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

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Hidden in Plain View

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The Sufi master Llewellyn Vaughan-lee talks about how the the ancients had a way of keeping esotericism esoteric, and that one such way is to hide a profound truth in plain sight.

Such is my relationship with Christianity. After the discovery of the Sun God Mythos at age 15 and the subsequent ditching of what I thought was Christianity, I journeyed long and hard, searching for truth. For a while, I was to label myself as “agnostic.” Agnostic to me meant not that I was incapable of knowing that God existed, but rather that I was unsure on the matter or felt that the matter was by and large unresolved.

So strange, then, that I would fall into a category known as “Gnostic” in this day and age.

Notwithstanding, I stumbled around through several different religious systems for a long time, and the exploration, of course, in my own opinion, was a stage of my religious growth. It was only recently that it dawned on me that I left labels and paths behind because of someone else’s misunderstanding of the path or the ridiculous and endless theological debates that happen on online forums.

I did not like Christianity the entire time. I often deemed it an “immature” path, and I rarely gave any credence to Christianity with regards to anything. If it came down to my mystical self siding between an atheist and a Christian, the atheist would have had my undying loyalty.

The problem with such a model, though, is that it implies that the atheist is more intellectually honest- and if I learned anything in my journey, it’s that whether or not there are correlations among things, in the end, people and situations are by and large a case-by-case phenomenon. I have encountered dogmatic atheists who are as bad as (and sometimes worse) than evangelical Christians.

On MySpace, BadAlex once said that he admired the Intelligent Design crew. BadAlex himself is a physicist, extremely intelligent, and an extreme, for want of better words, asshole- and he makes it clear to everyone that he’s not a nice person and not to cross him. He didn’t like the Intelligent Design crew because they were intellectually honest or because he agreed with them but because they challenged the mainstream scientific view on things and weren’t afraid to do so.

He also pointed out that science is far more like a religion than outsiders understand. I myself have made comparisons of the scientific community in terms of our “modern” world view with how the Roman Catholic Church must have been viewed in the Middle Ages- the looming, cutting-edge “knowers of things” who also would silence anyone who opposed them.

Now, at the same time, there are many intellectually honest and frank scientists out there who will simply point to lack of sufficient data or conclusions, and I admire that. I’m not trying to oppose science. I’m not trying to suggest that the scientific achievements we’ve had in the past 500 or so years is a terrible thing; my ultimate point is that there are some scientists who are equally dogmatic to the most horribly dogmatic Priest, and atheists who are as bad as Bible-thumpers.

Now, on to the point. I learned some things in college. The foremost thing I learned is that it’s possible to be Christian and not be a complete nut job who throws out any kind of reasoning process that doesn’t accord immediately with some Bible Verse. My religion and history teacher was an Episcopalian- and she was the first Episcopalian I ever met. She, along with many Episcopalians, avows the Catholic side of the faith, and she vehemently insisted that Anglicanism was not a “Protestant” denomination. Obviously, she left her mark on me.

But what really left the mark was when I learned that Episcopalians and Catholics alike went to church to receive the Holy Eucharist, not just to hear “preachin’.” That intuitively struck me hard and flipped my idea of Christianity upside down on itself.

Dr. York (my teacher) also told us of the various Church Traditions around each part of the year- and that further thrilled me. I know one friend in particular and I wanted to go to Dr. York’s church just to see these things, because we were really enthralled at the idea.

Anyway, flashing forward. The next great slam into my life was when I stumbled upon Bishop Stephan Hoeller’s article The Gnosis of the Eucharist, which you can read by clicking anywhere on here. This was the solidification of my understanding of Christ and liturgy- something made sense on a new level, and I was drawn back into Christianity as a whole.

The whole point is that Christianity contained all the elements for which I have been looking for a long time, and that Christianity is highly misunderstood by most of its adherents, but I’ve also learned that’s par for the course in any religion. Followers misunderstand the key to it all, and the misunderstanding leads to gross misinterpretations, which in turn fuel more misunderstanding and eventually spiral into people taking sides and being violent.

The familiarity of the system is also highly important. I myself might be happy to see Vishnu or Shiva appear before me and would likely understand their appearance as a manifestation of some particular aspect of God, but if God were to appear as Vishnu to the average Catholic, they might be taken a-back and feel they were being attacked by a demonic vision. I would likely feel very comforted if Vishnu appeared, but I would be much happier seeing Christ, because I would be able to relate the vision to other people and explain what had just happened.

The first encounter, as I’ve mentioned elsewhere, with the Holy Eucharist happened in 8th grade when we were learning about the Protestant Reformation, and the listing of the Seven Sacraments of the Catholic Church came up. The mentioning of the Body and Blood of Christ mystified- I was very attracted to the notion, and it made sense to me that we would actually receive the Body and Blood of Christ as opposed to simply always talking about it in abstractions.

Before that, when I was in 5th grade and we went to the National Cathedral, I remember being mystified by the High Altar, not really understanding why it was there or what it was for.

So you see, the actual of events were:

  1. Seeing the High Altar (Age 10)
  2. Learning of the Holy Eucharist (Age 13-14)
  3. Learning that Catholics go to church to receive Communion (Age 19)
  4. Learning of the Gnosis of the Eucharist and the Gnostic Church (Age 23)
  5. Finally attending Mass at an Episcopal Church and receiving Christ (Age 25)

Wow. I never thought of how that actually spanned 15 years, but it’s intriguing to me to say the least.

I do want to say I also attended a Catholic Mass somewhere in there- but I was extremely nervous the whole time, thought not highly bothered by the actual Mass itself. I was more disappointed because it wasn’t very traditional and didn’t seem like the Mass I would watch on EWTN. Also, one major difference that I’ve seen at three different Catholic Masses at least is that they feature a “singer.” Now, I don’t know if the “singer” is supposed to be like the choir, because I’ve also seen Catholic Masses with choirs, but the “singer” sings part of the Mass- responses to the Priest, and it sounds just awful. Not that the singers can’t sing, but that the actual lyrics and music sound dreadful.

I would much rather take my chances at a Latin Mass, but that’s just me.

Anyway, the point- the mysticism of Christianity is hidden, right here, in plain sight. I had to go through many, many years of traveling, dreaming, and mulling things over to get where I am now, and who knows if I can ground myself in the path at this point? It seems far more likely, however, because now I have a reference point, and the Gnostics are certainly coming into communion with one another.

Also, let me give you an example of how I feel about different branches of Christianity. For the sake of the examples, we’ll put Gnosticism here, despite its pre-Christian aspects.

Roman Catholicism- gold.

Eastern Orthodox- silver.

Protestantism- wood.

Gnosticism- crystal or gemstones; light.

Anglicanism would be built with varying degrees of those materials. Or made of fruit or something. You get the point.

DONE!

Beaux


Video on Eastern Orthodoxy

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Ah, the Eastern Orthodox Church…a breath of so much fresh air for us all. The Orthodox have such grand Divine Liturgies!

Beaux