Author Archives: sdpost

Lesson 5


1. Islam experiences some significant differences in it’s perceptions of heaven and hell when compared to the other two Abrahamic traditions. Islam seems to take more detail into account it describing heaven and hell and the realms of them. Christianity describes heaven and hell in perhaps broader terms. Judaism, in my experience, really avoids the topics for the most part with the exception of heaven being the place where God resides. There is little spoken of afterlife and almost no mention of hell in modern Judaism. The most significant differences regarding heaven and hell when speaking of Islam and Christianity then is the issue of how one gets to either place. Christianity focuses on the notion of salvation or lack of salvation being the ticket to either place, that is that faith is the primary factor. Islam insists that faith is a piece of it, but good works and actions here on earth during life are also deciding factors in judgement.

2. I feel compelled to answer this discussion question with a personal anecdote. Several years ago at Christmastime, I was watching some generic travel documentary series on PBS. Really it was on in the background while I was doing other things, and I think they were filming either in or in the region of Greece on the subject of public instillations of holiday decorations. The focus was on these glorious displays of lit orbs, so imagine white light/golden hue globe ornaments, but big and hung from many things. The show mentioned that the symbolism of this at Christmas was the celebration of light coming in to the world via Christ and Christ’s salvation, his birth, and the orbs of light were symbolism for Christ’s birth, which was symbolism for Christ’s arrival and forgiveness, which (in this particular place and it’s history) was symbolism for the winter solstice. That really blew my mind at that time and place. As a Jew, Christmas is not a spiritually significant time for me. As an Alaskan, winter solstice is a very significant time for me because it literally means that we are on the upswing in terms of literal light available for my brain to consume. Seeing how that makes SO much sense for winter solstice to align with Christmas and the implications and symbolism involved in both really opened my eyes to the ways that traditions build upon other traditions, like Christianity incorporated in to pagan traditions.

3. In Gilgamesh or the Iliad, gods are not God. That is that these were polytheistic people whose gods had power but were not necessarily righteous. These gods reproduced with humans and committed what the old and new testaments would consider sins like gluttony and jealously. This changes drastically when it comes to the new testament’s claims that God reproduced with a human only once and only as a gift to humanity. Jesus was not a warrior or a king but rather a preacher and a humble teacher, willing to suffer for the sake of all of his father’s “children”. This put humans in the position of really seeing God as father, not simply a powerful or masterful being but as a compassionate and protective force.

Medea and Job


1. Madea is a woman, but Euripides has presented her as a figure previously thought of as exclusively male–a hero. Analyze her character in the play with that of Achilles, and conclude with a judgement on whether or not you think Medea is a hero and why.

Like Achilles, Madea has supernatural ancestry and supernatural ability. They are both able to call upon their supernatural ancestry and supernatural abilities in the pursuit of preserving their own honor and defeating those they perceive as their enemies. I do think Medea is a hero because, after being the subject of the work she is victorious, even though she has experienced significant loss. I wouldn’t say she is noble or righteous in her actions. By our standards even the sense of revenge that fuels her murderous rage is sinful, but she states that things have been tragically unfair for her and she is going to do something about it, and she does. So that’s whats up in terms of how we are discussing heros in this class.

2. Job (in chapter 31) makes the claim that his life has been virtuous and devoted to the worship of God, and so he does not deserve the calamities that have fallen on him. He asks God for an answer, but the voice from the whirlwind does not deal with his question at all. Why does Job accept God’s assertion of divine power (42) and not press for an answer to his question? Why is he satisfied with what he is given? Do you find the end of the dialogue satisfactory?

I do not find the end of the dialogue between God and Job satisfactory at all, but that is because of my perspective on the whole matter which is a perspective trained to be in constant question and struggle with biblical issues and with what the Old Testament offers us. I do not find it satisfactory because God did not answer Job’s question truthfully, although he did answer the question indirectly by basically daring Job to continue to question God’s authority. Job accepts God’s assertion because of the powerful nature of it, a surely overwhelming encounter with the divine essentially saying, “there is so much you don’t know why in the world do you think you deserve to know this?”. I think Job, as a man who had faith before proof, hears what is being said and decides to step back into his place as a reverent servant. Pressing God for a better answer would be disrespectful, even more so than struggling with his plight before the encounter.


1.The Iliad’s characters’ Achilles and Hector provide a lot of material to compare and contrast in the context of their relationships with their communities of origin. Achilles being made of part supernatural being and part human immediately puts him in a place of reverence for his fellow Achaeans. That reverence isn’t necessarily due to his virtue or values or social worth but much more because of his physical ability and protective capabilities. His nobility stems from something he didn’t create, instead he was created as this great and strong thing which creates respect in terms of his people but the sort of respect that comes from fear rather than love. Hector was also born into his nobility but then also embodies his place among his people in a virtuous way. His love for fellow Trojans and theirs for him by contrast comes more from love than fear. I think this dynamic plays out in the character’s battles and the storyline, especially in regards to Achilles barbaric behavior following Hector’s death being just that, barbaric and without virtue.

2.The excerpt by Tim O’Brien in this week’s reading speaks of a sort of white out of all known truth and reality during wartime, a situation in which battle and bloodshed cease to be seen as atrocious and instead must be seen in this way that lives outside of whatever societal context the warrior is coming from. The reading also speaks of a waking up to these things later, after battle, and remembering incidences as what they might be within one’s societal context after they have occurred. Achilles is begged by the mourning father of Hector to have a chance to do for Hector what the Trojans would rightly do in terms of burial and respect for the dead. This is what allows Achilles to come back into the world, back into reality and back into balance after his episode of blind and barbaric absurdity. This is significant because I think it represents that awakening that O’Brien writes about in the excerpt from The Things They Carried. Since, in battle, there is this disconnection from what is real and true or maybe that truth and reality do not even exist in battle, at some point humanity must be restored. Recovery and civility must return, and I think that’s what this part of the story may represent.

3.I truly think that these two codes are both mutually exclusive and also cannot be. I think that’s why war is a horrible, awful thing. Think of every scene from the last 12 or 13 years of soldiers leaving and of their return, leaving and returning to wives and parents and children and pets. They must go, the warrior code suggests that one must go into battle to defend his or her society’s way of life and right to peruse their own happiness while at the same time risking their own chance of participating in it. Hector knows this and feels that tug and does the only thing that is honorable in terms of where and when he lived. The same is true for countless soldiers we have all known or known of in our time. Going into battle and honoring the warrior code also serves to honor the familial code in terms of being able to provide income and health insurance and housing and in terms of protecting that very family. Honoring the familial code may also mean honoring the warrior code by the same logic in that protecting one’s society and family or country is serving the family. I don’t think these things are mutually exclusive, I think they are almost unbearably overlapping which is a really sad thing about Hector’s story.

Hero’s Journey

In approaching this discussion I spent a few moments recalling the plots of some personal cinematic favorites. I could think of several examples that pretty clearly follow The Hero’s Journey. Les Miserables was recently made modern and beautiful and the journey of the main character is certainly epic and heroic, but also too obvious. Jean Val Jean was impoverished but retained an almost superhuman strength. The story of his life from the point where he comes out of prison and after a series of events tears up the documentation labeling him a convict is his departure into the unknown. He then faces obstacle after obstacle that truly test his solid gold character, which is the initiation. Val Jean’s return is a little confusing for me, but my best guess is that in the final scene, which is like the most beautiful scene in all of musical theatre history, when he gives Cosette the letters that tell her the story of her early life and what his story has been right before he dies, that is his return.

I looked through my DVDs and realized that one of my all time favorites I think fits this formula, does it well, and I doubt anyone else will use it. I would argue that in Ridley Scott’s 1991 masterpiece Thelma & Louise, Thelma goes on The Hero’s Journey.

I can’t help but to buck against Campbell’s very 1949ish insistence that the hero is male because of what women represent. I haven’t looked into it, but I would hope some interested feminists out there have also noticed that this is offensive and looked for examples to the contrary or more importantly that we are holding ourselves to a higher societal standard in recent years and are creating stories and retelling our mythologies in ways that put women in the hero’s role.

First in terms of characteristics of the hero, Thelma is not on a quest for her mate and doesn’t seem to represent creation, and while it is subtle, her independence and bravery, even as recently as 1991 I think do count as a special sort of power. When she witnesses an assault on her friend Louise she interferes at great personal psychological and perhaps even physical risk. In my opinion, Thelma shows nobility of character and willingness to risk her life when she ends the life of this violent misogynist. This situation having turned deadly and being driven by a great injustice also then serves as Thelma’s call to action. She departs on her journey. I think there are many more places where the plot of this great film can and do match with The Hero’s Journey.

Movies can absolutely meet the human needs expressed in the four functions of mythology. The need for mystery has been satisfied by film since great film began to be made. The Departed and Mystic River come to my mind as some of the best movies in my lifetime that have truly made me wonder what was true in the world throughout. When it comes to a picture of the universe in which human beings belong, I think that we have most likely taken that function of mythology for granted in movies. Most film includes a presumption that human beings are meant to be and will even fight hard for the preservation of human kind almost as if to protect the right to that presumption. Maybe movies that involve a threat to the extinction of humans are exhibiting that function of mythology by creating that risk? I think that the need for a picture of our society where each person belongs, movies can and have absolutely met this need in terms of the functions of our mythology. Movies that have intersecting plots like Crash or Love Actually I think have serve that function, where many stories have places that cross, sometimes only by a hair or coincidence. They make all things seem significant and all people seem necessary. Also, movies that include the stories of populations of people rarely represented on screen are important and need to keep happening. Take for example what a big deal it was when Precious came out. The story represented there is not and has not ever been rare, but ideally film should be getting braver. I think this is also true for the documentary genre. I really enjoyed the movie Babies, and what is illustrated there is this point maybe, that all people have a place in the world. My personal favorites in terms of film have to do with human psychology and development. I think some of the greatest movies are movies that show profound change in people or groups of people. These can be biographies like Whats Love Got To Do With It, or romantic comedies where someone shifts or grows a little like Along Came Polly, or sort of wonderful classic dramas like Good Will Hunting. It’s a wonderful thing that we as people are able to enjoy grandiose epic blockbusters and also the subtleties of some independent film or smaller scale movies where you have to pay attention to what is being said or represented about our psychology and life transitions. I want to believe that cinema is keeping up with the job it is tasked with and continues to do a good job of meeting the needs laid out in the four functions of mythology. I think the reality is that money is a bigger incentive and there are too many horrible children’s movies being made and not enough of the good stuff.


Hello all.  My name is Sarah Post, I’m 31, and I’ve been going to college since I was 17.  That might make you think that there’s something about shooting for my bachelor’s degree at a snail’s pace that I enjoy.  That doesn’t feel true but maybe subconsciously there is, I don’t know.  I’m a psychology major, and I do find that examining people’s behavior and thinking is what is most interesting in the world.

I usually take two classes a semester as I work full time in a pretty taxing field, and so I’m taking this course as it is my very last core requirement besides a little science and math.  I have a hard time with required reading (see above reference to the decade and a half I’ve been trying to get this done), but continue to push myself to just do it already and stop whining.

One thing in life that makes me overwhelmingly happy is consuming film and television.  If I had more discipline in terms of writing then I would perhaps pursue my deeply guarded pipe dream of being a film/tv critic.  The hope of examining ancient archetypes and recurring social/cultural themes is something about this course that I am looking forward to.

I am a transplant to Alaska via early twenties road trip and have been a true resident for about seven and a half years.  I live close to the university but prefer taking class online to avoid the commitment of having to be somewhere at a particular time when I’m not getting paid for it.  I live in sin with my boyfriend of about eight years and our two precious babies who are actually dogs.  I enjoy cooking, crafting, and watching tv a lot more than work and school and am currently in pursuit of the pot of gold that will allow me to live my dream of never-ending lazy days.

Happy fall and have a great semester everybody!