Saturday, October 18, 2008

True Gnostics Should Not Vote For ...

I happened across a comment online the other day where some person was saying that no true Gnostic should vote for McCain. I had to laugh.

This is the same rhetoric I could hear back in the Southern Baptist Church. "Thou shalt not vote for Obama." For most exoteric religions, I can see how members of their assemblies like being told what to think, who to vote for, how to live, what products to buy, what products "true believers" shouldn't buy, etc.

But to hear a self-proclaimed Gnostic start saying that "true Gnostics" can only vote one way or another truly bugs me. It seems that any religious movement is capable of developing these "fundamentalists," who are essentially people who think the world should revolve around what they believe, think, and feel. In short, this is obviously a person who hasn't learned that the true self is not the ego, not the consciousness, and not the physical body. The true self transcends all of this.Black Iron Prison

To wrap your spirituality around anything else is a practice in futility. Is that to say that I don't believe true Gnostics should vote? ... Well, that's the wrong question. I don't force my journey towards gnosis on anyone else. I would never say a "true Gnostic" does anything but follow the urging of their spirit. Your journey is not my journey, even if our destination is the same.

If you want to focus your energies on making the Black Iron Prison of this reality more comfortable for you or for others, go for it. Political beliefs, social efforts, environmental causes -- none of these accelerates your spiritual journey. As I've said before, good and proper actions in this life are offspring of your spiritual awakening, but they are not the ends to your means.

Whether your support is for the Democrats or the Republicans, the two parties with which most people align themselves, you're feeding a Black Iron Prison of some sort. Democrats want a big centralized government. Republicans want smaller, more local governments. Democrats want to put the government in charge of as much of your life as possible, because you can't be left to make decisions like charity, health care, and how you spend your money on your own. Republicans claim to want to leave that power in your hands, but then they build a large military and intelligence complex to restrict your rights just as much. Even the Libertarians would leave many of the decisions in the hands of big corporations.

So, who's right? you may be wondering. None of them are right, and all of them are right. But in the end, none of it matters. We are transients in this life. None of this will matter in 500 years or 1000 years. In 2000 years, almost everything of our society and the societies around the world will be gone. Will you spend your short while on this Earth focused on transient matters, or will you focus on returning to the Fullness? Will you force your beliefs on other people, or will you discover and elevate your true Self?

The choice is yours, by all means. I, for one, choose something more permanent.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Why a New Religion is Needed

As a student of culture, I find a lot of what I see going on in the current Presidential race fascinating. Obama has become for many of his followers somewhat of a Messiah figure. He speak; they roar with applause. He offers them hope and change without any evidence or plan. ("Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.") And they in turn rabidly promote his message and chant his name like a personal mantra. This type of behavior might be expected from the overtly religious Right, but this is in fact coming from the educated and refined far Left.

Young, professional hipsters, who on any other day would scoff at religious zealots, are being swept up in a frenzy of emotion that is very reminiscent of an old-style tent revival. Frankly, their behavior is rather cult-like, and it has me pondering the nature of humanity.

Man, by his very nature, is religious

I believe it was St. Augustine who said that man by his very nature is Christian. Dr. Stephan Hoeller of Ecclesia Gnostica modified that a bit to say that man by his very nature is religious. Many of the educated people that I know would laugh at this thought, but I think the recent behavior of the Obama crowd has actually proven this point better than anything else.

People need something to believe in, whether they want to admit it or not. For many, organized (and not-so-organized) religions fill this need. For others who may claim to be agnostic or atheists, you can see signs of a fervent belief in other areas, such as environmentalism, Global Warming, libertarianism, baseball, politics, Wall Street, etc. It's not necessarily a standard religion that they are participating in , as there is no ascribed "higher power," but it is the religious behavior of adoration, dedication, recitation of lines, study, and chanting.

Don't believe me? How about sports fans who sing their team's song, paint their faces, and don the team uniform for the games? They study the team's stats, members, coaches, history, etc. They can tell you how many times their team won in the regular season, in the post season, or in the playoffs in the past 10 years. When their team wins, life is great. When they lose, visible signs of depression are evident. I don't know how this isn't considered religious behavior.

So, why isn't this energy devoted to one of the many world religions instead of politics, sports, or social issues? Maybe we've just outgrown the ones that we have.

Belief, Bibliolatry, and Evolution

Consider what it takes to be fully immersed in the faith of one of the major world religions, specifically Western religions. In Christianity, Judaism and Islam, the world was created in 6 days by Jehovah, Allah, God, Yahweh, or whatever name is appropriate. These religions also purport that the world is only about 6,000 years old. In order to be a full-on believer, you have to tell your mind that all of our discoveries are wrong. The world isn't millions of years old; it's only 6,000 years old.

Additionally, you must accept the fact that the particular holy book of the religion is inerrant, infallible, perfect, and complete. You mustn't, for instance, question the authority of the Holy Bible, its Author (because men didn't write it), or the many potential editors in its history, as it went from Hebrew to Greek to Latin to English. It is not symbolism; it is fact.

In Islam, many of the adherents believe that everything man needed to know and have was already in existence at the time of the Prophet. Therefore, you'll see many Islamic countries that seem to be stuck in the Middle Ages in their attire, their worldview, and their treatment of their fellow humans.

What you must do in order to be a "true believer" is shun the progress of human understanding of the world and the universe around us, and you must place God in a nice little box, because "He" isn't big enough to encompass this "new fangled" world. For fear of being too humanistic, our abilities to affect our lives have been relegated to what we can do within the scope of what deities, angels, and demons will allow.

A need for a new religion

I think we can say pretty confidently that we need something to believe in. Without a moral and ethical compass, we are little more than intelligent animals, and that's exactly what we'll act like. But, what we have right now in terms of religions in the West offers very little without tremendous compromise in our ability to progress and evolve as humans. I would go as far as to say that our current religions have kept us from evolving and reaching our full potential.

Always at odds with the physical world and our natural tendencies, religion has taken upon itself the task of building fences rather than shepherding us to higher planes. Men have warped these systems of philosophy into sects that agree with their worldview, and they've locked those worldviews in place, never (or rarely) to change.

Are their deities or at least one big Deity? Are we deities? If not, are we capable of becoming like them? What in our religious texts is true, and what is chaff that needs to be separated from it? Is there a single vein of truth that runs through all religions? Is our journey as spirits an external or internal journey? Are we a distinct body and a soul? Or are we a body, a soul, and a spirit as Platonists suggest? And are we supposed to fully integrate those parts or focus on one aspect of our selves?

These are questions that humankind should be mature enough to ask. And we should ask them together. Our separate religions have done nothing but engender the potential for hatred and elitism. We've done pretty well in evolving our methods of killing as a result, but are we any better off. Where might we be as a species if we had evolved our religion as we evolved our understanding? Would despair and hopelessness be a thing of the past? Would petty greed drive us as it does now? Are there latent powers within the human mind and body that would have been released by now?

I don't generally like to be Utopian about things, but this is a question I've been asking myself as of late. Has our quest for power and dominance over one another retarded the growth of our spirituality, our civilizations, and our potential? I think so.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

"Why?" is the Devil's Question

I was chatting with a friend this past week, and I was being immature (as usual) and began asking "Why?" as he was explaining something to me. I really didn't want to know why, but I wanted to test him to see if he knew why. After a couple of times, he said, "Why? is the Devil's question."

I said, "I beg your pardon? Did you just say 'Why? is the Devil's question?'"

He said that he had, and I asked, "Who told you that?"

"My priest," he said bluntly. "Why?" apparently caused Lucifer to rebel against the Most High, and "why?" opens us up to being faithless, according to his priest.

As a Gnostic, I was tempted to correct him, but also as someone who can respect another person's faith if it fulfills them, I let it slide. But the statement has stuck with me since, and it bugs me -- because it is both very wrong and right at the same time.

Initially, I was shocked by the statement. Not asking "why?" helped keep people in submission to a corrupt Church throughout the Middle Ages and led them to keep paying indulgences, even though there is no biblical proof of anyone's ability to purchase a loved ones' salvation. Not asking "why?" led the Church into a destructive acquiescence to the Third Reich in World War II. And in modern times in America, not asking "why?" has opened 13-year-old girls up to disturbing misogynistic, and polygamist marriages to 50+-year-old pedophiles in the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS).

The question "why?" allows us to use the minds that we've been given. If God is the Creator (which Gnostics don't necessarily believe, but orthodox Christians do), then shouldn't we use the minds He gave us? Or is this a "have faith in the Creator, not the creation" debate?

At the same time, there is a tendency for people to get hung up on asking the question rather than listening for an answer. Their minds and spirits are acting in the same immature way I was with my friend, asking, "Why? Why? Why?" If the spirit and mind are focused only on the question, then the answer may never come. Asking "why?" can become the habit, rather than something more productive, like listening.

The act of falling into a silent state of being is what Centering Prayer, a practice I use, is about. The practitioner sits comfortably with the back straight and their eyes closed. And rather than reciting a sutra or prayer, they just let their minds relax. There is no forcing of the mind to be blank -- if thoughts arise, the practitioner lets the thoughts occur without becoming attached to them. Divine revelation isn't the point either. The point is simply to listen by being silent. If the person finds themselves becoming attached to a thought or emotion, they can simply recite their sacred word (like "Abba" or "Peace" or "Trust") to return their mind to the task at hand.

By falling into silence and not necessarily expecting anything in return for our 20 minutes of time, we break the self-centered habit of always having to have our minds move at a million miles per hour. We're a vain society, and we love to think we're showing our importance by having our minds multi-task. It is so odd to us to think that our eventual evolution may actually involve embracing silence, not talking or texting or fitting as much stuff into our days as possible.

I run into many people who call themselves agnostics (more now than ever before). They don't want to say that they're atheists, because they don't want to shut off the possibility that there is something beyond this mundane existence. But they also don't want to know the answer, if there is one. They're stuck at the stage of asking "why?," and they have no desire to move any further. To go further requires sacrifices that they're unwilling to make (time, effort, ... noise).

To question the existence of a higher power is chic and hip -- it shows, so they think, that they're intelligentsia. They think like Obama thinks -- faith (and guns) are for the desperate. Those are niceties to cling to when all else fails. To ask the question "why?" in pop culture makes you sound really cool and intelligent in conversations, but no one expects the answer to the question ... they don't want it, in fact.

So, in a sense, "Why?" is the Devil's question. But so is not asking it. The Archon can keep you in submission if you follow either path exclusively. His control over the human race is found in the extremes of both choices. Gnosis, on the other hand, is found when you ask the question, and then silence your mind and actually listen for the answer.

Monday, March 10, 2008

New Rules for the Untransformed Masses

This morning, Reuters released a story about the Vatican considering the need for the Church to provide guidance in the area of "bioethics," in the wake of modern-day theories about Global Warming. Top on their list is the potential for penance to be given to someone who has blighted the Earth and its environment in one way or another.

While the Church has generally focused its attention in this area on genetic manipulation and stem cell research, they are now focusing on protecting the environment, considering it a modern sin to commit ecological offenses.

As a Gnostic, I see this as another example of how orthodox and mainstream religions have gotten it wrong. A church doesn't fulfill its purpose by outlining and updating sins as the times change. Rules and commandments are imposed to try to modify outward behavior. The purpose of any spiritual pursuit shouldn't be to modify behavior; it should be to transform the spirit of the practitioner.

It is against the very nature of a transformed and enlightened spirit to commit murder, to envy your neighbor, to steal from another person, or to destroy its own environment. Gnostics are often called antinomian (anti = against, nomos= law) for this very reason. They see that it is not the rules of behavior that transform a person, but it is the essence of the spirit that guides a person's actions.

The perfect Biblical examples of this truth are the Pharisees. These were men who were very concerned with following every letter of Mosaic law, and they were deeply offended by the actions of the Christos, who spoke against them and performed miracles on the Sabbath (God forbid!). These men were pure according to the ruling authorities, and yet they held malice and contempt in their heart for people who weren't like them. Following the rules did not transform their hearts.

In the Gospel of Thomas, when his disciples asked him to prescribe a system of fasting and prayer, Jesus said, "If you fast, you will bring sin upon yourselves, and if you pray, you will be condemned, and if you give to charity, you will harm your spirits." (14) In other words, if you do these things in the wrong spirit, you're doing more damage than good. In the empty practice of religious rites, pride rears its ugly head, and mechanical observance of custom takes the place of transformative processes.

Metaphorically, it's putting the cart before the horse to think that new laws and commandments will improve our condition. Jesus says, "Anyone here with two ears had better listen! There is light within a person of light, and it shines on the whole world. If it does not shine, it is dark." (24)

This arrogance is not exclusive to the practitioners of mainstream religion. How self-important are the rigid and dogmatic environmentalists? I have quite often seen environmentalists without a hint of compassion for their fellow human beings. The more rabid of that group even feel that the world would be better off without humans at all. In Phillip K. Dick style, I would counter, "What good is a prison without prisoners?"

Again, the point is missed when new rules for "reducing the carbon footprint" are put in place. It is not the rules that save us. It is the transformed spirit that begins making the right choices in life. As much as Gnostics are seen as "world hating," we're intelligent and self-aware enough to know that we should do what we can to keep the world from sucking more than it already does. Running out of fossil fuel would suck. Starving because the environment can no longer produce food would suck. Not being able to breathe clean air would suck.

As my favorite Gnostic, Dr. Stephan Hoeller, is wont to say, "No sane beast befouls its own nest," maybe what we need isn't more rules and laws. Maybe what we need is more sanity. I'd like to think that comes through gnosis, but then again, that's my opinion.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Why Christians Still Hate Gnostics

A while back, I set up a Google alert that sends me an e-mail when someone posts something online about "gnosticism," "gnostics," or "gnosis." These can be anything from blog posts to forum entries. I've read through each of the items that comes into my Inbox. The reason I set this up was primarily to see the discourse regarding Gnosticism unfold online, both from the Gnostics point of view and from the modern-day Christian heresiologists. It's really a fascinating conversation to see.

On the one hand, you have the Gnostics (amateur students, practitioners, and ordained ministers) discussing the path to gnosis amongst themselves on sites like Palm Tree Garden and some of the gnostic blogs. In general, I've not seen any anti-Christian rhetoric, calls for the destruction of the Church, or anything like that. In fact, I think I'm more confrontational in my posts than anyone on the Gnostic side of the spectrum.

Then, on the other hand, you have anti-Gnostic posts from fundamentalist Christians and Catholics alike; heresiological apologists so to speak. Obviously, questions are being asked within the flock. People are looking at the Nag Hammadi texts or reading about the Gnostics in modern literature or watching shows on the History Channel, and they're asking how this fits in with their faith. These inconvenient little forays into non-canonical territory are a little like Toto pulling at the curtain and showing the man behind the Wizard.

The Wizard: "Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain!"

The Christian response to the resurgence of interest in Gnosticism is the same as it was roughly 1800 years ago, when the frail body of the Church was just beginning to form and questions were raised that threatened (in their eyes) to destroy the Church before it was even built. Old, effectively intimidating words like "blasphemy" and "heresy" are employed, and the great disdain that Ireneaus felt for the Gnostics of his age is reborn in the rhetoric of the modern apologist blogger.

So, where does this disdain come from? What is it about the Gnostics that the Christians hate so much? I've compiled a list of things that I (neophyte that I am) feel have been consistently disputed across the millennia:

  • First and foremost, in my opinion, is that the Gnostics call into question the validity of the Holy Bible. The additional scriptures the Gnostics wrote (including the ones in the Nag Hammadi Library, Pistis Sophia, and others) coupled with the Gnostic tendency to discount the importance of the Old Testament (except for the Wisdom books) is really too much to bear for most fundamentalists. Their basic belief is in the inerrancy of the Scripture in the Bible. According to the Basic Beliefs of the Southern Baptist Convention: "The Holy Bible was written by men divinely inspired and is God's revelation of Himself to man. It is a perfect treasure of divine instruction. It has God for its author, salvation for its end, and truth, without any mixture of error, for its matter. Therefore, all Scripture is totally true and trusthworthy (sic)."
  • Secondly, the Gnostics believe that the Jehovah God of the Old Testament is a fallible, imperfect Demiurge, known by many names, including Yaldabaoth, Saklas, and Samael, none of which are favorable names to have. Christians believe that the Creator of the world and the Father of Christ are one in the same. Gnostics see the imperfection of this world, the harsh realities of life, and the sheer madness and cruelty of the Old Testament Jehovah and they can't rationalize how that relates to the Loving Father that Jesus the Christos spoke of.
  • Thirdly, the Gnostics dispute the purpose and form of Jesus. Christians believe that Christ's blood sacrifice and our willingness to believe in Him is what grants us salvation. Gnostics again, can't cope with the idea that salvation has to come from a blood-thirsty god who demands an animal or human sacrifice, much less the slaughter of his own son. This is not a god that we care to worship or praise. The Logos (the Word) came to us in order to awaken us to our true selves and lead us into a direct experiential knowledge (gnosis) of the True God, who is Father to us all. Whether or not the Christos appeared to be human or actually took human form is something that is still debated in Gnostic circles. That fact also distresses the Christians.
I'll end on three bullet points in order that I can be a little symbolic. But suffice it to that the Gnostics basically counter the very basic principles of mainstream Christianity. They ask questions where the Church authorities demand unwavering belief. They have the audacity to question the actions of "God" in the Old Testament. But seriously, can you blame us? How barbaric does this sound?

If I whet my glittering sword, and mine hand take hold on judgment; I will render vengeance to mine enemies, and will reward them that hate me. I will make mine arrows drunk with blood, and my sword shall devour flesh; and that with the blood of the slain and of the captives, from the beginning of revenges upon the enemy. [Deuteronomy 32:42 (King James Version)]
This is "God" speaking to his faithful servant Moses, right before he tells him, "Oh, by the way, for all your hard work in keeping my children together, you'll get to see Israel, but you won't set foot there. Yay Me."

The point is that Christians have hated Gnostics since the beginning of the Christian Era, and they're not likely to start liking them any time soon. The differences between the two are fundamental and unresolvable. Unfortunately for them, however, Toto has already pulled aside the curtain. What is seen cannot be unseen. What is said cannot be unsaid. Nearly 1800 years have passed since the Christians tried to purge society of Gnosticism, but these thousands of years passed with the Gnostic thread of thought always under the surface, occasionally resurfacing in movements like Manichaeism, Catharism, Alchemy, Theosophy, etc. and finally culminating in Mohammed Ali Samman's discovery at Nag Hammadi, Egypt.

As for the Gnostics, there is no hatred for Christians -- just the occasional (or not-so-occasional) chuckle when they contradict themselves. We focus on what we can focus on, which is our own practice and our own striving for gnosis. When you know the truth, you don't need to justify yourself.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Why Christianity's Failure to Change is Killing It

The death of a religion doesn't come as a result of a violent murder by outsiders. Proof of this is in religions like Tibetan Buddhism, which suffered greatly under the tyranny of Communist oppression and yet still flourishes today; Catharism, which was wiped out by the Catholic Church and which still inspires pride in the residents of Montsegur; and, of course, Gnosticism, with its many iterations throughout history, suppressed so widely, even today, by mainstream Christianity, and yet its allure is as strong as ever.

No, the death of a religion doesn't come from without. It comes from within. Death of religion results when proponents of that religion fail to evolve it as human understanding of the universe evolves. It is when those proponents point to a specific point in time and say, "That's the only time God revealed himself to humanity, and there can be no other time when that happened because that's what I believe, and what I believe is all true. Anything that goes against what I believe is heresy or blasphemy or Satan's work." It is when that religion becomes an inflexible, absolute, and closed system that it begins to suffocate itself.

You need no other evidence that this mindset exists within modern Christianity than the recent Digg article, "100 Greatest Quotes from fundamentalist christian chat rooms." While most of the quotes are quite hilarious in their absurdity, like JohnR7's statement, "I can sum it all up in three words: Evolution is a lie," there is a sadness that overwhelms me when I read them. These people have given up their ability to think logically in exchange for a comfortable belief system, where they don't have to think, ask questions, or make decisions on their own. A good example of this is the following quote:

"What does a functioning brain have to do with the Bible?" LittleLambofJesus

"Make sure your answer uses Scripture, not logic." cdevidal

Gnostics will love this,

"To say the Bible was written by men and may contain inaccuracies completely contradicts the word of the Bible." Ia Orana

"The only thing I don't like about them is they sell foreign language versions of the KJB ["King James Bible," I assume -- it should be KJV for "King James Version"]. I don't think that's right. We know the only true translation is the 1600's version in English. ... It's too risky for anybody to translate into other languages. Mistakes can creep in ... and that can lead to heresy. True Christians should only read English." leyenda

If you've never been in a fundamentalist Christian church, you may not recognize a lot of these arguments as coming directly from the pulpit. I briefly attended a Baptist church in a rural area of North Carolina. One Sunday, the preacher lamented how he prayed so hard for his in-laws, because they were Methodists. "And as we all know, the Methodists are going to Hell because they don't fully submerse themselves in baptism," he said. And the congregation nodded their heads in agreement.

This is the kind of attitude that casts such a dim light on Christianity. It is as Dr. Stephan Hoeller said once in a lecture. The label of "Christianity" has been taken over by a radical group of fundamentalists who see the Bible as infallible, inerrant, and the only source of truth. While more moderate and even liberal groups are technically Christian, they've been cast out and labeled as lukewarm.
"You are banned. You are not a Christian for Christians don't accuse brothers and sisters in Christ of being non-Christian." Troy
This type of behavior doesn't endear them to many people. The love that Jesus taught us to have for one another isn't present in any of these statements. "Love thy enemy" has been replaced by "I honestly don't care about your rights. If it were up to me, all Atheists would be burnt at the stake and or cast into a river with weights tied to their ankles and or placed before a firing squad, etc etc etc," as AV1611VET so eloquently put it.

Unfortunately, ignorance breeds ignorance. And instead of good seed, as in the parable of the sower, weeds are being propagated, and the fools are speaking as if they're enlightened. What they're doing is dogmatically reciting what they've been taught by preachers who are no better than used car salesmen, who use simple mind-control techniques, like nodding their heads when they say something they want their listeners to agree with, speaking loudly and passionately to inspire an emotional response, etc. The ability to use the brain that their God supposedly gave them is diminished, and blind belief, sometimes called faith, takes hold.

"I often debate with evolutionists because I believe that they are narrow mindedly and dogmatically accepting evolution without questioning it. I don't really care how God did what He did. I know He did it." TexasSky

The problem is that these people feel like they're truly speaking on behalf of the rest of the Christian faith, just like radical Islamic terrorists feel they are speaking on behalf of the whole of Islam. What they're really inspiring is a deep distrust and hatred in the general public for what should be a beautiful religion. I overheard someone I know the other day saying, "We all know that Christians are the Devil." I'd be interested in know exactly why he felt that way, but I would assume that it has to do with the fundamentalists' constant attempts to force their beliefs on others.

It's doubtful that society will ever rise up against Christianity, as it did during Roman times, and as the Christians themselves rose up against other religions. And I hope it never does. But what will likely happen is that the people who are trying so rabidly to force it on others will end up killing it.

For an interesting take on this, check out John Shelby Spong's book, Why Christianity Must Change or Die: A Bishop Speaks to Believers In Exile.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Robertson: Mouthpiece of a Blind God

This week, Pat Robertson, televangelist, founder of a several Christian organizations and corporations and host of The 700 Club, stepped back from making specific predictions for the year to make just the general prediction that "chaos was coming." To quote him, "The Lord was saying that there's going to be violence and chaos in the world." Well, duh! That's as sure to happen as saying, "A baby will be born somewhere in the world in the next 5 minutes."

This most recent prediction comes after a few years of miserable failure at being able to predict anything of significance based on his conversations with his Lord. In May of 2006, the year after the devastating Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast, Robertson said, "If I heard the Lord right about 2006, the coasts of America will be lashed by storms." Two things should be noted about this prediction: that it came after the national weather service warned that the hurricane season for 2006 could be as bad as 2005's, and that no major hurricanes hit American soil in 2006 or 2007 for that matter.

For 2007, this Lord of his told him that mass killings were coming to America, sometime after September, possibly in the form of a nuclear weapon, even though, according to him, "The Lord didn't say 'nuclear.'" Now, while the worst school shooting in US history occurred at VA Tech in the Spring of 2007, no terrorist attack occurred on US soil at all.

So, after a few years of abissmal failure to get an accurate prediction out of "God," Robertson has made the prediction that "We've just begun to see what's going to happen, and the nations are going to be convulsed with violence." Really? Perhaps you'd also like to predict that gasoline prices will fluctuate as well, Robertson. Or how about, there's a good chance that I'll take the trash out this week? The fact of the matter is that when people try to prove the efficacy of their god by trying to make predictions, more often than not, they end up making fools of themselves.

The "God" of Pat Robertson begins to take on the archonic role ascribed to him in many Gnostic texts, including "The Apocryphon of John" and "On the Origin of the World", which is to say, He becomes Samael (the blind god) or Saklas (the foolish god). This Demiurge (or half-creator), also known as Yaldabaoth, Nebro, and a few other names in the Gnostic texts, was the offspring of Chaos and Sophia, the feminine aspect of God's wisdom. Being blind to his own origins, he foolishly proclaimed, "It is I who am God, and there is no other one that exists apart from me."

This is the god that Robertson follows. The god that demands that the whole world come under his dominion and worship him alone. All other faiths are false. There is only one way to salvation.

Now, I don't want to give you the impression that I think Robertson is a bad man. I truly don't think any of these evangelists are bad people. They've just been a little misled. If their faith brings them closer to the Divine, I support them, just as I support a Muslim or a Buddhist or a Zoroastrian whose faith bring him or her closer to the Divine. But it's when they start saying that their religion is the only religion and they try to force their faith on others, I see the cracks in their armor. A god who demands worship doesn't deserve it, in my opinion.

And obviously, trying to prove the power of your god through public predictions doesn't work either. Isn't it the mainstream Christians who said that many of the noncanonical texts weren't canonical because the "age of public revelation" had ended when they were written? Is it suddenly okay to reopen the age of public revelation? And who gets to decide that?

If you're going to tout your religion as the ultimate religion, at least be consistent about it. Otherwise, do what is best for your religion and focus on bringing hope to a dark world. We can all agree that what we need for 2008 is hope.