Re: [Gnosticism2] Re: Evryone loves conspirecy
- I feel that conspiracy theorists often miss the point of Gnosticism (or at
least my understanding of what Gnosticism is). If the world is flawed, then
it is understandable that there will be governments or other agencies who
ocasionally lie to us. In fact, given the size of the Earth's population,
it would be suprising if this were not the case. But conspiracies are just
one end of the scale of deception that is unfortunately common place --
consumerism constantly attempts to manipulate people for profit, for
instance. And deception is, in turn, just one of the many evils in this
world. The ultimate solution to these problems is to transcend the world,
not to uncover the political causes of specific conspiracies. I'm sure that
this is hardly a revelation to people on this list, but my point is that
conspiracy-theory-style approaches to Gnosticism that I've seen rarely go
beyond mundane politics and deception. I was recently amazed to see six
David Icke titles in the spirituality section of a local book shop. Icke
wrote a book called "Children and the Matrix", where he likened humanity to
the people of The Matrix. Only instead of recognising the Gnostic character
of The Matrix (or in spite of it, which is probably more likely given that
the symbolism in that movie is far from subtle and difficult to spot), he
insisted that our prison is a mental/political one -- we are all preyed upon
by vampiric serpents who keep society in ignorance... or some such nonsense.
For Icke, all the various religious and spiritual ideas he uses are just
bastardised into "proof" for his his strange world view. I find it hard to
imagine someone reading his book, or something else like it, and becomming
Gnostic. Maybe I'm being too cynical. I hope I am. But it seems to me
that the similarities between Gnosticism and conspiracy theories are just
There is that website that mixes both though... Jesus Loves Your Enemies or
something like that. It seems to be quite popular, so maybe a lot of people
do find they go together well.
- --- In email@example.com, Thomas Norush II <tjnii@y...>
> Hello Cari;Gospel of Thomas. And to be honest, I am not sure why the Church
> To this point the only thing that I have read at any length is the
would choose to catagorize this as a heresy.
>Thomas, as Gerry pointed out, it becomes a matter of view, doesn't
it? Does heresy constitute merely opinions that are different,
freely chosen,... or are they something false, even evil?
> Maybe as I read more of what is available I will be able todiscover such, but to this point, the Gospel of Thomas seems pretty
inline with Church teaching. Mind you there are some things that
would cause quite the conversation, but on the whole nothing that
struck me as "heresy" in the evil terms that I have heard it.
>It may appear to be "inline" in some respects. In fact, in _The
Gnostic Scriptures_ (which I highly recommend), Bentley Layton has
cross-references for many, but not all, sayings to similar verses in
Matthew, Mark, and Luke. And, whether or not _The Gospel of Thomas_
was originally "Gnostic" or proto-Gnostic has been debated.
Nonetheless, upon further inspection there are some major differences
when compared to orthodox doctrine. How *any* of the sayings might
be construed could vary from an orthodox interpretation when one
considers heterodox elements. As Bentley Layton comments in the
introduction to GTh (page 376):
"Historical framework is irrelevant to the message of GTh, for the
salvation that it proclaims is not the future reign of god on earth,
to be ushered in by a messiah, but rather the recognition of one's
true nature and acquaintance with oneself, leading to immediate
repose and rendering `death' (i.e. the realm of human affairs)
trivial. `The kingdom is inside of you. . . . When you become
acquainted with yourselves . . . you will understand that it is you
who are children of the living father.' Jesus' suffering, death, and
resurrection are not discussed in GTh; his role here is purely that
of a teacher of wisdom. GTh is thus a Christian gospel in which the
crucifixion of Jesus has no importance."
Self-acquaintance is definitely a Gnostic theme. Consider, Thomas,
how dangerous, how threatening that approach would be to *any*
political mechanism. How does one maintain hierarchical control when
people are relying on their own experience, rather than on outside,
dogmatic intermediaries? In the past, the governmental decisions
were inextricably entrenched with religious considerations.
> The Council of Trent I believe put it together in its current formand in theory there was a great deal of work for them to choose from
before they Canonized the current Bible. What was left out and more
importantly Why? If Thomas was around and available at that point,
why wasn't it included in the Bible?
>You might be interested in a recent book by Elaine Pagels, _Beyond
Belief_, that recounts this process, bringing in her ideas about _The
Gospel of Thomas_ specifically.
> Gnostic texts, the Dead Sea Scrolls, all offer me a chance to readwhat was available at the time. The chance to answer big questions
for myself and maybe pass this on to others. Maybe Gnosticism is
another step in the process for me. Not sure yet. Need to read and
study more on the subjects.
>Thomas, I would recommend some suggestions in our "links" section:
You might find the collection of introductory articles helpful. The
Gnosis Archive at
http://gnosis.org/ provides lots of information articles, book
suggestions, lectures, in addition to online source material, such as
The Nag Hammadi Library. I would also recommend the book, _The Nag
Hammadi Library_, by James M Robinson.
> Thank you for your response. I look forward to any insight you mayoffer or conversation that it brought about.
>Feel free to come back with comments and questions, Thomas, as you
pursue your own queries.