Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Gnosticism is Alive and...Well?

One of the things that drive me nuts about religion is the whole "oh so holy" thing. What I mean by this is the feeling that "things" have been imbued with God and therefore have to be treated with special reverence. Or the thought that God is kind of dumb so we have to make sure we tell God exactly what we want or God won't get it.

Example 1. I was talking to one of my parishioners. She went rushing into my office (something that pisses me off to begin with) and picked up an old palm that had fallen on the floor. She held it up and asked if it was blessed or not. I said that it was one of the palms that was to be burned for ashes for Ash Wednesday. She was appalled that it was on the floor. So she picked it up and threw it in the garbage can!

Frankly, I think throwing the thing in the garbage is worse than allowing it to remain on the floor. But then again, in my mind, it is just a palm! There is nothing mystical or magical about it. The feeling seems to be that in "blessing the palms" you are imbuing them with a special power or something. Or maybe we are trapping God in the palm.

I have always had a problem with blessing things. I believe in dedication of a thing or place, but actually BLESSING it? No, God blesses people not things. All the bowing and not letting things touch the ground? Seems like idolatry to me.

Example 2. A bunch of papers went up on the bulletin board at the church. I was not asked about this nor was I told what was supposed to happen with these sheets. I eventually was told that they were for a special recognition on memorial day. Ok, sounds good.

I had the sheets with the names brought up and prayed over the sheets. I prayed that God bless and protect those who are named. That God bless and protect all those in the selective services. That God send his peace into the world so that war is no longer necessary. And that God bless all soldiers, no matter what country. I also thanked God for the sacrifices that were made and that were currently being made by the people and their families.

BUT I DIDN'T SAY THE NAMES! People wanted to hear the names! We have to make sure God hears the names or God may forget to bless and protect the people! Oh No! God is so stupid that God does not know whom to look after.

Maybe I am wrong, but it seems odd that we have to tell God whom to bless. It seems to me that the true act of faith is to place ourselves into the care of God and allow God to work through us.

This whole thing felt like an effort to manipulate God through a certain series of actions.

Gnosticism is an effort to manipulate God through secret knowledge and through secret acts. Each of these things seem like an effort to manipulate God. I don't think God cares if the palm was blessed or not. I don't think God cares if the palm is on the floor or not. I don't think God even cares if the palm makes it all the way to the landfill. I don't think God will NOT bless the people just because their name was not read.

Ok, end of rant.


Urspo said...

that doesn't strike me as Gnosticism, as superstition.
People are so in tune to ritual, 'doing things just right', and superstitious claptrap.

Lemuel said...

Your comment about "religious" folks attempting to manipulate God is right on. Most religious folks do not want a God/Lord they want a genie who continually does their bidding and perpetually grants them three wishes.

As for the palm, Good Lord! What would this woman do is she actually read the passage from which our use of palms originates. It seems to me I recall that the palms were "strewn on his way" - meaning in the dirt!! ...and so the problem with the palm being on the floor of a church office is...???

BearToast Joe said...

As regards palms and the blessings of things, if God can get in, God can get out. God's quite clever that way.

As to names, it is we who want to hear them; sadly, most folk seem to think that "the one with the most prayers, wins."