Thursday, September 28, 2006

Stuffed Animal, the Gay Warrior of Christ!

From Rev. Dr. Jerry Maneker's website:

Stuffed Animal, who hosts the excellent blog, Christ, The Gay Martyr, alerted me to this article! It further highlights the following: 1. The Vatican may very well be using LGBT rights as a cynical diversion from its own sexual sins of pedophilia and its coverup by assorted Bishops who should be serving prison time from criminal facilitation. And, but for the extraordinary power of the Roman Catholic Church they would be serving that prison time! 2. Shame, self-loathing, and suicides of Gay people can be largely directly laid at the feet of the Vatican and all those "religious" leaders and denominations that obsess over condemning LGBT rights both within the "Church" and, most pointedly, within civil society over which they should have absolutely no control, given the fact that no Western nation is a Theocracy--at least, not yet! 3. The ignorance and twisted views concerning sexual matters by celibate men having the temerity to teach us about love and sex defies explanation and even rational explanation!

There are 35 comments on Rev. Dr. Maneker's site accompanying this thread. You should read all of them, and any others that come after this thread is posted. What are your thoughts on this?

The discussion is here

25 comments:

Stuffed Animal said...

Leapin' lizards, John! "Gay Warrior of Christ?" I'm flattered. I've never been mythologized before! However, you may end up calling me the Dude with One Brick Short of a Load when you read my forthcoming blogpost, "Generation Jesus"! We'll see. I hope people get something positive from our very enlightening discussion, and that it does indeed spur (rational)people to engage in their own discussions about the nature of "homosexuality." There's a lot of confusion out there.

John said...

Stuffed,

I would never call you a Dude with One Brick Short of a Load; I am a carpenter by trade. I would prefer to say you might be a half a bubble off plumb :)

John said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Stuffed Animal said...

John, John, Callie,

Settle back in your easy chairs and rest your thread-making fingers. Mosey over to my blog, Christ, The Gay Martyr, and read my latest three-part post, "We Are Family." (I was going to call it "Generation Jesus." Obviously, I changed my mind!) If, after reading it, you want to tell me to seek psychiatric help, do so and I'll seriously consider it. I never, EVER thought I'd write an essay like this. However, I sincerely feel God moved me to write it, just as I feel He guided me back to my faith through the Biblical and Gnostic Gospels. I hope and pray that it will do "the Children" good.

John Hosty said...

I am going there now.

Stuffed Animal said...

John, Callie and John,

Someone brought to my attention that the newly-published Gospel of Judas contains text in which Jesus Christ is said to condemn Gay men. I haven't read the Gospel of Judas, but I don't doubt that it says what I'm told it says; there were different sects of Gnostics, and some of them held the traditional view of homosexuality. I did some research, though, and discovered that there were at least two different Gospels of Judas in circulation. Eric Franke of the New England Institute of Religious Research has read ancient writings about this Gospel, and he says those writings reveal the existence of different versions. The one in circulation now may actually be a fraud. The one spoken of in ancient Christian letters did NOT condemn homosexuality. Neither did it describe Yaldabaoth and Sakla as two separate entities the way the current one does. Both are Gnostic names for the Hebrew God. My unshakeable belief that God loves and validates Lesbians and Gay men isn't dependent on any scripture, but I definitely had reason to be suspicious of a text that directly contradicts the group of texts I've studied. Those texts clearly describe Gay people as blessed of the Christ.

Stuffed Animal said...

Hi again, y'all,

It seems I'm not the only one who has ever interpreted the Gnostic Gospels as homosexual mythology. This excerpt of a thesis comes from a now-defunct website called the Institute for Gnostic Studies. While I don't agree with everything the anonymous author says here, I concur with his basic argument:

"The Gnostics preferred qu***s and that is about as blunt as I can get. While non-reproductive heterosexuals were accepted in many groups, the emphasis was on “gender variance”. In ancient Israel there was a whole priestclass, the Qadesh who were gender variant and had a sacred role, their task being edited from history by the incoming Pharisaic warlords. In most pre-Judeo-Christian cultures the homosexual was a priest, shaman and wonderworker. It is only in the literalist and fundamentalist faiths that homosexuals have been degraded. Homosexuals are old souls, they have come into the body to evolve, teach and learn. In the Gnostic tradition, the priesthood is nearly always homosexual (and) the reason for this is both sexually and spiritually relevant. The essence of homosexuality is, in some sense, narcissistic, it is seeing a reflection of yourself in another's form. While we may argue that each sex have dual identities, this may be true, but these dual identities (Anima/Animus) are locked into a one-sex body and hence homosexuality is the ultimate form of self realisation (or self delusion). Homosexuals transform the reproductive program of the DNA/RNA into something new, paternal and maternal instincts programmed at a cellular level are re-rooted away from reproduction into new realms. At least that is what should happen. The powers that be saw the rise of the Gay movement and have worked hard to twist, destroy and mould homosexuals into 'heterosexuals who just f*** differently.' Nothing could be further from the truth."

Tyler Dawbin said...

The gnostic texts don't even come close to the message of God, and they distort Jesus Christ horrendously.

The reason the church tossed them out of the canon is because they weren't even written by the people whose names they were given...they were written many years later, in the 2nd and 3rd centuries AD, after the apostles had passed on.

Apart from that, there is no agreement between the gnostic gospels and the true gospels, much less the rest of scripture.

Check out "Breaking the DaVinci Code" for more information.

These teachings are nothing short of sheer heresy.

Jerry Maneker said...

Perhaps the best, most generic definition of Gnosticism I have come across is the following: "A collective name for a large number of greatly-varying and pantheistic-idealistic sects, which flourished from some time before the Christian Era down to the fifth century, and which, while borrowing the phraseology and some of the tenets of the chief religions of the day, and especially of Christianity, held matter to be a deterioration of spirit, and the whole universe a depravation of the Deity, and taught the ultimate end of all being to be the overcoming of the grossness of matter and the return to the Parent-Spirit, which return they held to be inaugurated and facilitated by the appearance of some God-sent Saviour." (New Advent. Gnostics were Christians who felt that knowledge, gnosis, was essential to being fully Christian and it was through that knowledge that salvation was gained.

I am not anywhere familiar enough to intelligently discuss the Gnostic writings to which Stuffed Animal refers. However, regardless of their agreement with the Bible as we know it, it's important to recognize that many of these writings try to come to grips with questions that still plague us to this very day.

For example, the dynamics of creation, why we were created, and the problems of theodicy (why evil happens in the world) are some areas of inquiry that Gnostics addressed. We seek to come to grips to this very day with the conundrum of how a loving God can allow what we call "evil" to occur. The Gnostic writers, each in their own way, sought to use their intellects to try to fathom these deep, burning questions. Indeed, they thought that through gnosis, through "knowledge," one would find salvation.

Clearly, orthodox Christians have always recognized that salvation is to only be had by the grace of God through Christ alone; no act or knowledge on the part of mere humans can either save us or be able to plumb the very depths of our inscrutable God. In this connection, it is ironic that the biblical literalists, the fundamentalists among us, as did the Gnostics, vitiate the grace of God by believing that Christians must adhere to certain principles of their own interpretation (Gnosis) of the Bible and certain selected Bible passages to merit the designation "Christian" and, therefore, be eligible for salvation.

But, Gnostics wanted to understand the larger, more cosmic questions, and they can't be faulted for that. My sense is not that they wanted to refute Christianity, as many were Christians themselves. Rather, they wanted to see Christianity in a new way that might help explain both the nature of the Creator, the created world, and humans' place in that world.

Therefore, although I personally don't view the Gnostic writings to be equivalent to the Bible (including the Apocrypha) as we now know it, I feel we must pay them sufficent attention to see the mind-set of the more philosophically bent Christians in ancient society.

Having said all that, it should be understood that Gnosticism was not necessarily opposed to Christianity, in that many Gnostics were Christians! Although the New Testament writers disparaged Gnosticism, Gnostic ideas were contemporaneous with their writings and perhaps even widespread in churches in different parts of the Roman empire. It may well be that, therefore, the differenece between "heresy" and "orthodoxy" was not so clearly defined in the first century as it later was by the anti-Gnostic Catholic Church Fathers; what was "heresy" then may be considered orthodoxy now, and what was "orthodoxy" then may be considered heretical now.

It should be remembered that Gnostics were followers of Christ! They were Christians! However, what separated them from those whose works were placed in the canon was that the Gnostics said that both following
Christ and having a "special witness" or revelation of the divine was essential in order to be a Christian who had a direct, personal, and absolute knowledge of the authentic truths of existence; acquisition of such knowledge (gnosis) is accessible to human beings, and, moreover, that the attainment of such knowledge constituted the supreme achievement of life.

Gnosticism was, at least briefly, in the mainstream of Christianity, as seen in the fact that one of its most influential teachers, Valentinus, may have been in consideration during the mid-second century for election as the Bishop of Rome. The point here is not whether or not the Gnostic writings are equal in stature to the writings in the canon. The point here is that what writings were chosen to be in the canon were based on the dominant paradigm of the time, and of the mind-set of the councils that hammered out what writings should be included in the canon.

"Orthodoxy Christianity was deeply and profoundly influenced by its struggles with Gnosticism in the second and third centuries. Formulations of many central traditions in Christian theology came as reflections and shadows of this confrontation with the Gnosis. But by the end of the fourth century the struggle was essentially over: the evolving ecclesia had added the force of political correctness to dogmatic denunciation, and with this sword so-called 'heresy' was painfully cut from the Christian body. Gnosticism as a Christian tradition was largely eradicated, its remaining teachers ostracized, and its sacred books destroyed. All that remained for students seeking to understand Gnosticism in later centuries were the denunciations and fragments preserved in the patristic heresiologies. Or at least so it seemed until the mid-twentieth century." Taken from The Gnostic Society Library.

The discovery of the Nag Hammadi library unearthed some of the Gnostic writings that have provided great food for thought for those who seek to grapple with spiritual issues within the framework of Christianity; see the Bible as we now have it as one of the many threads of thought that enable us to both get a glimpse of some of the many dimensions of God, as well as to see many personal and social phenomena "outside the box" of what has come to be defined as "orthodoxy."

Stuffed Animal has been able, through his extensive readings and studies of many of the Gnostic writings, to hammer out a possible role for what the Bible calls "eunuchs" in this world, in the Church, and in God's kingdom. It is my opinion that the Bible as it now stands, absent the Gnostic writings, supports the fact that LGBT people are God's children ("For there are some eunuchs, which were so born from their mother's womb...." (Matthew 19:12) It is not impossible that Jesus is here referring to Gay men!); the Bible, far from condemning same-sex love and relationships, actually affirms them; the true sinners, those who are the stench in God's nostrils, are those who "bear false witness" and condemn others in their perversion of the Gospel of grace: the only Gospel to be found in Christianity.

To all biblical literalists and fundamentalists: "There is more in the world than you have dreamt of in all of your philosophies, Horatio." (Shakespeare's Hamlet.)

Ken Weaver said...

Hey stuffed, I haven't had a chance to read it all in entirety but from the little I've read it's very interesting. I always did think it was odd how the version of "God" seemed to change once you got to the New Testament.

thanks

John said...

Jerry,

Thanks for comment.

When I was in Parochial school, we were taught the Protestant style literalism was heretic.

I don't pretend to know the answers but I had to leave my Methodist Church because I couldn't stomach the exclusive gospel that was being taught there.

We used to have a wonderful Pastor, a woman, who sounded a bit like Jerry, in that she was very philosophical and enjoyed discussing Theology with the Rabbi at the temple across the street.

She always taught that if, when faced with new issues, the Christian responds with shunning and excluding people, then Jesus' message is missed.

Then she retired and our new Pastor changed everything. His spoke out about the evils of gambling, halloween, witchcraft, alcohol etc, etc. even to the point of publically embarrassing my entire city.

(John H., Do you remember the incident in Downtown Salem when Salem police found themselves breaking up a dispute between a Church group and the Wiccans?}

Tyler Dawbin said...

Does one get more enlightened when using lies to search the truth?

John Hosty said...

That is an inflamatory question worded to accuse without the courage of directness, and I will not allow it in the future. If you want to say something is a lie, say it outright and back it up with facts.

John Hosty said...

John, no I don't remember the clash you refer to, but I think the banner over the door of that Church is getting old.

John said...

Tyler,

All you know about the Bible is what your favorite Reformer tells you. Even if I were an orthodox Catholic as I was raised, ny truth is different than yours (and 1500 years older).

You cannot trust your English translations competely, especially the Torah. There are quite a few English translations of scripture which are critical to your belief system that Jews, who wrote it, will tell you don't mean what you think they mean.

Stuffed Animal said...

Ken, I've felt the same way as you do for a long time. I'm re-reading the Old Testament right now, and God as portrayed there definitely seems alien to me. Demanding burnt offerings of animals and (sometimes) humans? Favoring one ethnicity to the detriment of others? Tolerating things like incest? Encouraging carnage and covetousness of land? These human interpretations of God's will in the form of scripture seem tainted with very ungodly desires. I'm so thankful we live under the New Covenant!

Tyler, settle down. I can tell you're both offended and frightened by what I wrote. It's because you're so heavily invested in orthodox teachings. Well, as Jerry Maneker pointed out, the doctrine you follow wasn't always considered orthodox. As Christians, we shouldn't be afraid to study the history of our faith in whatever form it appears. Heck, if we can bear to study the Old Testament, which practically drips blood from the pages, we can withstand anything! The more you study different kinds of Christian scripture, the more you see the influence of politics and other non-Christian motivations.

Happily, that in no way changes our basic relationship with the Living God through Jesus Christ. If all the scripture in the world burned to a crisp tomorrow morning, God would still be God and the Christ would still be our Savior. The will of God would still be communicated to us somehow. I'm a firm believer in the old Southern Baptist teaching that says all Christians must be born again. That born-again relationship establises a permanent line of communication between the converted person and the Living God. At that point, scripture (Biblical or otherwise) stops being a substitute for God, and becomes simply a helper. When you ask God directly to take control of your words, your actions and your motives, He will do so. Carrie Underwood's recent hit song speaks the truth: Let Jesus take the wheel! He will calm your fears, open your heart and take you to places you never thought you'd go to meet people you never thought you'd know. Life in Jesus Christ is a most glorious thing, and I hope you can achieve it.

Tyler Dawbin said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Stuffed Animal said...

Little of what you read in the New Testament was written by apostles, either! You trust the orthodoxy that all of those writings came directly from the sources they're attributed to, but that cannot be proven. Even if the sources were direct, the means by which the Bible came into existence are anything but! Whether or not Gnostic Gospels amount to legitimate Christian doctrine is debatable, but much of the Old Testament certainly isn't Christian doctrine. These ancient texts should be read in order to study the history of the faith, not to "get closer" to the Christ. You get closer to the Christ by being born again. You definitely do take scripture far too literally!

The Messiah does NOT say women must become men in the Gospel of Thomas! I know exactly the passage you're referring to. He suggests that women must become androgynous, as must we all, it seems. This teaching corresponds to a parallel teaching in the 20th chapter of Luke: "The children of this age marry, and are given in marriage. But those who are considered worthy to attain to that age and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry, nor are given in marriage. For they can't die any more, for they are like the angels, and are children of God, being children of the resurrection." Do some research on angels. They are believed to be androgynous beings! I have yet to read any Gnostic scripture that advocates "completely indulging" in the flesh. Certainly, the books I wrote about don't. As for abhoring the flesh, yes, you do get the impression that some Gnostics did.

You can read the Bible and easily come away with the idea that women are inferior to men. Some people come away from Bible scripture with the idea that women are inherently evil. All Christian scripture that I've seen, both Gnostic and Biblical, suffers from a pronounced sexism, and I'm sure Callie would agree with me. Gnostics revered certain female entities in Heaven, certain women who walked with Jesus Christ are called wise, and Mary Magdalene is singled out as the Savior's companion and a female prophet, but I find no support whatsoever for your contention that Gnostics saw women as superior. I find quite the opposite!

John Hosty said...

A notice to all:

I have decided to remove a couple of posts from Tyler and to put comment moderation into place. It seems clear to me that Tyler is only here to harrass, frustrate, and drain our spirit. I am tired of reading his dribble, and I apologize to everyone for letting this go on as long as I have. Live, Love and Learn is now a troll free safe website for intellectuals to share meaningful and productive debate.

The reason for this decision was that Tyler put up ANOTHER hate thread on his website, then added a link to it in his post here. I refuse to let him use our superior traffic here to increase his self-loathing message. Please engage him on his site if you feel the need, and contact me via email if you wish to discuss my decision.

Although Tyler is a brother in life and I have said I will not turn my back on him, I can in good conscience turn away his messages that add to our suffering. I will allow reasonable dialog from anyone provided that I see the value of the sharing.

This was a tough choice for me to make, but I do think it is best to sacrifice a little free speech in order to keep our site from becoming a Jerry Springer type sideshow. Many great points were made here and none of them responded to, and where there is no dialog there is no progress.

Stuffed Animal said...

John,

The hatred against us is so unbelievably intense, I don't see how any blogger devoted to the discussion of Gay issues can do without comment moderation. Bible bigots will post the most outrageous, degrading and contemptuous statements they can think of in your comments section, and they clearly enjoy doing it. Some of their commentary can honestly be described as genocidal. Anybody who thinks they'll get away with calling for the extinction of me and my kind on Christ, The Gay Martyr had better think twice! My position is clear: The rabid Right Wing has beaucoups of safe spaces where its adherents can meet and dialogue all over the Web. We need safe spaces, too. We need to know there are forums out there that we can participate in and feel confident of not being assaulted by hatemongers. My blogsite is not and will NEVER be a free speech zone. I wish it could be, but I know what happens when you try to be accomodating, and it's never pretty! With freedom comes responsiblity; that's what far too many of these so-called conservative Christians today don't understand. Claiming Christian identity doesn't give anyone carte blanche to vilify others in the name of God! Lesbian and Gay men have been vilified to the point where it's high time we claimed the right to say, as Mexican people do when they're totally pissed off: "YA BASTA!"

John Hosty said...

My biggest problem with the radical right is their ability to bold faced lie to further their cause, yet still think they are doing Christ's work. Tyler's site is as much about gays as my site, but I am gay. He is often asked why his site is devoted to gays, and he always denies that fact. Maybe he just doesn't want to face reality. I made a count of the last twenty threads he made, and when I said half were about gays that was literal. It seems to me that they are not honest, even with themselves, and this insulates them from their conscience. I will defend myself from attacks and can still forgive those who harm me. The question is not whether or not they will be saved because of their inability to follow Christ's command to love thy neighbor. My understanding is no, and that was why I was trying so hard to get through. Sometimes you have to save people from themselves and their self-destructive behavior..... ;)

John said...

Yes, John the dishonesty is breaththaking.

Listen to what they say"

On one hand, everyone is saved by the unmerited favor of God, and then in the next breath they list those who will not be saved by quoting 1 Corinthians 6:9.

John Hosty said...

Well said John, and if you try to point out the hypocracy you will only get a deaf ear. How do you have a rational discussion with irrational people?

Stuffed Animal said...

Over the weekend, I sought to read those Gnostic Gospels which are said to contain anti-Gay passas, the Pistis Sophia and the Gospel of Judas. Complete transcripts are not particularly easy to locate, and I was only able to read excerpts of them in scholarly books. I read enough, however, to determine that neither gospel is in the same tradition as the Gnostic texts I've been reading. The deities are different. Barbelo, the Divine Mother, and Sophia, the Spirit of Wisdom, are confused with each other; Yaldabaoth and Sakla are spoken of as separate beings, which contradicts the texts I've read. Judas is called the thirteenth apostle, which is absurd, since we know he was one of the original twelve. Lilith, a spirit of evil, appears as a major character in the Pistis Sophia. I don't recall mention of her in any of the texts I cited in "We Are Family", and if she was there, it wasn't in any kind of major role.

I've also been reading a book called MISQUOTING JESUS by Biblical scholar Bart Ehrman. Ehrman states that orthodox Christians often tampered with Gnostic manuscripts in order to discredit them and/or bring them more in line with orthodox teachings. Possibly, Pistis Sophia and the Gospel of Judas were subject to this kind of tampering. As I think I've already told you, there's evidence that an alternate version of the Judas Gospel was in circulation at one time, and there was no condemnation of homosexual men to be found in that version. At any rate, I find that the portrayal of Jesus Christ in excerpts of the Gospel of Judas doesn't jibe with his portrayal in other Gospels. He comes across as sarcastic. He accuses His apostles of homosexuality, but if they were homosexual and that were such a grave sin, why would He have ever chosen these men as apostles? Ladies and gentlemen, something is rotten in Jerusalem as regards this scripture.

Stuffed Animal said...

I just read a Gnostic Gospel called "Sophia of Jesus Christ." It is different from the Pistis Sophia (which I've learned is extremely lengthy, almost a Bible in itself), it speaks repeatedly of the holiness of androgyny, and it contains no homosexual condemnations whatsoever. I must study this Gospel further.

Let me again stress to everyone that I'm not urging anybody to accept Gnostic scripture in place of or even in addition to Bible scripture. Scripture is generated by men and subject to men's prejudices; we don't need it in order to have a meaningful relationship with God. My goal is merely to identify Gay-affirming Gnostic texts. I strongly suspect that the Sophia of Jesus Christ is one, but before saying so, I want to be sure.