Wrapped up in Definitions
Reply to Ernst's message #5637 et al.
Should we define this Club (Group) as one examining the groups associated with historical Gnosticism (and their relevance to us today), or as one solely concerned with defining the term Gnosticism?
You see, Ernst, when you tell Cari to ask Layton why he includes the groups he does, one might as flippantly suggest that you take your concerns to those present at the Messina Colloquium. To my knowledge, no one here had anything to do with coining the term, and I can think of plenty more than one occasion when one of our members has expressed dissatisfaction with it.
>>Let me make my point clear; all I am saying is Gnosticism CONSITS of the elements of BOTH adationalists and docetists.<< #5637
I really don’t see that as a novel point. While I might have noticed among the many posts here personal leanings in a particular direction on this issue, I don’t recall anyone suggesting that we might correctly view the phenomenon of Gnosticism from ONLY one perspective. That really would seem out of place in such a forum, wouldn’t it?
style="FONT-FAMILY: 'Courier New'; mso-ansi-font-size: 12.0pt">Isn't Gnosis what it's all about? [Cari]
“Gnosis” not “Gnosticism”<< [Ernst]
On which would you place greater importance…? Personally, I don’t even see the relevance of Gnosticism without Gnosis. How would we define the term otherwise, and why should we care if the obvious connection didn’t exist?
style="FONT-FAMILY: 'Courier New'; mso-ansi-font-size: 12.0pt">Do I consider it to be a religion? No I don't. [Dan]
Well, it is RELIGION if you know what RELIGION means. Stephan Hoeller in his lectures always laments the fact that
people today shun away from the word, RELIGION, and use spireetiarrrtie.<< [Ernst]
Frankly, I see it as a historical phenomenon comprising various religious traditions. Guess I remain ignorant of the meaning of “religion.” Or maybe I simply enjoy the ability to switch perspectives when engaged in the two-way process of communication. Truthfully, I can either see it as a religion or not, but regardless of how I choose to define the term, I may never really know how others want to describe their understanding of it if I neglect to listen to what they say.
As for that last part, I’ve perused the Gnosis Archives before and never once noticed Hoeller talk about “spireetiarrrtie,” but then, I didn’t even know the gentleman spoke Gaelic. Who knew? Of course, it surprises me that a man of his education would fail to observe the rule governing strict placement of slender vowels (e and i) and broad vowels (a, o and u) when surrounding any consonant(s). According to said rule (“Caol ri caol agus leathann ri leathann”), that word should have an additional i, but then, I really don’t think it will make much difference at this point.
style="FONT-FAMILY: 'Courier New'; mso-ansi-font-size: 12.0pt">Again, just tell me your delimitation on the term? . . . . I know where I draw the line. And that line is not arbatry like others.<<
style="FONT-FAMILY: 'Courier New'; mso-ansi-font-size: 12.0pt">There is really no attack; it is telling people to be more solid.<<
style="FONT-FAMILY: 'Courier New'; mso-ansi-font-size: 12.0pt">The only disagreement with my thinking is of course whether to call pre-Valentinian as "Gnostics". As one can see, I opted to call it as "esoteric" Adaptionalist. I did, however, stated that this term is used for the lack of better term. Unlike others, I will refine and redevelop my points when newer information becomes known.<<
You’ve obviously lost me again, Ernst. It seems that you characterize others as “arbitrary” in their positions. Still, when you claim to reserve the right to revise your own terms once better information comes along, it makes me wonder why you advocate becoming “more solid” for the rest of us? Do we take that to mean becoming more “dense” and “inflexible?” I don’t really see those as virtues to strive for. Just chalk that up to another confusion on my part, I guess.
I would have to agree with Cari when she said, “I prefer to retain the mutability of this fluid period by NOT overly classifying Gnosticism, and thus not compromising its true distinctiveness of fluidity.” Indeed, in attempting to understand such heterodox thinkers, we should expect to maintain a fair degree of flexibility. Falling short of that, we run the risk of becoming dogmatic and orthodox—qualities not so highly esteemed among a bunch of heretics.
That same “fluidity” Cari mentioned reminds me of a couple things—your discussion of ascendant/descendent salvific principles and the behavior of water droplets.
Have you ever observed the surface tension of a tiny water droplet in close proximity to a larger puddle of water on a flat surface? When eventually brought close enough together, they become incorporated. It happens quite quickly, but they both seem to reach out to each other.
I see a similar dynamic, gnostically speaking, in the salvation process. While the top-to-bottom (etc.) explanation works great at explaining how groups viewed the divine exchange, it almost diminishes the Gnosis itself. Sort of like the communication process I mentioned earlier, it seems that undue emphasis on one aspect over another (top OR bottom) diminishes the actual meeting and mingling of the two somewhere in the middle.
Now that others have once again paved the way here for Sufi inclusion (LOL), I’d like to offer the following two passages, the second of which comes from that tradition:
The Gospel of Philip
Translated by Wesley W. Isenberg
If one goes down into the water and comes up without having received anything, and says “I am a Christian,” he has borrowed the name at interest. But if he receives the Holy Spirit, he has the name as a gift . . . . This is the way it happens to one when he experiences a mystery.
The Diwan of Shams of Tabriz, by Jalaluddin Rumi
Those who don’t feel this Love
pulling them like a river,
those who don’t drink dawn
like a cup of springwater
or take in sunset like supper,
those who don’t want to change,
let them sleep
This Love is beyond the study of theology,
that old trickery and hypocrisy.
If you want to improve your mind that way,
I’ve given up on my brain.
I’ve torn the cloth to shreds
and thrown it away.
If you’re not completely naked,
wrap your beautiful robe of words