Over the last few months, stimulated by a talk I gave in Boston, an intrepid group of explorers have gathered in an online video chat to explore the details and implications of Margaret Barker’s Temple Hypothesis.
Over a series of conversations, we ranged over a pretty vast range of topics, from the details of Dr Barker’s theory, connections between the NHL material and the First Temple, implications for liturgical practice, connections to the Desert traditions and monasticism, connections between the First Temple and Egyptian ascent ritual and further back to prehistory and the mythology of ancient peoples (which Gordon White explores deeply in “Star.Ships”).
For Saint Valentinus Day, I led an online workshop about the many meanings of love in spiritual life – hosted by St Teresa of Avila Gnostic Community in Brisbane. Click the image at the bottom to get to the recording on their YouTube channel.
In our tradition, we use February 14 to remember one of the most significant figures of early Christian gnosticism – Valentinus. His teaching was so influential, it let to a whole school in early Christianity with its own scriptures (like the Gospel of Philip) and several other influential teachers.
One of the central themes in Valentinian teaching is love – not cool, charitable compassion – passionate, erotic, human love as a central symbolic reflection of spiritual life. This theme echoes through countless saints over the last two thousand years.
So, on Sunday (a few days after Valentine’s Day), I’m hosting an online discussion about love and the spiritual journey. Why is it such a significant theme? What are its dimensions? What does it mean to you?
Talk Gnosis asked me back to talk with Father Tony Silvia and Jonathan Stewart about how our body (maybe bodies) play a role in spiritual life. It’s a fun, open, exploratory conversation and we cover a lot of ground. Mr Stewart wrote a blog post summing the whole thing up, if you’d rather read than listen.
In part one of our four part conversation about bodily Gnosis with Bishop Timothy Mansfield we compare the concepts of the body, the mind, the self, the brain, the heart, the soul, and the spirit. Phew! What a complex topic. We discuss these subjects through the lenses of Gnosticism, the kabbalah, and eastern religions. How did the ancient Gnostics view the body and the material world? What were the Valentinians really talking about when they divided humanity up into three types? Then we close things out by exploring how the body and the mind experience meditation, and how to use that knowledge to enhance your spiritual practices.
Part 2 of 4 finds us once again with Bishop Timothy Mansfield of the Apostolic Johannite Church discussing some bodily Gnosis. How do awareness and meditation techniques apply to the body? How did a 17th century fringe Christian theology called Jansenism have a profound impact on the development of world religions? The body and the passions are blamed for a lot wrong with the world, but are we really meatbag automata incapable of controlling our thoughts and actions? How can asceticism help us to grow spiritually?
Part 3 of 4 of our bodily Gnosis conversation with Bishop Timothy Mansfield crosses the thin barrier between psychology and spirituality, addressing the very real problem of spiritual materialism, or how people use the trappings of spirituality to stroke their egos. We give some suggestions for some spiritual practices you can do with the body in mind, and we wrap things up with a discussion on queer issues in Gnosticism.
The fourth and final part of our talk with Bishop Timothy Mansfield about bodily Gnosis delves into some esoteric anatomy and some spiritual practices that relate to it. Where do the emotions actually reside? How do we experience the emotions energetically? And we put to bed the discussion of reincarnation once and for all.
Back on Talk Gnosis to chat with Deacon John Digilio and Father Tony Silvia about three sayings from the Gospel of Thomas – logia 25-27.
25. Jesus said, “Love your friends like your own soul, protect them like the pupil of your eye.”
26. Jesus said, “You see the sliver in your friend’s eye, but you don’t see the timber in your own eye. When you take the timber out of your own eye, then you will see well enough to remove the sliver from your friend’s eye.”
27. “If you do not fast from the world, you will not find the (Father’s) kingdom. If you do not observe the sabbath as a sabbath you will not see the Father.”
I dropped into Talk Gnosis to talk about Dr Margaret Barker’s “Temple Theology” which has been obsessing me a little recently.
Bishop Timothy Mansfield joins us for an enlightening conversation of the Temple Theology of Margaret Barker. The origins of Christianity might be very different from common understanding, with some profound implications for us Gnostics. This fascinating theory takes a little unpacking, though, but Bishop Tim and Jonathan are just the folks to do it.