensive about it and run away. God will speak for Himself if the truth is the truth.
Go ahead... research the questions and answer them.

Teaching our kids to run away from the hard questions in life doesn't do them much good. :shrug:

[/quote]

Exactly - in a year or two they will be on their own, and they need to develop the tools to think clearly before that.


#20

[quote="Sailor_Kenshin, post:18, topic:216298"]
Didn't you get the memo? That only applies to Christianity.

[/quote]

You have to remember I'm not American. If you feel the American system is not impartial then surely that is something to campaign politically over.


DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.