Friday, July 07, 2006

Will our religion succumb...

...To the archonic gameplaying that seems to plague so many of the other religions, the pursuit of material power and status?

I think it needs to be something along the lines of "In the game, but not of it." The focus should not be on the institiution, but on the goal for which the institution was created. Once the Church becomes an end in itself, it's time to leave. It's a tool, just like money is a tool, or your car. You can't love your car, because it will eventually stop working, and it can't love you back. What you can do is use your car to get you where you want to go.

We use the church to do the same thing. If the church provides a good framework for you to obtain that salvific knowledge of which we speak, then use it. IF NOT, DON'T. Maybe it's not the proper tool for the job. For some people, a church provides a reinforcing community, with a guide and standards to attain the gnosis they seek. For others, it's a stifling exercise in futility, full of rules and just like what we went through growing up with the RCC.

For me, and some others like me, the church is a good way to proceed. IT IS NOT THE ONLY WAY.

in the interests of full disclosure, I still have some trouble not only grasping this myself, but living it.

Someone suggested we should have no dogma, no canon, no doctrine, but instead we should aim for a sort of loving chaos.

For some people, this works fine. Others have too much chaos, and need a sort of loving order. If you've got 18,000 things floating around your head, a canon of 'what's right' may be useful on the personal level, and a guide to help determine what should be in YOUR canon would be valuable. Some people can set their own limits, others must have limits set for them. Others have both, but need sunlight or something. The greatest lie the archons try to get us stuck in is that our way is THE right way, or better yet, that there is ONLY ONE RIGHT WAY, and we HAVE TO FIND IT.

This is why, in gnostic literature, you have ascetics and libertines. And why gnostics are so hard to figure out. We're generally not consistent, unless we are; then we are consistent, unless we're not. It's why we speak in poetry and not in academia. Why we can believe six impossible things before breakfast, and contradictory folks are all claiming the title 'gnostic'.

But if we focus on the institution, and not gnosis itself, then yes, we will become like the other churches, and history will repeat itself.

I can offer an example. If you look at the Church of Herbert Armstrong, the Worldwide Church of God. Herbert had some really new ideas and interpretations of the bible, really unique stuff. He talked to God personally, and founded and lead a church to something like over a million members.

He died. There are now at least 2 splinter groups, probably more. The WCOG moved towards evangelical orthodoxy. The Philadelphia Church of God took kind of a Joseph Smith position on Herbert: Revered Prophet. But never the less, they started to focus on the church, and not what the church was about.

Note: I don't endorse anything the Worldwide Church of God or the Philadelphia Church of God believes in, even the stuff we happen to agree on.


Patriotic_Mason said...

Great post scott. But does it not contradict your fellow clergyman's ideas about preserving the Johannite "tradition"?

Scott Rassbach said...

I'm afraid you'll have to be a little more explict in HOW the ideas I've put forth contradict the clergy position. Tradition, like anything else, is only preserved as long as it works.

And our tradition has worked for centuries. As long as it's current and useful, why should not be preserved? We still use roads built by the ROMANS, for heaven's sake.

As a Mason, you surely see the wisdom in that. We have traditions that go back many years, some of which work, some of which don't. We're now watching the process of jettisoning those traditions that don't work. UGLA is a symptom of that, not a cause.