With my righteous eyes I gaze down at you, gnostic heretic

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4 comments posted
Man and Superman and God

Bible history is a mythological history. I am not saying the man we call Jesus Christ did not exist. He may well have, but apart from the Biblical accounts, we have little to go on.

I do not mean to be disrespectful to people who have deep faith and whose lives have been changed and made better. But let me give an example of what I mean by a myth being self-contained and offered as fact.

Take Superman as an example. If we collect all the Superman comics and look at them together, we have a very coherent story. A man with special powers who came to Earth and walked among men and did good deeds and lived a life of moderation, despite his vast powers.

We might even find "pulp" evidence and fragments of episodes of things that happened in his life. His life in Smallville. His love of Lana Lang. Then moving to Metropolis and a very different career in crime fighting - Jimmy Olsen, Perry White, not the mention Lois Lane who suspects Clark's secret identity.

Yet for all the consistency of Superman and his deeds, there is no evidence that Superman or Clark or the Daily Planet actually ever existed apart from the saga.

To then spread the Gospel of Superman to other nations and tell of his great deeds, takes on a life of its own.

The chief ingredient required is faith. If challenged that there is no proof of any Superman, the faithful say: that's just the point.

They believe in Superman as an act of faith and their faith that he exists makes them strong and righteous.

If 60% of people agree that they believe in "truth, justice, and the American way," the retort is, "yes, but do you believe in Superman." That is, truth, justice, and the American way has no intrinsic meaning without a belief in and reverence for Superman. In fact, the American way is mere humanism without Superman to stand behind it!

As a kid I always had a bit of a problem with the slogan, "the American Way," but I let that slide because I gave the benefit of the doubt to Superman who I thought would behave within the boundaries of the law and that (silly me) Superman believed in the Constitution of the United States.

The religious right and fundamentalists will say that lawful behavior and truth and justice flow from Superman and not from something within ourselves.

Surely the Enlightenment was a point when people realized that understanding did not come through blind faith, but through reason. For example, we do not steal because Superman doesn't like it. Our code says that ultimately a society based on thievery is corrupt. I don't need Superman to tell me that.

If I refrain from adultery, it is because I am faithful to my mate, not because Superman might suddenly shown up in the motel room and haul my partner and me off to prison because of the tryst.

The Fundamentalists who are seeking greater power and going outside the Constitution (where's Superman, now that we need him!) have a belief that people cannot come to moral laws through logical debate. That we must go to the ancient writings about Superman to decide if I am wrong in coveting my neighbor's manservant.

The Fundamentalist are in revolt against the Enlightenment and it bothers them that 60% of the people can come to moral conclusions without requiring a belief in Jesus in order to have a moral code.

It may well be for the Fundamentalists that they would not behave morally if Superman, up there in the Fortress of Solitude, were not using his x-ray vision in order to see what people are going and writing it all down.

But you don't need x-ray vision to understand something about the Fundamentalist view of themselves - that unless they have Superman to watch them and record their misdeeds, then they would NOT subscribe to a moral code.

And looking at our leaders and their usurpation of power, maybe we understand better what we are up against.

Matsu's picture
Posted by Matsu on 26 March 2006 - 9:23am
Thank you

As a Gnostic priest, I'd like to thank you for your fair comments concerning Gnosticism. Such accuracy and insight is refreshing.

Many blessings,

J+

http://egina.blogspot.com/

Jordan Stratford+'s picture
Posted by Jordan Stratford+ (not verified) on 26 March 2006 - 10:10am
You bring up a lot of

You bring up a lot of complex issues. One way to look at religion is to realize that within any religion there is authoritian leadership and spiritual leadership. Too often, there is too much of the authoritarian and not enough of the spiritual, though the founding movements of religion are often spiritual. What really complicate things is when authoritarian leadership and spiritual leadership are combined in the same person; many religious leaders assume they have both but fail to see they are dominated by the authoritarian side.

Some might argue that someone like Saint Augustine had both and therefore represents the complexity, difficulty and humanness of trying to sort religious, spiritual, philosophical and even legal issues.

In the end, it all comes down to the need so many people have for meaningfulness in their lives and the feeling that there is meaningfulness whether defined by a particular organized religion or by a less certain set of criteria, even if it isn't easy to define. When people feel the meaningfulness in their lives is being threatened, it's never something to be taken lightly. But the history of religion is a history not of stagnation, though stagnation too often happens for long periods, but primarily of development. Christianity may be 2,000 years old, but its thought has been developing for at least 2500 years. And it's likely that Christian thought and the the thought of other religions will continue to develop whether right wing Christians wish it or not.

Poechewe's picture
Posted by Poechewe (not verified) on 27 March 2006 - 1:12am
Wisdom

How we get wisdom and salvation has forever been a battle between those who seek a direct connection with their god and those who would control some version of official access. That people themselves might find their own way has ever been a threat to those who would hold power. Oy.

The Heretikal One's picture
Posted by The Heretikal One (not verified) on 29 March 2006 - 7:13pm