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A cultural prehistory of sorts

Some of the posts on these blogs about the Judeo-Christian religions offer different perspectives on the stories in the Bible that some people might think may take the gloss or magic out of some of those stories. These new perspectives change the way we might understand these stories and why they were written, yet even that is something to marvel at given the way that the stories of the Bible have influenced culture and history and the imaginations of people for thousands of years. The story of ‘God’ and what that means personally, socially and politically is interesting. It has changed over time. The raw human emotions and mostly self-serving actions and consequences described throughout much of the Bible can serve as cautionary tales for when life was nasty, brutish and short. That is a different perspective on it all and it points more to a future that doesn’t have to be bound to a partisan and monarchical winner-takes-all kind of politics. An alternative, of course, is a liberal democratic system based around the rule of law with human rights and established public institutions.

It is interesting to note that the relationship between ‘God’ and ‘Man’ is mirrored with the one being reflected in the other. Man was said to be made in the image of God. Changes in the way ‘God’ is understood also reflect changes in the way that we understand ourselves, our society and the wider world. One of the most interesting ideas while I was studying psychology and personality at uni was the idea that the way we understand and conceptualise people and society has changed over time and that the changing framework for thinking about personality in everyday life also enables and constrains human action in certain ways. It’s a standard insight from the perspective of social construction. [Yet, that does not mean that personality and society is open to being engineered. Changes are evident more over generations.]

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