Every single person has a mythology that speaks to them. It's a philosophy that appeals to their head and their heart, an amalgamation of everything they believe in, with just the right amount of drama and pragmatism.
For me it's always been Catholicism. Don't get me wrong - I've always had a soft spot for comparative religion, and am as happy reading about Tiki gods and Horus as anyone.
But when it comes to mythologies that make a beeline for my imagination, it's Catholicism hands down. For me they've got it all - falling angels and rising demons, conflict, indiscriminate smiting and, in the latest revisions, a real taste for humanitarian intervention and the ascendancy of the human spirit. This is most commonly expressed through schlock movies and books.
For example, I was probably one of dozens who like the 2005 Nenanu Reaves movie, Constantine. It wasn't great in any real way, but the mythology of it was very appealing. A man caught between the devious manipulations of heaven and hell, with nothing in his favour except himself. It's all very modern yet with a historical basis that I can't resist. That godawful Scharwezegger movie set in 1999/2000 was another in the same vein. The Catholic Church has a great and deep history, which combined with its legendary secrecy and odd rituals makes for a fertile ground for the imagination.
This quasi-apocalyptic mythology offers a combination of hope and fear, but primarily a huge amount of drama and the possibility that celestial beings actually care about humanity enough to fight about it. Somehow it's reassuring even if I don't believe it on a personal level.
Other people have a different source of inspiration. For some, the words of the Dalai Lama or other great Buddhist mystics conjure the world in which they seek to live, with its strong themes of compassion, wisdom, forbearance and tolerance. They show the world a better way through self-knowledge and, to some extent, self-forgiveness through works.
The appeal, so far as I can I see, is once again hope. Hope that you can change yourself. And I think it's pretty grounded hope. People can change, but only if they choose to. Buddhism seems to offer a genuine opportunity to those who have what it takes to live it.
Then there are those who thrill to the idea of the puritan gods of yesteryear. Whether it's the flagellation of Christianity or the sacrifice of other blood and flesh cults, they are drawn to the darkness and the purity that can seemingly only be found through suffering.
The less said about these the better, but we all know someone who dwells in misery and despair and seeks to spread it to all they know. Their suffering is their bible and their congregation the world. They will see all downcast so that they do not feel so alone. Theirs is a dark mythology, but at its heart it contains the same hope and striving for a better tomorrow that all religion offers.
Others still seek order above all. We meet them from time to time, constructing rigid hierarchies and rules for a reality which refuses all categorisation. Some call themselves atheists, but really they come in every stripe. They can be terrible - with the search for certainty comes judgement, and with judgement comes tyranny - but in many ways the pursuit of order is the foundation of civilisation. It is the expression - whether in the organisation of the sacrificial virgin roster or in the harmonies of a choir - that determines its morality, if indeed morality is even relevant to the seeker of harmony. Those who seek to resonate with the celestial spheres rarely notice the meteors that lie broken in their wake.
These are but a few of the mythologies. There are many more, and I could not even begin to touch on them all. We know what we believe in. These beliefs change our world. They shape it for ourselves and those around us. And on a superficial level they direct the amount of bullshit we are capable of believing in.
For a couple of hours I will willingly believe that Lucifer cares so much for humanity that he would fight for our souls with heaven itself. It's absurd. I know it on every level. But I still sit fascinated no matter how clumsily the argument is made. My soul listens to the story and wants it to be true.
The horrible fact is though that it doesn't matter if it is true or not. The mythologies I want to believe in are less important than other people. They are hopes, dreams, desires that can never know realisation. It is in their rejection that I find a skerrick of peace, not in pursuing them. The zealot, who lives their mythology from day to day, is cursed to never find the realisation of their passion save possibly through death.
So occasionally I enjoy a movie, or a piece of music, or a story which by all objective reports is utterly awful. I wouldn't give up my mythology for anything. To hear a Latin chant or to see some godawful movie about fantastical Catholic stuff is to in some way rejuvenate my faith in humankind. It's an expression of self that I wouldn't give up for all the taste in China.