A Few Thoughts Today

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The peculiar situation of theology was posed to me the other day, and in turn, I posed it to Andy (A Red State Mystic): what makes the difference a church that is Anglo-Catholic and a church that is “merely” High Church Middle-of-the-Road?

Richard, aka Triscuit, has reported than in the Midwestern-ish area, even the most Protestant of the Episcopalians have a Tabernacle and Sanctuary Lamp. 

Andy has suggested that at one time, Tabernacles and Sanctuary Lamps were one of the major determing signs of Anglo-Catholicism. 

But the truth is, though I’ve heard of so-called “Low Church” Anglicans, I’ve yet to come across any of them online. I’ve even seen some of the Reformed-Protestant-we’re-not-actually-in-the-Anglican-Communion “Anglicans” who, despite definitely avowing that they are indeed Protestants, maintain the Tabernacle and Sanctuary Lamps.

Also, I should point out that if I had to convert to the Roman Church based on the Roman Catholics I personally know, it would be no problem. But if I had to convert based on the Roman Catholics I’ve seen online, I would probably sooner rather die a heretic’s death

Why?

Because frankly, many of the Online Romans seem to have a distorted view about practically everything. When I read Romans go on about why Romans convert to Anglicanism and say that it’s never because of any real theological issue, I just had to scoff. 

But allow me to back up and concede for a moment: of course it’s not necessarily for a theological reason, but probably, quite often, for one of attitude. The theology of the Roman Church isn’t the issue with most of us Anglo-Catholics; indeed, many, if not most of us, like the Pope well enough and all that jazz. It’s the attitude to it all: I see so many (Online) Roman Catholics act as though they know everything, everything, there is to know about spirituality. 

But they don’t because none of us do.

Conversely, I think the reason many Episcopalians eventually join up with Rome is because Rome dares to make more definitive-sounding, absolute claims about religion, saying that “this is the way it is, folks. Deal with it. God says so,” and Anglicanism often eschews trying to nail down (pun intended) any kind of theology for the fear of offending someone in some tribal religion that has no exposure to the outside world. So, the idea that one can ask a difficult question and receive a complicated (but potentially erroneous) answer backed up with the claim of “We’re the One True Church, y’all” gives Episcopalian-to-Roman Catholic converts a sense of comfort that they might not experience in the Episcopal Church. 

That doesn’t mean it’s correct, though, which is the point that they miss. 

High Anglicanism, and when I say High Anglicanism, I mean the finest Anglo-Catholicism, makes a distinction among things that is subtle but important, and I think that is the genius of Anglicanism: to make fine, subtle distinctions that are otherwise overlooked. One interesting example recently came to me from another website that explains that Anglicanism distinguishes between authority and infallibility. 

Our model of Tradition, Scripture, and Reason is where the authority of our Church arises, and though these three are authoritative, they are not infallible. When I read this, I realized I had been trying to articulate this all along. 

In my case, I would go so far as to concede this all the way to the Pope and the Magisterium of the Roman Church: they are authoritative in matters Christian, but they are not, now, before, or in the future, infallible. 

When I hear people say things like, “OH, well, you silly Episcopalians should just trust the Bible and get away from all that other stuff,” I want to smack them. Hard. Preferably with something that will cut them. But better yet, I take my boyfriend’s tactic on this one: I usually just won’t engage in an argument with such a person. I don’t have the time to try to explain to someone who is patently wrong with their Evangelical Protestant Bibliolatry why and how they’re wrong, nor is it my responsibility. 

I react in a similar way when someone dares to call me a Protestant. I am no Protestant, that’s for sure. 

Stevo

 

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Mass and Headaches

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Every time I fall ill physically, it almost invariably seems to be a time when God is actually boosting me spiritually. Is it so common among the mystics to experience physical illness when God’s grace enters them? I’m not sure, but the pattern seems pretty clear to me.

Today, I went to Mass with my boyfriend at another Episcopal Church in Panama City, Florida. The church building itself was absolutely gorgeous and pretty huge compared to my home parish. Mass was going well until…

…the Sanctus bells didn’t ring. Not once. And I was just confused by this: for a church otherwise so very High, complete with all the candles and pageantry, where were the bells?

Now, of course, there was something more important than that: the love of Christ I felt there. That’s what really counts to the human soul, and I’m fortunate enough to be sensitive enough to know when the energy is raised.

At the moment, I’m pretty tired, so now I can’t really write much more.

Stevo

Another Random Update

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(Wrote this a few days ago. I thought I should note it.)

As luck would have it, I’m having to write this on my word processor. It’s not that I have any particular problem in doing that, it’s just that lately, things seem to have suddenly gone to hell in their own way. That’s what happens on the path of the mystic, though: a constant stretch between heaven and hell.

It’s almost a formula for me now: the days of extreme anger and fury where I’m ready to disembowel another human being are also the days or periods of time whereby huge spiritual insight follows. I have to constantly remind myself when the anger becomes a consistent force that it’s actually probably God making His move on me. Bernadette Roberts (at least, I think it was she) said that grace goes counter to our ego, and that may well be what’s happening to me in such situations.

Today, I also noticed that upon meditating, I could go below the part of my mind where the tension and anger had built up. Not so far below, mind you, dear reader, that the tension and anger and stress were seamlessly absorbed into the deeper, stiller part of me, but far below enough that I might see that there’s something more to us than the storm of emotions we experience in our everyday mind. 

I’ve slacked in meditation recently but haven’t forsaken my spiritual practices altogether; I’ve been reading a book lent to me by a friend about how to develop one’s psychic powers, and instead of turning my nose up at it in the style of a snobby mystic (an oxymoron, if you ask me), I take the book for the value that it has in my developing some part of my mind that seems to be important. So be it. Some things must be traversed and traveled; we can’t have it all ways, can we? Oh, but we can have it all ways, and in fact, we must.

This is an important point: our lives are meant to be lived. If we have a burning desire to be in a romantic relationship, that’s what we should do, mystic or not. If we have the passion to be a famous pianist, that, too, is the path we should pursue. Any attempt to give these things up for God as an act of sacrifice or offering is tantamount to blasphemy as the embrace of such things is the will of God and the sacrifice all offered together in a seamless flow. Avoiding what we really want in life will only cause us and those around us misery. 

Tonight, after reading a bit of high theology, and by high theology, I mean the very abstract theological writings that have a decidedly Catholic flavor to them, I recalled the burning love for God the Catholics have taught me over the years, especially when I first returned to Christianity. The God of Whom they speak is a wondrous Being of Light, of Love, of Completeness and Fulfillment; He is no wrathful, vengeful entity that the Puritans and their bastard children, the Southern Baptists, serve. It’s so strange since I have bashed this high theology more recently, discussing how it’s divorced from reality in the practical sense. On the other hand, I find that it captures God in a way that other words and experiences fail to.

One final note: I notice a kind of circuit or route between my brain and heart, the upper heart chakra of which I so often speak as being blocked in some manner. This inner circuit seems to belong to God and God alone; or if not to God alone, then to love and to whatever spiritual love may exist. 

Christ is calling me yet again back to Him, or perhaps I should say He’s comforting me on the very day that I felt so vehemently that I had again the desire to renounce Christianity. But I won’t, I can’t- for CHRIST has chosen me, not the other way around.

 

Stevo 

Cross

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Today, while praying, and continuing to work on the psychic exercises written in the book The Gift by Echo Bodine, I had the experience of a cross emerging from me, the sense of energy flowing out of my head and feet and through my shoulders, a blazing cross of light. So it seems that the nature of the cross is not simply one of wood but also one of light, and this is a important development in my own mystical path. 

This entry isn’t long for several reasons, not the least of which is that I’m tired and can’t really find the energy to write very much.

Stevo

Belief Rant at Almost 2 AM

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The problem with Christianity, or at least one of its many problems, is the reliance upon “belief” as the means of salvation.

Do you “believe” in Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior? 

Belief, here, is largely defined as blind belief and even then, we could assert that it’s largely a matter of one having an opinion.

“I opine that Jesus Christ is God.”

It’s problematic for the very reason that there’s more to it than this. My opinion that Jesus Christ is God could be incorrect.

The answer to this is usually sold in this manner:

“Such-and-such says that it is only an opinion that Jesus Christ is God, but according to (presupposed divinely revealing source), He IS Lord; therefore, such-and-such has only fallen into the clutches of modernity.”

Face it, folks: we have a messed up religion. My typical response is to try to run to the Gnostic truths of which I know, and that works only to a certain extent. There’s a balance that’s difficult to strike, and as much as I hate to say it, heretic or orthodox or otherwise, so much of Christianity IS THE SAME.

I’m not saying all denominations and all denominational attitudes are the same; I am saying that they all share a few things in common as far as attitude goes. 

Even Bishop Stephan Hoeller of the Gnostic Church states overtly that one cannot practice more than one religion effectively.

But the good news for those of us who are former and potential would-be pagans: Christianity is replete with “folk Catholicism” that’s still often more coherent than the best Wicca 101 book. You aren’t just given a huge recipe book from which you have to largely construct your own religion; you take fringe elements and assocaite them with the core story. Sure, you can have your own personal home shrines to Saints that aren’t officially canonized- it’s something that the Orthodox have perfected above and beyond Western Christendom long ago, and whether you approach that the Saints as actual dead people who are glorified in Christ now to whom you actually speak or whether you take them  as role models or manifestations of archetypes, it doesn’t matter: what matters is that you try and you practice it to see what works for you without completing throwing out EVERYTHING the Church teaches at the same time. 

The Church Catholic, whether she be Anglican, Roman, Eastern, Gnostic, or otherwise, has many good things to teach and say.

But just because a puppy can be fun to play with doesn’t mean it can’t bite, and just because there are good things conveyed to us by them doesn’t mean that they’re not also full of shit a lot of the time.

Stevo