Author Archives: amymgauger

The New Testament and the The Koran

1. By far the largest disparity in the Islamic view of Heaven and Hell versus the Christian  and Judiac views  are in the concept itself. In Islam, just getting to Heaven or Hell is a process; when you die, the soul is still encapsulated within the body, and you get a small taste of whether you’re headed to Heaven or Hell. This means the good  lay peacefully while the evil begin to suffer until the Day of Judgement. On the Day of Judgement, your soul will depart to whichever you deserve (determined by your actions and how much faith you had in life). There are also seven heavens, where all your needs will be met, whether it be food, drink, or companionship (the virgins). In the Christian view of Heaven, the theme seems to be that in addition to only having one Heaven, there is no want for anything physical since there is only love, peace, and contentment (you’ll never get hungry, you love everyone, and you are all-knowing). Heaven in the Judiac sense is hard to get ahold of though. There’s no real clear-cut explaination, but the overall sense is that Heaven is more of a return to the Garden of Eden BEFORE Eve ate that apple – blissful ignorance and overall happiness.

2. The Nativity scene supposedly takes place on what we know now as Christmas – December 25th. This lines up with a pagan holiday of sorts: Winter solstice. This was done to make it easier for pagans to covert to Christianity. The winter solstice for pagans is looked upon as a time of rebirth for the god Sol Invictus (and/or the god Mithras, depending on which version you happen upon). Gift giving (frankencense and myrh, for example) was also a pagan ritual from the the Roman  Saturnalia celebrations. The spring equinox falls in line with Easter (or the Passion), and is regarded as a time of celebrating life renewing itself (hence Jesus’ rising from the dead after three days).

3. In the Old Testament, God was like a new parent (and I guess He kind of was). Humans were in essence first children who needed a firm hand to keep from getting out of line. In the New Testament, God was an older parent with more patience and a couple of kids under His belt – things that would have been cause for alarm before were now dealt with kindly and with a gentle redirect. In this way, the authors of the New Testament clearly wanted to give hope to humankind. Even though bad things happen and people sin, there is hope of making it to Heaven if only  you apologize and make up for your mistakes with good deeds. This really differs from the gods found in The Iliad and Gilgamesh. In those epics, the gods were immortal people, really, with all the drama found in human relationships. There was also no sense that the gods loved anyone – not each other, and certainly not humans. Humans were pawns in the war pitting one god against another and not looked as something worth much time or effort of the Mount Olympus gang.

Job and Medea

1. Medea and Achilles are similar in the fact that both were highly respected by the surrounding population, only to betrayed by members of their families (the army is a kind of family, anyway). They also both disintegrated into a hot mess once betrayed. While Achilles withdrew into a corner and basically abandoned his army until he was needed again, Medea flew into a rage. She poisoned her ex-husband’s new wife (as well as King Kreon, by accident) and murdered her own kids — all as a way to make her ex suffer. I really wouldn’t call her a hero in the traditional sense as she didn’t save anyone or anything. However, she is taking action to “right’ what was wrong with her world. This was obviously not how women were expected to act back in Euripides’s time, when women ran the household and left men to do the fighting or provide for the family. Medea is the epitome of the phrase “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned’.

2. After Job is done railing against God, questioning every bad thing that’s happened to him, God basically shuts him down by reminding Job that God knows and sees all. God created the world, God runs the world, and everything He does is for a reason. Hearing this, Job is immediately contrite and asks for forgiveness. It seems that being reminded of how small he is in relation to the universe has humbled Job, and being told that every event has a purpose seems to remind him that faith and patience are virtues. His words, “I even take comfort for dust and ashes’ reflect the humbleness he is now showing God. I did find the end satisfactory; Job remembered that he’s not the one calling the shots, and due to him acknowledging this, he was richly rewarded and lived a long, happy life.

Achilles and Hector

1. Both Achilles and Hector were the best, strongest, most highly respected soldiers in their respective armies and loved by the gods. Both had a drive to see their armies do best – at least until Achilles decided to leave the army over a spat with the top general. This is where the split in the two mens relationships with their troops begins. Once Achilles leaves, not only does he wish harm on his army (so Agamemnon will see how invaluable his in battle), but the Greeks morale plummets with the loss of their best fighter. When he refuses the Call after his friends try to convince him to fight again, the troops’ morale plummets again and things get really bad for the Greeks. Hector, on the other hand, retains the respect of (and for) his army. Though he dismisses Polydamas’ advice to take the Trojans back behind the wall of Troy and defend the city from the Greeks, the troops follow him eagerly. When the Trojans did eventually go behind the wall, Hector stayed outside to fight Achilles one on one. This is where both men face each other – and it’s almost like they’re fighting themselves. hoth recognize the strength of the other and the fact that one of them is going to die in this standoff.I personally favored Hector a lot more; Achilles was kind a jerk, running off to pout. Hector just wanted to honor his war commitment, win, and go home to his family.

2. After defiling Hector’s body by dragging it back to camp, Achilles takes a break and seems to get his head on straight. Although he’s not exactly repentant, he listens when his mother, Thetis, tells him that Zeus himself has directed that Hector’s body be returned to his father without injury and complies. This communicates a moral lesson – don’t disobey the gods. In Greek society, this would have meant people stayed slightly afraid of the gods, which meant that the government could keep control simply by invoking their names.

3. I really think that both codes are intertwined rather than mutually exclusive. The Honor and Victory code is supported by the Familial code, and the Familial code is upheld by Honor and Victory. Men in Greek times were worth almost nothing – and their families shamed – if they chickened out in battle;but if a man returned home to no wife and children, he had no one to pass his honorable name down to.


  1. The nice thing about learning to identify the Hero’s Journey stages in stories is that you can identify a Journey for each character. Well, at least the main and sidekick characters. In the Epic of Gilgamesh, the two main characters are Gilgamesh, the king of Uruk, and his best friend, Enkidu. Gilgamesh and Enkidu didn’t start out as friends, however. Enkidu, who was a wild man created to be a counterbalance for the out-of-control Gilgamesh, begins his journey when learning to become a man living in society rather than simply exist as the guy raised by wolves (metaphorically speaking). The Call for Enkidu comes when hearing of a man who has the right – and takes it – to sleep with a newly married woman first. Appalled, he heads out to confront the man, thus sparking off the Threshold. After the two duke it out in the doorway, they become fast friends and set off on their shared Call to battle Humbaa in the Cedar Forest. The road of trials for both of them begins at this point, although Gilgamesh’s real Journey begins after Enkidu’s death with his quest for eternal life.
  2. The 4 Functions of Mythology are indeed alive and well in the Epic of Gilgamesh. Both characters experience a realization of who they are, who they should be according to society, and begin to change and grow as people. For Enkidu, this happens after his dream foretelling his death. He goes through a brief anger stage, then forgives and blesses Shamhat (who he blamed for introducing him to civilization and therefore his death, but also enabling him to meet Gilgamesh). Gilgamesh’s personal growth comes after his friend’s death when, in his grief, he begins a journey to find eternal life and starts to regret the choices he made.
  3. Although Gilgamesh didn’t exactly succeed in his original quest to find eternal youth, the personal growth he experienced along his journeys allowed him to recognize that even though a person – or even a demi-god – can’t live forever, the stories of their actions can live on. It’s not exactly the best replacement for eternal youth, but it’s the best one can hope for in this life. Personally, I wouldn’t want eternal youth – I wouldn’t take my 20s back if someone offered them to me!

Hero’s Journey – The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

1. The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (2013)  is based on a short story by James Thurber. In the movie version, Walter Mitty is a “negative assets manager” at Life magazine – his job is to document and archive photo negatives, as well as deliver them to the photo department for  publication in the magazine. Walter is a guy who’s kind of just coasting through life – managing his elderly mother’s budget and trying to work up the courage to send a “wink” to his online (and office) crush. He’s also a complete  space cadet. He  daydreams himself into the photos he sees daily, always ending up as a hero saving either the office staff or his crush, Cheryl, from the “dragon” – in this case, the nasty  layoff manager Ted.  When it is announced that most of the employees will be laid off after Life ceases to publish paper copies of the magazine and goes fully digital, Walter’s last job is to deliver a negative that captures the “quintessence” of Life and will be the last cover photo.  Unfortunately for Walter, that negative – sent to him personally by the legendary photojournalist Sean O’Connell – is missing. Thus begins our unlikely hero’s journey to find the missing photograph before he loses his job. Walter Mitty Awkward Office GuyThere are a few scenes that stood out to me after learning to recognize the Hero’s Journey stages.  Walter’s call to adventure begins when his job is threatened after discovering that the negative of the last cover photo of Life is missing. He sets out to find O’Connell and almost immediately refuses to answer his call – boarding a helicopter to take him to the ship where O’Connell is rumored to be on. (In his defense, the pilot is not a sober man.) However, one of his daydreams takes over and he sees a vision of Cheryl urging him on (his supernatural aid),  and before he knows it, he’s jumping on the helicopter as it lifts off. From here, his road of trials begins as he tracks O’Connell through multiple countries, shark-infested waters, a volcano, a quick command  stop back in New York,  and finally to the Himalayas, where he finds that O’Connell doesn’t actually have the negative (his belly of the whale moment). O’Connell tells  Walter that the negative was inside the wallet that the photojournalist sent  him as a gift for all  of  the years of dedicated work Walter put in at Life. Defeated, Walter  heads  home, only to get stuck in LA  (due to a little misunderstanding with security), which results in a Refusal of the Return  moment:  with no job and no negative, why is he even going home?  During his  previous stop in New York, Walter had been fired for failing to recover the negative and had thrown away the wallet in despair. However, his mother saved it and upon Walter’s return home, gave it back to him (the Rescue from Without). In an example of the Freedom to Live, Walter rushes the negative to the photo department at Life and finally faces his dragon by telling off  the nasty “corporate transistion manager” Ted. He walks away ready to face the world with Cheryl by his side.

Ben Stiller in Walter Mitty

2. As far as current cinema meeting the four functions of mythology? I’ve seen a handful of movies that could claim this (like How to Kill a Mockingbird), but I think  these days movies are pure entertainment. From The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles to Independence Day to Die Hard, and even the sappy romance comedies, cinema in the present day really isn’t about deep soul searching but the bottom line; how many explosions and pretty superstars can Hollywood put in a movie to appeal to the most people and therefore make the most money? My feeling is that books have overtaken the four functions of mythology as their own again, and will probably continue until cinema catches up.

All about Amy

Hi! My name is Amy Gauger and I’m a sophomore at UAF (finally!). I’ve been taking onesie-twosies classes off and on for about 6 years now, in between work and running around after kids. I work with the AK Air Guard, which has allowed me some pretty amazing travel oppurtunities – London should be on everyone’s bucket list and Turkey is full of absolutely fascinating history. I have two kids, both of whom are autistic, and who have taught me more about life than I could ever possibly  imagine. I love to travel (good thing, huh?), think Alaska gets colder than is strictly neccessary, and love to get out into nature and hike all over the place. Baking is also a way of life for me.

I’ve taken several online classes and will probably keep it up until the degree says otherwise because they fit around my work and kid schedule. I’ve got to say, just from reading the syllubus and reading material, it sounds like this class is going to be pretty great. Especially the do-gooder prayer chain. Bring it on, sister.