For an author, it is always gratifying when someone reads your book carefully and takes the time to prepare a thoughtful response. Last week, Myths of the Rune Stone, was featured in a forum dedicated to the theme of American myths. Two historians, a sociologist, and a theologian delivered outstanding presentations on the relevance of the book for reflecting on important dimensions of U.S. history, religion, and culture.
The “Why Myths Matter” forum is the second in a two-year series of forums dedicated to the theme of American myths. It was held on February 24, 2016 at the Arch Street UMC in Philadelphia PA. Click hereto view information on the entire series. Speakers are listed below along with a guide to navigate the podcast. You can fast forward using the the arrow keys on your keyboard. I hope you enjoy it!
1:00 – Welcome and short reflection by Rev. Robin Hynicka – Jeremiah 10
6:18 – Speaker introductions and overview of the book Myths of the Rune Stone – author David M. Krueger
24:50 – Dr. Jon Paul – Lutheran Theological Seminary – What about the role of fantasy and playfulness in the rune stone story? References to novelists Ole Rolvaag and Louise Erdrich.
33:00 – Dr. Nathan Wright – Bryn Mawr College – Despite the dangers of myth to exclude and dominate, they are necessary for societies to function. References to Durkheim, Bellah, and other sociologists.
45:50 – Dr. Katie Oxx – St. Joseph’s University – The ways that Catholics negotiate American identity. A comparison of the “Pope stone” and the “rune stone.” References to “new materialism.” How do material artifacts act on us?
54:00 – Rev. Jim McIntire – Havertown UMC – Myth fills a gap in public discourse. Conspiracy theorists like Scott Wolter profit handsomely from propagating myths. Reflections Joseph Campbell’s book on myths.
1:10:50 – Audience Response
One thought on “Why Myths Matter to Americans”
I find it especially sad when Christians kick against the truth. The truth of the matter is that Christians were behind the Kensington Runestone, not Vikings. The KRS (1362) and Vikings (ended by 1100) are incompatible, but people insist on conflating the two…the better to make fun. Big Ole time.
Yes, of course, Big Ole represents folly in history…a claim of giving birth to America, locally, by pagans. What an outrage! However, IMHO, a greater outrage is for Christians to join the ranks of “fringe history debunkers” in working against the truth of the KRS being a genuine medieval document. One day, and hopefully soon, all those thinking the KRS was a hoax will end up with eggs on their faces. It will not look good when it is realized that some of those who are supposed to be concerned with seeking out the truth, failed so miserably.
It seems, in this case, that a mountain of religious education has ended up doing more harm than good. This looking at the KRS as a myth wouldn’t be so bad if Dr. Krueger weren’t also stirring up “misplaced ridicule” against not only a genuine artifact, but also thousands of people–including many Christians–who believe the KRS is a historically reliable, and Christian, document. (I didn’t say “Catholic Church” document.)