Posted by: shawnjohnston | August 29, 2007

I Thought This Was A Gnostic Blog?

Many of you may have noticed my recent plunge into more mainstream Christian sources, posting many prayer excerpts, writings by Benedictine Monks, etc… So what gives? Well it’s just another phase of my journey but allow me to elaborate.

To be honest, I have experienced a lot of shyness with regards to my explorations into more common place Christian sources and writers. Perhaps it’s my background of a family that regularly and vehemently denounced all things Christian, or perhaps it is living in a culture that is uncomfortable with things overtly religious. Let me tell you, reading the Bible on the Skytrain draws many strange looks, and not all of them friendly.

Gnostics in general tend to allude that “regular” Christianity is rudimentary or somehow insufficient for what is obviously a higher spiritual calling. While we will rigorously defend ourselves against the oft charges of elitism, and rightly so, many of us are however guilty of just a little bit of aloofness. Let’s be honest, we can be a little snobby. But it’s alright.

As gnostics, we have the incredibly valuable and enlightening Nag Hammadi Library to draw inspiration from and with it, a certain understanding of our ancient forefathers frame of mind and worldview. But (yes I said but) despite it’s obvious wisdom, however hidden so much of it is, we do lack a contingent of gnosticism-inspired mystics and writers who have, over time, shared and elaborated on these hidden meanings and thoughts through their own gnosis. We do, however, have many “mainstream” Christian mystics and writers that many Gnostics draw inspiration and guidance from. Julian of Norwich, St. John of the Cross, the anonymous author of the Cloud of Unknowing to name a few all have easily available writings that are still as relevant and meaningful today as they were when they penned them.

It seemed only natural to explore the traditions and inspirations that drove these pillars to express what they did.  And as much as many Gnostics may want to deny it, Gnosticism in a very real and big way is Christian, especially when understood in the context of gnosis leading to Christhood, rather than a blind faith in Jesus the Christ. The strength of Gnosticism not found in it’s not being Christian, but in it’s not only being Christian. Gnosticism’s inclusiveness and the natural and passionate inquisitiveness of it’s members and participants, is where the Spirit is so visible, so tangible. We are participating in a real, breathing, vibrant and evolving tradition that leads gently yet faithfully towards the centre, to God.

So explore I have been doing. And I’ve found such a rich tapestry of gnosis, hidden behind popular opinion and literal evangelism, which is still so very much a part of the heart of today’s Christian traditions. Yes it is at times burdened with outdated or twisted meanings of its terms, but if we can relegate them with our Gnostic understandings and see the truth the words as symbols point to rather than get caught up in what others define these symbols as (as the Gospel of Philip so wisely warns against) we will find a tradition remarkably alike to our own.

For didn’t they develop alongside one another those centuries ago? Were they not inspired by many of the same words, the same thoughts, the same teachings? Who cares where they came from, who coined them? Who cares who said what, who was real and who wasn’t? What matters is how these profound and powerful thoughts and words can activate a real inner change in us today, right now. As Gnostics we pride ourselves finding inspiration wherever we find it, yet so many avoid Christianity as useless and outdated, bogged down by dogma and literalism.

I completely and unabashedly equate modern Christian monasticism and spirituality with my own tradition of Christian Sacramental Gnosticism. To do otherwise is to throw the baby out with the bathwater, and to lose out on 2000 years of exploration and expression. Gnosis is as Gnosis does.

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Responses

  1. The question has always been “What is Authoritative?”


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