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TSE  August 2007

TSE August 2007

Subject:

Re: Negative body attitudes, Star Trek and the Reformation

From:

Peter Montgomery <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

T. S. Eliot Discussion forum.

Date:

Sun, 12 Aug 2007 00:46:01 -0800

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (91 lines)

From: "robert meyer" <[log in to unmask]>
> > Carrol Cox wrote:
> >
> > > You describe Manichaeism.... Hatred of the body is
> > > heresy because it casts doubt on the doctrine of the
> > > Incarnation and the Sacrament of the Mass. Gnosticism
> > > had a similar hatred of the body.

> Yes and no.  Mani and almost all other Gnostics had a dualism inherited
> from Persian Zoroastrianism that said there were two gods, a good god that
> was ONLY spirit and a bad god that was ONLY matter, and that the earth was
> their battleground.  As Christianity became a common topic of
conversation,
> the Gnostics adopted some of the divine characters to their thinking:
YHWH,
> God in the Old Testament, became their bad god of matter and Jesus, God in
> the New Testament, became their good god  consisting only of spirit.  That
> created some bizarre teachings, namely that Jesus was only a vision or 3-D
> projection (like the character of the "Doctor" on Star Trek: Voyager) and
> therefore wasn't really crucified, it just 'looked' like it.

Excellent comparison!! There is much excellent material to be had
in the Star Trek series for illustrating basic points in the study of
literature.

Your thumbnail description of Manicheism certainly matches what I have
learned.
One good thumbnail deserves another.

The idea, in Christianity, of the body being totally corrupted by original
sin comes, so far as I know, from certain strains of thinking in the
Reformation.
The following summary is, no doubt, subject to dispute, for it is a complex
subject
and different people will come at it from dfferent angles. But here, for the
sake
of discussion is my own thumbnail picture of the matter.

The numbers of the clergy were decimated by the great plagues of the 1000s
and 1100s.
The very best had devoted themselves to helping the sick, and so succumbed,
themselves.
The ranks of clergy that were left had goodly numbers of scandolous people
in them. It
took several centuries to recover, and so there was much negativity towards
the priesthood.
It was identified as being the lynch pin of the Church whereby the laity
were exploited and abused (not, indeed without justification in fact). The
main job of the priesthood was(/is) the
confection of the sacraments. The sacraments as outward signs of inward and
holy graces
were seen to be constituted by a combination/union of matter and spirit. To
invalidate
the priesthood, it must be determined that grace would never unite with
matter if
matter were totally corrupted by original sin. Hence various Protestant
teachings about
the abjuring of the flesh, which of course made the writings of St. Paul
very
popular, given his distaste for fleshly existence -- but then, as one of
Christianity's greatest
mystics (he had his vision without a preceding dark night of any kind;  it
was one
big bolt of visionary lightning revealing The Christ, when he was intent, as
Saul of Tarsus,
on destroying Christianity: "Saul, why persecutist thou me?" The dark night
came after.).
As such an intense mystic, he found matters of earthly existence rather
paled before what
he had experienced. He did, however, also say, it is better to marry than to
burn, and
marriage is very definitely one of the sacraments. Nonetheless the idea that
matter is
totally corrupt took hold. I believe Luther, for example, said something
like baptism
covered a mound of shit with pure white snow, or words to that effect. SO
with the priest-
hood severely hobbled or obliterated, the hold of the Chruch in Rome was
broken,
at least in the more ascetic northern parts of Europe.

I believe Calvinism was the most intense in its abjuring of the flesh,
which is rather paradoxical, given that John Calvin (with emphasis on the
last syllable)
was in fact a frenchman with a frenchman's great love of wine; wine not?

So, I'm sure this summary will need tweaking or even major adjustments to
fit various flavours of theology, but I think it does get the issues out
there.

P

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