Can Man Get Along with the Gods?

A myth is a traditional or legendary story, sometimes attempting to express or explain a basic truth. It often contains a god or gods. Put it in a modern context and you have modern day mythology. But can that be done? Doesn’t it have to be a very old story?

Actually not. Jessie James and Billy the Kid are legends in the modern day. A legendary story only has to be old enough that it is difficult to verify whether it is true or false, so for instance the murder of JFK by Lee Harvey Oswald would qualify as legendary but it might be a stretch to call it mythology.

It really comes down to a question of definition. There definitely is in mythology a connotation of the presence of gods and also of antiquity, but you could still call the explanation of a certain event a myth, and that might be taken to mean a lie or even a deliberately fabricated lie, like an intentionally spread rumor that was eventually taken to be the truth. That would apply to any number of modern day stories particularly in politics or world affairs.

In literature, the word mythology generally refers to classical antiquity and there is usually a god or gods in the story. A few modern novels, however, include a god, like the character Jo Mama in Gahan Hanmer’s The Kingdom on the Edge of Reality. That highly original novel also includes a group of Picts (usually understood to mean one of the ancient peoples of Britain) so perhaps this novel is one of the rare examples of a new category of literature called modern day mythology. It would certainly fulfill the requirement of attempting to express or explain some basic truths, making it very worthwhile reading, mythological or otherwise.