I strongly object to the simplistic anti-ecclesiasticism that has been on the rise, because it is based on false assumptions. One false dichotomy that has arisen is between being an "Independent" or participating in an ecclesiastical form. Assumptions and prejudices arising from one's interactions with religion in other venues brought to bear in a new arena, are simply an indication of assumptions, not reality. This comes from ignoring or dismissing the “Gnostic” part of “Gnostic Church.”
The other danger in considering “churches” is that a “church” in this sense is generally not understood to be a grouping of individuals. Yet aside from the abstract realm, there are only individuals. Where we like to see abstract groups and not individuals is when we are attacking them. That is the way shadow projections work, they can't lay still on a complex reality, so it is the abstract that is covered with the perceiver's darkness, and both layers then block their view.
There is also the inductive fallacy that comes into play. The "one X did this, all Xs do that" assumption that is simply a way of finding one or more data points to back up an assumption or prejudice. If this isn't obvious I can point you to some hate sites that use this as a justification. It simply isn't an argument, it is simply specific cases of a prejudice finding data that may support it. It is not the only explanation for the data, nor even the one that makes the most sense. That is simply how prejudices work, they are gross generalizations whose explanatory power has been disproved countless times.
Now, is someone who is a prisoner to their own prejudices, and can't see what is in front of their face because of shadow projections, truly independent? I would argue that they are certainly not thinking or seeing for themselves, these things limit both. I would further argue that these things have a collective nature, they have mass appeal, which would indicate that.
This lets us see the nature of the Shadow that is being projected. One's own desire to loose oneself in a collective, to simply surrender to a mass movement, becomes succumbed to in this Shadow way. One joins in the collective group-psychology of rejecting something as the totem of collective group-psychology. This then becomes a very powerful trap, because we would then need to recognize this aspect of ourselves, own it as being ourselves and not a “them,” to escape from the collective—to stop doing what we hate, to quote Thomas.
It isn't an issue with people doing what they want to do, it is an issue in them being trapped by themselves in such a way that they feel they need to reject or tear-down something very removed, to free themselves of their internal issues. Sadly, this is the norm. And it is also the norm to call this “freedom” or “independence.”
When someone says that I, personally, can't work or think outside of a church structure--it is an insult, pure and simple. The on-line community has been heading that way for a few months now. Some of it comes from the neophytes making general claims about "Gnostic Churches" or "Gnostic Clergy" based solely upon their assumptions. Yet they only seem to be the leaders of the charge. These claims almost always include ones that directly contradict the facts of my life and all I have worked to do. Claims of exclusivity, which can be traced to the rejection (exclusiveness) of the person making such claims, flies in the face of all that we do. Claims of collectivity, which can be traced to the collectivity (group-psychology) of the person making such claims, flies in the face of all that we seek.
I don't see an issue in referring people to other organizations or churches, Gnostic or otherwise. There also isn't an issue with working with individuals, who are individuals, in fact the reverse is the case. I also try not to give undue credit, or make assumptions than seem inappropriate, in regards to others, because I serve in an ecclesiastical form.
Some object to having their work on the Internet dismissed or categorized. Imagine what it is like to have your decade-long ministry, with all the work and sacrifice that entails, dismissed and categorized, because part of it has an outward form some associate with bad things in unrelated contexts. Just think about it.
Is being "Independent" about avoiding organizations, starting one's own organization, or is it about working toward independence? There are real issues with organizations, but that is because there are real issues with individuals. Ultimately, our organizations fall into the category of Make Believe, they exist because we act as though they do. These assumptions aren't about organizations, organizations are individuals working with a form in a structure. And when the scope of the structure is as limited as it is in the Gnostic Ecclesia, it largely comes down to form.
Being one thing means that you are not everything, obviously. Having a form means that you don't have every form. Some find this to be a difficulty because they want the “form” to be themselves. They either think desires or dislikes guiding form is more useful than being guided by form, or, more commonly, they don't understand form. This leads to not simply a rejection of form, but a militant radical rejection of form. Rather than “that form isn't for me,” or even, “form isn't for me,” to “that form isn't for anyone,” or even, “form isn't for anyone.”
We can think of ourselves as being in a labyrinthine prison that we must each find our own way out of. A form isn't a map showing your particular way out. No such map is possible. The best we can hope for are useful practices and tools, as well as, information about the dangers. A form might be something akin to a standard set of practices employed to help overcome the maze. You can just wander. You can wander and mark some intersections and not others, or change your system of marking every now and then. Or you can heed some advice left by those who have gone through this before, and adopt a standard set of practices that makes sense and works for you. Simply accepting someone else's standard set of practices may only get you lost further still, they may not work for you, you may not be doing what is required to make them work, or you may not understand them well enough to really try. There is also the possibility that they weren't intended to help someone out of the maze. For all of these reasons, discernment is a personal responsibility no one can avoid.
The reality is simply this: we all have a form, and we are all independents. The form may be silly putty or stone, it may be large or small, but it is there—whether you want to see it as such or not. We also are all on our own paths, responsibility lies upon each of us to find our liberation. This is not something to take lightly, nor something one can give to someone else. We can help each other, we cannot be each other.