Rune Hjarnø Rasmussen: How to build a god – Immanence and Symbolism #6

Our guest Rune Hjarnø Rasmussen is a historian of religion and founder of the project Nordic Animism. His PhD “The Stick and the Calabash“ is a result of extensive anthropological research of the Brazilian Candomblé tradition and of how the archetypal energies of gods are manifested there. We talk about trance and possession, conspiracy theories, and modern society’s loss of a subjective relationship with the forces of the world. And underneath it all we ask the question – what exactly is a god and how do you build it?

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Rune Hjarnø Rasmussen:

”Defining mythology as symbolism is reductionist in two senses:

1) it shortcuts that slightly too long discussion about how mythology relates to reality in order to uphold and perpetuate a distinctly modern epistemology that interiorizes religious meaning.

2) it is therefore wildly Eurocentric and sees any religious reality from the symbolic perspective because of the compatibility with modern perception and therefore occludes that in most animist, or even religious, perceptions symbolism is only one out of a whole range of devices used to relate to non-human subjects and produce reality.”

John Dominic Crossan:

”My point is not that those ancient people told literal stories and we are now smart enough to take them symbolically, but that they told them symbolically and we are now dumb enough to take them literally.”

Rune Hjarnø Rasmussen:

”My point would be that those ancient peoples did not tell symbolic stories that people are now unfortunately so dumb that they take literally. But rather that they told them literally and that we are now dumb enough to need symbolicism to understand them rather than try to grasp the infinitely complex and exquisitely attuned realities that they express.”






The Magic of Reality by Richard Dawkins

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