Gnosticism; Futile Ground

Gnosticism is called a heresy by some.

According to tradition, a heretic is one who deviates from the true (christian) faith. But what defines that “true faith”? Who calls it that, and for what reasons? I have drifted way out on a previous post, Christ and Aliens, it demonstrates my desire to keep a flexible and somewhat humorous mind when it comes to truth. I quietly pause when I hear there is only one truth! The Gnostic ideas from Nag Hammadi texts, Dead Sea Scrolls and Akhmim codex at one time must have held truth for someone, the question remains for the established church is, should we build a religion around those truths?

The texts are evidence of a rich plethora of ideas which flourished before the time of Christ, up to 300 AD but unfortunately many texts were destroyed or hidden. The destruction of the Library in Alexandria Egypt wiped out much of the Essence recorded history. The fire in the time of Julius Ceaser, 48 BC, the Aurelian massacre in 270 AD and finally the complete destruction decreed by Coptic Pope, Theophilus in 391 AD which included the “Daughter library” contributed to more literary loss. Four hundred years later, the Muslims sacked and destroyed even more including icons and ancient manuscripts. And of course we have the library of the Vatican which is not been exactly accessible to all. So when we speak of “biblical truth”, we must remember it is a limited truth given to us through the filtered decisions and debates of a few dating back 2,000 years.

1,800 years ago Christianity had No formalized Doctrines.

Archaeologists over the past hundred years have been unearthing text might intensify and deepen our spiritual vocabulary, their findings allow us to rethink time tested slogans and preconceived understandings of who we think Jesus was. Hopefully, we will continue to look forward to the work of scholars who study and compare traditions, as their work promises to inspire a new eye for commonality and the evolution of the human spirit.

Many ideas that we associate with Eastern religions emerged in the first century through the Gnostic movement in the West, some roots are found deeper in the Hebrew teachings. Most would agree the Christian institution in general has condemned the Gnostic movement and their teachings. We are told to be cautious of Gnostic teachings, to never trust a heretic, the holy bible is God’s final word. Christians and Hebrews alike needn’t be threatened by rethinking and re integrating old teachings with new perspectives. The mature christian knows that thoughts are not always of the devil and doubt brings the mind into new perspectives.

Our Hearts and Minds are fertile ground

Essene means “sprouted bread”. The bread we have been digesting within the Judea-Christian traditional because of newly discovered text found within the past 100 years is waiting to sprout.

The Essene communities were considered to have been lead by a group of “Teachers of Righteousness”. They were groups of philosophers, living in Palestine, Syria and Judea. There formation was a sect of Judaism that flourished from the 2nd century BCE to the 1st century CE. It is logical to think friends of Jesus would have known of them and had opinions about their ideas. Most scholars believe that the community named the Qumran (also named Sadducee ) allegedly produced the Dead Sea Scrolls and might have been an offshoot of the Essene. These lost teachings have been unacknowledged by christian traditional church and synagogue.

DEAD SEA SCROLLS consist of some 981 different texts, discovered between 1946 and 1956 in Qumran, Egypt written by the Jewish sect called the Essence 300 BC to 100 AD. I find it significant that these texts took more than 30 years to became public in 1991, when the Biblical Archaeology Society was able to publish the “Facsimile Edition of the Dead Sea Scrolls”, after an intervention of the Israeli government and the Israeli Antiquities Authority. Since they seem to have a significant Judea-Christian message, now may be the time to reflect on the passages for guidance and insight by both and look towards reconciliation between the faiths.

Opportunity for change

I believe deep meditation, listening to the spirit and a good deal of silence teaches without words, this is the core behind Gnostic and Contemporary Ideas. The practice can and will guide us, and at times change and shift tradition. These texts were discovered in 1945 at Nag Hammadi, Egypt also called the Nag Hammadi Codex II, dated to the 4th century.

Earlier still, the GOSPEL OF MARY discovered in 1896 on a 5th-century papyrus codex is considered an apocryphal book. Originally written in Greek, the Akhmim Codex was found in Cairo Egypt and published 1938 and 1983 It is interesting not only this text was found earlier than the others mentioned above but it is not considered a REAL gospel, rather a non-canonical gospel. The term ‘gospel’ is used as a label for any written text whose primarily focus is on recounting the teachings and/or activities of Jesus during his adult life. These texts are said to be only fragments but the words and message fall within the modern context, we live in an age where the church community reads and writes. Gnostic and Contemporary Ideas are intriguing not to be feared or discounted.

Stretch the mind.

Page 55 Gnostic Gospel of Philip  Read these fragments and tell me if it does not harbor some insights into our behavior, spoken like a ‘new age’ attitude for this millennium.

All that is composite will decompose and return to its origin, but those who are awake to reality without beginning or end know the un-created the eternal.

All the words we hear in this word only deceive us. If they were in the temple space, they would keep silent and no longer refer to worldly things, in the Temple all is silent.

Light and Dark, life and death, right and left are brothers and sisters. They are inseparable. This is why goodness is not always good, Violence not always violent, life not always enlivening, death not always deadly. Page 55 Gnostic Gospel of Philip

Great questions arise from words like  these. Gnostic and Contemporary Ideas are not new, only the teaching sounds new.

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Unexpected Transformation

Making seen that which is unseen.

I have come to see the world as a metaphor, nearly everything which happens to us is screaming to be understood through the eye of spirit, we just need to reflect long enough to hear the message. The awe of the unexpected opens us up in a moment but its significance can hover throughout our life trying to reveal its great wisdom.

In 1976, I first met my husband’s mother, Dometila on the ranch, in a black soot filled kitchen with a low roof and dirt floor in Mexico. The community all agreed she made the finest cheese anywhere. I did not know the significance of her fame for making cheese till one day we sat together as she made some. I had come into the kitchen after she had prepared the goat milk by boiling it on an open wood hearth and it was cooling in the metal can in the corner with a towel over the top. She situated the large can of milk by the door and straddled herself on a low stool just behind the bucket. She dropped a tiny piece of dried goat stomach into the milk and sat there looking at me.

 

After 5 minutes or so she leaned forward and gently submerged both hands deep down into the very warm milk up to her elbows. She sat there with me never saying a word and only one or two small movements with her arms in the milk. It looked to me like she was adjusting her spine or shoulders as she sat still as stone for about 15 minutes. Then with no warning or explanation she slightly leaned back. She pulled her arms up out of the milk, between her two dark wrinkly old hands came a perfect ball of white curd, shinny smooth ready to put in the bag to press out the whey.

 

Amazing! Icons are like that!

They are made by millions of tiny quiet intentional brushstrokes, which become beauty and nourishment for the soul. The story is significant for me because she seemed to have made something out of nothing, she transformed liquid into solid, she made flesh out of spirit.

I was raised up like that lump of curd from warm milk, lifted out of my 60 years of effort and made into a walking icon; I didn’t even notice what was happening. The thing is, we all come from the same kind of milk, the good stuff is turned into cheese and nutrition for others, and the whey is left behind.

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Ancient Image Byzantine Icon Studio

Contemporary Art , “Ancient Image,  Byzantine Icon Studio

 

Tucked away in the colonia, a short distance Ancient Image Byzantine Icon Studiofrom the historic downtown area of San Miguel Allende is a jewel of a studio not to be missed.  The studio is surrounded by a natural garden of native plants and birds, slightly wild and disorganized. Large windows look out on quiet space.

Where in Mexico can you find enough hand painted icons to cover the floor? The collection of Contemporary Art , Ancient Image, in the Byzantine Icon Studio  is vast, from traditional to contemporary, from comical to pious; the work is unique. The well used resource library  for iconography is indispensable. Not too many folks in this tribe, part theologian and part comedian. I want to invite you to visit and explore with me conversations about the idea of God and lively attempts to create image as proof of his/her/it’s existence.

I have come to see the world as a metaphor, nearly everything which happens to us is screaming to be understood through the eye of spirit, we just need to reflect long enough to hear the message. The awe of the unexpected opens us up in a moment but its significance can hover throughout our life trying to reveal its great wisdom.

ANGELS and SURPRISES

Ancient Image Byzantine Icon StudioIn 1974, eighteen hours after arriving in the colonial town of San Miguel Allende Mexico where I knew no one, nor the language, nor a thing about the culture I saw Valentine Gomez. It was Sunday night, he was walking the promenade around the main square with friends . Valentin had come from the Rancho, 20 kilometers from town. We saw each other and after 3 vueltas around the garden square we knew each other even though we never shared a spoken a word. Ten months later we were married.  The first time I painted an icon it was the same kind of experience, powerful, undeniable, direct and precise.

Twenty years into the marriage I suddenly took up the icon painting as a prayer form, seduced by the power of divine image, an active way to integrate a life of action and a focus on spirit. One encounter is all it took to decide the tradition was worth exploring inside and out.

MARRIGE

We are a bi lingual, bi cultural marriage between Mexican and the US. Full time artists doing Byzantine Greek Orthodox artwork in Mexico! We have lived between two countries for nearly 40 years, a small farm in Virginia and a three room home in Guanajuato. Valentin is the gardener, carpenter, technician, engineer and general stable influence along with God. Our two personalities could not be more different yet some say we have a unique blend of energy, reflected in our work and lifestyle; a bit of tension, grace and the age old evidence of love. These ancient time consuming techniques have taught us volumes about humanity, life and the energy there of.  Please join us one day  for Contemporary Art , “Ancient Image,  Byzantine Icon Studio . Peace

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Agnostic Faith

When we consider the possibility that life exists on other planets in the entire universe, we consider what is required for the emergence of life in this world. As we cannot yet prove that life does in fact exist on other planets, the search for those life forms is an exploration much like that of the faithful who seek God and spirituality within themselves. And in this kind of line of reasoning, we begin to perceive the wisdom of agnosticism, the faith of an open mind towards possibilities not yet encountered.

Agnostic faith is different than atheist who believe that God does not exist. An agnostic is unlikely found persecuting those who believe in God in the name of science. They know through their own acts would render them as guilty as those who persecuted scientists in the name of spiritual belief. An agnostic will not ridicule a person who does not have faith that God exists, nor turn against those who do believe in God’s existence. They are able to understand parallel realism to listen and support the exploration of existence on both sides.

The mind of an agnostic is a paradox for those who believe that human mind can only sustain one belief system. An agnostic mind is a mind of a parallel relativist par excellence, as it can wander through all religious belief systems, finding no mistake of perception, or opposing belief systems.  The mind of an agnostic is not flat, but flourishes in the knowledge that the human mind has infinite potential for understanding. He or she will not say that the semantic content given to an independent object must be only one, but acknowledges that the perceived variations have been, are, and will be understood after timely evaluation.

Like a realist, able to enjoy all the riches of all cultures without confining his or her existence to only one of them, the agnostic can find the parallels between religious systems from, atheism to Hinduism, from Catholic or Sufi, from the natural world to nano science, etc. few stand out to embrace the many great paradoxes, possibly missed by those who live and practice only one faith. As an end note it should added that a person of any religious faith can embrace the diversity by saying “In this I have faith, and these things I know”, without losing one’s faith or rejecting another’s.

Whether you are attached to one faith and will never with change

or have changed many times but never satisfied

or simply on the journey,

do it any way which suits you, only please be tolerant!

peace on the planet.

 

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Eucharist

When the apostle John states that the “Word become flesh” it is jarring, how can that be? In his humanity, Jesus manifested absolute grace and truth, in such a way that people could contemplate all it takes to be divinely human. Doctrine encourages us to believe He is the One, come from the creator directly, no holding back, the whole Kahuna. His Christ love went beyond death. His Christ love was for all of humanity, better yet for each person.

The other day I was at mass just at the moment of the Eucharist where we receiver the host. That little flat wafer, into my mouth it went, down my throat etc. I love it! And all I could think of was, WOW if that little morsel of pure divinity could just change me! Presto! Silly childish thoughts perhaps, but as I was walking back to my seat I was thinking about the Mayan Corn God, His greatness is venerated for having given corn to the world, those divine kernels were cast out from the first cob and are replanted and eaten and shared over generations since the beginning of time. Are we celebrating anything so different? We are all connected like corn!

Holy Ground

More provocative words we have in the Bible

I AM WHO I AM, THE GOD WHO CAUSES TO BE………..

Icons for more Spiritual tomorrow.

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New Catholic Icon

Thoughts and reflections

 

I have been a practicing Christian all my life and half of that time dedicated to the practice of painting (writing) icons. Biblical text, liturgy, and prayer are my source of strength and comfort, just like millions of people around the world. I would like to share some of the observations I have made while painting icons and at times disturbing reflections on our familiar Bible verses. Adam and Eve: the biblical text interpreted indicates Eve was created second to Adam and was responsible for original sin, which of course became all women’s greatest sin, sexual sin. 1 Corinthians 14:34 : the new testament continues with verses that subvert women encouraging them to be “silent” in church and ultimately prohibiting them from serving in positions of authority, the like of which has effected every women’s place in society. In actuality it wasn’t until the fourth century that dominant Christian leaders, all men, twisted and distorted Holy Scriptures to thwart any ascendant positions for women within the religious hierarchy and in christian societies in general.

The underlying teachings of Jesus Christ, the Apostle Paul, Moses and the prophets, Muhammad, and founders of other great religions – all call for the proper and equitable treatment of God’s children. I have always known in my heart and soul women are not inferior to men; without a doubt, God loves humanity equally. Tragically, we do not have to look too closely to see women have not been included the iconographers community until recently.

Now ironically,

Those who are graced with the desire to paint sacred text, have an obligation as prayer practitioners to re-examine how or why Women are not mentioned in the great feast days like Pentecost, at the last supper, or the baptism of Christ, etc. It is not God’s commandment that they are not heard of in text or seen in sacred image. When the feminine voice and new icon images introduced in today’s church community, the addition will benefit us all.

 

I understand why our church leaders are reluctant about stepping up to change the way the stories are told.

 

They will have to recognize that society two millenniums ago was primarily male dominated, to the exclusion of Women. They will have to redesign the sacred text, eliminating some harsh and unnecessary teachings which limit women and the power men have to dominate them. They will have to bend their doctrine and theology considerably, rejoice, there is ample evidence they have done so in the past. I am not a heretic, I am not even rebellious, I am asking for a simple review to rectify what we all are beginning to see as misguided behavior of the past, that mush change if we are to go into have a thriving church in the future.

Heretics are largely called heretics because

they question the authority of our accepted norms.

It will be no surprise to watch as our religious leaders and the traditions they preserve get aggravated as the atmosphere and status quo changes. In the time of the inquisition one million named heretics were murdered for thinking differently, hopefully we are past burning witches. In a growing age of tolerance, we can have open discussion and allow for change.

World leaders have recently published a statement that declares: “The justification of discrimination against women and girls on grounds of religion or tradition, as if it were prescribed by a Higher Authority, is unacceptable.” It is time for the church “fathers” to draft a similar statement.

I am challenging all denominations within the christian church to re-frame part of Holy Scriptures which have justified the superiority of men over women. We are told we are One body in God, called to be One mind in Christ. Let us live into that reality where Christian women will served as deacons, priests, bishops, apostles, mystics, healers, teachers and prophets, etc. through image and word.

 

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Two Kinds of Message

There are some who say the traditional large christian denominations are dyeing. There are those who say the Baptist and evangelical communities are thriving. It might be better to ask why Chruch at all? Our interior movement can happen within or without church. The idea behind spirituality is to become part of something greater than ourselves as individuals. The community or Church body has the components and traditions to directs us towards a dynamic, alive, organized, intentional spiritual life and being part of that body essentially holds the teachings for abundant life.

Through church participation we might have learned to discover that, at our core, because of who you are, as a christian, you move into the world for the sake of the world and the good of all. For those who do not go to any denomination presently, your church going parents perhaps gave you their residual teachings which translate into some kind of moral baseline you act on out of habit and good sense. Either way, ritual and spiritual traditions teach us who we are, so we can be of service and example, the kind which serves not only our self but others.

Who is Jesus? Who is Christ?

Two questions, Whose are we?

How do we Know who we are?

The disciplines of prayer, liturgy, thinking, communion and study are  some of the fundamentals to reveal the Christ energy moving into the world.

Celebrated liturgies like Triduum, Easter Sunday, Pentecost, Trinity Sunday, baptism, etc. are designed to draw us closer to God through communion, the kind of repetitive communion, predictable so that we might gradually glean the depth and breath of what is means to be a body of Gods people. Through liturgy we open ourselves, our heart, minds, soul, and body, to God and ultimately witness and receive the Holy Spirit. The Christ consciousness we see in the historical Jesus shows us the way, to live and behave with all the attributes clearly delineated and expressed.

If we are to be the “Christian” in this world, that means that we need to know Jesus in the story, learn who He is, who we are, and how and why we experiencing him moving around among us as Christ essence.

Why Church?

The Eucharist is the sacramental act, through which we are fed in remembrance of how the historical Jesus moved through the lives of his disciples. The story of how we are to live even in this day is mapped out for us in biblical story form. The story of Jesus illustrates ample descriptions of greed, waste and sloth. His life also illustrated generosity and power in healing those around him. He showed us what temptation and exhaustion looks like during his 40 days in the desert and days leading through “His passion”. The story has been told for 2,000 years and apparently it is not part of the plan to be forced to move in “His” direction. It is rather a choice to find our own Christ living within, it is the same Christ in everyone manifested in millions of small and large ways.

Perhaps the new church will be Our planet earth teaching us we are connected, as we verge on destroying its perfect design of harmony and balance. We may be coming to realize the magnificent perfect God energy in nature and one another and there find the new church. We may come by way of science or philosophy to the awareness we are all things, at all places and at the same time. If so GREAT! Many ways to get to the same place. In the mean time I will choose to go to church, like a women going to the well.

Be at peace. “Do unto others as other have done unto you,… love one another as I have loved you.. etc. You know the story, move in that direction.

 

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