Last time on Blog Gnosis I wrote on how an ancient and obscure (but curiously influential) religion speaks to these modern times in a shockingly relevant way. That post was far from all I have to say on the issue so we’re back for another round of ruminating on why Gnosticism is particularly suited for these times!
Gnosticism Plays Well With Other Religions & Cultures
All religions are syncretic and pick up bits and pieces from surrounding faiths and cultures, but ancient Gnosticism was particularly eclectic. Birthed from the meeting and clashing and interactions of dozens of races, peoples, and cultures, and combining Greek philosophy, Egyptian religion, mystical Judaism, Christianity, and possibly more, into a faith reflective of all its influences but uniquely its own thing. So, through Gnosticism we can not only embrace a plethora of wisdom from the ancient Middle-East and Mediterranean, we have a faith that’s built to easily adapt the insights of other religions and systems of understanding.
Now there is a danger here as a wise man once said “if everything is Gnosticism, then nothing is,” and problems can arise when we grab random bits of other religions we like to construct something pleasing. BUT , for instance, many modern Gnostics will use the language and practices of Buddhism, as well as Buddhist inspired meditation practices, as it can fit in well on the Gnostic spiritual journey. We now can easily access the combined wisdom of the world’s faiths (hint…it’s all on Wikipedia) and it would foolish not to take advantage of this, and the matrix of Gnosticism is flexible and constructed to incorporate many religious insights.
Gnosticism Plays Well With Psychology
Psychology is the primary way the modern world makes sense of the human. We understand ourselves and the world through a psychological lens, it’s often our default perspective. One of the great founders of modern psychology, Carl Jung, called the ancient Gnostics “the first depth psychologists” and claimed they had figured out what he figured out thousands of years before. For instance, reading a good translation of the Book of Secret John has creation starting with what are obviously psychological processes in the mind of God.
Much of the Gnostic myths and teachings go well with a psychological interpretation, in fact, I’m sure one could pull off being an agnostic Gnostic and could go far. Now, to tip my hand, I don’t think it’s either/or but both: mystical, supernatural, and psychological understandings of the Gnostic material and world view are valuable and helpful.
Gnosticism Offers Valuable Perspectives In A World Of Dying Empires
Okay Americans, don’t read too much into the above title, I maybe a filthy socialist Canuck but I think the American empire has quite a lot of juice left in it yet….however….we definetly live in a time of upheaval and of dying empires. In our lifetimes we’ve seen the Soviet Empire crumble, at least a few readers would have been around for the end of the British Empire, and stuff is presently messed up all around the globe.
Gnosticism was born in a similar time of change and it’s narratives of archons (the same word was used for local earthly rulers throughout the Greek speaking world) and mad emperor-gods, offer us all wisdom on power and it’s abuses. There’s also glimmers of hope in our faith’s reflections on what to do when society goes wrong and empire isn’t running as it should.
Please jump into the comments and tell me why you think Gnosticism is particularly apt for this age, we might yet wring a part 3 out of this series. And if you liked this post please please please share it, heck share it if you hated it!!