Re: Old vs new
- Dear PMCV:
It's been ages since I have offered any posts here.
But I think your question is a very good one.
While I have read many "flavors" of how to interpret
Gnosticism, some flavors being especially esoteric, I
continue to return to what I see as the core of ancient
The ancient ones used symbols and ritual and philosophy
to break the bondage to the material world, through
knowledge, to attain perfection of spirit.
This can be dumbed-down to a simple phrase: "flesh is
a prison to the perfectable soul".
In this stark light, we can see that there are many
competing "modern" forms of gnosticism. To my surprise,
"gnosticism lite" has actually survived in almost all
Christian communities, and in Islam as well.
In Judaism, there doesn't appear to be as strong a
gnostic content (but I could be wrong, depending whether
we mean the Reform Jews or the Orthodox ones).
We see an expression of Gnosticism in this part of Luke:
= = = = = = = =
"There were therefore seven brethren: and the first took a wife, and
died without children.
And the second took her to wife, and he died childless.
And the third took her; and in like manner the seven also: and they
left no children, and died.
Last of all the woman died also.
Therefore in the resurrection whose wife of them is she? for seven
had her to wife.
And Jesus answering said unto them, The children of this world marry,
and are given in marriage: BUT THEY WHICH SHALL BE ACCOUNTED
WORTHY ... [in]...the resurrection from the dead, neither marry,
nor are given in marriage:
Neither can they die any more:
for they are equal unto the angels;
and are the children of God,
being the children of the resurrection.
[EMD OF TEXT]
What would be useful from the Ancient Gnosticism?
This central premise that the flesh is flawed, and perfection
can be attained in the spiritual plane.
Do we value the symbols and precepts that surround this
ancient core? Yes... in the same way Free Masons
value and employ their own symbols and precepts. There
is no special magic to this practice.
Does anyone know a Gnostic Fraternity/Sorority? Are
there communities of "gnostics" that swear an oath to
each other and to the unifying zeal to perfect practicing
men and women?
To use a play on words, it is within such a community that
modern gnosticism can be perfected. Otherwise, it's just
individual people who commune casually (like a
pro-environment club), with no unifying obligation to the
symbolism of ancient gnosticism.
If you don't **want** the old symbols and rituals, then
you might as well become a Muslim or Unitarian or some
other variant of contemporary religion that believes perfection
is attained after the flesh is shed.
There is a third option. Shall we invent NEW rituals and
NEW vocabulary and symbols? I suppose it could be a noble
effort. But I think it would be vain without an oath of
obligation to these re-engineered concepts and to each other.
Oh boy... I **KNOW** this is going to stir up the bees!