You may have never heard of Joseph John Campbell, born March 26th, 1904, in White Plains, New York. First child of Charles and Josephine Campbell. In 1921 Joe graduated from Canterbury School in New Milford, Connecticut. The following September entered Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire. But soon became disillusioned with the social scene and disappointed by a lack emphasis on academic achievement. He transferred to Columbia University in New York, where he excelled while specializing in medieval literature. In 1934, he was offered and accepted a position in the literature department at Sarah Lawrence College in New York, a post he would retain for thirty-eight years. He passed away after a bout with cancer in 1987.
Later, Diane K. Osbon put together a book consisting of material she selected and edited from the writings of Joseph Campbell. In the section titled, “In the Field,” we find this quote: “We must be willing to get rid of the life we’ve planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us. The old skin has to be shed before the new one can come. If we fix on the old, we get stuck. When we hang onto any form, we are in danger of putrefaction.”1
This is not only true of secular life but of spiritual life as well. The Apostle Paul said: “Anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!”2 This was the problem with a very talented, educated, and wise Jewish member of the Sanhedrin named Nicodemus. He wanted to know more about the new Kingdom of God Jesus was preaching. So he came to Jesus by night to find out. Jesus told him, there would be no way to explain it to him unless he was first born again.3 In other words, started anew. Let go of the old worn out religion he had become so accustomed to and take hold of the new vibrant faith offered by Christ.
Paul wrote on another occasion: “You have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.”4 Why is it that some Christians only live a victorious, positive, God-fearing life on Sunday, but the rest of the week they sit around stewing in the rusty pot or old habits? Paul expressed the same frustration when he wrote the Galatians: “Why is it that after you have come to know God, you keep going back again to the weak and worthless elementary mindset of the world? Why do you want to be enslaved once more? You only reverence God on certain holidays!”5
Come on! Every day can be a day of rejoicing because you are a child of the King! Start living like one. Campbell said it was like a snake shedding its skin. So do what the Prophet Isaiah encourage the people of Zion to do: “To all those who are despondent and feeling sorry for themselves, God has a crown of beauty to replace your sad look, a joyous blessing instead of your feeling sorry, a festive song of praise instead of singing the blues.” By doing what He wants, you will grow like great redwoods that the LORD has planted for His own glory. Then people will see what a mighty God you serve.6 – Dr. Robert R Seyda
1 Reflections on the Art of Living: A Joseph Campbell Companion, Selected and Edited by Diane K. Osbon, Harper Perennial Edition, New York, 1991, p. 18
2 2 Corinthians 5:17
3 John 3:
4 Colossians 3:9-10
5 Paraphrase of Galatians 4:9-10
6 Isaiah 61:3