Pissing off the religious is my part-time hobby.

August 15, 2009 at 5:13 pm ("Like it says on the tin.", my funny valentine, Personal Insight, Praxis, Prodigal Valentine)

I have long been attracted to the idea of becoming a Non-Theist Friend.

To that end, I have begun participating more in the online Quaker world, most notably on the QuakerQuaker site, which says it’s one thing, and has proven to be quite another, indeed.

The site is most decidedly for Christians only, and the Quakers there (the real ones) have tried their utmost to make the Christians realize their intolerance, narrow-mindedness and general bigotry, is well, maybe, not OK. (I mentioned they’re Quakers, right?)

Recently, a Pagan Quaker decided to post a section on QuakerQuaker for Liberal Quakers. Liberal Quakers include non-Christians and non-theists, or sometimes they do, apparently. Yeah I know, it’s a Quaker thing. So I decided to participate, and posted the following videos:

Comedian Dave Allen’s Introduction to Christianity. I mentioned in the description the Christian canonical scriptures of a little child leading them, and out of the mouths of babes.

Atheist Peace, by Bad Religion. Titled “My Kind of Peace Testimony!”, with a description that read, “Atheist Peace a music video that lines up nicely with the Quaker Peace Testimony.” Which it does, if you watch the video. So I decided to log in this afternoon, to see what kind of discussion had been sparked. This is what I found when I tried to access the site:

I wasn’t even logged in, so it looks like I’ve been banned by my IP address. Classic. (What are you going to do when I connect to the Internet through a different wireless connection, Martin?)

Also! An update from the NTF list, another non-Christian Quaker has disassociated himself from the site.

Silly Christians. The inner light is for everyone, and in everyone. If you can’t see that, or live that, or feel that, well, you’re not living up to the Quaker Faith and Practices very well, are you? Then again, you’re not really Quakers, you’re just trying to take over Quakerism, and make it into something it’s not.

There’s a reason your Christian ancestors tortured, jailed, and excommunicated the early Quakers. Trying to usurp Quakerism from within, and make it orthodox again, is not going to go over very well with the rest of the Quakers who aren’t Christians, who don’t believe in the inerrancy of Romanized/Anglicized Christian canon, who don’t believe we are saved by believing a man lived and died in Jerusalem a long time ago (“he” didn’t, it was an allegory).

I’ll confess, when the religious Gnostics kicked me to the curb, I went through a “fuck ’em all” phase, but I decided to keep pursuing the non-theism among Quakers angle. This minor little incident has inspired the opposite reaction in me, and it has only cemented my feeling that I should pursue association with non-theist Friends, and/or Liberal Quakers.

My praxis has been non-existent lately. This, more than anything else, is an indication I need to resume. With or without a MfW surrounding it.

Edit #2:  The Pagan Quaker I mentioned above, has disassociated from the website.

Edit #3: As with my dismissal from the holy presence of the religious Gnostics, I was given neither warning nor explanation for my banning, nor even a cursory email explaining why I was banned. What is it about Christians and their complete and utter lack of basic netiquette, I wonder? Oh, that’s right, they’re “above the law”, I keep forgetting that…..

Edit #4: Apparently there have not been any other bannings. and thanks to the cursory nature of my banning, I have no idea whether it was the videos that pushed Martin Kelley over the edge, or my response to the Dialogue with Non-Christians thread. I’m a non-Christian, why should I get banned for responding to the ghetto thread created for us on QuakerQuaker? Oh, that’s right, it’s because it was a thread for the Christians to preach us into the “correct” way of thinking.

Well, that’s my last word on the matter. Time to be moving on.

Final, final edit: Looks like both of the above non-Christian Quakers have removed their blog posts that I linked to. Probably because I linked to them. 😦 Ah well. Final word on the matter. Better things to do, other people to interact with, I guess. 😦

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Being troubled, and my ongoing baptism of fire.

June 21, 2009 at 2:57 am ("Like it says on the tin.", Praxis, Prodigal Valentine) (, )

The ascent of the seven spheres hit a little closer to home today than it has to date; I don’t know if I am making progress, or back-sliding. I know for a fact I am accessing long-disused parts of my cerebral cortex, because for the past week I’ve had songs from my former church running through my head completely unbidden (not the ones I’ve cribbed for the psalter, the more apocalyptic ones). I am hopeful that means I am clearing it out of my head. Reading it out of memory so it can be erased? Question is, what am I overwriting onto it??

MfW today was more of a personal reflection, than a connectedness with an external subjective reality; that was actually the point. Unfortunately. A lot of “truth came to the world in images”, and quite a considerable amount of trying to figure out if I am being honest to myself, or if in actual fact, I can “remember who I am” and make myself different at the same time. Or maybe make myself the same as what I would like myself to be.

What do I want myself to be? Remembering who I am means remembering things I don’t really want to descend into again, and I thought I had gotten past most of them. I have. Superficially. It is my interactions on the outside of my skull (what few that I have) that are still impacted by who I am, as a result of how I grew up. Remembering who I am means paying attention to those interactions, and trying to determine how they are impacted by who I am, and how I can change my interactions, to change who I am, which might change my interactions. Maybe.

Things have definitely moved from “see the big picture” into “focus in on yourself with a laser” in my praxis. Not a comfortable experience, but as the gospel of Thomas says, “Seek and do not stop seeking until you find. When you find, you will be troubled. When you are troubled, you will marvel and rule over all.” But back to the ascent.

The first sphere was fine, leaving behind the force to grow and decrease is what gets me “in” on the mental space of subjectively non-linear consciousness, quite effectively.

The second sphere, I found myself reflecting upon my own machinations of evil. Nothing of a criminal nature, and the “machinations of evil” that I came up with sounded ridiculous, even to me. The second  sphere was all about my actions and their consequences today though, not the actions of others towards me, the way it usually is.

The third sphere, I found myself reflecting that the guile of lust could also refer to the infinite chain of attainment. Yeah, the one that gnostics vow to escape. I contemplated whether or not there was anything in my life that I could really say I was attached to, through greed or desire or even lust. I couldn’t find an answer right away, until I realized there is one thing that I am attached to, that I should probably let go of.

It isn’t anything material though, it is a mental tic that I have used for a security blanket for as long as I can remember, one that I am definitely 100% absolutely attached to. How I am going escape it, I have absolutely no idea. It informs who I am, just as much as any of the rest of it does, and not in a good way. I wish I was attached to stuff, or things, or even other people (in the real world) although being attached to other people would be a swing of the pendulum in the exact opposite direction from where I am now. I’m trying to find the median, although I don’t know where that is, nor how to get there, if I even can.

The other thing I realized is that NOT being attached to anything, can be a guile of lust all on its own. Rejecting everything out of hand, that isn’t healthy either. Motion and rest. Seesawing between being too attached and not being attached enough is surely better than not being attached to anything or anyone, anywhere, ever, isn’t it?

The fourth sphere was all about reflecting on how I was and can still be judgemental. Again, how I’m going to change that, I have no idea. I was even judgemental of someone, AS I REALIZED that I had to stop being judgemental!! THAT’S NOT GOOD. My brain refuses to cooperate…….How the hell am I going to get my brain to cooperate?! Maybe my brain won’t ever be able to cooperate. Judging others is basically the default setting for all of my interactions with people in the real world, and I DON’T KNOW where the damn DIP switches are………

The fifth sphere, I realized that for me, unholy daring and rashness can be inaction, as well as action. Thumbing your nose at the outside, crawling into your hole and pulling it in after you, THAT’S “unholy daring and rashness”! Crawling out of a nice, comfortable, unthreatening hole to make a life and connections with others, on the other hand, that’s troubling. Which is the point.

The sixth sphere, at least was a little more mundane. I certainly don’t attain wealth through malicious means, but I do have problems with money. Not what you think. I pinch nickels so hard, the beaver chews off its own tail in an effort to get free……Which I realized is also a form of attaining wealth through malicious means. Not something I can readily modify, in my current situation, as being cheap is necessary right now, and more of a help than a hindrance. Mostly.

The seventh sphere had me wandering back to the beginning, and wondering how in the hell I’m supposed to work harder to reflect my “true self” to myself and others around me, when I don’t even have the first clue who or what that true self really is? I know exactly who my true (childhood) self WAS, but given that I was raised in a closed high-demand Bible-based group, I definitely don’t want that “true self” escaping ever. Ever. At all. Not even a little bit. Maybe I don’t have a “true self” maybe I actually am a black hole. Blank slate. I really don’t have any hobbies, popular culture stuff holds absolutely zero interest for me, and my interactions with others are strained at best, and awful at worst.

I don’t know how to change. I don’t even know how to convince myself that I NEED to change. Part of me is still going, “You don’t need to change! You’re in almost total isolation except for your imagination which gives you everything you will ever want or need, you haven’t settled down anywhere,  you have no permanent connections with anyone, ever, anywhere, but it’s easier, less messy, and you’re free to pick up and go as you will! Why is this a bad thing?”

Um, because it’s the stuff normal people’s nightmares are made of?

They’re not kidding when they call it a baptism of fire……..

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Meditations on the Reflection of Wisdom

May 23, 2009 at 11:55 am (my funny valentine, Personal Insight, Praxis, Prodigal Valentine) ()

In the Valentinian cosmogony, after the blind god Samael declares “I am the only god and there is no other beside me”, Wisdom leans down, into the world of forms, and the image of perfect wisdom, a shadow of the god-above-god, is reflected on the waters of the world.

In the Sethian cosmogony, it is Adama or the Anthropos (the androgynous perfect human) that looks down through “the harmony” and sees itself reflected back in the waters of the world.

In the Valentinian mythos, the act of Wisdom is a salvific one, showing the archons in thrall to the demiurge that there is a god beside the blind god that has spewed them out of his mouth. (I always get the image of the archons being created that way, with the wings of vultures and faces of lions; “in the image of” Yaldabaoth.)

In Sethian terms, the reflection of the Anthropos on the waters of the world is what causes the human soul to be trapped in the lower nature. It is a retelling of the Narcissus tale, particularly apropos for the Hellenized Judaism that the Sethians and Cainites sprang from.

We all have, within us, a spark that makes us human. Deific or otherwise. We all have that still, small voice inside, that we know we should listen to and too often we do not. Whether one identifies this voice of wisdom as the mariologized Sophianic figure of the religious Gnostics, the literalized christological figure of the fundamentalist Christians, or even Jiminy Cricket from Pinocchio, we all have that voice of wisdom within us, whatever it ultimately is.

In the end, it doesn’t matter at all what the voice of wisdom ultimately is. The question, do I listen to that still small voice, regardless of its source? If I do not, why not? Can I strike a reasonable balance between the perfect wisdom reflected in everyone, and try not to get trapped by a reflection of my own wisdom that is really only a shadow-self, that will lead me further into darkness, and away from the light?

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Praxis and the Valentine worships again

May 17, 2009 at 9:33 pm (my funny valentine, Personal Insight, Praxis, Prodigal Valentine, Un-Lectionary) (, , , )

OK. The rosary of the ascent was not much good to me yesterday, but I realized that was because I had done nothing productive all day. I didn’t do that much more productive today, but I at least ate a quick snack before getting into the swing of things WRT the group experience thing.

So I decided I would stick with the Sophian mythos that has been working for me, for the moment at least. Much better, at least this go-round, and I did not find myself quite so easily distracted.

I ate my snack through the first ten minutes of the service, but it’s not like it’s on webcam, so hey. Another advantage to the virtual meeting thing. Give me some credit though, I tried to approach it with a Gnostic bent, “envisioning the substance of the food and drink as light”. (Even though I disagree with the rest of the self-styled “Malachi’s” writings/teachings.)

So then I dropped fairly comfortably into praxis. They’re not kidding when they say protein is brain food, people. I have no idea why the image of Stella Maris kept popping up however. Maybe I wasn’t devoting enough attention to the meditations, and was focusing too much on the words of the decades? Or maybe it meant something else. Definitely wasn’t the Stella Maris Gnostic Church I was thinking about, although that’s more than likely where the imagery came from, as I have been exposed to that site in the past.

For those of you playing at home, Stella Maris to the Catholics, and to the Gnostics, are essentially sea-goddesses, or guardians/protectors of the sea. You will often find “Star of the Sea” appended to Stella Maris invocations, in both Catholic and Gnostic canon.

Prayer from Our Lady Star of the Sea Gnostic Chapel
“Holy Mother,
Rightful Queen of faithful souls,
Who never erred,
Who never lied,
Follower of the rightful course,
Who never doubted
lest we should accept death
in the realm of the wrong god;
as we do not belong to this realm
and this realm is not ours –
teach us Your gnosis
and to love what You love. “

Early morning church tomorrow. 😛 Ah well, at least it works with my schedule.

Oh, and for the record, as to why I was so puzzled the imagery kept popping up: I can’t even swim. 😯

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Praxis and the Valentine go to worship

May 15, 2009 at 9:22 pm (my funny valentine, Personal Insight, Praxis, Prodigal Valentine) ()

Going through the Sophian rosary today while peering through a glass dimly, I experienced slightly different images than I have had before, during the meditations. The last time this happened, I discerned it was more noise than signal, but I think a break away from this particular format has rendered the tone a little clearer, and this time the images were definitely more signal than noise. It could rightfully be called a “wisdom rosary”, at least this particular time through.

The meditation upon the reflection of perfect wisdom on the waters of the world took on far more Sethian overtones this time; in the Sethian mythological cosmogony, the anthropos staring at its own reflection, causes it to be incarnated into the human form; in the Valentinian mythologies, the reflection of wisdom on the waters of the world cause the archons to make a pale imitation, of the beauty and transcendence they have witnessed, loosing them from the shackles of the blind god Samael.

What sprang to mind for me was a combination; instead of the anthropos, it was Sophia, or Wisdom, that was trapped in the “prison house of the world” by staring at its own reflection. I don’t know if this is because I have been reading Poimandres lately, or if it is merely a random variation on the part of my neocortex to avoid boredom.

The meditation of the redemption of humanity through the breath of wisdom was very much similar to what I have always imagined, with the minor but significant difference that, instead of visualizing the breath of Sophia flowing into a single crude human form (the “soil-man” of the first book of the Judaic Pentateuch), I visualized that, and, the breath then flowed out to encompass everything else, in a very panentheistic way, illuminating everything with a hidden light. (Yeah, I know that makes no sense; but it’s my neocortex generating right-hemispheric non-language-dependent data, so deal.)

The sixth meditation, the descent of the spark from the eternal aeon, always did have (ancient, not modern) Pentecostal overtones for me, at least Pentecostal in the sense of the original narrative, not in the sense that modern mainstream Christianity has assigned to it today. (The speaking in tongues and dancing with snakes bit.) Today, the image seemed to be vested with more meaning or at least it felt more meaningful (could have been the environment, I suppose), and again, the visualization was extended to cover the whole earth, for which my brain decided oddly enough to assign the Genesis Effect from Star Trek: The Search for Spock. (I blame talking about the new movie endlessly for this.) Again, today, it was not limited to the “a house full of believers” as indicated in the original narrative, but to all conscious beings, regardless of belief. Again, very panentheistic.

Finally, the last, and most puzzling change, was to the meditation on the redemption of wisdom; instead of the ascent, today I visualized the ascent, as well as the Orthodox Gnosticism mythos of the Upper and Lower Sophias; i.e., wisdom split itself off, with one part ascending to the highest, and the other part remaining “behind”. I did not visualize this in terms of the lower wisdom being left behind to intercede for believers (as the Gnostics would have it), but rather that the lower wisdom was a facade, or a shell, a persona that only dimly reflected the actual wisdom that had ascended.

That last meditation leads me to ask, what does that mean for each individual? Do we all present a “lower wisdom” to the world, or a persona that is but a dim reflection of a purer wisdom within the neocortex that we cannot adequately express? How do I, individually, recognize that purer wisdom in others, regardless of the shell persona they present me with? Turning that into an introspective, how can I best present that purer wisdom (“Let me not be removed from Gnosis. Fill me with strength, and let me bring light.”) to others I interact with in the world of forms, instead of always presenting a lower wisdom, or a shell that may not adequately reflect reality?

Oh yes, one last thought, for my fellow atheists who may laugh and mock the usefulness of this type of praxis: Daydreams may solve complex problems. So, neener neener neener, and don’t start with me. 😉

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Praxis and the Ascent of the Seven Spheres

May 13, 2009 at 9:32 pm (my funny valentine, Praxis, Prodigal Valentine) (, , )

OK, so maybe they aren’t hell-pavers after all. I seem to be getting back into a useful mode of praxis, after letting it slip terribly. Continuing on with the rosary of the ascent I have been using has been helpful, although I did add the Sophian one once, for variety, and because I had time.

The rosary of the ascent is useful for me, I find, as a retrospective of my day, a contemplation on how I was affected by, or affected others with, machinations of evil, the guile of lust (which has nothing to do with sex, honest), unholy arrogance, unholy rashness and daring, the gaining of wealth through malicious means, and the malicious lie. (Leaving behind “the force to grow or decrease” is what gets me “in” to the contemplative space to begin with). If I can’t apply that particular sphere to my day, I try to determine how it applies to the past, either recent or distant.

Thusly, the sixth and the seventh have become, for me, about finally leaving the church (or, more accurately, leaving the leaving of the church) behind. I don’t know if it will be successful in the long run, but for the short term, it seems to be progressing well. WCG/GCI is epitomized by gaining wealth through malicious means, that of malicious lies. Finally leaving that behind, means completely leaving it behind, including the ex-member circles. From whom I have gained much, and hopefully at least a few friends. I intend try to move on, though, through the use of the imagery/meditations of the sixth and the seventh.

Participating in a post-post-modern cyberpunk version of the ritual Valentinian ecclesiastics, who were notable for attending religious services side-by-side with those who believed very differently from them, is proving to be interesting. No, not in the Chinese curse way. And it could hardly be said that I am “attending”, in the sense that the ecclesiastics in question know I’m there! (OK the admins must, at least from the IP logs, if nothing else.) And yes, there is an element of safety, in that I don’t have to directly interact with the others. Which is something to work on, or maybe an issue I will never be able to directly resolve. Meditations on the fourth and the fifth helps greatly with this, however, so we shall see.

I did look in, on their post-ecclesiastic social time once, and immediately regretted it. Not a mistake I will make again, or at least very soon, I think. Although I don’t know how much of that is me, and how much of that is needing to work more on the sixth and the seventh. The meetings are frequent enough that they coincide with my daily praxis, and even though my praxis is sometimes shorter or longer than the length of the meetings, that doesn’t impact me, as they are being hosted in a virtual setting anyway. So if I run over or under the allotted time, there is no one there to shoo me away, or to distract me. And while I found and find parts of the ritual to be distracting by its inherent nature, that is again where the meditations on the fourth and the fifth assist me tremendously.

I intend to try the Sophian rosary again at the next meeting. Since they are in a Christian context, as are the Sophianic mythologies, perhaps that will allow me to “connect” with the more off-putting parts of the ritual and some of its participants, better. Or at the very least, provide an illusion of same.

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The Prodigal Valentine Prays Again

April 4, 2009 at 11:25 pm (Personal Insight, Praxis, Prodigal Valentine) ()

Going through my personal rosary of the ascent with the Poimandrian meditations (instead of the Sophian mythologies I have been using) was a bit sketchy at first. Then I got to thinking about an email an ex-minister from my ex-church sent me recently, and things suddenly clicked into place.

My initial thought on using the Poimandrian meditations was “Why do I have to leave lying, cheating, deceitfulness, etcetera ‘behind’? I don’t do those things in the first place!”

Can you guess what’s coming? The email was about forgiveness. When I first got it, I admit, I was a little bit “Way to miss the point, D.,” but I refrained from hitting “Reply” and sending that knee-jerk response out into cyberspace (See? Maybe I am getting better.), and it’s a good thing I did.

All in all, it proved a very calming meditation, leaving behind the force to grow and decrease, the machinations of evil, the guile of lust, domineering arrogance, unholy daring and rashness, striving for wealth by malicious means, and the malicious lie.

I understand, I think, what the religious Gnostics mean when they speak of Archons. They may couch the term in anthropomorphized or physiologized terms, but in the end, the Poimandrian Ascent of the Spheres outlines the Archons very well.

Archons which can also be without, as much as they can be within, you. As above, so below. As within, so without. You leave behind those things, whether you are instigating them, or they have been instigated against you.

Not quite the traditional religious notion of “forgiveness”, but it’s the version that seems to work for me, and one I am going to stick with, for the time being.

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Prodigal Valentine

April 3, 2009 at 1:54 am (my funny valentine, Praxis) ()

For someone long-used to life in a black-and-white world, tonight may have been a good exercise in compromise. Albeit it is a bit of a false dichotomy; after all, I don’t think engaging in active praxis (going through a gnostic rosary) would go over quite so well in person, amongst a group that prides itself on non-ritualistic rituals. Hiding behind a wash of electrons, however, no one can judge others on how they meditate, or even know that they are meditating, or how.

Rituals still give me the heebie-jeebies, which is probably why I’ve never “engaged” in mine the same way twice. Mentally, yes, but physically? Never the same way twice. Men create gods, and I’m not about to set myself up with one that forces me into a “narrow path” where there’s only “one true way”. Been there, done that, really don’t need any more battle scars. Being in thrall to one Demiurge is enough for several lifetimes, thanks.

Still, my experience tonight was interesting, and instructive. Yes, it is a bit pick-and-choosy, but I am still an atheist. It is my own brain only that I am tailoring these practices for. There’s not a thing in the world wrong with that. The several layers of separation also lets me get away with being myself in a way that would otherwise egregiously offend, in person.

Will this be a viable post-modern Valentinian alternative? Or more self-inflicted archonic forces? Time will tell.

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Changing it up.

March 10, 2009 at 11:03 am (Praxis)

I am trying to resume praxis. I am still using this rosary of the ascent, but have found more effect using the Sophian mythologies with the decades. I haven’t remembered the Ascent of the Seven Spheres completely yet, so when I am away from the computer, I fall more easily into the Sophianic myth-cycle than the Poimandrian one, anyway.

When I first began praxis, it was very much a matter of distracting the language centre of my brain, so that the visualization centre could be left to its own devices to free-associate and, hopefully, provide insight. The last couple of rosaries I have used in praxis, however, I have tried to not engage the language centre at all, i.e., I try not to sub-vocalize the prayers, instead to only “think” them. Much easier said than done! (sorry)

When it “works”, I note a sensation of pressure in the exact centre of my forehead, extending almost as far back as my temples. It is neither pleasant nor unpleasant, but it is a tangible physical sensation, subjective or not. Changing the position of my head has no effect on the sensation, it only disappears when I begin to subvocalize again. Perhaps this is a portion of my cerebral cortex that will function more effortlessly once it is better-developed?

The visuals are becoming much more varied and loosely randomized, but I get the distinct impression that they are noise and NOT signal, and as such are distractions, that must be discarded. I am following this hunch, which seems for the moment, to be correct.

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Triple Threat

February 5, 2009 at 11:27 pm (Praxis, Prodigal Valentine) ()

OK I had a great post about neurotheology and how the myths of the Pleroma, the Sophia, and the Christos, correspond to the paleocortex, the cerebral cortex, and the neocortex respectively, but instead of publishing the post, WordPress destroyed it. There’s probably a lesson in that. The upshot of it is, I finished the post by saying I needed to start up my praxis again, because I can feel my cerebral cortex shrinking, cell by cell, since I’ve given it up.

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