Bishop assails Gnostic fad that ‘Code’ boostedI don't know a lot about modern neo-Gnosticism. Does the demiurgic myth (that the biblical creator god is actually an evil derivative and secondary god) actually play a large part in the doctrine of such groups? Can anyone point me to relevant websites, etc.?
By RICHARD N. OSTLING
For AP Weekly Features
Gnosticism, the religious rival that lost out to orthodox Christi-anity in ancient times, has be-come fashionable again thanks to Dan Brown’s huge-selling novel “The Da Vinci Code” and the efforts of professors like Princeton’s Elaine Pagels.
Harvard University picked Pagels to deliver its prestige-laden William Noble Lectures in theology for 2001. But this year’s Noble lecturer, scholarly Church of England Bishop N.T. Wright, assailed Gnostic chic.
He said the central issue is: “Do we or don’t we believe in a good God who made the world?”
For Wright, that’s no esoteric scholarly issue. He told the Ivy Leaguers that Gnosticism — ancient or modern — fosters spiritual elitism and political escapism, and undercuts truth and social betterment.
“Da Vinci” was popular because it “tapped into a deep desire in our culture for secret knowledge,” Wright said, and similarly, Gnostics conveyed Jesus’ supposed secret teachings to a spiritual elite.
Like “Da Vinci,” Gnosticism claimed that “Christianity as we have known it was based on a gigantic mistake” and “the church has hushed up the real Jesus,” he added.
That false history, the bishop asserted, appeals to growing numbers of Westerners who think truth cannot be known, who distrust authority, who seek private spiritual experience and who love conspiracy theories.
Analysts will doubtless debate Wright’s remarks about 21st-century Gnostic-style thinking. But his depiction of ancient Gnosticism is well-documented by the “Gospel of Judas,” a Gnostic text released last spring by National Geographic amid intense promotion.
UPDATE: Justin Dombrowski e-mails to point to this site,which contains, among many other things, a neo-Gnostic essay on "The Mystery of Iniquity." Excerpt:
Contemporary Gnostics for the most part agree with the fundamental insights of their ancient counterparts. Do modern Gnostics believe in the Demiurge? Do they believe in Messengers of Light? Do they regard such ideas as metaphysical truths or as mythologems hinting at more subtle and mysterious realities? The answer is that some Gnostics may believe these things more in a literal sense, while others may believe them symbolically; still others may hold a mixture of both views.The site also has a neo-Gnostic theological reflection on the 2004 tsunami. It does indeed draw on the demiurgic myth toward the end, but it doesn't sound to me as though it "erodes the basis for work to improve society." Excerpt:
What matters is not the precise form of these teachings but their substance. And this is clear enough. It speaks of the reality and power of evil, of its fundamental presence in all of manifest existence. It declares that while we may not be able to rid the world or ourselves of evil, we may and indeed will rise above it through gnosis. And when the task of this extrication is accomplished, then we shall indeed no longer fear the noonday devil or the terror that walks by night.
Thus we are left with the eternal Gnostic realization: Only the liberating insight of Gnosis will ultimately lift us out of a reality where horrors of this kind prevail. In a Gnostic sense earthly life itself is a disaster. Like so many of the unfortunate men, women, and children who were living (or vacationing) in areas that were like Paradise and were then so cruelly deprived of their lives in the twinkling of an eye, so have we come forth once from the Fullness (Pleroma) and have been swept away by a dreadful torrent that carried us far away from the glories and beauty of our true home. Horrible as this realization strikes us, we must balance it with the afore noted recognition: There is a liberating insight, which we call Gnosis, that can reverse the process and take us back to our true dwelling place. In a very true sense, this is really all that matters. And until then, let us treat each other with compassion, let us extend such help and love as we may be able to offer. For while it is beyond our power to change this dark and violent reality, it is within our ability to shed some light on the path upon which we move toward our goal beyond this world.Anyway, have a look and see what you think. And let me know if you find any other interesting sites.