This is the second of a three part series relating the life of Christian believers to Joseph Campbell’s theory of the ‘Monomyth’ and the hero’s journey. For part one click here.
The Road of Trials
‘The road of trials is a series of tests, tasks, or ordeals that the person must undergo to begin the transformation. Often the person fails one or more of these tests, which often occur in threes.’
This is the overcoming of the thorns, thistles, sun, birds and worries of the world that the believer must face. It is the discipline that our loving father brings upon us that we might learn to be more like Jesus. In short it is the process of sanctification.
Woman as Temptress
‘This step is about those temptations that may lead the hero to abandon or stray from his or her quest, which does not necessarily have to be represented by a woman. Woman is a metaphor for the physical or material temptations of life, since the hero-knight was often tempted by lust from his spiritual journey.’
At many points along the way the Christian will have to face the temptation of sex, money, power and fame. These are the earthly and worldy pleasures that would take us away from Christ.
Atonement with the Father
‘In this step the person must confront and be initiated by whatever holds the ultimate power in his or her life. In many myths and stories this is the father, or a father figure who has life and death power. This is the center point of the journey. All the previous steps have been moving in to this place, all that follow will move out from it. Although this step is most frequently symbolized by an encounter with a male entity, it does not have to be a male; just someone or thing with incredible power.’
This is acceptance of the wrath of God, his sovereignty and faith in his mercy. When the gospel is presented clearly this is often experienced at the start of a believer’s journey but often it takes some time for a person to truly be faced with the reality of the wrath of God that was on them, what his sovereignty really means and their need for complete trust in God’s mercy for their deliverance.
Campbell: ‘One must have a faith that the father is merciful, and then a reliance on that mercy.
The Meeting With the Goddess
‘This is the point when the person experiences a love that has the power and significance of the all-powerful, all encompassing, unconditional love that a fortunate infant may experience with his or her mother. This is a very important step in the process and is often represented by the person finding the other person that he or she loves most completely.’
For a Christian this stage should have less of a defining nature than the ‘classic’ mononyth stage but there is no doubt that for most courtship and marriage has a profound affect on the believer’s life and journey.
‘When someone dies a physical death, or dies to the self to live in spirit, he or she moves beyond the pairs of opposites to a state of divine knowledge, love, compassion and bliss. A more mundane way of looking at this step is that it is a period of rest, peace and fulfillment before the hero begins the return.’
These are the moments along the path of sanctification (marked by our continual repentance) when we die to ourselves and pick up the cross of Christ. In this we discover the peace of God and the joy that brings.
The Ultimate Boon
‘The ultimate boon is the achievement of the goal of the quest. It is what the person went on the journey to get. All the previous steps serve to prepare and purify the person for this step, since in many myths the boon is something transcendent like the elixir of life itself, or a plant that supplies immortality, or the holy grail.’
For the Christian the ultimte goal is to glorify God, enduring to the end of this life to make sure of our salvation and to attain by all possible means the resurrection from the dead.