Monday, September 18, 2006

How Long Will I be Able to do This?

This is an ever more recurring question for me these days. Approaching these seminars I found out how many jobs I do and how much time it all takes. None of them pay. Only one has ever broken even, and that was the Gnostic Calendar. Yet considering the months of work that went into it, breaking even is not a sustainable condition. Everything else that I do costs a lot. It costs in materials, and it costs in time—or what some call opportunity costs. You could be doing something else, maybe something that pays you money for hard and skilled work, but you can't because you are doing something you have to pay to do.

So far there have been four donations online, and I appreciate every one of them. They will actually allow me to continue one more month. Keeping the Internet connection and buying port for mass. I also deeply appreciate the few who have donated personally, those donations coved the majority of the cost of a few chairs for the chapel. It was a priority, I saw a great deal on an odd number, I borrowed more money for the rest. Now a few people can sit comfortably through services.

GnosCast takes time to produce. It requires recording equipment, a lot of space on my antiquated computer, and lot of time to edit. The longer ones require a great deal more time, and after recording the last one very late at night and sounding like it, I realized that I need to spend even more time to not have the sound of them be such a barrier to listening to them. So, I haven't completed the next one.

The seminars I am currently doing took thousands of hours to prepare. The publicity art and layout took a very long time. Sending out notices, hanging up fliers, sneaking bookmarks into books at stores that don't let you hang up fliers. Then there is scheduling the space, the papers and inks, producing brochures and handouts, producing overhead transparencies to use, and so on. Being prepared enough to let the audience guide the discussion is no small task either, and that is in addition to examining the material and conducting research to come to unique conclusions and put them into a new form that might be conveyed more readily. Donations so far? None. There wasn't a very large attendance either. Fortunately, those who did attend came with questions and comments and it turned out quite well. But, I think you get the point.

So, the next time you wonder “why isn't there a Gnostic church in my area?” Or, whatever happened to that cool effort? You will know. It honestly doesn't take much to help. If enough people do voluntary subscriptions to GnosCast, I can keep my Internet connection and keep the meditations and homilies going. If more do, I can keep the longer ones going and do so regularly. If you don't, I loose my connection and it stops. The same happens if there are no church services. Homilies are delivered at the end of them, and they are a part of producing those. Do you need to sit in the chapel to support services there? If enough people support seminars they will continue to happen. I will be able to continue to try to reach folks locally and in other areas. If enough people support them, I can even make the materials and recordings available to everyone and not have to sell them. Do you need to be there to support them?

The Gnosis Institute is a way to be able to support serious and scholarly work, and a way to work together on important projects. It is something new, something we need. And it isn't in competition with anything that is currently going on or planned. It is the sort of approach that we need to keep Gnosticism from devolving into just another religion in the modern world, or from being perceived as such. And it is so much more. We are entering a Dim Age if not a dark one. We must preserve and expand the light. The Renaissance really began centuries before, with a reawakening to the interiority of the human being. This occurred at the time Gnostic thought moved into Western Europe and gained adherents in the form of the Cathars. The religious reforms of the period can already be traced to a large degree to Cathar influence, as can the troubadour tradition and its vast cultural influence. And, perhaps, the roots of the Renaissance can be traced more directly to them as well. These things can have larger effects than we can imagine. But only if they occur.

That is the answer to the question that I was asked last Sunday, and was asked again today in a different form. What is my biggest concern? How long I will be able to do this. Where do I get the money to do this? I don't. I am being helped through by someone almost as poor as I am, someone who lives on social security, and that cannot continue for much longer. I may be able to extend this long loss, this slide towards homelessness, with school loans. But, that isn't a solution, just a stop-gap, and really another sacrifice to get the Gnosis Institute going as well as I can for what time remains to me. That is the bare truth.

Perhaps I will be able to get to that stop-gap measure, and then get from there to the next. That is the plan. And perhaps the person with the least will be able to continue funding Institutes, podcasts, seminars, and church services. It has happened so far, but for how long I can't say.


Mark said...

have you thought of applying for a government grant? They do that sort of thing for religous groups of all kinds.

and you never have to pay them back!

Just a thought

Anonymous said...

This has been on my mind alot lately - how to support yourself as a Gnostic. I think it's been on the minds of many lately and needs some brainstorming, and, dare I say, something that will translate from paper into a palpable source of income for Gnostic clergy to, at the very least, cover the costs of their expenses. A bit of an income would be nice, but at this stage, most are forking out money they don't even have...