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Re: Pagels, Scholars, Gnostic Links

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  • hey_market
    I m certainly no Manichean scholar, not to mention writer. Well, I guess I do write plenty of posts here, if that counts. LOL Those Manicheans
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 28, 2001
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      I'm certainly no Manichean scholar, not to
      mention writer. <br><br>Well, I guess I do write plenty
      of posts here, if that counts. LOL<br><br>Those
      Manicheans were indeed quite the ascetics, although Mani
      didn't advocate forcing anything. So, for example, he
      fffelt it was better simply to eat meat than to fight
      with the thought of not eating meating or else to
      offend others you've joined for a meal.<br><br>As for
      being "elitist," one of the major ciriticisms of them
      throughout history (a false charge), they did have quitea
      unique and misunderstood relationship between the Elect
      and the non-elect. <br><br>On the one hand, yes, it's
      very hierarchical and thus can offend our modern,
      democratic sensibilities. But on the other hand, they were
      altogether benevolent and INCLUSIVE.<br><br>This is a key
      distinction, I think. They didn't separate themselves from
      everyone else, whereas social division is a hallmark, if
      not objective, of most elitists. <br><br>Rather than
      exclusively set themselves apart from others, they advocated
      and practiced quite the opposite--it was their
      express intent to engage all human beings (via their own
      style of evangelism) and, importantly, to "collect" the
      light from all beings and all things.<br><br>Now,
      sometimes this can sound a bit funky, as if the spiritually
      rich Manichean elitits are stealing whatever meager
      morsels of spirit they can find from the spiritually
      poor. <br><br>And thus, the rich get richer and the
      poor get poorer.<br><br>However, this misperception
      only arises if one thinks of spirit as something which
      one "posssesses," whereas the Manicheans saw spirit
      as something which resides in a continuum of spirit
      in the Pleroma, and thus altogether free and
      unlimited and unpossessed (even in this world, if we but
      have the eyes to see beyond our divisions).<br><br>In
      other words, Manicheans, in typical gnostic fashion,
      were focused on liberating (vs. stealing) the light.
      Actually, more accurately, they sought to enrich the light,
      everyone's light (again, the light doesn't belond to any
      individual) since once it escapes earthly imprisonment, or
      the perception thereof, it enjoys a realm of
      unlimited spiritual riches.<br><br>I might also add that
      Manicheans' orientation towards inclusivity (vs. the typical
      exclusivity of most "elitist" social groups) is evident in
      their extreme syncretistic tendencies. IN fact, these
      tendencies were so strong that they are often thought of as
      NOT being purely Gnostic, since they were so many
      things.<br><br>Thing is, they were exceptionall practical (spirtually
      speaking, certainly not worldly-wise) and ultimately very
      positive in their outllok--they saw divine light
      everywhere, in everyone, and simply pursued the growth of
      this light wherever they found it.<br><br>And so, it
      turns out that if one were to fairly describe the
      "religioius polictics" of Manicheans, it would be the exact
      oppposite of how they've been portrayed in the history
      books (largely owing to Orthodox polemics). That is,
      Manicheans were virtual spiritual socialists--even
      geospiritual socialists, if you will. <br><br>And considering
      their apparent respect for voluntary
      self-determination, they were geospiritual democratic socialists at
      that. <br><br>Of course, this description is a bit
      silly, since religion and politics don't always mix, or
      awkwardly so, especially when the religion is in any sense
      gnostic. But it's a worthwhile consideration nonetheless,
      given that political motiviations so successfully mixed
      up people's opinions of Manicheans.
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