On Our Inner Being, Sophia

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Christianity, as I’m always so wont to point out, has innumerous flaws, and at the end of the day, our mystical quest cannot be a constant struggle to follow rules or exist within the framework of what we might call “moralistic” Christianity; moralistic Christianity is the sort that has rules governing everything, oftentimes, silly, irrational rules that can’t possibly be something of the Law of God. 

At the end of the day, my experience is with what I must go, and my experience, most recently, has again turned me to the Aeon Sophia, the Holy Wisdom of Christ.

How shall I explain Sophia to you? How can I? I’m not sure. All I know is that whatever this experience I have of Sophia is, the experience seems to be what so many of the New Agers and other such mystics refer to as the Higher Self and the World Soul and so on.

Sophia is the feminine aspect of Christ, His feminine counterpart, “Christ Our Mother.” I think that what our Catholic faith has been trying to express about the Blessed Virgin Mary may indeed rightly apply to Sophia, though Father Troy did say that the early Gnostics saw the Blessed Virgin Mary as a symbol or sign of Sophia.

At the root of it all, though, Sophia appears to be core of our being. How strange it is to discover that “Stevo” is less and less something real and is more and more only some strange, external manifestation of an inner, deeper, and far more real SOPHIA.

Many months ago, I turned to Sophia in prayer one night as I lay myself down to sleep, and I had the most certain experience of unconditional love. Nothing we can ever do, no matter the evil, no matter the sin, can ever cause Sophia to stop loving us. She loves us with all that she is; we cannot be made to be separated from her, no matter how hard we might struggle and try. No crime, no sin, no atrocity is so great that Sophia will not love you.

This assurance of unconditional love is something of a clue to the unraveling and dissolution of our own sinful nature. The promise of unconditional love, the promise of unconditonal acceptance and approval, at least at this moment, virtually dissolves the impulses I would otherwise have to do what we would call “evil.” The basic or instinctual passions dry up in their own way, or perhaps we might say, they are drowned in something far greater than their fire.

I had an impression earlier of a Sophia-themed Eucharist in which the Holy Communion consisted of a kind of cake. Maybe that was simply an explanation that there’s a component of consuming the Divine Feminine in the Holy Eucharist that we and the Church have carelessly overlooked for two millenia. I had the distinct impression that consuming the Body of Sophia is extremely integral and important to the Christian mystic.

It’s bizarre to explain how REAL Sophia is to me. She’s so incredibly REAL to me; it’s not that I don’t appreciate and give due reverence to the Blessed Virgin Mary (I do), but sometimes, I feel like the Blessed Mother’s reverence pales heavily in comparison to that afforded to Sophia.

Maybe, indeed, they have different roles, and those different roles should be respected and preserved and not overlapped. But this would smack, unfortunately, of the attitudes of Protestants who made failed attempt to distill and preserve the “true” teaching of Christ while effectively aborting the only components of the twisted religion we call Christianity.

In fact, perhaps, archetypally, that’s why the Catholic Church is so incredibly and forthrightly OBSESSED with abortion. (I turned on EWTN the other day, and naturally, the talk show was about abortion and the full-on war that was going on with the culture and so on, with the talk show being hosted by two more self-righteous Roman Catholics who defined “Catholicism” as liking the pope, being against gay marriage, and being against abortion.) The Church has, through its own fault, it’s own fault, it’s own grievous fault, often aborted the Eucharistic Christ and the Eucharistic SOPHIA from the Mass, from the theology, and flushed the poor infant down the toilet from the liturgy. Having committed the grave sins that take the Holy Spirit’s favoritism from the parishes, they are left to face, albeit in a largely unconscious way, their own evil that is projected onto the world.

And before any idiot fundamentalist of ANY religion comes at me, I should point out that the above is not a commentary on whether or not abortion is sinful, murder, or a free-for-all adventure in the reproductive rights for women; rather, the entire statement is to say that the Church’s OBSESSION stems from the fact that they’ve outright killed something inside their tradition (or if they haven’t, they’ve tried) that’s incredibly important and parallels the atrocity that they call abortion. 

A Ranting Mystic,

Stevo

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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


Another Rant about Gay Marriage and the Church

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One thing that seriously turns me off about the Roman Catholic Church is how many Catholics are just blind followers and seem to have their brain turned to mush. A tradition stretching back 2000 years should have a least a little more solid intellectual basis for statements that are made.

Obviously, not ALL Catholics are this way- and many are pro-gay and pro-women priests. I happen to know many good Catholic people who would call into question many teachings of the Church; I digress.

One commenter on a recent entry stated that it’s perfectly acceptable for an infertile couple to have sex because they didn’t render the condition of infertility upon themselves.

Excuse me? So as long as nature doles out the condition, it’s okay?

Well, by that line of reasoning, since gay people are born gay and are gay through no fault of their own, they should be able to get married- whether or not the sexual act is closed to the gift of life.

But let’s also get real. The reality underlying the situation is that you have Catholics who, like so many other people, just want to feel that they’re right and that they’re better than other people, and it’s much, much easier to condemn gay people if you yourself aren’t gay.

While some readers suggested that sexuality has to do with self-mastery, it’s also easy for a straight male who’s married and having sex to talk about that sort of thing.

It is entirely one thing if one decides, completely of one’s own free will, to abstain from sexuality as a sacrifice or devotion to God. I have no problem with that, seriously. That’s a personal decision. But when an organization begins trying to tell us something that just isn’t in line with reality that I’ve experienced personally and that’s been supported by the experience of many other people and as well as that horrible thing called science, I begin to get a little fussy when they continue harping on it.

The same thing goes for women in the priesthood. There are all kinds of pseudo-intellectual gymnastics that the Church uses to say why women shouldn’t be in the priesthood, and the idea that it could have been a cultural bias and artifact from the past, which is a relatively quick and simple conclusion, is not one of the considerations that’s made. Instead, the whole “Men and women are different and each have their roles” idea is taken and tossed around, and even if there are women who don’t feel that it’s an affront to them for only men to be priests, it doesn’t take a radical feminist to see that there’s some severe patriarchal abuse going on here.

Holy Mother Church, I suggest that instead of getting involved in gay marriage and continuing to bar women from the priesthood, you should align yourself with the Holy Spirit, get over your pride, reinstate the Tridentine Mass, and get back to being the Vehicle of the Sacraments instead of the Hypocritical, Pseudo-Intellectual Moral Authority Du Jour complete with Guitars and Drums at Mass. Your track record is not very good as it is, and you’re rapidly becoming the laughing stock of the world.

Your friendly neighborhood ranter,

Beaux


A Few Important Notes

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Long time, no update, but there’s been quite a bit going on within a small frame of time.

The first thing to note is essentially a dream that I had recently- I was inside a kind of complex of Catholic churches that had altars made of increasingly precious materials. The search was ultimately to go through a maze of these buildings until we could find the chapel that was made entirely out of gold. This, however, including going through Hell itself- not a fun part when we had to cross through rivers of liquid fire, I daresay.

But such was the case. The altars and chapels became increasingly beautiful, though I didn’t dream of the golden chapel at any point.

Moving on, another important note that I’ve come across recently with regards to paradigms: we might suggest that there is an Omega factor in religion, even in Christianity, whereby God never changes and therefore, the way in which God relates to us does not change.

But what does change is everything else- the world around us, us, and the way we relate to God; and the key and most subtle note here is to know that the way that we understand God is relating to us DOES change. That means OUR UNDERSTANDING of what and how God relates to us can and does change.

The point is that I had not considered a very important aspect of the paradigm- that there must necessarily be an accommodating aspect, an aspect that allows for change and flexibility, lest the paradigm not survive at all.

This is where the issue with Christianity comes in and is something I’ve been trying to articulate for a long time. The Roman Church, for instance, has tried to become more flexible and to accommodate for certain changes in the world around us and our culture- but they have done so with the WRONG ASPECT OF THEIR PARADIGM. Instead of allowing women as priests and for gays to marry, they worry about “lightening up” on the Mass itself. This is ridiculous at best.

So maybe the Anglicans have figured out the best aspects of the paradigm, so sometimes they go a little nutty, too.

Beaux


Terribly Funny but Terribly Terrible: Ramblings

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Kudos to the author of this picture!

The Episcopal Church had rapidly gained attention in the USA for being liberal. Sometimes we see extremely liberal and rationalistic theologians who take out all the major tenets of Christianity, and so the more conservative Christians tend to deride the Episcopal Church because of this.

Even though I’m not (officially) Episcopalian and identify more with the Anglo-Catholic elements thereof, I think a hallmark of the Anglicanism is that there is a variety of opinions that people have theologically, both public and private, and the major difference between people in the Episcopal Church and other denominations is that they’re encourage to vocalize those theological opinions.

Now, I think people in the Roman Catholic Church would be surprised to find out that there’s a huge difference between 1) what the hierarchy teaches and 2) what a lot of individual Catholics believe. Roman Catholics who “pick and choose” what to believe out of the Church’s teachings are accused of being “cafeteria Catholics,” something frequently levied against the Episcopal Church as well.

The Episcopal Church, and certainly the Anglo-Catholic movement if I understand anything about it, is much more geared towards the solidity of the Sacraments and the Liturgy; this is known as orthopraxy. That isn’t to deny that there is the role of both the Bible and human Reason (as per the three-legged stool model) to inform Anglicanism.

I think in many cases (including my own), people who are drawn to the Episcopal Church are those who don’t care for the fundamentalist conservatives trying to propose ignorance and outright stupidity as the One, Sole Truth but also don’t care to be burdened down with the equally cumbersome obsession with rules and regulations on theology that you find in the Roman Church. And yes, I just said “the Roman Church,” so those of you who may take offense can just get over yourselves.

Oddly enough, I’m extremely conservative liturgically. The more smells and bells at Mass, the more I like it. I even refer to the service as “Mass.” Typically the Episcopal Church lists the Mass as being called the “Holy Eucharist,” but that’s also because the ritual itself is referred to as such, and Mass is an equally acceptable term.

I cross myself. I cross myself at Mass, I cross myself at home, I cross myself before I go to sleep at night and when I wake up in the morning, and I kneel in prayer. Let me say that if you have never kneeled on a wooden floor to pray, then you don’t know the meaning of kneeling.

Anyway, I read a number of articles and views on Catholicism and Anglicanism online- blogs, forums, what have you. I’m always irked to see the level of ignorance that exists on all sides of issues. Contrary to how many well-meaning individuals like to list the differences between the Eucharistic theology of the Catholics and Episcopalians, I think they’re incorrect- a good number of Episcopalians would defend the Holy Eucharist as being transubstantiation, and the 39 articles that so many like to refer to about the Holy Eucharist is more of a historical document than a guaranteed, everybody believes it, defining aspect of the Episcopal Church.

The problem with defining things such as “transubstantiation” and “consubstantiation” has do with the actual philosophical meaning of the change in substance and such- it’s a very subtle thing, but if you actually read through the Eucharistic philosophy, transubstantiation can appeal to the reasonable faculties as well.

The OFFICIAL position (and Lord knows there aren’t many of those) of Anglicanism is this: “The bread and wine truly become the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ- but how, and in what sense, is a Mystery.” This is known as the Mystery of the Real Presence, and making this as the official position is probably the wisest thing anyone has ever done with regards to Eucharistic theology.

There are Episcopalians who would say that the Eucharist is merely a symbol. They are few in number, I’m pretty sure.

But that isn’t to say that their opinion doesn’t matter or isn’t wrong- a number of Protestant denominations hold that the Holy Eucharist is, indeed, a mere symbol.

My feelings on the idea that the Holy Eucharist is a mere symbol is that it devalues it as a Sacrament and devalues the Sacramental system as a whole, and it also makes Christianity not make as much sense. What’s the point of going to a church just to listen to a man in a suit preach a sermon? There isn’t really any point in that, at least not for me.

In the Catholic Traditions, the sermon is a commentary, most often on the daily Scripture readings or on the particular Feast of that day. It relates somehow to the present moment, and it isn’t the main reason you’re there. You’re there to take the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of your living GOD.

That’s another odd thing. People freak out at the notion of being cannibalistic vampires who worship a zombie sorcerer as their God. They say things like that as though they’re disparaging- but tell a teenager that’s what your religion is, and see how fast they convert. It’s the making of a great novel and movie, and it’s exactly what Christianity is.

I naturally have far more reverence than that. I’m not pulling a “holier than thou” card here, but I am under the impression that I take my spirituality incredibly serious and have the utmost devotion to God. So when I talk about how interesting it sounds when someone makes disparaging comments like those mentioned above, I really am impressed with them.

At the time of this writing, I haven’t been to Mass in four Sundays or so. So much for my devotion, but the weather’s been just terrible, on top of my erratic sleeping habits.

Many people who worship liturgically have the same impressions that I do- the religion becomes something more. You use your whole body in the religion, not just one mental faculty of think this, think that, believe this, believe that. Christianity comes to life. The mytho-poetry of the Bible is something that we bring into every moment of our life. Crossing myself isn’t a superstition- it’s an act of devotion, an act infused with meaningfulness and holiness, an act which completes me as a person, reminds me of the Sacrifice and Atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God, and reminds me to love as He loves, to seek to be One with Him even as He is One with the Father and the Holy Spirit.

Wow, that sounded so nice, I think I’ll end my blog there.

Beaux