Friday, May 19, 2006

The Struggle of the Early Catholic Church

For regular readers of RGV Life, you know that I recently read the Da Vinci Code to prepare to watch the movie. The movie, by the way, sounds like it's bombing. I agree with Denise that the story was predictable and the writing was a little weak. I read it partly to satisfy my curiosity about all the fuss. The book is fiction, and it does take some elements of truth and twists them to make an alright story. I think what freaked a lot of people out is that it made them, despite it being fiction, question their faith a little.

For me, I decided to read about the Gnostic Gospels. As you may recall, the Mrs. is a History major; I was able to pick up a book by Elaine Pagels. It's interesting to read about the gnostics. They had a different understanding of the nature of God. I haven't finished the book yet, but it is bringing back memories of the impression I got when I read the bible. Yes, I started at page one and kept going. After graduation from High School, I went to Europe. While in Rome, it seemed like a good idea to buy a bible for myself. A lot of the bible is history. Plenty of begetting going on in the first books; they didn't have cable back then. I especially like the books of Psalms, Wisdom, Proverbs, and Ecclesiasticus. Once you get into the New Testament, it's like Groundhog Day. Anyway, reading through Pagels's Gnostic Gospels to the point where I am, chapter 2, I'm reminded of the impression that I get from having read the bible. Now keep in mind that Jesus never read the New Testament. As a rabbi, he would have been familiar with the Old Testament and whatever other works traditional to a good Jewish lad. I think I understand what the gnostics knew. I can't explain it. I recommend you read the bible, either you get it or you don't. It's like Ritalin, it helps or it doesn't. To give you an idea, without any training and without interference from somebody to "help" me interpret, it seemed to me that... this is going to shock you... that the God we are told about is not the God described in the Bible. I get the impression from the good book that God is wisdom.

Try to forget all about your New Testament knowledge. That stuff gets in the way of understanding the God of the Old Testament, Jesus' Heavenly Father. It just seems to me that you could interchange the words God and wisdom all willy-nilly and not lose any meaning whatsoever. The book I am reading tells about "secret knowledge" that Jesus passed on to some of his disciples that was hidden in parables for the general public. While reading, the text seemed to speak to me. God is Wisdom. If you disobey wisdom, you get nailed. I still have some more chapters to read, but I thought I'd share where I am, currently. We have another book about the gnostics when I'm done with this one.

What the whole uproar is about is that the early Catholic Church had to decide what identity it would have. Jesus did not leave any operations manuals, so it was up to his followers to figure out what to do. What may be, understandably, embarassing for the church is that they worked so hard to rid themselves of heretics. Obviously, there may be some criticism about the authority held by the church hierarchy. I don't think that it will affect much. Most people in are in for faith. Those who would criticize the church are protestant or something else. The threat to the church's authority has already occured.

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