That question I continue asking myself is why I’m even worried about the labels in the first place, why I’m concerned in the slightest with trying to relate myself to other people.

Years ago, I staunchly opposed labels and labeling people and things because to me, labels constricted things and were indicative that one was identifying with temporal, conditioned things. This certainly shows Buddhist influences and perhaps the nature of Buddhist dogma affecting me from long ago.

But the reality is that labels are practical- they have a particular linguistic function, and so, too, have a social function, giving us the ability to identify and group ourselves and others accordingly. While many well-meaning people would certainly like to remove every label and every group, I think the presence of differences is a matter to celebrate, not a matter to dissolve.

On the absolute level, certainly, nothing is actually any different than anything else- everything is composed of the same thing, everything is basically the same thing in the first place. Nothing to worry about there.

As Ms. Tweedie says in one video, the world is an illusion from the standpoint of Eternity, but while you are here and in the world, it is tremendously real.

So this means that if we suffer in this world, it is real- it means if someone violates us, it is real. I think this is what many mystics and New Agers end up missing in the end.

For many years now, I’ve not been able to pin down or ground myself in a particular system. I tried for years to do this with Catholicism, and in one fell swoop, an experience shattered it all for me. Had I really examined what was going on, I would have realized what a true Grace of God I had been given in the moment, for what essentially happened is that the ego-structure was destroyed in such a way as to reveal a long-hidden part of myself and an essential nature of reality that existed in that moment. Instead of embracing that odd, meaningless, purposeless world, I struggled against it.

But it was really a veil of God, as I can now see.

At any rate, I do try to describe myself to other people in the best way that I can for the sake of establishing a clarity of what I stand for and what I represent.

So here we are: on my Facebook today, after a long and difficult consideration, I created a strange but rather accurate label to enter into my Religious Views.

Gnostic/Anglo-Catholic with Sufi Contemplative Prayer

What, exactly, do you suppose that means?

Why such complexity?

I feel that it sums up my religious attitudes and beliefs rather well.

  1. My attitudes, and to some degree, soteriology are highly influenced by Gnosticism and the allegorical understanding of the Bible. While I do have a skeptical streak still present in me at various points, I am also aware that the ego-mind is quite capable of distorting reality and does so frequently.
  2. I find comfort worshiping in the Episcopal Church. Most Episcopalians are likely more orthodox and closer to traditional Roman Catholic beliefs than I am. But the sacramental nature of the Church and the emphasis on their own Catholicity brings the Catholic Faith to me, and I am allowed to participate fully in the Mass without having received Confirmation. I’ll likely receive confirmation at some point anyway. The love of Christ is truly present in the Episcopal Church as I have known it.
  3. Sufi’s Longing and Love for God describe the central mysteries of mysticism. They need not be applied only to Islam- the prayer of the heart, the meditation of drowning one’s thoughts and feelings into love, the fervent burning of Divine Love in the heart- these are all very much so elements of Catholic Christianity’s mysticism.

Some might accuse me of being a fence-sitter. Some might say that I’m distorting the teachings of the Church. I would argue that rather than distort anything, I am fully, and I mean fully, embracing the Essence of the Love of God.

Again, it is the habit of the intellectual to become lost in words and abstractions without seeing what these things mean in practical reality, and it is a danger that is near and dear to my own heart, a trap I’ve one too many times stepped into.

With great certainty, I will assure you that my understanding of Christ is largely different from most people who bear the label “Christian,” but it is not utterly and completely different- it is not something the defames Christ or reduces Him to less; rather, it is an embracing of Christ as both man and God, an embracing of the fullness that He embodies. I think I understand Christ in an expansive way that many Christians are not allowed to by thought-police, well-meaning pastors, and the like.

But what I tell someone if they were to ask me what my religion is? Well, that could be difficult- the label above is a mouthful, and it would take some explaining to do.

We’ll see what happens when the time comes.