2008/09/26

Thanks to The Blue-Eyed Gnostic

Hear me, you that hear and listen to my words, you who know me. I am the hearing that can be acquired everywhere, and I am the speech that cannot be grasped. I am the name of the sound and the sound of the name. For what is inside of you is what is outside of you, and the one who fashioned you on the outside is the one who shaped the inside of you. And what you see outside of you, you see inside of you; it is visible and it is your garment.

-- The Thunder: Perfect Mind, NHL, p.302
From the Gnostic Book of Hours, p. 44.


Shamelessly nicked from Eileen, who has a pretty picture to go along with it over at her place.

The Thunder: Perfect Mind is one of the Sethian writings. That means it's thought to be associated with Seth. Yes, that Seth. From Adam and Eve. There're lots of other Gnostic and Gnostic-type wroitings spanning centuries and encompassing other heresies. "Gnosticism" has just become a blanket term for all of them.

A'course, you and I know that Gnosticism is a heresy. I don't recall it being condemned by any of the great eccumenical councils... speak up if you do. But I do know that Gonsticism, in all it's varieties, was condemned by that great heresy hunter Tertullian. He is practically defined by his anti-gnosticism. Before Tertulian, there was Iraenaus who, in his "Adversus Haereses" wrote about the Gonsticism in his region (France). And some people even say that the writer of The First Epistle to Timothy had Gonsticism in mind, referring to it as a "profane novelty."
But, I don't really want to write to you about Gnosticism. I want to talk about hereises for a minute. It is too easy to say, "Oh that's a heresy..." and dismiss it out of hand. Whenever something is that apparent, it deserves a second look because it's probably not right.
I don't think that the promoters of heresy, the heretics, set about to undermine the faith. I can't know that for sure but I have a feeling I'm right. I think that they were really seeking God. I do. And I think they found a little truth somewhere in there just like we all do. The thing that makes them heretics is that the truth they found was exalted above other truths and often made the only true thing. And that is a heresy.
Thank God for scholars who identified heresies and wrote about them. Tertulian and Ireaneas are only two of a pantheon of great heresy fighters. What they did is help us know who we are, who Christians are, by showing us what we are not. Gnostics... nope, not that. Marcionites... nope, not that either. Valentinians..., not that either. Just the list of Gnostic heresies might easily fill the page but the answer is still the same: Nope, not that either.
But, there is still truth in them thare heresies. It may be small compared to the whole but that doesn't make it any less true. So, instead of throwing out the Gnostic poetry along with the Gnostic heresy, let's embrace its beauty, see that it's true and may just as well feed our soul as the poetry of the Psalms.
If we are honest, and most of us are not... But, if we are, we know that we are constantly vascillating among this or that heresy. This is especially true regarding big things like the trinity, or the nature of God, anything ineffable. We want to understand and we can't do that without words, so we enter into one of the hereises for the language. But, we have to back out because it's not adequate, not the whole truth. We can see that this other thing, for which we also have words, is true too. And, suddenly we're in another heresy. So, we back out of that and into another, and into another, and into another. Maybe, if it's a real nice heresy, we even stop for awhile to enjoy it. It's OK.
It's not bad or wrong to do that. I mean, we can't go around in a transcendental state all day. So, the heresies give us a way to speak and think about God. But, if we've dismissed all the hereises then we are left without much to go on. I think I would feel just awful if I didn't have the company of Macian and Valentinius, Aruis, Apollanarius, Nestorius, and the others. They let me know that I am not alone is wanting to understand, and that I am not alone in constantly being wrong.
Heretically yours,
Lindy

15 comments:

FranIAm said...

Insightful, witty and erudite. Sheesh Lindy- you so seriously have it going on here.

Thank you. Now I need to see what Eileen did.

David said...

Lindy wrote ' I don't think that the promoters of heresy, the heretics, set about to undermine the faith. I can't know that for sure but I have a feeling I'm right. I think that they were really seeking God. I do.'

Lindy I think the key here might be to remember, as with portions of Scripture, that judgements of heresey or orthodoxy are as much as anything a reflection of the cultural context in which they were made.

It's amazing when one thinks about it, how much of our theological correctness is unquestionaly taken on without revisiting the context in which these decisions were made- all within a patriarchy, which is inherently dualistic.

For me personaly, it's in part what makes it so exciting to be a gay Christian in these times as patriarchy struggles with the challenge to its mysogeny and homophobia.

Thanks for a wonderful post.

David@Montreal

Lindy said...

Thanks Fran, I needed that. And back at you, you right-on blogger you.

Right David, thanks for an insightful comment. I do have a homophobia post in the works... so far just in my head. I am too mad to write it right now. And I also want to write some about this little Bible study I accidentally got myself roped into. If you think Sarah Palin is nuts, just wait till I tell you about Beth More!

For now, love, and have a good weekend!

Lindy

Grandmère Mimi said...

Lindy, my theory of salvation is closer to Abelard's than to any other that I have read or heard, and I don't agree with him 100%. He was declared a heretic. So.... He was popular and prominent enough to get caught in his heresy. I'm not. I still say the Nicene Creed and mean what I say.

Most of those who were declared heretics were searching for truth, just as most thinking Christians are.

Wormwood's Doxy said...

Oh! Do tell about Beth More, Lindy! Last weekend, I was chatting with a member of Dear Friend's church, and she was gushing about Beth More and talking about wanting to bring it to the parish.

My antenna immediately went up--and not in a good way. Should I give DF the heads-up that, if this woman mentions it to him, he should gently, but firmly, tell her "No"?

Thanks!
Doxy

Lindy said...

Oh, Doxy, no. Gentle, but firm... no. If your friend gently, but firmly, tells her no it will only be seen as a temporary set back. Beth More is a freaking cult, I'm telling you. It's like crusillo, EFM, and those other cults. Run, run as fast as you can, from Beth More.

More later (and, yes, I found that pun mildly amusing.)

Wormwood's Doxy said...

Hey!

You do know I'm an EFM mentor, don't you?

Lindy said...

Obviously, I did not. Now that I think of it so is another blog friend. And I like you both, I do. I just felt that that the EFM people in my parish, and the crusillo people too, were a little clickish. But, now that I think of it, the whole parish was that way.

Still, I wasn't impressed with the EFMers. They seemed unable to incorporate new information and then work with a whole body of knowledge. And they DID NOT like to be challenged. If they learned it in EFM then it was that way for ever and for always. Information from outside EFM was suspect. Also, I didn't think they should be so prissy. Really, I didn't. That's just me.

Then there's you and Ann... two of the smartest women on the internets, I really believe that, and you're not prissy at all. It might just be these dang Texans. I swear, Doxy, I've GOT to get out of here.

Please don't take offense. I shouldn't have said what I did. I don't know enough about EFM or crusillo to make any broad general statements. I am sorry.

Lindy

Wormwood's Doxy said...

Oh, honey! I laughed! I should have put the winky thing in...

EFM is like anything else---in the wrong hands, it can be deadly. I work really hard not to BE the wrong hands, but I am well aware of many of my faults as a mentor and must constantly battle them. The part that worries me is the faults I'm not aware of...

EFM is designed to help people learn to think theologically---on purpose. We all think theologically about some things, but EFM is supposed to help us make it a regular practice. I love that it is designed for the laity, and that it pounds into our heads that we are ALL called to ministry by virtue of our baptisms. That's something we still don't hear enough about---every time I start recruiting for a new seminar, I hear "But I don't want to be ordained!"

Neither do I...

You can only speak of your experience, and I can see how EFM can be just as you described. But I will say this...it turned me into an Anglican (and I mean that in the old, good, sense!), and gave me back my faith. I'm awfully glad I did it---so glad, in fact, that I KEEP doing it!

Cheers,
Doxy

Lindy said...

I'm glad to hear that about EFM. And I'd trust you to make any program into something good and Anglican.

For me it was a coupld of old altar guild women who were the personal agents of my really becomming an Anglican. After the Wednesday morning service they'd drag me back into our tiny sacticisty and explain everthing to me, and then I'd listen in as they talked about what ever we were going to do with Martyn Minns down the street. This was mid-late 1980's... Just goes to show you, don't underestimate the prophetic powers of the altar guild.

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