Member Rara Avis
Deep in the heart
First, let's talk about Gnosticism. Marc M. Arkin said that Gnosticism flourished as a species of arcane religious teaching in the Hellenized Near East from about A.D. 80 to 200 and for a time appeared to be giving the nascent Christian churches a serious run for their money. A composite of Christianity, neo-Platonism, and Eastern ideas, Gnosticism (from the Greek word gnosis, meaning “knowledge”) reveled in an extraordinarily baroque cosmology replete with complex hierarchies of divine beings and a radically dualistic outlook.
There are great differences between the surviving teachings of the Gnostic sages, and the surviving Gnostic texts are wildly contradictory. At its most general level, however, Gnosticism tended to teach that the key to salvation rested in a secret knowledge revealed only to the initiated few. Typically, this secret knowledge included the contention that the division separating the human from the divine was an illusion that evaporated with the enlightenment that gnosis brings. Thus, the gnostic adept was invited to believe in his own divinity.
Notice that last sentence and tell me why YOU think Bloom never said it or implied it.
Arkin goes on to say that here is the connection to Bloomian “gnosticism,” which describes little more than a general belief that there is a god within and that the essence of religion rests in the direct experience of that divine spark.
We should go back to the beginning of Blooms book where he admits that he is not “a historian or a sociologist or a psychologist of religion, let alone a theologian,” Bloom instead qualifies himself as a religious critic by explaining that he is an “unbelieving Jew of strong Gnostic tendencies.” Even while likening religious criticism to literary criticism—both are said to be based on a core aesthetic element—Bloom points out that religious criticism is freed from such limiting concerns as texts or the relations between texts.
Actually, Bloom attempts to do for American religion what he once did for literature: rewrite it with himself as the hero. In pursuit of this Romantic calling, Professor Bloom argues that there is such a thing as an American Religion and that it transcends all denominational barriers. According to Bloom, American Religion is defined not by a distinctive theology but by the unmediated experience of the self as God. The “American finds God in herself or himself,” he writes, a feat accomplished “only after finding the freedom to know God by experiencing a total inward solitude.” In this solitary freedom, the American is liberated both from other selves and from the created world. He comes to recognize that his spirit is itself uncreated. Knowing that he is the equal of God, the American Religionist can then achieve his true desideratum, mystical communion with his friend, the godhead.
I have just begun, Reb. As I told you, I read this trash. Actually, studied it and wrote a paper on it and it's author.
. K. Chesterton once said that “America is a nation with the soul of a church.” We are, to use Bloom’s phrase, a “religion-soaked, even religion-mad” society. Statistics show, we are told, that 88 percent of Americans believe that God loves them personally, approximately 20 percent that God speaks directly to them. At least since the time of Alexis de Tocqueville, foreign visitors have been fascinated by the role that religion plays in our public life despite the absence of an established church. The American Religion is a domestic manifestation of this same fascination with the religious life of Americans. But its author might have been well advised to heed the advice of Niebuhr. Speaking of the kingdom of God in America, Niebuhr told his readers, “we need to seek the pattern within it, not to superimpose some other pattern upon it. The ideal needs to be looked for in the real, not imported from without.”
If you care to continue, please stick to the facts and don't try to turn things around to fit your stand or beliefs.
Oh, and please use words this pore ole Texan can understand and refrain from phrases like "Argumentum ad Antiquitatem."
You say Bloom has nothing to do with New Age Religion. Well, this from Chris Lehmann, "Gnosticism takes up entire sections in New Age bookstores; it also suffuses mainstream self-help and spirituality literature -- major publishing houses have issued handsomely packaged translations of gnostic scripture, and, in one case, even a helpful calendar of meditations called "A Gnostic Book of Days.'' Among gnosticism's more celebrated highbrow adherents were British novelist Lawrence Durrell and Carl Jung -- whose loopy gnostic outlook, in turn, has furnished inspiration for many a latter-day spiritual-cum-psychological best-selling author, from James Hillman to Thomas Moore to Clara Pinkola Estes to Bill Moyers. Just last year, renowned literary critic Harold Bloom published Omens of Millennium: The Gnosis of Angels, Dreams, and Resurrection, half a gnostic spiritual autobiography, and half an interpretation of gnostic themes in American religious history and New Age spirituality."
Oh, yes, Lehmann also defines gnosticism thusly, "What, then, is gnosticism, exactly? It is, first and foremost, a fiercely world-denying faith. The original gnostics, who reached their peak of influence in the 1st and 2nd centuries CE, held that the creation of our world was a colossal, cosmic mistake -- the handiwork of a pseudodeity called Ialdabaoth, a deceitful (if clumsy) demiurge. The true God had retreated far beyond the reach of the created universe -- which in gnostic mythology is commonly described as an abortion -- and into a realm of unconditioned repose and nonbeing, known as the Pleroma. Believers could only gain access to this rarefied state through the esoteric lore of gnosis, or knowledge, which taught, among other things, that the body, sexuality, and all institutions of the human social order were repugnant, decaying affronts to the higher soul (or pneuma) of the gnostic elite -- so much metaphysical deadwood that the heroic, solitary believer had to clear away to enact his or her own salvation."
I believe I have punched enough holes in your bucket for now
You know, Reb, you are quite a learned man and there is absolutely nothing personal in my remarks. I hope you do not take them as such. If you have, I apologize and ask your forgiveness. I love ya man Gotta Bud?
Forgive the typos, just washed my hands and can't do a think with 'em