Tuesday, August 29, 2006


The intent for last Sunday and for this week is discernment. It is the most weighty task appointed to us, and yet it is so often bypassed. After all, why discern when you already think you know?

Many years ago I had a dream in which I was in a “School for the Blind” at first I understood this as being such in the conventional sense, a school for people whose physical apparatus of vision was not functioning. However, as the dream unfolded it was revealed that the people in the school were capable of visual perception, they simply did not use it—because they already 'knew' where everything was, and so they did not bother to look. This 'knowledge' was obviously faulty and incomplete, yet that did not cause them to open their eyes. And the school existed to teach them how to cope with this willing blindness.

Discernment is the ability to see what is really there. To discern the differences and similarities. To make subtle distinctions, and to see connections. Without it, you have merely your ideas imposed upon all that you see. You are blind, because you already 'know' what you would see—if you looked.

Yet we cannot accomplish much in the actual world around us without discernment. We may want to act in service of a greater good, but without discerning to a very high degree how this might be done, we may actually accomplish the opposite. The “best intentions” and all of that. Without it, things can seem simple indeed. Do good. Achieve Gnosis. Live a Good life. With it, things get much more complex. What is the good? What is good in a given situation? Is what you achieved Gnosis? How much can you determine from an experience of Gnosis? These are the sorts of questions that get the asker handed a cup of hemlock on occasion.

You know someone is merely trying to persuade you when they try to take the discernment process away from you. The point of democracy is to have as many people making discernments as possible, yet in practice the point is to take away the discernment and present a simple choice that isn't a choice at all. Instead of being able to seriously and publicly consider if these means are the best way of reaching an end, or if that end is the best way of achieving a goal—we are given dualistic good vs. evil choices. It comes down to a simple claim repeated endlessly, “you are either for us completely and unreservedly, or you are against us and are simply evil.”

As Gnostics we cannot put our “Faith in someone else's faith,” as famously phrased by William James. Nor can we allow others to do our discerning for us. This is a key difference between Gnostic and Creedal expressions of religion. In the Creedal strategy, the discerning has already been done, or will be done by someone else. Things have been discerned, and will be discerned in distant times and places for you. In the Gnostic perspective, this simply cannot be done.

This need to always be discerning is what ties Gnosticism so closely to Philosophy. A definition of Philosophy that would hold up to scrutiny would be one that focused on discernment. Otherwise, Philosophy is a vast expanse of fields whose connections are easier to perceive than to describe. But the process of discernment brings them together into a set of skills, methods, practices, and conventions.

But as mentioned before with the hemlock reference, discernment is often a very unpopular thing. It frightens many people, especially the powers that be. After all, if you are discerning then you will not be merely subservient to authority, nor will you always side with “your team” against all challenges or considerations. In short, it makes you an individual, and there is something deeply disturbing to many about that.

There is also false discernment, mere labeling for the purpose of saying that it is “for us or against us” or “good or evil.” Or the rhetorical device of trying to re-frame everything so that conclusions are predetermined in that same “good or evil” manner. This is the “black and white” thinking that is given as a hallmark of the abusive and manipulative groups that are often referred to as cults. It is a means of control not a way of discerning. The truly scary part is that this has become the norm in so many areas, including our politics.

This is not to say that we cannot be guided or aided in our discernment—but it must remain our own. Discerning is not a simple thing, and it can depend upon knowledge, skill, and wisdom. Deciding that you 'know' something you don't understand is the path of the willfully blind. Often, a great deal of work is involved to be able to comprehend and begin the process of discernment. And so the difference is whether one is guided through a discernment process or is given the result. This can be seen as the difference between educating and indoctrinating, for example.

We must always be engaged in the process of discernment. A process with many subtleties and refinements. A process with many misapplications and false starts. Yet a process that is intrinsic to following the path of Gnosis.

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Monday, August 28, 2006

Gnosis Institute Education

A more detailed look at one of the Threefold mission areas of the Gnosis Institute. The Graduate School will be a regionally accredited academic institution. That means that not only will the Institute be able to award degrees, but they will have meaning in the academic world. We are currently taking the necessary steps towards this, but are only in the initial stages. It will be a long process as this is something we will have to grow as well. But not only can we do it, we are doing it. Want to help?

It is Always the Time for Philosophy

“Socrates neither set out benches for his students, nor sat on a platform, nor set hours for his lectures. He was philosophizing all the time—while he was joking, while he was drinking, while he was soldiering, whenever he met you on the street, and at the end when he was in prison and drinking the poison. He was the first to show that all your life, all the time, in everything you do, whatever you are doing, is the time for philosophy.”

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Interview by Gnostic Journalist Derick Varn

The interview that I did with Derick Varn is now available at The Green Triangle. It was begun right after Holy Week (hence the feeling like I had aged a decade comment).

An Interview with Fr. Troy Pierce by C. Derick Varn.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

This Night Your Soul is Required of You

I am just back from a week's vacation. Not the usual sort of vacation that I hear about other people sometimes taking, but as close as I seem to get to taking one: sleeping on a distant couch, preferably the kind that folds out into a bed. This time it was a relatively nearby distant couch, one in a time-share in Park City, almost 30 miles outside of Salt Lake. Thanks to the Internet trading of my aunt and uncle for the opportunity in general. And, in particular, my ability to detach myself from my weekday activities to drive my mother there and stay. As nice as it was to spend some time in a resort town, and to get away from the narrow horizons that normally present themselves to me in my day to day life, the greatest part of the trip was much more precious—time.

In the Lectionary readings of a few weeks ago, we read the version of the parable of the Rich Fool that is found in the Gospel of Thomas. It is a short, simple, and stark story. A man is prosperous, well off, in the black. He makes some plans on how to use his current wealth to make even more money. Right after planning this, he dies. I like the archaic phrasing from the King James Version. “But God said to him, Fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee.”

There are different interpretations of the “moral” of this parable. However, being a parable, it is a symbol in story form. It cannot be encapsulated in any single “moral.” That is why I like the simplicity of the version found in Thomas, it lacks the interpretation that is found in Luke. This lets you approach it again and again for the first time. The only thing missing from English interpretations of this parable from the Coptic of Thomas is the compelling poetry of the phrase, “this night thy soul shall be required of thee.”

One of the “morals” given to this parable is that the rich man was foolish for keeping the wealth and not giving it to the poor. Presumably, that would have been a wiser investment in that interpretation, giving him eternal dividends in the afterlife. I addressed this type of thinking in my article on “Treasures in Heaven” so I won't go into it here, except to mention that it strikes me as the weakest of the possible spins to put on this parable. Turning it all into some postmortem investment scheme. Some way to get “more bang for your buck,” or some such nonsense.

No, there are many other reasons why the man in the parable is a fool. The one I'll touch on here is a simple one, so simple that it's profundity escapes us until it is too late. One of the ways in which the rich fool misplaces value is to value his wealth to the exclusion of what was so much more precious—time. No amount of wealth could purchase him one more sunrise. It was that night that his soul was required of him. That very literal deadline could not be moved back one day, or hour, or minute more.

No matter what his plans where, he could not have carried them out. Even if he had planned to go and give all that he had to the poor the next day, it wouldn't have happened. Nothing on the other side of that night would ever matter to him the way that night would. For nothing beyond that night would ever be, even though he could not know that. Yet he spent those few precious remaining minutes planning on how to use the abundance that he had acquired only for the purpose of acquiring more the next season, which, presumably, he would also only use to acquire still more after that.

In every consideration of the parable, the man is a fool because he values the wrong things, he doesn't recognize what is truly valuable. He lacks Gnosis, and so goes about doing what seems best for him in the world like life were merely a game. He doesn't experience it directly in the story, he makes plans, laying out a strategy for the game. There is no fault found with his strategy, it is never intimated that his plans wouldn't work. He will simply never get to implement them. The game ends and he is no longer the playing piece in his future plans, but a soul. No longer a prosperous man doing what seems wise, but a fool.

It is amazing how often we put off doing things. How much time we spend making plans that will not even be attempted. How much we refuse to simply allow ourselves to be ourselves until this or until that, or, because of this or because of that. And so our strategy becomes to not live our life as we would truly want to do so at the only time that we will have to do so—a strategy guaranteed to loose. For the only time that we can have is right now. The only place were we can live is here, now.

Trading away a day now for a future day may be a poor bargain in other ways. Scientists have found that subjective time really does pass by faster the older you get, making our real mid-life two decades earlier than the stereotypical one. Yet this is the time we trade most readily, perhaps because it does seem so abundant. But, one day does not equal one day, even if one lives through both of them. And, as the parable points out, one may not.

What does this have to do with a vacation? The precious time I referred to, was time spent with my dear aunt, my other mother. She is dying of cancer. Her objective time is limited by that fact, her subjective time is limited by the toll this takes on her, the need to rest and sleep more and more.

Yet I had an hour with her in an art gallery, really looking at paintings. I had a half hour with her walking along a small stream. I had hours with her talking about the things that matter most in life. The difficulties of this way of life prevented me from spending my recent birthday with her like I had wanted to do. It was the birthday present that I wanted most. And I not only didn't get to see her that day, but wasn't able to see her afterwards, until we were all together in Park City. And so, I like to think that I was not a fool after all. For the same circumstances that made for barriers, made for this opportunity. And while I don't have money, I do have some precious time.

Few know even vaguely how much time they have left, or how quickly it will seem to pass. My own time to accomplish things seems so very limited. Yet even then, the temptation is to wait, to make plans, to do other things first. And so, another gift my aunt has given me is the recognition of the preciousness of time. The time in which we can feel alive, experience, be souls rather than a role or a game piece, is more precious than rubies. The man in the parable is a fool because only at the very end of his life was his soul required of him. Our souls are required of us not as a discontinuity of our lives, but as the living out of them. Not in the future, but now. This night. This day.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Book Sale

If you happen to be studying Information Technology, Networking, Programming, Computer Science, Artificial Intelligence, Data Mining, Advanced Mathematics, or Law, and are interested in getting a good deal on some good used books, let me know. I will be placing sections of my library on sale at Amazon in the next few weeks.

Sorry, but most of what will be of interest to those who read this, are the sort of thing that would go in a Gnosis Institute library and will not be going on sale.

The Duty to Excellence

I normally don't put much stock in beliefs, but I do believe something that I don't think I can back up with anything but conviction: that we have a duty to excellence. It isn't a dreary duty, but a joyful one. It is an honor to be able to pursue something beyond, something more. It is the fulfillment of our being.

Carl Jung observed in his essay “The Spiritual Problem of Modern Man” that while we are the realization of more than all of the previous generations could have hoped for, we are also their greatest disappointment.

We have such riches available to us, riches of which countless ages before us could not even dream. Access to all forms of art, music, literature, and vast libraries of scholarship and primary works, are all so readily available to us. As Isaac Newton phrased it, we all stand on the shoulders of giants, or we can if we choose to do so. We can stand on their shoulders to try to reach that little bit more, or we can sit at their feet and listen, or take up a conversation with them. No human generation before us has been blessed with such abundance.

It is not enough to be exposed to it. The way some people behave you would think them like the film in a camera that needed only to be exposed to one thing and then another. Exposure may be a noble effort, but who is it that is being exposed? These treasures do not call out merely for our attention, they call out for us to rise to meet them. To become a person who listens to the music that reveals the arc of another's flight of soul. To become a person who can see through the surface of the painting that lets us see how the painter saw with much more than our eyes. To become a person who can collaborate in bringing something greater into ourselves, our lives, our world.

This is also true of more rational enterprises. We have access to so much more data than we can manage to make sense from. We have more powerful analytical tools than ever before. Yet reason and logic are often most foreign in the arenas that matter the most to us. Public debates are often simply attempts to repeat memorable phrases. To spread ideas like viruses, rather than like rational beings. To make converts, not conversations. As the challenges grow, we recoil from having to bear them. It is, after all, unfair that we should face such difficulties. But it is also unfair that we should have such abundance.

The retreat into a simpler world, an imaginary one, has been underway for a very long time. Some see it as something akin to a religious exodus into an imaginary promised land. While others see it as an exodus into progress: of society, of technology, or of humans, in some abstract way. And lastly, some yearn for the imaginary justification of destruction. There is a reason why these are the persistent dreams through the ages—we all yearn for this. And there is a reason we all yearn for this—we won't get it.

Real change is difficult. It doesn't come as expected. It doesn't demand that we give up the burden of ourselves as easy sacrifices, but that we live up to ourselves. It is the most difficult task we can engage in. The task of truly living our own lives. And when it comes to the end of our lives, that is what will matter, not the comforts or the things that were merely “good enough” but that excellence that we may achieve, that realization of our potential, that rising up to meet what is best and most important in life. Carl Jung called this process Individuation, the process of truly becoming an individual.

Perhaps it comes down to the question of how much of our lives will we really live? Or will we really live much of our own lives at all? How far will we rise to the challenge of our greatness? How many souls will we rise towards and allow to touch ours, and how deeply? How many minds? How many hearts? How much beauty will we be ready to perceive? How much truth? And when the time comes, did we try to bear the responsibility of being the wonder that each of us is? Did we rise up to truly meet life? I think that will be what matters when we may look back in final hours, before we turn to look ahead.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Comment Moderation

I have enabled comment moderation to avoid feeling forced to reply to ad hominem, or personal, attacks. These are not replies about content, but about me--they exist merely to disparage me as an individual.

My previous policy was to try to show these for what they are in an attempt to discourage their usage in general. Such attempts might seem unkind in a narrow context, one that doesn't consider the larger context, the intent, the predicament it places me in, and most importantly, the nature of that to which I was responding.

Such situations are never pleasant for me, it is not the level of conversation and interaction that I seek to have. I no longer want to feel forced into it, and frankly, of late I have felt like I have been a dupe of being baited into responding to a personal attack, only to have that response characterized as a personal attack.

Also, as I am in the process of making standards an expected part of our discussions and work, and taking this work to the next level, I find taking time to respond in any way to such attacks is counter-productive, even attempts to do so in an instructive manner. They end up being a denial-of-service attack on the discussion.

And so, personal attacks to which I would feel forced to respond are all I will be rejecting in the way of comments. Hopefully, stating this policy clearly will make future rejections unnecessary. So, if you must attack, at least put your attacks separately from your other comments, so I can still post those.

The Story of Sophia & Apologists

“In the beginning was the deed.” -Goethe, Faust: Part One
Something I had thought about including in my homily for the Assumption of the Holy Sophia, yet, as most often happens, forgot entirely while giving the homily, was a response to a odd characterization of Gnosticism in regards to Sophia.

On the radio program “Speaking of Faith,” New Testaments Scholar Luke Timothy Johnson (a person fated for such a profession from birth, it would seem) appeared to debunk the Da Vinci code. He did have some interesting perspectives, but was definitely an apologist.

In attempting to paint Gnostics as the opposite of viewing women as equals, he followed the usual tactic of picking out the apologist's favorite passage from the Gospel of Thomas. Looking on the bright side, it probably means that at least one apologist read the entire Gospel of Thomas, since the passage is the last one. (Was it my imagination, or did I really hear a collective squeal of glee from apologists when one of them found that passage?) Of course, we cannot assume that more than one has read it, for if those who hold it up as misogynistic had read the rest of Thomas, they would have either realized that their literalistic interpretation of the last passage was wrong, or they would be actively deceiving people.

However, the odd continuation of this otherwise unremarkable attempt at reversing the evidence, was Johnson's contrasting of attitudes towards women between those in Gnosticism and orthodox Christianity. He made the claim that the inferior role ascribed to women in orthodox Christianity was merely cultural, and therefore changeable. Whereas, he claims, the role of women in Gnosticism was both somehow not only inferior but also ontologically based and unchangeable due to the figure of Sophia. While I agree with the first point, the second, even if it made sense, has no basis and is pure polemics.

He uses a Selective Sample fallacy, limiting his argument to scriptural writings from New Testament times. He did this because he had to leave out the real basis for his argument, the ontological inferiority of women that is present in the story of Adam and Eve.

The only similarity in the stories is that in the story of Sophia, she is described as making an error. In attempting to move towards the light, she mistakes a reflection for the light. We can see a parallel in the notion of the Cloud of Unknowing, or the Dark Night of the Soul, in that the closer you are too the light, the darker it can seem; the closer you approach, the thicker the cloud. This does not make Sophia, or Wisdom, a fool as some have claimed. Nor is she somehow a dim point in the light for making an error in the story.

Gnostics have never held her in the poor regard that others hold Eve in for being deceived. In contrast, Sophia is praised. Perhaps not for the error, but praised in general. In what seems to be Johnson's ontological notion, she is the Most Holy Sophia. She is not regarded as somehow an example of the inferiority of women.

Perhaps the key to this understanding comes from Goethe's Faust, wherein Faust reconsiders the phrase “In the beginning was the word,” rewriting it as, “In the beginning was the deed.” In Gnostic mythology, the deed is the beginning, whether the story begins with Sophia or before, or is one in which Sophia does not play a role. The movement of the divine is towards expression, and also limitation; towards engagement which always means the giving up of the potential for the actual.

Perfection can only exist as an abstraction. Once form is given, perfection is not possible. Therefore everything done is imperfect. To act, to engage in a deed: includes a flaw, an error. That is the nature of action, of giving one form to the undifferentiated potential.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Living Philosophy Program at the Gnosis Institute

Philosophy (Philo-Sophia) is the love of Wisdom. In honor of the celebration of the Assumption of the Holy Sophia, here is some information on the Living Philosophy program. Philosophy is one of the pillars of the Institute, informing every area, and it is only fitting that the Institute take the lead in the development of a degree program in the practice of Philosophy.

Jung observed that "philosophy is no longer a way of life as it was in antiquity; it has turned into an exclusively intellectual and academic affair." The Gnosis Institute will strive to reverse this course with a focus on Living Philosophy.

The Living Philosophy Program will be a different Philosophy program, one that is focused on using philosophy as a vital tool for living. The Philosophy Programs in Academia might more accurately be referred to as “philosophology,” or the study of philosophy, rather than the practice of philosophy. The American Philosophical Practitioners Association compares the difference to that of studying paintings and actually painting. While the study of paintings is an important part of an artist's education, it would be very strange to think that it was the whole of it.

The Gnosis Institute will not attempt to out-do large universities in the standard model of academic philosophy education, instead the Living Philosophy Program is focused on the practice of philosophy in our lives. Training professional Philosophy practitioners for such roles as: Philosophical Counseling, Philosophical Consulting, and Philosophical Analysis on many levels. Seeking guidance from a Philosophy practitioner as an individual, and as an organization is often a better fit than seeking guidance from the current standard sources.

The most important task of this program, however, is to train philosophers to engage in public discourse. In a world where a fallacy is most often given as an argument, and an insult as a conclusion, we need engaged public philosophers more than ever.

Team Identity versus Community

“Save us from the slavery of small aims and of the narrow life.”
--The service to the MH Sophia of the Ecclesia Gnostica

It is an oft repeated pattern that perhaps is inevitable that those who identify themselves as Gnostics will seek to come together across the vastness that most often separates us and feel the joy of making such contacts. However, the other thing that seems to be taken as an inevitability is that the primary concern is always with marketing a particular Gnostic church or identity group. If this had happened in only a few circumstances it might not be worth mentioning. But it is much more than that, it seems inexorably tied into the common understanding of the world.

A seemingly simply Gnostic project to serve the community gets branded. And those who find that surprising are considered reactionary. What seems like working together simply as Gnostics ends up being more like socializing outside of a private club most are unwelcome in. Attempts to aid on a personal level are taken for granted as being motivated by organizational goals or politics. And the lack of an organization becomes the un-brand brand. This seems much more like a fundamental part of our consumer oriented culture brought into a Gnostic context, than mere incidents.

What this leads to is a general consumer mentality applied to even what should be most resistant to such things. Making things like market share and popularity poor substitutes for more stringent standards. So that, even facts and conclusions become matters resting upon persuasion and popularity, without a foundation upon which they might be examined, questioned, and refined.

For some of us this current incarnation of an Internet Gnostic community is not the first one we have witnessed. Without some structure with broader standards in which to discuss things, discussion may cease as soon as it is inconvenient. Pronouncements go unquestioned, along with the methods and assumptions implicit and explicit. And work that seeks to be beyond marketing fades and is replaced by marketing.

Even under circumstance where there are foundations or structures: persuasion is an element, camps or schools of thought form, and marketing occurs. Anyone the least familiar with academia will be familiar with this. In the absence of foundation and structure, there is only persuasion, camps, and marketing. This is a way to market share or even market dominance, but it is not a way to liberation.

I have taken flak, and no doubt will take more, for not being satisfied with this state of affairs. Yet I yearn for more very deeply. Standards and structures by which we can come together to see and question what we think we know, and where we think we are, comprises an essential work required for there to be a future of Gnosticism in our culture.

For, ultimately, the most stringent standards we must face are not those of scholarship, logical argumentation, or scientific research. The standards we must, each of us, face are those of the cosmos itself. If we even risk setting ourselves up within a comfortable realm where we will not be truly challenged by others, the real challenge will only grow more difficult.

The Gnosis Institute will strive to be a place with a foundation, structure, and standards that will take us forward. I have learned from experience that there doesn't seem to be any way of even being a Gnostic community without them.

While there is much that could be found disappointing in this, we must simply learn and continue. If we do not expect more of each other, and give each other opportunities to move beyond the otherwise seemingly inevitable patterns, then our own failure of imagination is as apparent as any.

The Gnostic Seminary at the Gnosis Institute

As first publicly announced to the Internet Gnostic community last year, having been in the planning stages for more than six years prior to that, the Stephanus Seminary, or Ministry Preparation program, will be the lead academic program of the Gnosis Institute. It being proposed as the first educational program of the Institute for many reasons, the most important being the need for such a program.

The program takes the view that students are serious about preparation for active engaged Gnostic ministry, and are not simply seeking the fastest track to ordination. Gnostic ministry is a difficult task in the best of circumstances, one that many set out to devote their lives to, and a very few succeed in actually living out. Rather than focus on ordination, we focus on serious preparation for ministry that is academic, both broad and deep, and practice oriented. With the limitations of distance, the lack of personal contact and experience central to Gnosis, being overcome to the extent possible via residential conferences. Temporary learning communities that will allow us to grow our vital Gnostic community beyond the limitations of where we reside.

This allows for the best of both worlds, professional level preparation through an academic institution, in conjunction with formation and specific training within an ecclesiastical context. Although some may try to make this into a false dilemma, turning it into an exclusive choice, no such dualism exists.

The model followed is that of an open academic not-denominational seminary, such as Harvard Divinity School or Union Theological Seminary, but Gnostic in focus and designed to prepare for active spiritual ministry. This may be considered in contrast to the model of a seminary as a church institution for formation to the priesthood within a single denomination, like a Roman Catholic or Lutheran seminary. The strictly denominational model of seminary has been on the decline for quite some time, with most seminaries representing more than a single denomination, or being open and used by more than one. The open academic not-denominational model only represents a small percentage of seminaries, these usually having grown from denominational ones.

While they vary to a great extent, every church has a formation program. A process of becoming and learning that leads to ordination. Due to the limitations of distance, and the immediacy and inexpressibility of Gnosis, Apostolic Gnostic churches in general do not have distance formation programs, with only recent years seeing some limited occurrences. Formation has been considered something that occurs in-person. It is in this and broader contexts that the Stephanus Seminary at the Gnosis Institute is designed to operate.

The vision of the program is that of an open professional seminary that will essentially serve in the areas of formation that are academic and general. This has the additional benefit of bringing together students from different churches and traditions to be able to have a sense of going through the process together. There are few enough of us, and in any given formation program there are fewer still. These ties will continue to connect the Gnostic community long after students graduate.

The benefit to church formation programs is that they no longer need to be in the business of being a school: either trying to do it all with few resources, or doing much less; but can instead focus on the more personal aspects of formation, and aspects of practice. Additionally, the program is modular, both to adapt to the individual ministry for which it is preparation, and to adapt to the different focuses of Gnostic churches and traditions—to be able to serve all those seeking serious preparation for Gnostic ministry.

The Stephanus Seminary at the Gnosis Institute is an open professional Gnostic seminary. This will allow those seeking preparation for ministry to do so, regardless of the form of that ministry. The Gnosis Institute will be open to all, with ordination between candidate and church, as always.

Students are advised that some churches require other academic programs, ones that are contained within their organization. Students who seek ordination are advised to consult with their ecclesiatical body if they seek to use this program as a part of their formation process. However, graduates of such denominational academic programs will still want to enter this program. Benefiting from its modular nature so as to focus more on the areas that were not previously covered.

Additionally, the Gnosis Institute will offer three other allied programs: Developing Psyche & Spirit, Gnostic Studies, and Living Philosophy. More information on the educational programs of the Institute will follow.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Approaching the Da Vinci Code

It is with more than a little trepidation that I approach my upcoming seminar Illuminating the Da Vinci Code. My motives for doing so are suspected by many. Although, I truly hope it is far too late for anyone to try to jump on the coat-tails of the usual reactions and responses, and we can only pray that they will fade away sooner rather than later, the ability to imagine another approach seems largely absent.

There does seem to be some grand failure in imagination, a cultural short-circuit. Rather than using it as a tool to give form or to explore possibilities—most seem held captive by their imagination. They imagine only one thing, one perspective, one possibility: and then mistake that for reality. This is the world on spin-cycle, with imagination used as a filter for the world putting a spin on everything, so that imagination is used to reduce the possibilities we see—to tell only one story repeatedly.

Perhaps that is the mechanism of the modern dualism we see everywhere in our culture. The world and the people in it are complex, yet that is oddly missing from our public considerations. The ability to imagine the other as self fades, while the captivity to the imagination in a dualism of self vs other grows.

Yet, we are fish in the sea of our culture. We cannot see the currents directly, and often we forget there is water at all. But, at times, something large moves along the current, revealing not only the current, but reminding us again that we are in a particular sea.

The Da Vinci Code is something we are all probably tired of hearing about—but in a particular way. In the way that has become the standard way of approaching everything. In the way that ends conversation, turning it into a false debate where only one side is heard. We should all be tired of that. We shouldn't stand for it anymore.

I will be standing up against easy answers and modern dualism. And yes, I will be doing it in considering the Da Vinci Code phenomenon. Because in illuminating it we illuminate ourselves—we see something of the deeper currents and the nature of our particular sea. I hope you will be able to join me, either in person or in spirit.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Wish me Happy Birthday

I could use it right now.

And if anyone is feeling the least bit generous, I am in fairly dire straights and really need help with the expenses for GnosCast.

Please consider a voluntary subscription amount of $13 or $25 per year. Yes, that's a whopping $1 to $2 a month.

Don't think someone else will do it for you, I have only received one donation over the five months I've been doing this. Or, just consider it either a birthday present or a present for the anniversary of my ordination to the priesthood, so I can continue to do GnosCast.

Thank you.

The button is now working.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Dark Times for Ken Wilber

Ken Wilber has been a seminal philosopher in areas that concern us all. Both directly and indirectly we have all benefited from his work.

On the 23rd of July, a household accident resulted in the loss of the use of both arms and reinjured his back, essentially leaving him a temporary quadriplegic.

It is at dark times like this when our support matters most.

Read more, including a personal account, here.