Sunday, June 03, 2007

Questions: The Catholic/Anglican Uniform

Your uniform looks quite Catholic/Anglican. What is the basis of this? The Cathars (at least) seemed to be very simple in their approach, as did Christ. I thought this type of ecclesiastical clothing only began after Nicea.

Bear in mind that everything we do has a form. The Gospel of Philip says that "Truth did not come into the world naked, but came in types and images."

The style of clericals and liturgical vestments we use is that of the Western Christian tradition. The Gnostic Eucharist follows the structure of the Eucharist in the West, as well. All of which had a long development until it reached its zenith in the eleventh century. The other main style or form of high Christian liturgy is Eastern Orthodox. While we do incorporate some elements of that style on occasion, we primarily follow the Western forms.

Gnostics of all times are primarily pragmatic in that they work with what they have and use what works. The Eucharist form has developed over centuries as a richly symbolic experience—a mystery of transformation. Since the Gnostic approach is to learn from spiritual experience, it makes sense to use a highly developed and symbolic form to evoke inner experience. We are not re-enactors of ancient history, but contemporary seekers of Gnosis. Our general view is that all of this isn't strictly necessary, but it really does help. The first time I attended a service I wasn't expecting much and had largely dismissed it intellectually, yet the experience was such that here I am over a decade later providing opportunities for others to regularly experience it also.

"Gnostic" wasn't an ancient denomination, but rather a very different approach to religion and living spiritually. An approach founded upon inner spiritual knowing and growing (gnosis) rather than upon conforming to correct belief or opinion (ortho-doxia). A separate ecclesiastical structure wasn't necessary for the Valentinians to follow the Gnostic approach. Yet, it was for the Cathars.

The focus on Gnosis, the radical difference of basing religious and spiritual knowing upon Gnosis, is what makes an approach gnostic. Focusing upon correct belief and opinion, and basing religious knowing upon that body of correct belief and opinion, is what makes an approach orthodox. To be grounded in the Christian expression of the Gnostic tradition you really only have the two choices, Eastern or Western Christianity. For historical and practical reasons our tradition follows the Western form.

1 comment:

Kate said...

Rev. Troy,
As a Gnostic raised in the Eastern Orthodox tradition, I've been wondering if there are any Gnostic communities in the US that include elements of that particular tradition.