Sinful Nature

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The sinful nature of the human being is often depicted in a strange sort of way.

The image present in many strains of Christianity is something like this: God, an old, grumpy man in the sky, has set forth Rules. The individual breaks a rule, which then pisses God off, and so God decides the individual must burn forever.

I condemn this view because of how weak, childish, silly, and outright dangerous it is. This idea of sin and God is at the level of understanding of a three-year-old, yet some Christians perpetuate this for the duration of their life to disastrous consequences, not the least of which that it leads no one and has never led anyway to theosis.

While in bed this morning, praying because I was trying to go back to sleep and because I find prayer much easier in a relaxed state (but this should go without saying), a more suitable illustration came to me:

imagine that a person beholds a perfect, clear light, a light which heals and sets right any ailments the person may have in their spirit, a light which endows the individual with infinite meaning in their life and experience.

Now imagine that instead of beholding that light, the person is inclined to put heaps of mud upon their eyes because the mud provides a sort of soothing, pleasurable sensation. And it isn’t just an idea that comes to us; no, the desire to put mud upon our eyes because it feels good is a natural happening (or seemingly so).

There you have it- that’s the sinful nature of mankind in the presence and experience of Almighty God. We deprive ourselves by substituting something else that seems to be what we would like but is ultimately lacking, even if it seems sensible at the time.

Now, that being said, please understand that this illustration is by no means absolute or perfect. I’m only pushing it forward to try to give a more mature and spiritual understanding of the relationship between a human being and God.

As for the Book of Common Prayer experiment, I’ll say that’s been the best decision I’ve made in a long time, right up there next to ceasing to be vegetarian. I’ll also say that this experiment works for me because somehow I was instructed in my spirit about the matters; this is by no means an absolute rule.

Some people are strange in that the figure out a new way to do something or something that works for them, and they make an error of ultra-generalization, “Why, if EVERYONE just used the Book of Common Prayer every day, we would all be okay!” True, it would be helpful for those of us officially belonging to the Anglican Tradition to practice our tradition, but our culture is a specific one, and what works for us might not work for others.

This brings us to another point of interest with regard to theology: the night of my Confirmation Mass, I told the Bishop that I felt the theology of Anglicanism has a greater flexibility than the theology of the other considered denominations, which is what caused me to go with Anglicanism after all was said and done. (That and the lack of more mystical denominations around me also caused this decision. I also blame the Red State Mystic for making mainstream Christianity make sense to me.)

And herein lies the need of the flexibility: the Mystery the Living God is an explosive one, and if one has a theological framework that is bricked up and inflexible, the Actual, True, Real, Living Mystery will shatter the theological framework by revealing things unpredicted and for which the theology does not prepare you.

The flexibility effect, instead, allows for the containing of that Mystery so that it might be lived out and experienced and (very importantly) shared through the being of the individual.

I think this is enough for tonight.

Stevo

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Return of Meaning

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For a while, life had become meaningless. What I mean to say is that a severe disconnected had erupted between me and the world around me, in the experiencing of holidays and outings and the passing of the seasons. I couldn’t enjoy life and all that life offers because I wasn’t meditating.

Of course, by meditation, I mean contemplative prayer, but that should be known by now.

So it’s strange, but the further outside of myself I tried to reach, the greater came the disconnect; my own external strivings meant little.

But surrender to the living God, that God Who is Life Itself, and lo and behold, suddenly all the meaning is poured back into my world and my life.

So now I know I can never live a life apart from God. The challenge is the same, of course, at this point- bringing that knowledge and experience of the Living God into the mundane, everyday things that most of us would rather eschew. Where can God be found in the washing of laundry and dishes and sweeping of floors?

Yet we can’t waste any moments; a general sweetness of the Presence and Knowledge of God in life is, in many ways, “good enough.” God calls us to our full potential, though, so “good enough” isn’t what we can really do.

If we are to bring about peace in this world, if we are stop wars, rapes, and all the atrocities caused by the dark side of human nature, then we must have this infinite sweetness in all moments, every one of us, regardless of our station in life.

Because nothing else really matters- the healing of the world must take place now, and it must start with the broken human soul. Once the human soul begins to heal, then the healing can move out from that person and spread.

I should also note that recently, I’ve returned to reading The Seven Storey Mountain by Thomas Merton. And my soul shakes and quakes when I read some of the things he wrote. At some points, of course, I wonder if he’s made strange leaps in reason and not realized it, and I do consider that the book was written well after his conversion, so he writes in terms of hindsight.

But rarely have I read someone’s words and felt myself so drawn to the truth that is driving the person to write in the first place. And this is coming from someone who’s read Irina Tweedie’s Daughter of Fire twice and started it for a third time.

That isn’t to suggest that I doubt Ms. Tweedie’s experiences or any other such nonsensical conclusion that might be drawn- it’s rather to say that in spite of all the wonderful things she wrote, my own spirit didn’t react this way while reading her diary.

Yes, I feel that I am at the door of a mystery, a mystery involving the God-Man Jesus Christ, though I can’t solve the Mystery alone; God must reveal it. Perhaps I’m enduring in order that my finite mind can contain the explosive Truth that will be revealed; I cannot be certain at the moment.

I am becoming more certain that in the Mass, we are offered to God as part of the sacrifice; we offer ourselves, and in receiving the Holy Eucharist, we are offered up with Christ. Confirmation and the in-dwelling of the Holy Spirit plays into this, I think, but again, exactly how it works isn’t clear in my mind. Saying the Holy Spirit takes on the role as priest would seem to remove Christ as the priest, yet Christ is the Sacrifice; so the Eternal Sacrifice is also the Eternal High Priest, all made manifest by the Holy Spirit.

But these are only words of the Christian tradition that can’t convey the true and palpable sweetness of the Black Fire blazing within.

Stevo

On the Book of Common Prayer and More

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My home parish, St. Michael’s, gave me a portable copy of the Book of Common Prayer upon my Confirmation in 2012.

And while I’ve used the BCP, I haven’t used it as much as I could or should.

Anyone reading my blog knows that I’m always pushing forward on the spiritual quest and asking questions. And honestly, sometimes the archetypal forces of the Evangelical Christianity with which I was raised rear their ugly heads, and I just feel disgusted with Christianity.

At that point, I have to refocus and realize that I’m committing a number of errors in reasoning, not the least of which is predefining Christianity and then reacting against that definition.

But when I think fondly of the people at St. Michael’s, and I think of my far-flung friends Anglican and Gnostic and Catholic and Orthodox across the world, I relax a bit, and I realize that these people are the ones that give me reassurance of Christ’s goodness in me and in the world.

Anyway, the Book of Common Prayer is a nifty little thing, though sometimes I do wish we featured more prayers to Mary and various saints beyond their being mentioned in the Collects.

So, let’s discuss how I’m currently using the BCP.

One issue that I heard of long ago from a Roman website is that the Holy Spirit must teach us how to pray. My problem, of course, is that I always seem to think of things as “this, not that,” whereby I mean that I fail to recognize the Holy Spirit or my own spirit.

But enter the Black Fire, of which I’ve spoken for so, so long. The key here is to pray with and as the inner Black Fire- by praying this, by praying the very best part of me and best experience I can have, by offering that to Christ in the Holy Eucharist (the Eternal, Cosmic Eucharistic Christ, in other word) consistently, I can pray and begin to understand the words of the Book of Common Prayer.

Mostly, it’s best effects are for the Cycle of Prayer. Many people are against the idea of consistency because they think acting whimsically is more authentic. The whimsical and random action may have its place in individuality, sure, but if one also of one’s own volition subscribes to a Cycle of Prayer, doesn’t that also express one’s own individual needs?

I wish I could get to Mass more often. I wish to receive Christ in the Holy Eucharist more often. But in my life, this has increasingly become difficult and problematic, which can only mean that a very good solution is coming my way soon (and yes, I’m praying about it.)

I confess, the last time I attended Mass was with my husband, right after we were married, at the Great Easter Vigil. It was glorious and magnificent and wonderful. But that’s been the only time this year, and we need to remedy the matter soon.

Trouble is, now my husband is on the NIGHT shift, so we’re usually sleeping in the mornings. But of course, he doesn’t work weekends, so we could hypothetically get some sleep in. If only more Vigil Masses were offered in the Episcopal Church!

Anyway, the mysticism in any religion is something that ultimately comes from the encounter of the individual spirit with that of the Ultimate Reality. Our prayers, our rituals, all such things, are the channels through which this connection grows- and while I myself have had any number of days when the prayers I said and thought and sung seemed empty and decayed, that isn’t the fault of the prayers themselves, which ultimately serve to be channels for bringing the Ultimate Reality in daily consciousness.

Thus, one might conceive of something such as the Book of Common Prayer as being a candle that must be lit; the BCP does not in and of itself contain the fire, though it can draw out the fire within one, in other words.

I also recommend highly to people to light a candle while praying. Just one will do. More are great. But one will do, I think. Incense is also lovely, but I know that if you’re like me, a lot of incense triggers allergies and stuffy sinuses and sinus headaches, yikes.

That’s why incense is preferable in the church itself, of course, because it disperses so much that one gets the heavenly scent of frankincense without a sinus headache.

Well, in typical Stevo fashion, this blog has been all over the place. However, it does function to kind of give the unfolding realizations of a mystic as I think this is extremely important. Any mystic recording their journey is good; however, to see what happens along the way is also good.

Anyway, we’ll see what happens with the Cycle of Prayer using the BCP.

Stevo

Just Call Me Stevo…

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When I began blogging in the online world two years ago, I decided to adopt a pen name in an attempt to keep myself private in some capacity or another. Many writers use pen names, and I’m a blossoming writer in some capacity, as most of you may have guessed by now.

That being said, I’m going to take a very important stand at this point in time and put myself out there. Sometimes, the courage we gain and the right way to do something is out of sheer observation of another person who does the right thing. A new friend of mine has shown me that it’s more important to be one’s self and to be honest about one’s self than are a lot of things in this world.

So, while I’m going to keep the pen name “Beaux”  (pronounced just as “Bo”) for my food blog, The Yum Yum, I’m ditching it here.

My name is Stephen, and Stevo is a nickname. Or you can call me Steve. 

I’m gay, and I’m a gay mystic, and I’m a gay Christian mystic. I identify as Catholic, specifically, Anglo-Catholic, and I’m a member of the Episcopal Church of the United States of America. 

I have interest in all the world religions; I like Voodoo, I like Hoodoo, I like reading Tarot cads, and I like divination in general. 

Of course, the naysayer smay want to come along and say things like, “ZOMG how can u be Christian n be gay too its against gods word”

It’s too laborious to have that conversation, especially with the stupid, because basically what Christians mean when they say you can’t be gay and be Christian is that you’re spoiling their barrel of apples by being a bad apple identifying as one of them. Then the comparisons between allowing murderers and rapists to be counted among their number will begin. This is precisely the sort of attitude that makes me want to label myself simply as “Gnostic” in order to already declare to the mainstream Christians that I’m not one of them and thus don’t have to risk their attempt to expulse me from their shitty level of hillbilliy theology.

Of course, that last parapraph, filled with its snark, lends to the idea that I make a damned good Episcopalian. Now all I need is an Old Fashioned, and we’ll be sitting pretty. 

So, from now on, I’ll sign my blogs on Craving Aletheia simply as “Stevo.” There’s no point in hiding my name; there’s no point in hiding who or what I am if I’m interested in the truth and most especially, the Truth.

There you have it.
 
 Stevo

 

 

The Bridge

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Somehow, I understand even more the predicament in which Christ found Himself. Allow me to explain:

 

Point-blank, I’m too orthodox for the Gnostics. I’m too Gnostic for the orthodox. I’m too Catholic for the Protestants, and I’m too Protestant for the Catholics.

Invariably, I seem to fall somewhere between extremes in terms of my views. I can never take sides because my side is where I am, and that’s nowhere, or somewhere between two places that is said not to exist.

 

That being said, I can see the Anglican response: “Via Media!”

Yes, but, and here comes the sharpest thing I’ve had to say about Anglicanism in quite sometimes, calling Anglicanism a “via media” between Protestantism and Catholicism doesn’t depict what it looks (or feels) like in practice. Anglicanism, by and large, has left the flavor in my mouth of being a Catholic-coated Protestant treat. If they had been wiser back in the day and hadn’t gone all crazy with accepting thing from Luther and Calvin, then maybe “via media” would be true of it- Popeless Catholics, incorporating the theology of the Eastern Orthodox Church, and so on. But that’s simply not how it played it out or plays out from what I can tell. The Anglo-Catholics do a good job of this for the most part; they can out-Catholic Romans almost any day. But I still question what an “ordinary” Episcopalian would say about Eucharist adoration, veneration of the Blessed Virgin, the Sacred Heart of Jesus, praying the rosary, and how to identify with the word “Protestant.”

Anyway, tonight I watched a small part of a Latin Mass. The app on the iPad wasn’t working well, and it never does, but I did get to see about the first third of the Mass. The Latin Mass had a kind of simplicity to it, oddly enough- it was elegant, it was thoughtful, it was quiet, and the mystical dimension of it was visible- plainly visible. Even the quiet intoning of the Latin by the priest was enough to lead me to a deeper place within myself.

Once I arrived home, I came to the realization of why I don’t fit into this or that camp: it’s because I’m the bridge, the living bridge between different worlds. A mediator, as it were- the glue that’s holding it together.

Now I know how Jesus Christ felt. He had to hold together two worlds, the Divine and the Creation- He indeed is the bridge between the two worlds, and by His Holy Incarnation and Death and Resurrection, He forever closed the wounds in Reality. Nay, not only closed, but healed and restored them.

There is much work to be done. Pray for me, brethren.

And maybe I’m wrong about the Anglicans. I have at least one friend who knows what I mean when I speak about them. Maybe the idea that I, too, question the validity of the Holy Orders and so on attests to my unconscious already surrendering to the Roman Catholic Church as THE Church. The Anglo-Catholics, too, stand in contradistinction to the typical Protestant imagery, and saying “Anglo-Catholic Protestant” seems totally meaningless.

 

God be with us. Our help is in the Name of the Lord.

I’m probably again over-thinking things.

Beaux

Ranting and Piskies

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A certain kind of joy dwells in me right now, a kind of celebration of the Anglican Communion and most especially the Episcopal Church.

The reason such a joy currently exists in me is because of a recognition that many in the Roman Church are not granting it at this very moment, an attitude and reality that I can see has blossomed in the Church and is something that is quite fair and definitely worthy of celebration.

What I mean to say is that we now see a return to ritual, a return to the Catholic liturgy of old, the return to the true nature and understanding of the Sacraments. It is unfortunate that in the Roman Church the mindset is extremely rigid among many members (of course, not all, but let us get to the point here) and things are either defined or not- that is, to a Roman Churchman, the fact that transubstantiation is rejected in the 39 Articles, and the fact that the 39 articles exist at all, is proof in the pudding enough for them to say that ALL ANGLICANS EVERYWHERE believe “only” that the Holy Eucharist changes in terms of consubstantiation.

Now I will say forthrightly as I have said before that I think the difference between transubstantiation and consubstantiation is not so vast as some would like to suggest, and what really happened was an attempt to explain why the Body and Blood of Christ still looked like Bread and Wine, and because of a cultural and mental shift at the time, the notion of what was going on became lost. More to the point, the fact that Aristotle and not Plato or the Neo-Platonists was used made transubstantiation even greater a target.

The human mind likes to be rationalistic about things, of course, so the deeper mystery is occluded by the clinging to the dogma without ever going any deeper into it.

But let us not get too far off track. The point I am making is that the Roman Churchmen’s mindset is that things are point-blank as they are- what is told to one is told to one, that’s that, there is no compromise, there is no debate, there is no personal opinion on the matter, so you might as well sit down, shut up, smile, and nod in agreement. What I mean to say is that the reality that people may have other opinions, ideas, or even insights into the Holy Eucharist, that there may be a spectrum of theological views, and that the spectrum may well end up supporting and refining one another is not something that crosses the person’s mind- Anglicans necessarily believe in consubstantiation, that’s the end of the story. Nevermind the Anglo-Catholics, declaring it is the very Body and Blood of our Lord, or the extremely Low Churchmen who would say it is merely a symbol, a meal of bread and wine alone- Anglicans only believe in consubstantiation.

Now let us consider Anglo-Catholicism, which is often mocked by the Roman Churchmen of the rigid mind. The attitude that they have is that Anglicanism is completely and utterly Protestant in nature, and that Anglo-Catholicism is a kind of hokey invention.

But the reality is that, even if Anglo-Catholicism is not necessarily what the Church of England came to look like after the death of Henry VIII, it is a sign of something much deeper and much more appreciable and something that the Roman Churchmen could take a hint from- Anglo-Catholicism is the great statement of Anglicanism that, when throwing out the so-called “Romanism” in the way that it happened, THEY GOT IT WRONG, and now they’re back-tracking (or have back-tracked.) What we see now is a revival of the great ancient rites because they are recognized as such.

Now, obviously, there are a great deal of Roman Catholics who are all too aware that the clergy are out of touch with the laity, and that their claims to be simply guarding the Truth are tired and that very few people buy such claims anymore. The issue I have is that the Church seems almost incapable of admitting that it can ever be wrong until, well, centuries later, and sometimes even that doesn’t work.

But ultimately, there’s a huge question of why Episcopalians seem to have a desire to call themselves Catholic in the first place, and this is where we should begin questioning things and delving into the matter.

To take a stab at it and guess, my own sentiments are that the Episcopalians want to distance themselves from the extremely low-church literalists and fundamentalists and Evangelicals. In other words, God’s Chosen Idiots, who largely are anti-Catholic and refer to the Roman Church as the Whore of Babylon and so on, and often fall into the category of “Protestant,” are NOT a group with whom the Episcopalians want to identify themselves, and rightly so.

That being said, I want to turn to a new subject. I looked into theosis today and saw several quotes given from the Church Fathers. What struck me as dumbfounding is that their statements seemed wholly and completely Gnostic in nature. I was shocked to see Ireneaus make a quote that any modern Gnostic would immediately point to and say, “This is what we’re doing,” especially since he was such an opponent of Gnosticism.

The problem with the orthodoxy is in the fact that it’s been reduced to a kind of political power puppetry, and the mystical core of Christianity becomes occluded. Time and again, I try to point out that what the early heresy-hunters argued against as “Gnosticism” is not what Gnosticism actually was or is; it’s a kind of straw-man they invented against which to argue. The radical, world-hating dualist carcicature is often cited, but it isn’t a dogma or necessary doctrinal position of Gnosticism on the whole, and the mystically flavored Christianity known as Gnosticism overlaps heavily with the orthodox mysticism, especially and specifically with regards to theosis.

Back to Anglicanism.

Certainly, I wouldn’t agree with a number of the 39 Articles, so I’m not too terribly worried about it. But it’s the idea that I would absolutely have to, or that anyone absolutely has to do things, that makes me really wonder.

In the words of a Red State Mystic, here endeth the rant.

Beaux


The Trip to the Church

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The doors of the Church are supposed to always be open. Apparently, this is not what many churches this day and age do, but I don’t blame them- valuables inside the church could be stolen, people could desecrate it, and so on.

The Episcopal Church’s doors, at least in this area, are always open, in a strange sort of way. That speaks volumes to me. Of course, most people probably think that the doors are locked or have no idea what an Episcopal Church is.

Anyway, I go to to the local Episcopal Church a lot to pray. I’ve never been to Mass there, not in all the years I’ve gone in to pray. Sometimes, I just sit with God. Sometimes, I do a bit of exploring. The acoustics in the church are absolutely amazing- just barely talking creates an almost thunderous roar. I can’t imagine how powerful the Mass is with all the voices chanting together.

I opened the Book of Common Prayer. Now, as an esotericist and in reading The Science of the Sacraments, I could find a lot to criticize about the Book of Common Prayer, but of course, this is all in the matter of the measuring of spaghetti- my phrase for extreme head knowledge that keeps us shut out of experience and can lead us down a garden path of destruction.

Reciting the Creed, as I said before, is much different when one is in the church, standing there, and kneeling at the mention of the Incarnation and such- the experience of this is much different than simply imagining it. While imagination can help prepare us for some things, something about the power of mysticism defies this.

The recitation of the Creed in the church wasn’t to proclaim that I necessarily believe what the Creed says- but it was to take the action of saying it to see what the deeper meaning is, to feel what it feels like to say such a Creed, and to know the underlying power.

As I was trying to find the Creed in the Book of Common Prayer, I came upon several other prayers, and they were beautiful, absolutely beautiful, even majestic. I could scarcely believe it as I read many of the prayers and prayed them aloud to God- something about the Book of Common Prayer began to captivate me, began to be realized. Here was Tradition- and here was an honoring of the Holy Catholic Church, which is mentioned many times in the book, asking for God to guide her.

The gem of the trip, though, was when I went into the sanctuary. For those of you who are unaware of the Catholic tradition, the part of the church in which people sit is called the nave, and the sanctuary is only where the altar is. Naturally, here I was around at the altar and wanted to be extremely respectful and reverent to it, as this is where Mass is said- and I looked at the Tabernacle, where the candle burned, and even though the Tabernacle is plain, wooden, and in the wall, it still has a lock on it that keeps any random person from coming and taking the Lord out of it. I walked closer to it and felt a definite sensation in my third-eye- a kind of presence or energy was indicated there, and I knew Our Lord was there.

The gem: I walked to one of the seats near the altar and found a beat-up old copy of St. Augustine’s Prayer Book- an extremely beautiful Anglo-Catholic book of devotional prayers. I sat and read through it, noting all the popular devotions (to the Sacred Heart, for instance) that I myself maintain. What a magnificent and strange synchronicity!

One day, I’ll wake up early enough to go to Mass, and I’ll be glad for it.

Beaux


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