Monday, August 17, 2015

Gnosticism was easier

Gnosticism, having no this-worldly purpose and being provided with a plethora of forms, was easier to navigate and shape than my current project: imagining the outlines and lineaments of a post-Christian faith for the EuroWesterners.

Lacking --so far!-- any validating revelational experience as a Prophet, Seer and Revelator in this respect, I plod around like a theologian. Not encouraging. So far, Joseph Smith has no competition in me.

Speaking of Mr Smith, my gay Mormon pal was here for several days. He is both devout and honest, making our discussions of religion worthwhile. Although I clearly do not consider the LDS religion to be The True Church, I do admire much about it. (If I lived among Mormons in their majority culture, I am sure I would feel differently; it's my character to seek the margins eventually.)

The Apostles Peter, James and John
conferring the lost priesthood of Melkizedek on Joseph Smith.
Although now committed to racial universalism,
the history of the LDS faith, its hierarchy population,

 and especially its iconography make plain
that it is a religion primarily for White men
and for their woman and children.

Some things that the Latter Day Saints have achieved that are worth considering in a future alternative for the sons of Europa.

  • Their frank appreciation of the this-worldly and physical character of the spiritual life, as befits a householder religion.
  • Their inclusion of all their men, and only men, into their graded priesthood, making it both democratically available to all males while keeping clear hierarchy and organizational control.
  • Combined with the males-only and all-males priesthood, the focus on marriage and family as the center of life and the heart of their cultural identity as a people, as well as making binary sexual differentiation key to their religion. Mormon families are large and functional.
  • Although they now press their commonality with Christian tradition, the stance of Smith's project as a complete restoration, not a reform, of a wholly lost faith, allowing maximum use of biblical material as well as maximum freedom in re-working it and adding to it in a new scriptural canon (although he kept the Bible).
  • Requiring behaviors of their people that both allow them to function within the larger society, but demarcate them from the "Gentiles,": eg, strictures on alcohol, smoking, caffeine and "hot drinks," times of fasting, plus the 2-year mission initiation structure for the boys. Tithing. 
  • Their synergistic both/and attitude toward the interplay of divine grace and human effort, in line with the Catholic and Orthodox, rather than the obsessively monergistic Calvinist/Lutheran, attitude.
  • The double worship structure of low-church Sunday sacrament meetings open to all and then the closed high-church Masonic rites of the temples. (Although they handle the transition badly.)
  • The concretization and centralization of the ancient Christian doctrine of theosis in a kind of somatic Gnosticism, allowing them to maintain the realistic sense of man as needing to aspire to something better than his normal condition, while pressing his inherent destiny as godhood, allowing both realism about human nature and a fundamentally affirmative attitude toward it.
  • Their concretization of the teaching about divine sonship in the New Testament, so that both the individual Mormon and Jesus the Christ are different in degrees of achieved sonship, but not kind. Indeed the kinship between men and the Mormon God, who was once a man and became a god, invalidates much of the guilty self-hatred produced by orthodox Christianity.
  • Relatedly, their reading of Genesis' Adam and Eve story as a kind of kenosis, felix culpa et certe necessarium Adae peccatum, a happy fault, Adam's certainly necessary sin, the move from static innocence into dyamic experience of life as gateway to divinity.
  • Continuing revelation in a clearly established authority structure as a way to handle the problem of continuity and novelty.


1 comment:

-A said...

Stuff to ruminate on. I do not know if a democratic Priesthood or all men being within it would really be that great. It kind of detracts from the sacramental nature of the place of the Priest himself. Just my quirk. We are likely to differ on levels of disdain for demotism.


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