St. Michael’s Episcopal Church Again

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Over a year ago, I first walked through the doors into St. Michael’s Episcopal Church to a loving congregation. I found myself attracted to the tradition and openness of the church members while frustrated with various aspects of the liturgy that I felt weren’t traditional enough or simply didn’t understand. 

Tonight, a year later, I have a certain kind of measurement between last year and this year, and a certain deepening of mystical consciousness that has changed at least since last year. To be honest, this year, I’ve only received Holy Communion once, and this was my second time. 

Thank God.

The drive to St. Michael’s filled my heart with longing, and as I was there, during the simplified version of the Mass, I felt the energy rise higher and higher, even to the point where the headache I’ve had for two days disappeared. 

Yes, it was gone, at least for a little while.

The drive back felt akin to how one feels after finding one’s lover, after the sexual experience, and I couldn’t help but think back to the Sufi teachings about God as the Beloved and how Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee established that, essentially, the Gnosticism of Christianity became absorbed into Islam as the Sufi teachings…and of course, the story is probably infinitely more complex than that, but it’s a simple bird’s eye view of things.

So, the Holy Eucharist, then, has an effect on me, whether or not I’ve realized it all this time. Mystical consciousness progresses for some more quickly than others, and perhaps I’m on the slow track after all; if so, I’m fine with that. 

What remains to be seen is if Christ has chosen me as one of His own to be taken permanently into His Mystical Body, never to be separated from the Beloved. In life and in death, I belong entirely to Him.

Stevo

Several Things

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Yesterday, I attended the local Unitarian Universalist church with my boyfriend. We swap each Sunday; one Sunday, we attend Mass, and the next, we attend the UU church. So it goes.

The presentation yesterday at the UU church had to do largely with a specific minister who fought for civil rights. One interesting aspect of the minister is that he had originally been a highly devout Presbyterian, and then the speaker went on to explain that this minister eventually “outgrew the bounds and confines of the Protestantism which he had once found so meaningful.”

So, this brings me to an excellent point, something I take for granted: my return to Christianity is actually on those same terms. I have RETURNED to the faith in which I was raised already expanded well outside the well-meaning but often flawed notion of orthodoxy. I’ve been playing ego-games here, I suppose, in attempting to find which strain of Christianity actually represents most closely the mystical views I already hold.

My being an Anglo-Catholic mystic has largely been an exercise in finding a place that was traditional enough in ritual but liberal enough socially and perhaps theologically for me to be able to practice the mysteries. I would say that even closer theologically to the mysticism I espouse is Eastern Orthodoxy.

But the trouble is that I’ve been attempting to put myself inside a box in which I frankly don’t fit. Yes, I did return to the Church via the modern Gnostics and the modern Gnosticism, largely the Ecclesia Gnostica and the Apostolic Johannite Church. Their online presence has given the tools necessary to enter into the stream of Christianity and relate to Christ on that level.

One guy I used to know said something to this effect: “I like Christianity for its mystical aspects. Other than that, it can go to hell.”

And now, I find myself largely agreeing.

Christianity is one of those strange beasts in which a lot of good is mixed with a lot of bad, or worse, a lot of outright bullshit. Constantly, we’re faced with a group of people who confuse their political positions of power as having genuine theological backings. We’re faced with people who rely on ancient hypotheses that not only have been proven incorrect but can be invalidated by commonsense and simply observation, yet they cling tenaciously to the falsehoods and perversions that earlier Christians gained from their cultural surroundings. 

But we can also not throw out the baby with the baptismal water. The issue is that, for instance, the New Atheists will look at all the bullshit and decry the ENTIRE religion to be bullshit. At worst, this is characterized as people simply making up all the religious aspects to actually cloak their political agendas.

This denies the fact that many of the people involved in a religion take the religion sincerely. Given, you always have the nutters who take it way too seriously and lose sight of the goal and are ready to burn people at the stake.

The Church has a huge issue in that it seems to pick and choose what is Eternally Bound Truth. At certain times, it emphasizes this or that, proclaiming is the Truth-Once-Given-for-All, and then, later on, perhaps that’s suddenly not so important. 

Our current example of this is with same-sex marriage. Homosexuality is not a central issue in Christianity or the history of theology. Homosexuality is not something that makes or breaks one’s Christianity or Catholicity or mysticism. It’s just not central to establishing what’s considered orthodox or unorthodox, yet the Church has politicized the entire issue as the standard of whom is and isn’t a “Real, True Christian.”

Homosexuality is considered a sin. Well, last time I checked, technically, pirating music is also considered stealing, and stealing is a sin; I have YET to see the Church make a huge political agenda and pour millions of dollars into convincing people that teenagers pirating online music are destroying the natural order of God’s Creation and are in danger of going to Hell. 

The same thing is true of things like Gluttony. Why hasn’t the Church attacked McDonald’s and the fast food chains? Places such as McDonald’s practically enable people to commit gluttony because of how cheap the food is (Dollar Menu, anyone?). 

Though, I will say THIS for the Church: the Catholics (Anglicans, Orthodox, Romans, you know the drill) may say that homosexuality is sinful, but I don’t recall any recent statements by them that gay people are going to burn in Hell forever. I do know that the Evangelicals are more forthright with that kind of statement, so I’ll give the older traditions that much.

Anyway, I’ve gotten off track here.

The point is, what does a person do when they come to Christianity with views that are already too big for the Mainstream Church and when there are no esoteric Churches around and about? Defaulting to the Episcopal Church still took me five years or so, and now, I walk around all huffy and puffy because it seems like we can’t get our shit together and do the liturgy correctly. 

So much for my ranting.

Coming soon: a blog about Gnostic priest Tony Silvia’s new book, 

Sanctuary of the Sacred Flame: A Guide to Johannite Spiritual Practice.