Saturday, December 30, 2006

Odes of Solomon - 3

Ode 3

1. ... I am putting on the love of the Lord.
2. And His members are with Him, and I am dependent on them; and He loves me.
3. For I should not have known how to love the Lord, if He had not continuously loved me.
4. Who is able to distinguish love, except him who is loved?
5. I love the Beloved and I myself love Him, and where His rest is, there also am
6. And I shall be no stranger, because there is no jealousy with the Lord Most High and Merciful.
7. I have been united to Him, because the lover has found the Beloved, because I love Him that is the Son, I shall become a son.
8. Indeed he who is joined to Him who is immortal, truly shall be immortal.
9. And he who delights in the Life will become living.
10. This is the Spirit of the Lord, which is not false, which teaches the sons of men
to know His ways.
11. Be wise and understanding and awakened.

"Putting on the love of the Lord" generates the imagery of clothing to me. Indeed, I feel "love" is a little play on "glove" (the glove of the Hand of God), and to put on this garment of love, we must shed the garments of hate and similiar emotions.

"His members" could refer to the Angels. If we think of the "glove" analogy, it could refer to his fingers (the Hand of God). Since we know that the Lord is on our head like a Crown, yet not a normal Crown, but a part of ourselves also, we are dependant on Him, for that Love which nourishes and blossoms within is. This love is a mutual act, a symbiosis, the yin and yang of Man and God.

The "Beloved" usually refers to Christ (though can also refer to Sophia, to God, and even John the Beloved). His "rest" could refer to death, to the afterlife, etc., and where he lies, we lie also.

The term "stranger" is used in some Gnostic scripture ("Allogenes") to refer to a Gnostic, one who is a "foreigner" to this world and the people enslaved here to the rule of the Demiurge. However, this Ode shows that we are not estranged from the "True" God like we are to the Demiurge, for God is not a "jealous god"; jealousy is one of the intrinsic characteristics of the Demiurge.

The symbiosis becomes clear - the Lover and the Beloved, both essential aspects, Two as One, united and whole. Love of Christ allows Christhood, and grants that immortality of spirit that we have forgotten.

"Living" is usually used to refer to that which is spiritually risen. "The Living Jesus" would refer to him after the Ressurection, for example. To rejoice in the Life is to awaken from the sleep and death of the physical, to become Awake and Living.

The "Spirit of the Lord" teaches us to "know His way" (attain Gnosis), for he is not "false" - i.e. not the Demiurge. "Son of Man" is a title which was used in reference to Christ. "Sons of Men" refers to us all, Sons as He was Son (that includes females, of course), Christed as he was Christ.

"Be wise and understanding and awakened" Wisdom (Chokmah) and Understanding (Binah), with that which Awakens us (Gnosis), which is Knowledge (Da'ath), those three powers below Kether (the Crown) that is the Lord described in the last Ode.

Odes of Solomon - 1

Ode 1

1. The Lord is on my head like a crown, and I shall never be without Him.
2. Plaited for me is the crown of truth, and it caused Your branches to blossom in me.
3. For it is not like a parched crown that blossoms not;
4. For You live upon my head, and have blossomed upon me.
5. Your fruits are full and complete; they are full of Your salvation....

There are some obvious parallels and correlations I can draw here with the Tree of Life. The Crown as Kether, "other", yet part of the self, where lies the Lord as seen in profile (Kether being the "anchor" of the Lord, or the Malkuth of Him).

The blossoming of the branches can allude to the outpouring of light to form the other Sephiroth in the ToL, each a branch blossoming out. They blossom in us because the ToL is in us, and we are in it ("As Above, So Below", etc.). This is a simultaneous truth.

"It is not like a parched crown" can suggest that it is not a normal kind of crown, not just a piece of gold to serve as a jewel. It is a living thing, a seed that blossoms forth.

The "fruits" could refer to the Sephiroth, each of which is "full and complete" in and of itself, and all of them offer the truth of Kether (and beyond it) through its particular guise, all offering the salvation of Gnosis, this spiritual knowledge that we can find in each Sephiroth, each Navitoth, and all the "nooks and crannies" that make up the spiritual map of evolution.

This is just the Qabalistic "analysis", of course. I encourage others to share their thoughts and musings.

Friday, December 15, 2006

The Shadow Of Santa

Half of my photography project this year required me to deal with "a sense of place", either literal or metaphorical. I shot three rolls of film for this and decided on these two photos in unison, with the title of them being a poem written especially for the project:

Click the image for a larger version:

P.S. Pardons for my absence - very busy. Will update soon.

Monday, November 27, 2006

God On Tour, Comic Strip #12

God shows his support for Peter Jackson directing "The Hobbit"...

Click image for a larger version:

Check for more about New Line seeking another director and the actions of fans to bring back PJ for "The Hobbit" film/s.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

The Third Light: Humility


May we take comfort in the meek
And all that is not great and grand;
To be so is not frail or weak -
We need not always make command.

May we at times learn to let go,
To step down off our lofty horse;
It is not always dark below,
We need not meet all trials with force.

May we not always speak of I
Or stare at our reflection
We do not need to sit on high,
Nor do we need perfection.

May we always be alert
For when pride is fully fed;
Should we give it a dessert,
Then ego rears its ugly head!

May we learn to embrace
The modest and the humble;
It is not always a disgrace
To let that ego crumble!

Celebration of the Four Lights: Day Three

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

The Second Light: Compassion


May I never grow so cold
To shun a friend (or even foe),
Not one young or even old,
Even those I do not know.

May I offer my own heart
To every being upon this earth;
May I never grow apart
From my fellow kin since Birth.

May I kindle kind concern
In my soul for every man,
Even those who’ve yet to earn
A place within the wider plan.

May I take some time to give
To those who really need;
Without such love I cannot live
A life not ruled by greed.

May I pause and now reflect
On those who have less luck;
That I can change in some respect -
A helping hand when stuck!

Celebration of the Four Lights: Day Two

Monday, November 20, 2006

The First Light: Inquiry


May I never grow to love
The comforts of a placid life,
With no search for that above,
Even if that comes with strife.

May I always question all,
Even that which I hold dear;
Every matter, great and small,
Even that which I may fear.

May I examine what I believe
To be what I would call “the truth”,
And question all that I perceive,
The grooming I received from youth.

May I always look and seek
For what is really right and real,
To try my claims with cool critique,
To hunt what’s actual, not ideal.

May I respect that I inquire,
And that many others do so too -
My probing mind shall not retire
As I search for what is truly true.

Celebration of the Four Lights: Day One

God On Tour, Comic Strip #11

God gets lonely. God gets horny. God sometimes cannot avert his godly gaze. One day God met Mary Magdalene...

Click image for a larger version:

Controversial? Feel free to comment, and don't forget to check back next week...

Friday, November 17, 2006

Celibacy & Married Priests

RTÉ, the main Irish TV station here, hosted a program from the "Would You Believe?" series called "Last Judgement" this week, dealing with the issue of mandatory celibacy and married priests in the Catholic Church.

The issue was raised that there is no theological backing for mandatory celibacy, that such a rule was only introduced around a thousand years ago (i.e. not actually from the beginning of Christianity), and that we have actually had many married Popes, including Peter himself, the first pope, who Jesus chose as the Head of His Church. Obviously there's something wrong here - obviously this isn't the message of Christ, so what the hell are we doing still obeying these man-made rules that have been proven, by experience and observation, to not work, at least not for all who attempt them? Indeed, why should a priest have to choose between his Vocation to God and his Vocation to Marriage?

As a Gnostic, I don't have to address these archaic leanings of Catholicism, as the Greater Gnostic Church (i.e. the main collective bodies) don't have a rule of mandatory celibacy, and, of course, allow married priests, as well as female priests. There's nothing wrong with celibacy, of course, for those who can uphold it, and for those who choose to uphold it - it can be a fulfilling life for them (like other forms of abstinence, which work for those who choose to uphold them), but if we force anything like this upon someone, it is bound not to work, and this, I feel, is part of the reason why we have such a corrupt and abusive Catholic Church. If God chooses a man to become a priest, then that is all that should be required of him. Yes, study and practice ritual and learn to minister effectively, as these are all essential aspects of a good priest, but if we make celibacy a requirement to be a priest, then we are overriding God's rule and banning good men (and women, of course, but that's another issue) from what has become a political institution, devoid of the real meaning of Ekklesia, which is the people themselves, priest and layman alike, who merely choose a different way to do God's Great and Infinite Work.

Now, we all hear about the many parish churches that are closing down nowadays due to a lack of priests, and this program asked parishioners how they'd feel if a married priest was to fill the vacancy, to which, quite rationally, those parishioners said they wouldn't mind, that, indeed, changes would have to made, and that they hoped these changes would be made before it was too late (i.e. before half the parishes have no resident priest).

So if there are so many people wanting this change made, then why is it not even being debated in the Church, let alone being changed to reflect the wishes of the parishioners and the survival of Catholicism in Ireland? Firstly, there are a few Bishops here in Ireland who support the idea of married priests, but their voices have been met with silence by the Vatican, which says enough, and these are Bishops, who we usually think of as having the power. It was asked, however, if the people should voice out about this, if the change should be enforced by the people, as it were, but the parishioners in question just asked: "Sure what power have we got?" It's true, they don't have the authority of the Pope or Cardinals, but they do have power. I can just imagine what would happen if the Church was faced with protests from people in Catholic countries on the scale of the Iraq protests, or even much smaller. It mightn't equal immediate change, but I think it would let the Vatican know just who they're messing with: the Church itself. Because, frankly, the Vatican is not the Church. The people are the Church, and the Pope will mean nothing if there are no Catholics left in the world.

Of course, it's not as simple as just changing this, which, I feel, has many sympatizers in the Church. I think the Catholic Church is very aware of the reality that if they make any change of this magnitude they will have to follow through with making other, even more radical, changes, such as the acceptance of female clergy. I support and encourage these changes, of course, but I am not naive enough to believe that the world won't pressure the Church into more and more changes, changes that the Vatican obviously don't want to make, changes they are afraid to make.

The second part of this two-part series on the challenges facing the Catholic Church is to be aired on next Tuesday (21st November) at 10:10pm, and shall be dealing with the even more hotly-contested issue of female priests. I'll make a post on that afterwards.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

God On Tour, Comic Strip #10

There was no temptation from a Serpent, no eating of a Forbidden Fruit - just Vandalism in the Garden of Eden.

Click image for a larger version:

The Meaning Of Life

When asked what the Meaning of Life was/is, I have used the following answer since my mid teens or so:

What is the meaning of life?

The meaning of life is to live.

The meaning of human life is to go beyond just living.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Does God Exist?

“The existence of God can be proved in five ways. The first and most obvious proof is the argument from change (ex parte motus). It is clearly the case that some things in this world are in the process of changing. Now everything that is in the process of being changed is changed by something else, since nothing is changed unless it is potentially that towards which it being changed, whereas that which changes is actual. To change something is nothing else than to bring it from potentiality to actuality, and a thing can be brought from potentiality to actuality only by something which is actual. Thus a fire, which is actually hot, makes wood, which is potentially hot, to be actually hot, thus changing and altering it. Now it is impossible for the same thing to be both actual and potential in the same respect, although it may be so in different respects. What is actually hot cannot at the same time be potentially hot, although it is potentially cold. It is therefore impossible that, in the same manner and in the same way, anything should be both the one which effects change and the one that is changed, so that it should change itself. Whatever is changed must therefore be changed by something else. If, then, whatever is changing it is itself changed, this also must be changed by something else, and this in turn by something else again. But this cannot go on forever, since there would then be no first cause to this process of change, and consequently no other agent of change, because secondary things which change cannot change unless they are changed by the first cause, in the same way as a stick cannot move unless it is moved by the hand. We are therefore bound to arrive at a first cause of change which is not changed by anything and everyone understands that this is God.”

- The Five Ways, Thomas Aquinas

The above is a cosmological argument for the existence of God, from roughly a millenium ago, and one that still holds some weight today, even if its specifics are argued. This is based on the principle of Cause & Effect (which is both a scientific concept and one that has been espoused by various schools of philosophy for millenia), and the argument goes somewhat like the following, with my own (half-formed) musings added in for good measure:

Something is caused (and must be caused) by something else. We know this from observation alone, as an effect cannot exist without a prior cause for that effect, such as a ripple in a pond requiring some cause, perhaps a stone being dropped within it, or an earthquake being caused by the plates beneath the earth shifting, and the earthquake is in itself the cause of buildings collapsing, and the buildings collapsing are in turn the cause of people being injured, etc. So, the cause of one effect is the effect of a prior cause, and so on, ad infinatum. However, Aquinas postulates that there must be an initial cause of all these subsequent causes, and this he terms "God". I agree with him to some extent here, in that I feel there is indeed one First Principle from which all others are derived, even if that First Principle is indescribable, infinite, and eternal. Some argue against this by asking why there cannot be a series of infinite causes, and to this I say: there is - and this series of infinite causes is God, who is infinite and the Cause of All (and also the Effect, by extension [or emanation], but that's a different topic entirely). If there is a series of infinite causes, and we call this "God", then, by logical conclusion, "God" is the First Principle, which is this series of infinite causes while simultaneously being an initial (infinite) cause, thus the reality of God as I always find him: a paradox.

To illustrate this better, let us use the following example:

A = God/Big Bang
B = Cosmos
C = Earth
D = Humanity

D is the Effect of Cause C, which is the Effect of Cause B, which is the Effect of Cause A. Logically, we have a First Principle, even if it is merely postulated due to our lack of understanding or inability to grasp anything beyond that. Since humanity exists, we know that its existence is the effect of some cause, which we can possibly generalise as "Earth", since without this planet none of the life forms here could exist, and humanity could not have evolved from them. The Earth, likewise, must be the effect of something else, which is, let's say, the Cosmos, or the Universe at large, through the various workings of the Solar System and the formation, etc. of stars. This, likewise, was established by some other cause, which Science currently calls "The Big Bang". We can call this "God", for now. If we accept that "The Big Bang" was the cause of our universe, then we have a First Principle. We can effectively label this "God", as he is generally conceived of as being the "Source" of All, or the First Principle (a label like "God" and "Big Bang" remains a label).

If we find out, however, that there was something before the Big Bang, the Big Bang ceases to be the First Principle, becoming a Second Principle to whatever new information we found created that effect (God, perhaps?). Likewise, recognising that there is indeed a Demiurge, who is not the First Principle (even if he thinks he is) means that this conception of "God the Creator" is not the First Principle, but the Second, and the First Principle remains "GOD" as he truly is. God is, in effect, the First Principle in actuality, even if the subsquent principles are rearanged constantly to fit the arising of new information. God is the Source of All, the Primal Cause, the Fullness, the Centre from which everthing Emanates and Radiates, and there cannot be anything beyond or above him, because if there was, then whatever he is ceases to be "GOD" (or "the First Principle") and becomes a secondary principle to that which is above him, which is "GOD" and "the First Principle". So, even if we wrongly label something with these terms (such as the Demiurge), it doesn't defeat the reality that there is one Origin to which all of this goes back to (and all of this goes forward to in the End), and we label this: God.


A = God
B = "God" [i.e. Demiurge]
C = Cosmos
D = Earth
E = Humanity.

These thoughts are not full-formed in my head, so I am still musing at this point, but feel free to comment and add your own thoughts.

[Note, considering a comment here, that I am not in any way saying that God's existence needs to be proven. I find that most of science is based on theory and not "fact" or "proof", and just as we cannot see an atom, but believe and/or know that it exists, likewise with God. My post on Aquinas' argument here is a theological musing on the idea of God's existence, and I have avoided using the term "proof" (in any of its forms) within my own argument here, as I feel ultimately nothing can be "proven". Please take this into consideration before jumping to conclusions.]

Sunday, November 05, 2006

God On Tour, Comic Strip #9

"And, lo! God did stoop a while from the weight of his chunky "GOD" pendant, and verilly, I say, did he evolve, and go walking upright, and lo! he was called Deus Erectus."

- The Gospel of God

Click image for a larger version:

On The Father

Below is a section from the Tripartite Tractate, dealing with God the Father as he truly is, beyond those Veils of Negative Existence - not a man on a cloud with a thick white beard, held aloft by an entourage of angels, but that which is inexpressible, yet not unknowable. Its poetic potency reminds me why I love such works so much:

2. The Father

"He existed before anything other than himself came into being. The Father is a single one, like a number, for he is the first one and the one who is only himself. Yet he is not like a solitary individual. Otherwise, how could he be a father? For whenever there is a "father," the name "son" follows. But the single one, who alone is the Father, is like a root, with tree, branches and fruit. It is said of him that he is a father in the proper sense, since he is inimitable and immutable. Because of this, he is single in the proper sense, and is a god, because no one is a god for him nor is anyone a father to him. For he is unbegotten, and there is no other who begot him, nor another who created him. For whoever is someone's father or his creator, he, too, has a father and creator. It is certainly possible for him to be father and creator of the one who came into being from him and the one whom he created, for he is not a father in the proper sense, nor a god, because he has someone who begot him and who created him. It is, then, only the Father and God in the proper sense that no one else begot. As for the Totalities, he is the one who begot them and created them. He is without beginning and without end.

Not only is he without end - He is immortal for this reason, that he is unbegotten - but he is also invariable in his eternal existence, in his identity, in that by which he is established, and in that by which he is great. Neither will he remove himself from that by which he is, nor will anyone else force him to produce an end which he has not ever desired. He has not had anyone who initiated his own existence. Thus, he is himself unchanged, and no one else can remove him from his existence and his identity, that in which he is, and his greatness, so that he cannot be grasped; nor is it possible for anyone else to change him into a different form, or to reduce him, or alter him or diminish him, - since this is so in the fullest sense of the truth - who is the unalterable, immutable one, with immutability clothing him.

Not only is he the one called "without a beginning" and "without an end," because he is unbegotten and immortal; but just as he has no beginning and no end as he is, he is unattainable in his greatness, inscrutable in his wisdom, incomprehensible in his power, and unfathomable in his sweetness.

In the proper sense, he alone - the good, the unbegotten Father, and the complete perfect one - is the one filled with all his offspring, and with every virtue, and with everything of value. And he has more, that is, lack of any malice, in order that it may be discovered that whoever has anything is indebted to him, because he gives it, being himself unreachable and unwearied by that which he gives, since he is wealthy in the gifts which he bestows, and at rest in the favors which he grants.

He is of such a kind and form and great magnitude that no one else has been with him from the beginning; nor is there a place in which he is, or from which he has come forth, or into which he will go; nor is there a primordial form, which he uses as a model as he works; nor is there any difficulty which accompanies him in what he does; nor is there any material which is at his disposal, from which creates what he creates; nor any substance within him from which he begets what he begets; nor a co-worker with him, working with him on the things at which he works. To say anything of this sort is ignorant. Rather, (one should speak of him) as good, faultless, perfect, complete, being himself the Totality.

Not one of the names which are conceived or spoken, seen or grasped - not one of them applies to him, even though they are exceedingly glorious, magnifying and honored. However, it is possible to utter these names for his glory and honor, in accordance with the capacity of each of those who give him glory. Yet as for him, in his own existence, being and form, it is impossible for mind to conceive him, nor can any speech convey him, nor can any eye see him, nor can any body grasp him, because of his inscrutable greatness, and his incomprehensible depth, and his immeasurable height, and his illimitable will. This is the nature of the unbegotten one, which does not touch anything else; nor is it joined (to anything) in the manner of something which is limited. Rather, he possesses this constitution, without having a face or a form, things which are understood through perception, whence also comes (the epithet) "the incomprehensible. If he is incomprehensible, then it follows that he is unknowable, that he is the one who is inconceivable by any thought, invisible by any thing, ineffable by any word, untouchable by any hand. He alone is the one who knows himself as he is, along with his form and his greatness and his magnitude. And since he has the ability to conceive of himself, to see himself, to name himself, to comprehend himself, he alone is the one who is his own mind, his own eye, his own mouth, his own form, and he is what he thinks, what he sees, what he speaks, what he grasps, himself, the one who is inconceivable, ineffable, incomprehensible, immutable, while sustaining, joyous, true, delightful, and restful is that which he conceives, that which he sees, that about which he speaks, that which he has as thought. He transcends all wisdom, and is above all intellect, and is above all glory, and is above all beauty, and all sweetness, and all greatness, and any depth and any height.

If this one, who is unknowable in his nature, to whom pertain all the greatnesses which I already mentioned - if, out of the abundance of his sweetness, he wishes to grant knowledge, so that he might be known, he has the ability to do so. He has his Power, which is his will. Now, however, in silence he himself holds back, he who is the great one, who is the cause of bringing the Totalities into their eternal being.

It is in the proper sense that he begets himself as ineffable, since he alone is self-begotten, since he conceives of himself, and since he knows himself as he is. What is worthy of his admiration and glory and honor and praise, he produces because of the boundlessness of his greatness, and the unsearchability of his wisdom, and the immeasurability of his power, and his untasteable sweetness. He is the one who projects himself thus, as generation, having glory and honor marvelous and lovely; the one who glorifies himself, who marvels, honors, who also loves; the one who has a Son, who subsists in him, who is silent concerning him, who is the ineffable one in the ineffable one, the invisible one, the incomprehensible one, the inconceivable one in the inconceivable one. Thus, he exists in him forever. The Father, in the way we mentioned earlier, in an unbegotten way, is the one in whom he knows himself, who begot him having a thought, which is the thought of him, that is, the perception of him, which is the [...] of his constitution forever. That is, however, in the proper sense, the silence and the wisdom and the grace, if it is designated properly in this way."

- 2. The Father, Tripartite Tractate

Saturday, November 04, 2006

NaNoWriMo MadNess

I (madly) decided to take part in NaNoWriMo this year, even though I've got alot of work due for completion this month, haven't gotten my laptop yet (which I'm quickly coming to find I need if I'm to get to the same quantity of writing I used to do a few years ago), and am suffering from a severe bout of the flu (3 weeks and counting!), which has assailed Dublin all October.

I managed 742 words on Day 1 (01 Nov), but nothing since, due to a filming preparations and a photography shoot. Pray for me and hound me with encouragement - you never know, I might get to 750 words soon!

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Have You Seen Father Ted?

At the request of an Anonymous commentor, here are some samples from the Irish TV series "Father Ted". All are in three parts, though I have imbedded the first part of the first episode for easy viewing pleasure. Enjoy! ;)

Father Ted - Good Luck There, Father Ted

Part Two
Part Three

Father Ted - Tentacles Of Doom

Part One
Part Two
Part Three

Father Ted - Chirpy Burpy Cheap Sheep

Part One
Part Two
Part Three

P.S. I noticed an odd bit of footage here and there cut out (I didn't upload them myself), but for the most part, these clips should be okay.

Monday, October 30, 2006



I believe the world is round,
Yet I have not travelled 'round it;
I've seen round maps and globes,
Yet I have seen God's face in paint
And heard God's name in hallowed words.
I've seen square maps with cliff-fall edges,
And I've seen scientists preach their gospel
In magazines and books, and upon the TV screen,
And I believe the world is round
Because they tell me so.
I have not measured inch by inch, the earth,
Nor have I toyed with test-tube trials;
I've talked with people around the world,
Though I do not know they are not actually
Five minutes down the road from me,
Or that America exists,
Or that my plane really left the ground
And didn't drive to Belfast,
Carrying cloud machines and minature cars
To prove how far above the ground I was.
I do not know the moon-landing was real.
If I accept it was, it is because I believe
My loyal TV;
If I accept it was not, it is because I believe
The world is out to get me,
Especially my "loyal" TV.
I believe the earth revolves around the sun -
Yet I have not once looked in a telescope
(And even then, how can I know
That what I see is really there?),
Nor have I travelled space.
I've read people's works, which said
They believed the sun revolves around the earth,
And I believe they really believed that,
Because I believe these are their words
And because I believe in carbon-dating,
Because I believe the man in the white coat,
Who told me so.
I believe 1+1=2, because that is what I was told.
I was programmed like a computer
And now I see 1+1 can only equal 2,
And is "proven" as logically the result of this equation.
I believe numbers exist
(or that what I see are numbers),
And that + means plus
And = means equals
And that there is an equation
And that this is it.
I believe what I believe is true,
And I believe that I'm actually writing this,
And you believe you're reading this,
And the gospel of science believes it has found
The Truth,
And you and I both know
That we believe we know what we believe,
And I believe it's true. Do you?

Sunday, October 29, 2006

The Priesthood Is Growing...

A quick congrats to our Sister, Rev. Marsha+, who was ordained to the Gnostic Priesthood recently. May your Work be fruitful and everlasting :)

"Be what you see, receive what you are"

God On Tour, Comic Strip #8

God braves up and confronts the Language Barrier...

Click image for a larger version:

Friday, October 27, 2006

Candlelight Key

Candlelight Key

In vessels of beauty I sought the beloved;
I sailed upon seas made of poetry and prose.
This tongue-tied tale of a travelling wayman
Brought me to the foot of the cross and the rose -
And there in the shadow the hidden light shows.

In moments of rapture and deep thoughts enclosing,
I rode on a mule that was made out of me;
This trip was in darkness, though on the horizon,
Was a single star shining for all us to see.
Lost in my thoughts, I was trapped and yet free.

In times of great trial when the dark is approaching,
I only need look past this valley of death,
This cage of bleak remnants and careful supposings,
To the great and wide ocean outside the fish net,
Where the waters still nourish and the Mother is met.

Inside are the waters, within is the Tree;
I sailed upon oceans that were all within me.
It took me so long to stop sailing and Be,
And in that pure Being my being was set free -
Let no Dark avail, for the Light is the Key.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Teachings Of The Ecclesia Gnostica

Below are 14 points of doctrine (from doctrina - "code of beliefs"; "body of teachings", etc.) from the Ecclesia Gnostica, led by Bishop Stephan +Hoeller, but I feel they are a fairly good representative of key accepted teachings within the wider Gnostic ekklesia also:

  • There is an original and transcendental spiritual unity which came to emanate a vast manifestation of pluralities.
  • The manifest universe of matter and mind (psyche) was not created by the original spiritual unity but by spiritual beings possessing inferior powers.
  • These creators possessing inferior powers have as one of their objectives the perpetual separation of humans from the unity (God).
  • The human being is a composite, the outer aspect being the handiwork of the inferior creators, while the "inner man" has the character of a fallen spark of the ultimate divine unity.
  • The fallen sparks of transcendental holiness slumber in their material and mental prison, their self-awareness stupefied by forces of materiality and mind.
  • The slumbering sparks have not been abandoned by the ultimate unity, rather there is a constant effort forthcoming from this unity that is directed toward their awakening and liberation.
  • The awakening of the inmost divine essence in humans is effected by salvific knowledge, called Gnosis.
  • Salvific knowledge, or Gnosis, is not brought about by belief, or the performance of virtuous deeds, or by obedience to commandments, for these can at best but serve as preparatory circumstances leading toward liberating knowledge.
  • Among the helpers of the slumbering sparks a particular position of honor and importance belongs to a feminine emanation of the unity. The name of this emanation is Sophia (Wisdom). She was involved in the creation of the world and ever since remained the guide of her orphaned human children.
  • From the earliest times of history, messengers of light have been sent forth from the ultimate unity. The task of these messengers has ever been the advancement of Gnosis in the souls of humans.
  • The greatest of these messengers in our historical and geographical matrix was the descended Logos of God, manifesting in Jesus Christ.
  • Jesus exercised a twofold ministry: He was a teacher, imparting instruction concerning the way of Gnosis, and he was a hierophant, imparting mysteries.
  • The mysteries imparted y Jesus (which are also known as sacraments) are mighty aids toward Gnosis and have been entrusted by him to his apostles and to their successors.
  • By way of the spiritual practice of the mysteries (sacraments) and by a relentless and uncompromising striving for Gnosis, humans can steadily advance toward liberation from all confinement, material and otherwise. The ultimate objective of this process of liberation is the achievement of salvific knowledge and with it freedom from embodied existence and return to the ultimate unity.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Thunder: Perfect Perfume

Graciously stolen from Fr. Jordie+
, who has an excellent post on it here.

Don't forget to read "Thunder: Perfect Mind" in full if you haven't already. It is one of the most beautiful and poetic Gnostic pieces, a personal favourite, and deals with the Divine Feminine (Sophia).

Musings On Militant Athiesm

Brother Jeremy over at Palm Tree Garden posted a link to this article, which is interesting reading. My own musings on this style of "Militant Atheism" are below:

Atheism and Scientism are, in my opinion, just as much religious movements as Christianity or Gnosticism, except they hide behind the veil of not having traditional religious imagery. Religion is anathema to many now, which means these religions, which don't call themselves religions, can grow and proselytize without the stigma that known religions would have for similiar practices. Indeed, on many Christian forums I have visited, the majority of posters are atheists who are indeed militant and aggressively trying to enforce their beliefs onto people. This is more dangerous, in my opinion, purely because it's often not recognised as faith-pushing, which means these practices are allowed (or even encouraged) when they are defamed elsewhere.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006


I uphold a strong respect and admiration for the tradition of our forefathers (and foremothers), not in the sense of unwavering doctrine and clinging to the beliefs and practices of the past, but what is a dynamic and living tradition that has been passed on to us and that we pass on to those that follow.

Trade is the handing over of goods for currency (or vice-versa, or for other goods), whereas tradition is the handing on or handing down of goods, and these goods are often priceless – pneumatic truths, effective spiritual practices, and that wonderful warehouse of divinity and sublime beauty that is poetry and mythology.

I am not an advocate of traditionalism, which idolises and, indeed, worships the traditions of the past as solely authoritative and baseline principles, in much the same way as the rationalists cling to reason as the ultimate source of religion and divinity. Recognising these as vital elements of our spiritual makeup are, I believe, essential, but adhering to one alone, including scripture and/or church doctrine, is not only naïve and foolish, but actually dangerous, in that it deifies and idolises what is essentially, while inspired and ,without doubt, useful, also severely incomplete and flawed.

Some people argue that we should not have a Priesthood, or certain Sacraments, or Apostolic Succession (among other things) because they are not mentioned in the Bible. This is, effectively, a Protestant standpoint, and one that is as flawed as that which they are criticizing, if not more so. Firstly, the Bible is inaccurate and contradictory. It is also vague, and, for the most part, doesn’t give much information on spiritual practices to follow, which is an equal criticism of the Gnostic scriptures we have today. If we cling to the Bible (and other scripture and revealed works) as the only source for our spiritual practices (in effect, worship it as the word of God, when Christ is the Word of God, and Christ must be experienced, not merely read about), then we will have very little to work with, as the Bible simply doesn’t, and can’t, have everything.

Tradition, I feel, bridges this gap, and it is tradition that gave effective practices to our ancestors (such as the Eucharist and Apostolic Succession, which predate Christianity), and it is this same tradition which gives us these effective practices (built upon experience, trial and error, experimentation, and cultural integration) today. We don’t just hand down something because it’s tradition – we do so because it works, and it is tradition because it works. If it is broken or doesn’t work in our land or for our character, we fix it or alter it to suit our time, but we do so with experience, respecting that tradition is there so we don’t have to start from square one. Adepts, masters, and other such people have handed such on based on their life’s work and attainment, and it is the role of the priest (among others of equal grounding) to continue this by handing on not only those things which previous people have handed on, but what the priest him or herself has found useful and vital from their own experiences. If it was not useful, was not worth something, why would it be handed on? Would you travel a vast sea with a stock of trade you didn’t feel was worth something, or, indeed, worth a lot? Would you leave your spiritual family some rusty relics of merely sentimental value, or would you give them what matters, something that they can actually use to help them not only get to their ancestors’ stage of evolution, but go beyond it? Tradition is about the master being such a good teacher that his student transcends him, helping him avoid the pitfalls that he himself has encountered, and teaching him the value of this handing down of things, that this spiritual growth might be shared continuously (and humbly, for without some humility, our growth will collapse into egotism), not hogged by one “illuminated” master who merely uses it to raise his social status or mystical grandeur.

Tradition (which is, indeed, what the word “Kabbalah” means, from “to receive/accept”, and was/is the oral tradition of teachings handed down side-by-side with the scriptural teachings of the Torah, which hints at why we need both in Gnosticism too) is undying. The Romans are gone. The Greeks are gone. Those old Christians are gone, and the old Gnostics are gone. Gnosis remains, and the path to Gnosis is preserved in tradition, one that will live on when we’re gone, and one that is undying because it is living.

A parting quote:

“True tradition is always a living tradition. It changes while remaining always the same. It changes because it faces different situations, not because its essential content is modified. This content is not an abstract proposition; it is the living Christ Himself, who said ‘I am the Truth’.”

- “Living Tradition” by John Meyendorff

Sunday, October 22, 2006

God On Tour, Comic Strip #7

And on the 7th Day and subsequent Sabbaths...

Click image for a larger version:

Saturday, October 21, 2006


There was a recent discussion at the Palm Tree Garden forums regarding the possibility and validity of self-ordination to the Gnostic priesthood, an issue which received a wide range of responses from a wide range of backgrounds, and one that I feel will be raised again (given the general liberal attitude of Gnostics and Gnosticism), so I will share my thoughts on it now.

The original question was about if it is possible to be ordained by the grace of God and not another priest or bishop, and from thenceforth commence a priestly life, officiating the Sacraments, etc.

Is it possible to be ordained by the grace of God? Yes, of course it is. Indeed, any true and genuine ordination is an ordination by the grace of God. However, I feel there is another layer to this question that needs exploration: how can we be sure it is by God’s grace that we are to be ordained, and not by our own desires? If the person in question had a revelatory experience of Gnosis that looks a bit like God’s grace, then that’s an obvious sign (though not a guarantee), but I feel a large part of this question is about self-dedication to the priesthood, not based on an actual message from God calling the person to Formation and Vocation. I think a lot of people feel a “calling” to the priesthood, but for the most part, there is a certain level of self-delusion regarding the real reasons for this want. Like with the common saying associated with ceremonial circles (“when the student is ready, the teacher will appear”), if the person in question really feels a Calling, then the options for such will be revealed, and if not now, such will be revealed later – and the person should still feel that Calling then, if it were more than a transitory desire. If they really want it, they will get it, even if it means travelling or waiting a few years. Such a small sacrifice is little indeed in comparison to the monumental life decision joining the priesthood actually is.

I feel that having a “long” (it is no longer than most systems of initiation/formation) process of Formation helps avoid people feeling a calling on Monday and ordaining themselves that Friday, performing the Eucharist on Sunday, and then quitting the Work the following Monday. If there isn’t a procedure to chart the candidate’s suitability and progress, then it will bring with it all the flaws of self-initiation that are found in ceremonial circles, with many people not even remotely coming close to doing the work, but claiming the title/s, grade/s, etc.

I do support, generally-speaking, self-initiation when it comes to ceremonial work, but here is, I feel, a big difference between self-initiating into the Current of the Golden Dawn and self-ordaining yourself into the Priesthood. Firstly, the Priesthood could be seen as the equivalent of Adepthood in the G.’.D.’., so to self-ordain yourself into the Priesthood is not the same as self-initiating into Neophyte. So, of course, the question of Formation (i.e. the equivalent of the pre-Adept grades) comes into play, which will be addressed later.

Indeed, exactly how is someone to self-ordain themselves? If you were to self-initiate into the Golden Dawn, you would use an altered form of their initiation rituals. What ordination ceremony would be used for self-ordination, and would any ecclesiastical denomination really approve of someone using their ceremony like this (if, indeed, their ceremony was even allowed to be viewed by someone outside of their group or outside of the clergy)? If you belong to a certain church or order, you are expected to follow their structural and organisational procedures, including that of initiation/ordination and gradework/formation.

The question of why the candidate wants to “self-ordain” would then come into question. Is it because they do not agree with the procedures of the church? If this is so, then more than likely they should not be a part of that church. Is it because they do not live in an appropriate location? If so, then some flights for the ordination ceremonies themselves can be done and the formation process can be done long-distance with appropriate mentorship (at least, this is a procedure in place in the AJC). If self-ordination is desired because the person wants status and wants it now (i.e. wants to skip the whole Formation period), then obviously that person shouldn’t and can’t be a priest (i.e. they are most definitely not ordained by the grace of God, as they will not have a priestly character and are not a priest at heart). If you can think of more reasons why self-ordination might be sought, please share them with me (add a comment) so I can see the totality of the issue and not just what I have outlined here.

Now this leads me to the final topic, which is one of the most important: Formation is an important and integral part of becoming a priest. The ordination itself is but the culmination of that process (and the beginning of a new, equally difficult, but also equally rewarding process), the icing on the cake, as it were, and it does not make you a priest, just as the icing is not the cake and does not make the cake – ordination is a ceremonial recognition of what you have become through Formation, and thus the real work is done in those many years spent before ordination. Indeed, I am always disturbed by the large growth in online ordinations, where people pay their $10, receive a certificate, and go on their merry way as a “priest”. While there are indeed some people who use this method in a genuine fashion, and some who have undergone Formation (in some manner) and possibly have taken a course in Ministering, the sheer fact that anyone who pays can be ordained renders the system extremely open to abuse. Of course, not all who undergo the traditional process of Formation and ordination come out well, as all systems and approaches can be abused, but, I feel, this limits that considerably, especially in the sense of those who are not as dedicated as they think they are, those who are doing it for a title, and those who do not have the appropriate teachings and experience to provide the necessary ministering required. Formation also offers a substantial spiritual transformation and self-discovery for the Formationer, in the same vein as those offered by various esoteric orders, and this is necessary if the new priest is to then be able to help with the spiritual transformations and self-discoveries of their parishioners.

The road to ordination is a long one, and one that should transform the driver. The priestly “driver license” does not make them a good driver, nor does it prepare them for the trials ahead. The driving lessons undergone in Formation will give them the necessary education and experience to travel the road responsibly, and allow them to drive passengers in a safe and productive manner, helping them on their own journeys. Many people can drive, but there are substantially less who are good drivers, and less again who having driving in their heart. So it is with the priesthood, and if we are to be considerate of the safety of the other people on the road, especially to our passengers, we need to recognise this, train our applicants, and help transform them into priests worthy of the title. If we do not do this, the roads may become very dangerous.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Knowledge Is The Light Through Which We Ripen

"Farming in the world requires the cooperation of four essential elements. A harvest is gathered into the barn only as a result of the natural action of water, earth, wind and light. God's farming likewise has four elements - faith, hope, love, and knowledge. Faith is our earth, that in which we take root. And hope is the water through which we are nourished. Love is the wind through which we grow. Knowledge, then, is the light through which we ripen."

- The Gospel of Philip

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Palm Tree Garden

The Palm Tree Garden

The Palm Tree Garden is an online Gnostic resource of particular note, especially its forum, one of the very few Gnostic forums on the net (and one of even fewer that relates to Gnosticism and not, as Father Jordan+ would call it, Gnosis-ism). There's also a large list of Gnostic Blogs (the Logosphere) there which may be of use, but if you want some community or a place to start a discussion or ask a question, the forum is the place to go.

"And God said: Go ye now (swiftly) to the Palm Tree Garden!"

- Book of Made-Up Godliness 1:37

Sunday, October 15, 2006

God On Tour, Comic Strip #6

This is Part Two of the "God On Tour" strip "Thumbing A Lift" (see Part One here). As you can see, not only humans are interested in religion...

Click image for a larger version:

Friday, October 13, 2006

In Commemoration Of The Knights Templar

Today is the Commemoration of the Martyrdom of the Knights Templar, those Gnostics who were credited as heretics by the Church in the early 14th Century, arrested, tortured, and executed. It was on Friday, October 13th 1307 that King Philip IV of France ordered their arrest, and this could be the origin of the "Friday the 13th" superstition (supposedly, for example, the last Grand Master of the Templars, Jacques de Molay, who was burned at the stake on accusations of heresy, cursed King Philip and Pope Celement V to join him in death within a year. Clement died within a month and Philip after 7 months), which is particularly relevant for us today, given the 13th falls on a Friday for us. I offer the following prayer in their memory:

Lord, may we remember those who have suffered unjustly at the hands of tyranny and oppression, those who have been wrongly accused by false workers of justice, and those who have been peresecuted because of jealousy, bigotry, cruelty, and the vanity of those who cannot allow another way.

Lord, may we lower our heads in the memory of these people who have gone before us in dark times when the admission of belief could result in death. May we learn from history's mistakes and vow to work against such persecution, which continues still in different guises. May we pray for those who endure this now, remembering the plight and struggle of the innocent in the face of torture and torment.

Lord, may we never become complacement in our ways that we ignore such persecution. Work and walk with us, that we may overcome such darkness as we grasp ever closer to You and Your Eternal Light.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Gospel Of Thomas, Saying 67

An extract of my commentary on the Gospel of Thomas:

(67) Jesus said, "If one who knows the all still feels a personal deficiency, he is completely deficient."

“The all” could easily be interpreted in two ways here: 1) all of possible knowledge, and 2) God, in the Gnostic sense of the Monad, the indefinable – the all. But what does it matter if you know God and do not know yourself (“a personal deficiency”), for if you fail to know yourself, you technically fail to know God, and are therefore “completely deficient”. This effectively explores the idea of “knowing God, but not knowing oneself” as being an illusion, and the truth of one’s own divinity serves to dispel this illusion and allow you to truly know “the all”.

Get Yourself An Irish Priest...

If you haven't seen any episodes of the Irish comedy "Father Ted", dealing with three Catholic priests on a fictional island off the west coast of Eire, then you need to correct that by saying 50 Hail Mary's while clicking the "Buy from Amazon" button.

Some samples of Father Ted goodness (a hyphen/dash indicates a break to another quote):

Father Dougal: God, I've heard about those cults Ted. People dressing up in black and saying Our Lord's going to come back and save us all.
Father Ted: No, Dougal, that's us. That's Catholicism.
Father Dougal: God, Ted, I've never met anyone like him anywhere. Who would he be like, Hitler or one of those mad fellas?
Father Ted: Oh, worse than Hitler! You wouldn't find Hitler playing jungle music at three o'clock in the morning.
Father Ted: It's just a rush. I feel fearless. Like Jeff Bridges in that movie.
Father Dougal: I didn't see that one.
Father Ted: Not many people have, Dougal. It's probably a bad reference.
Father Ted: There he is so. Risen from the dead. Like that fella... (pause)... ET
Father Ted: I'm not a fascist. I'm a priest. Fascists dress up in black and tell people what to do. Whereas priests...
...More drink!
Mrs Doyle: There's always time for a nice cup of tea. Sure, didn't the Lord himself pause for a nice cup of tea before giving himself up for the world.
Father Ted: No, he didn't, Mrs Doyle!
Mrs Doyle: Well, whatever the equivalent they had for tea in those days, cake or something. And speaking of cake, I have cake!
[holds up a cupcake]
Father Ted: No, thanks, Mrs Doyle.
Mrs Doyle: Are you sure, Father? There's cocaine in it!
Father Ted: WHAT?
Mrs Doyle: Oh, no, not cocaine. God, what am I on about. No, what d'you call them. Raisins.
Father Ted: That's the great thing about Catholicism - it's so vague and no-one really knows what it's all about.
[Ted answers the phone]
Bishop Brennan: Crilly, It's me.
Father Ted: Oh Feck!
Bishop Brennan: What?
Father Ted: [in French accent] Who ees thees? Zere is no Creely 'ere.
[Ted hangs up]
Father Ted: God almighty! I just said "feck" to Bishop Brennan!
Father Dougal: Oho! He won't like that!
Father Ted: It might be alright though. I put on a fake accent so he'd think he dialled the wrong number.
[phone rings, Ted picks it up]
Father Ted: Ah, Bishop Brennan. I think you must have got the wrong number when you called there.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Attention Europe!

I decided to gracefully steal Fr. Jordan+'s latest post on the Frappr Gnostic Map as an excuse to holler out at my European brethren and sistern - get your little markers out and get on the map! I know we've a long way to go before we'll have anywhere near as many Gnostics as, for example, America and Canada, but I also know we have alot more than is shown on this map, so spread the word and mark yourself down if you're not already there.

We haven't got a strong Gnostic ecclesia here in Europe either, which I would like to see amended over the next decade, nor do we have (for understandable reasons, given our lack of Gnostic Bishops here) a European College of Gnostic Bishops. I hope we can get a stronger Gnostic foundation for Europe going (one that will be ecumenically in tune with that of our fellow Gnostics across the water), and am willing to do all in my power to make such a reality.

Who's with me?

Infant Baptism

Tying in with my previous posts on Original Sin and the abolishment of Limbus Infantium, I’ve been thinking about the theory and practice of infant baptism. It’s easy to understand why infant baptism would be used if we were to accept Augustine’s doctrines, but since most Gnostics reject such views, why is it still practiced in some Gnostic Churches, is there a distinction between the adult baptism and infant one, and what are the theological and mystical implications thereof?

Personally, I’m not overly keen on the notion of infant baptism, as I believe a spiritual path should be chosen by a responsible person, not “enforced” upon someone at birth. Indeed, while the ceremony will undoubtedly have spiritual and psychological effects regardless of the mental development of the child, they will not have the capacity to either understand or appreciate that which they are passively undertaking. That said, however, while it may look like our parents are indeed choosing our spiritual path for us (at least, initially), the lack of a baptism or similar ceremony in infancy will not necessary detract from the fact that we are always influenced by our family, friends, and larger society, and that this influence will mould our spiritual path and direction, which is, at least partially, enforced by these influences. If we do not teach our children certain spiritual beliefs and practices, they will have very little to work with when it comes to making their own choices about whether or not to explore these things further, and this is, effectively, choosing our (initial) path for us just as much as a ceremony like baptism does, though, perhaps, less formal.

So, while I don’t like infant baptism personally, and would generally ask that all seeking baptism do so as adults who actually want to pursue that path, I understand why some parents would want their child baptised, and do not doubt the magical and spiritual effects of the ceremony (afterall, we are responsible for the spiritual health of our children just as much as their physical, emotional, and mental health, and would all want, providing we are spiritual ourselves, our children to have a strong spirituality). I do not consider such a rite binding (i.e. that you are henceforth a member of that faith alone, etc.), so the child may still go on to explore another path and possibly seek baptism (or the equivalent, if there is one) in that faith.

How do you feel about infant baptism? Do you have any theological position that influences, dictates, or affirms your opinion of this ceremony for infants? Do you feel this ceremony may have a stronger impact on a younger psyche and may help towards, in the Gnostic tradition, the attainment of Gnosis? And, if you are clergy, do you have any special considerations you make that differentiate this passive version of baptism to the active one pursued by “the willing”, and do you make any recommendations, etc. to the parents in question?

Monday, October 09, 2006

More Haiku

In you is Binah’s
Cool and dark embrace, and veils
Of great secret things.

A hidden treasure
Lies between the lines of verse,
This sacred stillness.

I am the shadow
Of a great and dancing fire
That burns eternal.

Beauty knows no bounds
That poetry cannot pierce
With its blessed sounds.

We speak holy names
In an undying passage
To the undying.

The Demiurgos
Walks upon his cushion clouds
While he watches us.

God takes great pity
On the blind leading the blind,
So he shows the way.

Silence Comprehends

These precious moments
Speak a Lost Tongue that only
Silence comprehends.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

God On Tour, Comic Strip #5

Your weekly dose of God is here. Please take with a glass of water and avoid other sources of God (i.e. false gods) while taking. Contains traces of gold.

Click image for a larger version:

Check back soon for Part 2 to see what happens to God's thumb...

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Pope Abolishes Limbo

I just found out now that the Pope has abolished the teachings on limbo (at least in relation to infants) formally on Friday (the day I posted my thoughts on Original Sin and Augustine's teachings in relation to infants being condemned if they die before baptism) after a council of 30 Catholic theologians discussed the matter on Wednesday gone.

"THE Pope will cast aside centuries of Catholic belief later this week by abolishing formally the concept of limbo, in a gesture calculated to help to win the souls of millions of babies in the developing world for Christ.
Christians hold that Heaven is a state of union with God, while Hell is separation from God. They have long wrestled, however, not only with the fate of unbaptised children, but also with the conundrum of what happened to those who lived a “good life” but died before the time of Jesus."

You can read more about this here.

Cultural Critique

I had a Cultural Studies class yesterday that began to explore some of the differing views on the study of culture, what culture is, is not, and if culture is declining in the modern world. Since I have encountered firsthand both of the extremist views I am going to share below, and thus was exposed to their flaws (not that any view is “perfect”), I felt it important to share about them, especially in the light of modern religious and Gnostic culture.

The first view presented was that of the “Conservative Critique”. This view postulates that there is a cultural decline going on, that High Culture (literature as apposed to books, classical music as apposed to pop, etc.) is being overrun by “pop culture”, which is a degradation of the form (and, effectively, doesn’t count as culture), that an “influence of America” is taking hold, that there is “worship of machinery”, a rise in “utilitarianism”, and that the masses, that is, not the elite, who do know about culture (and, indeed, are “cultured”), are “raw and half developed”. This view also often contains a lament for what is seen as a decline in religiosity or faith in the people as they become more robotic and scientific, and can, given this, appear more strongly in the views given by those involved with religion and related fields.

I think the above (in particular, the critique of the masses) might seem like a ghastly view to many people nowadays, especially since we live in a world that is much more liberal and utilitarian (which is, indeed, one of the fears that the conservative critics have), but it’s also important to note that this view has been the most popular out there up until the mid twentieth century, and that its views are still present in modern society, especially in what we see as “proper” culture. I disagree with the conservative critics on some key points.

Firstly, while the world is indeed becoming more mechanized, this is not inherently a bad thing – yes, there are long commutes and such which may distract people from engrossing themselves in culture, but because a larger number of people now do not need to spend their entire life solely focused on the bare essentials of physical survival (i.e. farming, etc. for their own day’s worth of food, as compared to our modern “luxury” of being able to pop down to the local shop and have it all delivered up to us, pre-packed, etc., from a factory [indeed, this is a change from the elite who didn’t do the work but had the culture, to the working class pushing the work onto machinery and now having access to culture], they have more time and energy to devote to their other needs, needs of the heart, mind, and soul.

Secondly, I feel that, while there is undoubtedly much “crap” out there (for want of a better word) in terms of culture, this is not necessarily because we are abandoning “High Culture” (that is, exhibitions, literature, operas, plays, etc.), but because there is more culture to contend with. If we had, for example, 10 elite for every 90 working class in bygone days, this would mean 10% of the population had access to culture, that it was a restricted and limited thing. Now if we still have this ratio, but the working class has its own kind of culture (pop culture, if you will), that’s 100% culture, while retaining the original 10% of “High Culture”. Yes, indeed, that may mean that up to 90% of culture nowadays could be seen as diluted, weak, uneducated, or, as Matthew Arnold would say, “raw and half-developed”, but it honestly does come with the territory. If we want, for example, Gnosticism to be strong and popular in the modern world, and for people to have easy access to it, we have to take it as a given that we are going to get books like “The Da Vinci Code”, not to even mention the whole Madonna-Kabbalah fiasco. Does this mean that “true” culture is dying out? Hardly. That “elite”, if you will, is still there, still providing and critiquing and exposing us to “High Culture” – Harold Bloom is a perfect example – but this also means we have access to good quality “pop culture” like the various HBO TV shows, Philip K. Dick’s work, the Matrix, V For Vendetta, etc. Indeed, isn’t it better that there’s more to choose from, even if a fair chunk of it isn’t great?

The second view presented was that of “Cultural Relativism”, which basically resorts to “you have your opinion, I have mine – none is right, so let’s just all get along – *group hug*”. While I agree that we all have our own views, none of which are inherently “right” or “wrong”, and that culture is indeed relative to the groups and people in question, I feel Cultural Relativism is dangerously close to complacency. There is no more disagreement because we simply recognise that all is relative – so there are no more arguments and debate, and without these we become apathetic, uninspired, and even, dare I say it, dull. Indeed, without debate, without arguing views, discussing alternatives (rather than just recognising we all have the perfect view for us), etc., there is a high chance that we will slow, stagnate, and sink into indifference. Yes, of course none of us are wrong or right, as we are all conditioned with our views, but if we are to not allow the questioning of them (by ourselves or others), how are we to expose our reality tunnels to scrutiny in the interest of improving them into better (admittedly, equally conditioned) views? Now, of course, the cultural relativists would ask “what is the ‘better’ view, and who gets to decide what is ‘better’?” However, while that seems like a strong argument against what is, essentially, an elitist view coming from the conservative critics, it is equally flawed, because it suggests jumping to the other end of the spectrum just because opinions and “truths” are relative. Does this mean we should sit back and not try to discover stronger arguments, truer realities, and more enlightened opinions?

I’ve seen so many critiques of the conservative view (indeed, isn’t the word “conservative” seen as anathema to many in our increasingly liberal world?) and a general change of the word “elite” (which was, at the times in question, seen as a good thing) to the form of an insult or dismissal. A lot of people who critique this “elitism” fall into the cultural relativist camp, and actually claim that this relativity is a balanced view. I strongly disagree here, as I feel it is just the other end of the spectrum entirely; indeed, the other extreme. While the conservatives might be suggesting that an “elite” alone have access to valid culture, the relativists go 180 degrees to the view that all culture is relative, everyone has access to it, and we should just sit back and accept everything as right, because there are no wrongs. Notice the swing from an authoritarian to a utilitarian view, both equally flawed, though I have a strong dislike for the latter for what I see as a pretentious all-loving kumbaya-culture that will bore itself to death for pretending there is no disagreement between opinions, or what could be seen a watering down of views, so that they become so diluted that they no longer have the efficacy to work in an argument.

So, the effective point of this rant is: I disagree with both extremist positions. I feel we should indeed “discriminate” between what is good and bad culture (this word was used in a question I received on it, and, while it has horrible connotations nowadays [discriminating against race, sex, orientation, etc], it used to have a “higher” meaning in another respect – discrimination is the Virtue of Malkuth, for example), for it is this argument and debate, in itself, that helps contribute to the growth and development of our views, stopping us from stagnating. Yes, indeed, we should not force our opinions or views upon others, or herald them as inherently above those of others (i.e. the elitist view), but, at the end of the day, we need to have an opinion (and, indeed, we do – anyone who tries to play off that they don’t have an opinion on something is, I believe, lying or fooling themselves), and we need to recognise that, no, not all opinions are equal, relevant, or “valid” in respect to what they are dealing with.

For example, I don’t like the “reality” show “Big Brother” – I think it’s weak, pointless, and a waste of time, not to mention a debasement of the original work and the argument contained within it. Saying that, I recognise why people watch it, why it is popular – humanity has an inherent voyeuristic quality that achieves its epitome in the idea of looking into someone else’s life, unadulterated and uncut. We play on this quality when we watch any kind of TV or Film, for example, but not to quite the same extent as is suggested in the show “Big Brother”. However, I think this is flawed, because there is no way I am going to accept that these people in that house are acting as they normally would. They know there are cameras there, and are going to play on that by either avoiding embarrassing things they would do normally, or by going over the top with other things they wouldn’t do, knowing that they’re being watched, and, indeed, judged. Now, am I to, given the relativist theory, accept that this program is in any way on par with Shakespeare, for example (indeed, I’d have a very hard time trying to compare these)? True, the latter is a different medium entirely, but what about “Six Feet Under” and similar shows? I am not going to get so liberal and all-accepting that I begin to allow a level of disinterest and apathy to sink in, so I’m not going to pretend I don’t have views, or to pretend I don’t feel very strongly about certain things. I recognise and accept that there is much in modern pop culture that is valuable (and, indeed, I have many favourite modern singers, TV programs, films, etc.), and I do consider it as culture, but there is a difference between some elements of these spheres which I can’t even pretend to ignore.

I will leave off with a great phrase which I’ve seen in connection with this, one which I feel summarises my whole argument here:

“We shouldn’t become so open-minded that our brains fall out”

How do you feel about this, and where do you feel you fall in the spectrum of cultural critique? Do you feel modern Gnostic culture is a degradation of the true "High Culture", or do you feel we all have equally valid opinions, and, possibly, that we shouldn't even bother arguing them? Do you feel we need more modern and/or pop culture for Gnosticism, or should we go back to the "greats" alone as valid authorities on the subject? Do you feel Gnosticism is becoming debased by pop culture, or, rather, certain elements of pop culture (which confuses the reality of what Gnosticism is, and, then, presents it to a majority who accept it as this), and, if so, how do you feel we can change or amend this?