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  • mer248lina
    Gosh everybody, i have been reading some of the posts about the modernizing or not of gnosticism and its all been rather interesting but i still can t help
    Message 1 of 6 , Jul 19, 2006
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      Gosh everybody, i have been reading some of the posts about
      the 'modernizing' or not of gnosticism and its all been rather
      interesting but i still can't help wondering what is it that we
      should/could consider 'modernizing'.

      I came to this state of thought after reading in Hoeller's book 'The
      seven sermons to the dead' where he says
      'Gnosticsm is not a set of doctrines but a mythological expression of
      an inner experience'. (p20 ) in my edition.

      My questions are
      1) can the original question about modernizing stand given the above
      premise?

      2)What are people's thoughts about the above in relation to the
      perception of the gnostics of the day? (i.e the past, or do you think
      this is a modern interpretation and alien to those gnostics?)
    • pmcvflag
      Hey Mer248lina ... the modernizing or not of gnosticism and its all been rather interesting but i still can t help wondering what is it that we should/could
      Message 2 of 6 , Jul 19, 2006
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        Hey Mer248lina

        >>>Gosh everybody, i have been reading some of the posts about
        the 'modernizing' or not of gnosticism and its all been rather
        interesting but i still can't help wondering what is it that we
        should/could consider 'modernizing'.<<<

        Well, I hope to get people to explore exactly the question you are
        asking. I am NOT presuming an answer, but I am suggesting that
        effort be channeled through a certain set of methods.

        >>>>I came to this state of thought after reading in Hoeller's
        book 'The seven sermons to the dead' where he says 'Gnosticsm is not
        a set of doctrines but a mythological expression of an inner
        experience'. (p20 ) in my edition.<<<

        I think it is important to understand that S. Hoeller does not
        present an historical Gnostic group, and as far as I understand he
        does not claim to (so this is not meant to question the validity of
        his system). His definition is meant as an emic definition, not an
        etic definition. This is quite important here. The point is, his
        understanding of the word "Gnosticism" draws off the more technical
        meaning of the word, but it is not what the word means in it's more
        technical usage. Did I communicate that right?

        >>>>My questions are
        1) can the original question about modernizing stand given the above
        premise?<<<

        It doesn't need to. The real quesion is whether THAT definition
        helps us better understand the more technical definition in any way.
        The more technical definition we are talking about assumes either a
        Sethian or Valentinian origin.... does the definition you read hold
        up to that exacting standard? I think that perhaps it is nothing
        against S. Hoeller to point out that perhaps he was being quite
        overly general, but that perhaps he was quite aware of that for the
        function he presented. Then again, I haven't asked him so I don't
        know.

        >>>>2)What are people's thoughts about the above in relation to the
        perception of the gnostics of the day? (i.e the past, or do you think
        this is a modern interpretation and alien to those gnostics?)<<<<

        Again, that is part of the question I am trying to raise as well.
        How do you modernize? CAN you modernize? Do you WANT to modernize?
        Is Gnosticism an historical interest that has no function in modern
        times? What are your thoughts, Mer248lina. I am asking YOU.

        PMCV
      • Michael Leavitt
        ... I hink that while overly general as you say, he was right on with that comment. Several years earlier, he said Gnosticism was presented as a myth and a
        Message 3 of 6 , Jul 19, 2006
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          pmcvflag wrote:
          > Hey Mer248lina
          >
          >
          >>>> Gosh everybody, i have been reading some of the posts about
          >>>>
          > the 'modernizing' or not of gnosticism and its all been rather
          > interesting but i still can't help wondering what is it that we
          > should/could consider 'modernizing'.<<<
          >
          > Well, I hope to get people to explore exactly the question you are
          > asking. I am NOT presuming an answer, but I am suggesting that
          > effort be channeled through a certain set of methods.
          >
          >
          >>>>> I came to this state of thought after reading in Hoeller's
          >>>>>
          > book 'The seven sermons to the dead' where he says 'Gnosticsm is not
          > a set of doctrines but a mythological expression of an inner
          > experience'. (p20 ) in my edition.<<<
          >
          > I think it is important to understand that S. Hoeller does not
          > present an historical Gnostic group, and as far as I understand he
          > does not claim to (so this is not meant to question the validity of
          > his system). His definition is meant as an emic definition, not an
          > etic definition. This is quite important here. The point is, his
          > understanding of the word "Gnosticism" draws off the more technical
          > meaning of the word, but it is not what the word means in it's more
          > technical usage. Did I communicate that right?
          >
          >
          >>>>> My questions are
          >>>>>
          > 1) can the original question about modernizing stand given the above
          > premise?<<<
          >
          > It doesn't need to. The real quesion is whether THAT definition
          > helps us better understand the more technical definition in any way.
          > The more technical definition we are talking about assumes either a
          > Sethian or Valentinian origin.... does the definition you read hold
          > up to that exacting standard? I think that perhaps it is nothing
          > against S. Hoeller to point out that perhaps he was being quite
          > overly general, but that perhaps he was quite aware of that for the
          > function he presented. Then again, I haven't asked him so I don't
          > know.
          >
          >
          >>>>> 2)What are people's thoughts about the above in relation to the
          >>>>>
          >
          I hink that while overly general as you say, he was right on with that
          comment. Several years earlier, he said Gnosticism was presented as a
          myth and a ritual, again on the mark but overly general.
        • debbie wheeler
          pmcvflag wrote: Hey Mer248lina ... the modernizing or not of gnosticism and its all been rather interesting but i still
          Message 4 of 6 , Jul 20, 2006
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            pmcvflag <no_reply@yahoogroups.com> wrote:
            Hey Mer248lina

            >>>Gosh everybody, i have been reading some of the posts about
            the 'modernizing' or not of gnosticism and its all been rather
            interesting but i still can't help wondering what is it that we
            should/could consider 'modernizing' .<<<

            Well, I hope to get people to explore exactly the question you are
            asking. I am NOT presuming an answer, but I am suggesting that
            effort be channeled through a certain set of methods.

            >>>>I
            came to this state of thought after reading in Hoeller's
            book 'The seven sermons to the dead' where he says 'Gnosticsm is not
            a set of doctrines but a mythological expression of an inner
            experience'. (p20 ) in my edition.<<<

            I think it is important to understand that S. Hoeller does not
            present an historical Gnostic group, and as far as I understand he
            does not claim to (so this is not meant to question the validity of
            his system). His definition is meant as an emic definition, not an
            etic definition. This is quite important here. The point is, his
            understanding of the word "Gnosticism" draws off the more technical
            meaning of the word, but it is not what the word means in it's more
            technical usage. Did I communicate that right?

            >>>>My questions are
            1) can the original question about modernizing stand given the above
            premise?<<<

            It doesn't need to. The real quesion is whether THAT definition
            helps us better understand the more technical definition in any way.
            The more technical definition we are talking about assumes either a
            Sethian or Valentinian origin.... does the definition you read hold
            up to that exacting standard? I think that perhaps it is nothing
            against S. Hoeller to point out that perhaps he was being quite
            overly general, but that perhaps he was quite aware of that for the
            function he presented. Then again, I haven't asked him so I don't
            know.

            >>>>2)What are people's thoughts about the above in relation to the
            perception of the gnostics of the day? (i.e the past, or do you think
            this is a modern interpretation and alien to those gnostics?)<< <<

            Again, that is part of the question I am trying to raise as well.
            How do you modernize? CAN you modernize? Do you WANT to modernize?
            Is Gnosticism an historical interest that has no function in modern
            times? What are your thoughts, Mer248lina. I am asking YOU.

            PMCV
             
            Hi PMCV
             
            I can't answer your question now because i don't have a detailed enough knowledge of Valentinian or Sethian gnostics (more study). But i understand that your question about modernising refers to what you call the the etic definition - yeah?
             
            My thoughts ( and I'm not yet at the stage to expand or justify them) range over someting like this: if gnosis is an internal knowledge or experience of the fullness of being or union witht he divine or whatever, then the etic stuff may refer to either  the expression of the experience ( or attempts at the experience), or sort of processes and/or  stepping stones ( for want of a better an anology- feel free to offer -) towards achieving the experience, or 'being ' the experience.
            If we take the latter ( and I'm not necessarily saying we should) then I think the original question can have logical  sense.
             
            I do not know enough about the rituals yet but i am minded to bring up what for me is an interesting point. Prior to the 1980 version of the Book of Common Prayer in the anglian church, the priest during invocation stood at the alter with arms lifted and his back to the devoteres. In the 1980s book there was a change in this stance so that the priest then came forward and was facing the devotees so that God was seen to be among people rather than afar off. this change mostly went unnoticed by attendees in terms of the idealogical/doctinal meaning of the shift of the ritual. If gnostic rituals were to be modernised, might such subltle changes also occur, thereby changing relationships between people and the divine?. Of course i appreciate that in gnosticsm the divine is withheld within - so to speak-
            and am unable to offer a suitable analogy.
             
            if the etic parts of the defintion are seem as stepping stones, might any number of differing stepping stones be used to achieve gnosis in this modern age.- this view of course could lead to the notion that it doesnt matter if u modernise or not because the stepping stones serve the group and not the otherway around - a sort of attitude to being or seeking the home of the 'self' rather than a set of prescribed events or processes etc.
             
            if images and concepts are to be modernised to be acceptable to  modern (postmodern?) mind hw can we be sure to find exactly the 'correct' image/concept,symbol?
             
            I accept that words can substituted to make semantic/grammatical sense -with the mystery stilll intact though. If they had wanted to write at the mundane level they would have written so.
             
            Any suggestions for reading particular texts would be useful - especially those will appear to take the concepts of say the pleroma or aeons or sophia symbolically.
            Thanks




            Mer248lina


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          • pmcvflag
            Hey Debbie ... enough knowledge of Valentinian or Sethian gnostics (more study). But i understand that your question about modernising refers to what you call
            Message 5 of 6 , Jul 20, 2006
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              Hey Debbie

              >>>I can't answer your question now because i don't have a detailed
              enough knowledge of Valentinian or Sethian gnostics (more study).
              But i understand that your question about modernising refers to what
              you call the the etic definition - yeah?<<<

              Yes, that is what I mean. For anyone new here who is not aware of
              the term "etic", we can probably simplify it in this case to mean
              the "historical" rather than the "practice". That isn't exactly what
              it means but it is a major function of the word in this case.

              I could change the question a little to be about whether it is
              possible to practice historical Gnosticism in the modern era and
              essentially mean the same thing.

              >>>>My thoughts ( and I'm not yet at the stage to expand or justify
              them) range over someting like this: if gnosis is an internal
              knowledge or experience of the fullness of being or union witht he
              divine or whatever, then the etic stuff may refer to either the
              expression of the experience ( or attempts at the experience), or
              sort of processes and/or stepping stones ( for want of a better an
              anology- feel free to offer -) towards achieving the experience,
              or 'being ' the experience. If we take the latter ( and I'm not
              necessarily saying we should) then I think the original question can
              have logical sense.<<<

              This is actually the major conversation that George has just
              proposed as well... concerning what "Gnosis" is. I am going to try
              to jump in on that one tonight if I can (if possible), and maybe you
              would like to as well.

              >>>>if the etic parts of the defintion are seem as stepping stones,
              might any number of differing stepping stones be used to achieve
              gnosis in this modern age.- this view of course could lead to the
              notion that it doesnt matter if u modernise or not because the
              stepping stones serve the group and not the otherway around - a sort
              of attitude to being or seeking the home of the 'self' rather than a
              set of prescribed events or processes etc.<<<

              Well, again... that is what I am asking people here to explore. IF
              that is how you feel then it seems your essential point goes along
              with George, Ken, and Tom. It assumes a core by making a destinction
              between the process and the goal. Therefore, the notion
              of "modernization" may seem a misnomer in the first place. Do I
              understand you there?

              PMCV
            • --Michael
              [Somewhat off-topic -- apologies in advance] Hmmm.... Interesting. Same case with the Roman Catholics. The pre-Vatican II (ante 1965) Mass ( Tridentine ) was
              Message 6 of 6 , Aug 20, 2006
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                [Somewhat off-topic -- apologies in advance]

                Hmmm.... Interesting. Same case with the Roman Catholics. The
                pre-Vatican II (ante 1965) Mass ("Tridentine") was done with the back
                of the priest to the congregation, never facing.

                After V. II, a new, much simpler (mostly three marble slabs) altar was
                added so the priest would face the people. Newer churches of course
                incorporated the revised liturgical practice.

                Personally, I prefer the older style. One sees that occasionally at
                Anglo-Catholic Episcopalian services in my diocese.

                As Debbie points out, change the traditional way of doing things and
                something is lost. The more "mystical" - if you will - aspects of the
                Latin Mass were lost after the changes. The language become the common
                vernacular, the Sacraments lost a great deal of their mystery, and so
                on. The entire "feel" was changed; it was not at all the same
                experience.

                Returning to Gnosticism, I fail to see how it can be modernized for
                reasons that have been hashed over here numerous times.

                That's not to say some form(s) Neo-Gnosticism can't be developed based
                on historical sources. I understand some groups have done just that
                (just as some Neo-Pagan groups have "reconstructed" ancient religions,
                e.g., Hellenismos and Kemeticism).

                Wicca, according to Gerald Gardner was a revived continuation of
                ancient British pagan practices (cf. Hutton). While the veracity of
                that claim is suspect, there is no doubt that Wicca "works" for quite a
                few.

                Presumably the same could be true of Neo-Gnosticism. Most any religious
                (or non-religious) system can find at least a few followers.



                --Michael



                --- debbie wheeler <mer248lina@...> wrote:

                [snip]

                > I do not know enough about the rituals yet but i am minded to bring
                up what for me is an interesting point. Prior to the 1980 version of
                the Book of Common Prayer in the anglian church, the priest during
                invocation stood at the alter with arms lifted and his back to the
                devoteres. In the 1980s book there was a change in this stance so
                that the priest then came forward and was facing the devotees so that
                God was seen to be among people rather than afar off. this change
                mostly went unnoticed by attendees in terms of the
                idealogical/doctinal meaning of the shift of the ritual. If gnostic
                rituals were to be modernised, might such subltle changes also occur,
                thereby changing relationships between people and the divine?. Of
                course i appreciate that in gnosticsm the divine is withheld within -
                so to speak- and am unable to offer a suitable analogy.
                >

                [snip]


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