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12975Re: The Old & New Inquisition against the Gnostics this Sun on CCG!!!

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  • lady_caritas
    Feb 17, 2007
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      --- In gnosticism2@yahoogroups.com, pmcvflag <no_reply@...> wrote:
      > Well, I know that Miguel is aware that we try to open these topics
      > up to commentary, criticism, observation, and I guess that no one
      > here would be particularly shocked that this particular one would
      > cause me to raise my eyebrow a bit and feel the need to comment
      > *lol*.
      > Unfortunately I was unable to catch the show (as I was with the
      > Turner interview, though I did hear at least part of the latter). I
      > did want to, but because I couldn't I am not able to comment on the
      > show itself... only the subject matter. I think the subject if VERY
      > important, though, because it raises the issue of a particular
      > misunderstanding that many modern readers have IMO.
      > To start with, I do wish to make the disclaimer that I am not very
      > familiar with Dr Versluis' work. I have only thumbed through a
      > couple articles that he did, and he seemed to be a sober and
      > critical thinking... at least at a quick glance. I notice that his
      > specialty is a bit wider than Gnosticism, and covers many forms of
      > esotericism (including modern forms). My observations have nothing
      > to do with him in particular (since I don't know how he presented
      > the subject)... just the subject matter at hand.
      > My only purpose is to offer a couple of counterpoints so that we
      > look at the subject matter here from more than one angle...
      > hopefully eventually finding a critical middle. I don't
      > LIKE defending the church fathers *lol*, but we don't want to
      > present the topic from ONLY a sensationalist perspective either.
      > the devil's advocate.....
      > >>>--How the Heresiologist's duality of `right thinking'
      > and `wrong choice' (Heresy) were the foundation for the
      > pathology and Totalitarian mind set for centuries to come.
      > --How the crusades against the Cathars crystallized the Inquisition
      > and Totalitarian mind set by creating a system of victimology
      > one's own population.
      > --Clear evidence that many of Totalitarian leaders of the Twentieth
      > Century were directly influenced by intellectuals who believed in
      > Inquisitional model and the dangers of any Gnostic ideology.
      > --How Gnosticism, from the Classic Ages to modern times, has always
      > been one of the boogie men for those seeking strict order in their
      > societies.
      > --Even though religion went from the hunter to the hunted in modern
      > times, the Inquisitional model was still used with the Gnostics in
      > mind.
      > --Sifting through the terror of the `Satanic Panic' of the Eighties
      > and the secret Christian organizations that to this day are
      > attempting to quell Freethinkers and the Gnostic revival.
      > --A look into some Gnostic secret societies that are ensconced in
      > Eastern Churches of the world that have avoided the eyes of the
      > heresy hunters for centuries..<<<
      > I think no one can deny that the people in power have often misused
      > it. Before the Inquisition existed, Roman rulers tried to stamp out
      > the Greek mysteries. At times, factions of Christianity have been
      > far from blameless in this regard. Of course, on the other end
      > is a spectrum of people who love to be misunderstood martyrs for
      > their cause (I will avoid speculation about the psychological
      > mechanics at this point). For example, consider how some (generally
      > younger) modern Wiccans seemed so keen to talk about the "Burning
      > Times". The whole idea that the "Catholic Inquisition" burned
      > millions of witches simply is not something that has turned out to
      > be true, and even more thoughtful Wiccans realize this.
      > I don't think the ancient Gnostics thought of themselves via this
      > kind of victimology, but in the past we have had some others in
      > forum who have seemed to feel this is the case (though I would
      > challenge it). Gnostic sources could be just as brutal in their
      > attack of what they viewed as heterodoxy. I think that we must be
      > careful not to make the mistake of setting up "Orthodoxy" as a
      > boogieman for for a construct of Gnosticism that never existed.
      > I think another misunderstanding that is common with us modern
      > be Gnostics is the growing desire to paint the ancient Gnostics as
      > some kind of mystical anarchists in line with popular postmodernist
      > thinking. Just as I would debate Jonas for trying to make them the
      > ancient Existentialists, I think the attempt to make the Gnostics
      > into the ancient New Age movement is misguided.
      > In opposition to this view, I would point out that in some ways the
      > ancient Gnostics were sometimes quite a bit MORE strict and
      > structured than the "Orthodox" church. At least some of them seemed
      > to view themselves as a HIGHLY intellectual movement in contrast to
      > the overly free UNthinking masses of pagan (and I mean "pagan" in
      > the literal usage) Christianity that we now often think of as
      > orthodox (or "Orthodox"). It is possible that the reason some of
      > them fizzled is because they were TOO structured and TOO exclusive,
      > while the "Orthodox" were frankly more open to a wider set of
      > How many here think they would stick with a traditional Gnostic
      > system if they had the chance?
      > Point, counterpoint?
      > PMCV

      PMCV, I think you have hit on a major reason why what eventually
      developed into mainstream, exoteric Christian orthodoxy was used as a
      weapon instead of more otherworldly, abstruse systems. It didn't
      necessarily matter who was swinging polemical barbs. What might have
      mattered more to those people throughout history who cared about
      political power could have been which group - whose ideas, whose
      earthly prominence - served their purposes better, whether this was
      done consciously or not. And surely, as you say, if "the `Orthodox'
      were frankly more open to a wider set of people," dredging out and
      citing the old polemics of Tertullian, such as Nazi Charles Schmitt
      did, would have appeal to those who were interested in old polemical
      fear tactics. It's very possible that not only the exoteric church
      and its polemics, but also its emphasis on Biblical religious figures
      as historical figures would more readily relate to mainstream groups
      and the worldly political arena than an otherworldly, metaphorical
      and mythological approach. Worldly political powers targeted
      heretics as enemies by which to define their ideologies.

      During the interview, Dr. Versluis noted that victimology changed by
      the time of the Cathars and into modernity from what was more of an
      emphasis on phobic rhetoric to what eventually involved more actual
      victims. Also, during times of chaos, there was concern about how to
      force order on society. Later, for example, Cortez would force
      Catholicism on society for order. In the 18th and 19th centuries, we
      would see the secular order using a religious model. And later, in
      cases where there was an antireligious sentiment, the state became
      the religion, the new orthodoxy, ideologically, as with Stalin.

      Regarding the term "gnostic," Dr. Versluis also noted how gradually
      the expression no longer always had historical meaning, and often
      became synonymous with "People that I don't like." The professor
      also mentioned Couliano's essay from the 1980s in which he made fun
      of everything being "gnostic" nowadays. "Gnostic" often became
      pejorative, where things were seen to be diminished if this word were
      used. He sees that as a throwback to ancient antiheresy rhetoric.

      Actually, part of the thrust of his interview was directed toward
      discussing roots of totalitarianism, pointing out the inquisitional
      dynamic throughout history and that we need to be aware of this
      dynamic instead of being subject to it.

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