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I’m So Confused

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My mind is toast these past few days. I’ve been shown things that have really messed up things I was taught as a young man. Since I’m already a blasphemer and a heretic I’ll just continue on my present course.

Like I said before, I was born and raised a Catholic. I went to Catholic school and Catholic church. I’ve always been curious about other religions and mainly other “versions” of Christianity. I’ve visited other churches. I attended a Methodist church for a while when I was younger. It was close to my house and my grandmother went to that church, so, it was convenient. The closest Catholic church was about 5 or 6 miles away and I wasn’t walking that far for anyone. You know…up hill…both ways…bare feet…snow…in July! It was different. And I think in the eyes of the Catholic Church back then, what I did, by going to a non-Catholic church was pretty much blasphemy. I’ve been to a Church of Christ. I didn’t think it was a whole lot different from the Methodist church I had gone to as a younger man. That’s about it for other churches. But hey, I was/am a Roman Catholic; according to what I was taught, it was the ONLY church, so I only needed to check out a couple of others to see what the deal was.

They built a Catholic church right next to my parents’ house a few years later. My name is on a plate in that church that lists the first confirmation group from that church. I was around 15 at the time and I guess, St. Anselms’ being a new church, they needed money. I had a job back then, I think I was making about $75 a week and the pastor said he wanted $50 a week from every working person in the family. Figure the odds on that happening!

Between that and the priests taking down those screens in the confessional – so they could see my face when I confessed my sins – I was done. I had learned at the Methodist church that I didn’t need a middle man to confess my sins, that I could talk straight to God if I so desired and that’s what I decided. I could do just as good a job of communicating with God as the priests could and it would be a whole lot cheaper.

I started going to a Church of Christ around the time my younger brothers’ first son was born. He asked me to be godfather to my nephew and of course, I accepted. After that day in the church, listening to the promises I made, to help my brother and his wife raise their son in the Catholic faith, something inside me told me I couldn’t go to that Church of Christ anymore. It was very strange – feeling those memories of Catholics who had chastised me for attending the “wrong” church when I was younger. The Catholic religion is good for that – making people feel dirty – bad – reminding us how sinful we are. No offense.

Now, after reading some of the history of the church, I’m really confused. I find out now, that there were plenty of people in the beginnings of Christianity who questioned what they were being taught, how they were being taught and even the role of leadership in the church. I questioned all those things and usually ended up in the principal’s office for it. They questioned them and were labeled heretics.

There have always been people trying to work out all the conflicting things in the bible. Be it conflicts between the old and new testaments or conflicts between different books in the bible. And I’m not exactly sure I like the way the outcome of these conflicts ended up. It seems that because one or two people didn’t like some things, they were left out and in one case a gospel appears to be placed in the bible specifically to argue for the exclusion of another!

It’s very difficult to trace the history of the Catholic church – that’s right, the first organized Christian church was the Catholic church; in case you didn’t know, catholic means universal – like they say, history is written by the winners. These “winners” actually tried to have the collective works of the losers destroyed. Luckily, there were a few who were smart enough and brave enough to hide some of these works and now we get the chance to see some of what the fathers of the church decided were unfit for our eyes.

Some questions I’ve always had and apparently shared with the Gnostics of the time: Why would a loving God not want man to eat from the Tree of Knowledge? Why was I taught that the serpent in the garden that told Eve to eat from the Tree of Knowledge was the devil? The god of Genesis said if they ate from the Tree of Knowledge they would surely die. These kinds of things never made sense to me. Did you know that in ancient times serpents often represented wisdom. So maybe, just maybe, somebody screwed up this interpretation early on – I don’t know.

In the Gospel of Thomas, verse 2, it says: Jesus said, “Let one who seeks not stop seeking until he finds. When he finds, he will be troubled. When he is troubled, he will be astonished and will rule over all.”

I’m workin’ on it!

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About Andy Marsh

  • I look forward to reading your thoughts gonzo…I’ve got about 5 different things started but I can’t seem to get anywhere with them…my thoughts are still screaming from the ‘Mary’ gospels…my wife calls them gossips…freakin’ New Yorkers! First time she said it though…sometimes you have to be impressed with public school education…

    But really…that’s what they are…there peoples stories of peoples stories of peoples stories that someone finally wrote down! 100 years 200 years later…and not just 12…and not all men…so many different ideas…

    But I’m saving this rant for another time…

  • gonzo marx

    that’s the “Ballad of John and Yoko” silly person…

    but i digress…

    ( yes, i know you know that…but i just couldn’t help myself…i’ve been “gone” all week!!)


  • Some prefer the Gospel of John and Yoko.

  • gonzo marx

    lol..enjoy the tropics..and hell, ask around if they need a broken down solder jockey!!

    Bog knows i could use some tropics time…and better $$$

    ah well…enjoy “Stranger”…then try “Job: a Comedy of Justice” by R.A.H.

    you finish those two, and ya will grok my mad ramblings MUCH better…

    now, i just gotta figure out who to submit the Article i wrote in England to…then mebbe i will actually have something Posted for you kiddies to tear apart…

    glad yer having Fun, Andy…


  • Well gonzo – I’m digesting The Gospel of Mary Magdala while I read Stranger in a Strange Land. Can’t believe I never read this book before.

    It may be a week before the next one comes out…damn job is sending me to Hawaii for a week…sometimes it just sucks to be me!

  • gonzo marx

    oh my…this one went on for a bit…time fer lil ole me ta get one last set of licks in…

    Shark..”Acts of Paul, the Cute One”..punny all right
    i ain’t as decrepit as you or Mark..but even i got that one..

    Guppus in comment #36 sez…
    *Just because a certain group of people tainted the word of God with bad actions doean’t mean that there is no integrity to the Word….*

    well, part of the Question here is exactly about the “integrity of the Word”…

    we are NOT talking about the seeming Message in the quotes from Yeshua himself…but all the other shit that was put in later…anytghing from Saul of Tarsus (St. Paul)…much of which directly contradicts things Christ was teachign earlier in the same Book…

    “the Word” is a VERY ambiguous thing, as soon as you begin with the whole “divinly inspired” bit…or ANY time you have Men stating they are giving you the direct “word of god”

    so to you and Baronius, both of whom seem to be good Faith believers…i don’t think anyone is trying to attack your Faith itself…

    instead what most are talking about here revolves around the institution of the Church…and the veracity of what they want us to take as the quite literal “holy word” as THEY claim it to be

    i honestly do hope that helps…

    Andy…where’s yer next fewking Article??



  • Shark,

    I can’t believe I’m the oldest…I hope. On the other hand, curmudgeons by necessity can’t be young sprouts.

    We’re mostly robotic somnambulists. Waking Up seems to be the ethereal goal of living, imo. There’s excellent neurological and psychological work that suggests that well over 90% of our values, beliefs, fears, dreams, and even behaviors are driven at the unconscious level–and that we don’t have very good access to the unconscious. That makes “waking up” even more difficult–albeit probably not impossible.

    But changing subjects, there’s something inherently disturbing and arrogant about any one religion claiming to be “the” right one.

    I have this theory that IF there’s a God, then God is so complex that no one religion can have the truth–all have some aspect of it. It’s like the old saw about 6 blind men feeling an elephant and all describing something different.

    Consider the concepts, “omnipotent, omniscent, and omnipresent.” How in the world can people claim to have the vaguest idea what those mean in terms of a deity? That is, if there is one.

    And Gonzo, I will reread Stranger–it’s been decades.

    Oh, and Shark–Yoko who?

    In Jamesons Veritas

  • nugget

    Fred Jones Part II is a great song.

  • I think it’s a little more complicated than all that…I think that as the original church leaders were trying to steer people to believe in only one certain way…they also weren’t trying to get rid of any members…they wanted those followers of Thomas and people that taught like him to come around to their way of thinking…so they were subtle…never really coming right out and saying what they meant…

    …even Christ spoke in parables…

    and let’s face it…Christians were dropping like flies back then…they held weekly spectacles of the killings! They’d ask…”you a Christian?” Seeya….

    …and a lot of the Gnostics thought that martyrings one self wasn’t necessarily the best use of a human life…

    …and there were guys like Tertulian who said in a letter to a roman prosecutor “the oftener we are mown down by you, the more we grow in numbers: the blood of Christians is seed!” and it was guys like that who put this book together!

    …according to The Gospel of Thomas 39,

    Jesus said, “The Pharisees and the scholars have taken the keys of knowledge and have hidden them. They have not entered, nor have they allowed those who want to enter to do so. As for you, be wise as serpents and as innocent as doves.”

    Well, daddy ain’t home and I got the keys now!!!

    Guys like Thomas told people that Jesus said to look inside yourself for the answers…and somehow…that’s a bad message…you know what? I like it!

    I stepped away from Catholicism a long time ago. If anything this has been a step back towards Jesus. Not necessarily towards the church, I think, if anything it was the church that drove me away!

    It’s a new look and an entirely new perspective on something I thought I knew. and because I thought I knew Christianity….your Christianity…I had stepped away from it. Now I find a new version…ok…an old new version…or is it new old version…anyway…I’m remembering things I had forgotten about…learning new things…and I like it.

    I don’t know where I’m going…I think that’s the best part of the journey so far!

  • Guppusmaximus

    “I certainly don’t assume that a step away from Catholicism is a step toward truth.”

    I have to agree with Baronius… Good post!

    “the message of Jesus as being that of individual enlightenment, not a group worship kind of religion…”

    Sure but it always takes positive change on the part of oneself to envoke a positive lifestyle for the group and there will always be a greater success with support. If you decide to embark on your life’s journey alone, there is a greater chance at failure. Just because a certain group of people tainted the word of God with bad actions doean’t mean that there is no integrity to the Word….

    In my journey,it would be a shame to find out that people twisted The Word for their own gain but it wouldn’t be suprising.I have always TRIED to follow the basic teachings of Jesus not the teachings of man and I can only take any new information with an open mind.

  • Bennett

    “Remember that novelty isn’t the same thing as truth.”

    Neither popularity, or “a long track record” endow the bible with ANY special power, or any credibility as being “the word of god”.

    It’s like telling me that the world is flat, or that the Earth is the center of the Universe (as the Church did despite having all kinds of divine communication with the suppossed god)

    Was your “god” on vacation, or did it just forget to tell the Pope the real info?

    The bible was written by men, a bunch of em, and then edited to provide maximum power to the priest class.

    “Divine Inspiration”, plus $2, will get you a decent latte. And quite possibly a way to exert control over your neighbors (but only if they buy what you’re peddling).

    The Gospels of Thomas don’t sit very well with power hungry religious types, because they portray the message of Jesus as being that of individual enlightenment, not a group worship kind of religion.

  • Baronius

    Thomas / Gospel of Thomas: We’re in agreement here. The name on a book doesn’t guarantee the authorship. That’s why a perceived slight against Thomas wouldn’t be an effective attack on the Gospel of Thomas.

    Disclosure: Shark, yes, I’m a Catholic. I’d rather call that a profession than a disclosure. Disclosure implies that it’s something I was hiding. I certainly don’t assume that a step away from Catholicism is a step toward truth.

    Gospel of John: Andy, I thought you were arguing that the Gnostics got crushed. Then why did anyone care that John was popular among the Gnostics? Shark says that John is hierarchical and focused on Jesus’ divinity only. Why would that appeal to the Gnostics? John was an attack on Thomas, yet both are listed as favorites of the Gnostics?

    Andy, you seem overwhelmed; I think you’d describe yourself thay way. You’ve encountered a large body of information that contradicts what you’ve previously been taught. Remember that novelty isn’t the same thing as truth.

  • Good show! The Gnostic Brotherhood will be sending you an invitation soon, I’m sure:)

  • thought I’d share this little story with you…

    when I was at Borders Booksellers the other night…buying the Gospel of Mary…I happened to start up a conversation with an older woman that was in the religion aisle…

    I told her what I was looking for…she informed me she had no idea…she was a recent convert to Christianity and was picking up some literature to “learn”…it seemed to me that she was seeking the Knowing…I told her about the Gospel of Thomas…and suggested and handed her The Gnostic Gospels to read…to learn some of the history of the church…

    I feel so….dirty!

  • I started reading here yesterday…

    Siddhartha seemed to be a pretty easy going kinda guy…

  • Shark

    re: my comment:

    “…demonstrating that many ‘versions’ ie interpretations of the role, words, and deeds of Jesus had a particular “original apostle” attached to GIVE IT AUTHENTICY…”

    I predict that in the future, Beatleists will either believe in The Gospel of *John — or The Acts of Paul **The Cute One.

    * Yoko as the Magdalene with seven devils

    **Shannon, you’re probably the only one who is old enough to get this, right? heh.

  • Shark

    Mark Shannon, thanks for the info. I’m thrilled to know I’m not the oldest regular on BC.


    re: John Spivey re. LOSING “the conditioned response to life and outlook on life”

    Agreed. We’re mostly robotic somnambulists. Waking Up seems to be the ethereal goal of living, imo.

    (…and Andy’s questioning Catholicism is an example of one of the first steps — discarding old models to clear The Way for the new.)


    Baronius: “…I just don’t understand your suspicion of the Gospel of John, on the basis of a perceived slight against Thomas”

    John -vs- Thomas represents two implicit (and possibly explicit) philosophical and “socio-political” conflicts among early Christians:

    “Thomas” school of thought emphasized personal enlightenment and each individual’s own divinity (every man his own priest)

    The Johanian school of thought pushed a Jesus-Only Divinity, some pretty explicit (whacky?) miraculous stuff, and a more hierarchical, institutional kinda religion (sorta “I’m a priest, do as I say.”)


    Baronius: “…None of the apostles come off particularly well in the gospels. Peter’s a coward… Luke depicts Paul as a murderer. ..James and John look silly… Were these all the result of infighting(?)”

    You sorta answer your own question with this:

    Baronius (comment #22): “…There were a bunch of texts floating around the Christian world in the 200’s…”

    Precisely — demonstrating that many ‘versions’ ie interpretations of the role, words, and deeds of Jesus had a particular “original apostle” attached to GIVE IT AUTHENTICY or AUTHORITY among followers (and against competing views).

    ONE of the most prominent among *these “conflicts” (from what extant MS we possess) appears to be the Thomas vs John issue.

    *although there were plenty more: I dig the idea that Mary Magdalene became a superstar amongst some!



    Baronius said: “…It takes an authoritative church to compile an authoritative holy text.”

    I know you meant that line as a “defense” — but in the context of this discussion, it’s also a Condemnation.

  • They couldn’t even decide back then what inspired divine inspiration!

  • Shark

    Baronius: “…Andy raised questions about Catholicism. After 21 posts, no one had presented the Catholic understanding of the issues. That’s what I was trying to do.”

    Um, in the interest of Disclosure:

    Are you a Catholic, Baronius?

    Just wonderin’…


    Baronius: “…every other comment has encouraged him [Andy] to move further from Catholicism.”

    That’s because Andy (along with “every other” commentor) is more interested in the truth.

  • Let’s get something straight…none of the guys who’s names are on these books wrote them…so…it wasn’t “John” trying to discredit anyone…it was early christians fighting over what they believed to be the trully inspired word of God. The stuff I’m reading tells me that the stories in John may not even be about John…do you know for sure that John was the “disciple whom Jesus loved”? or the “beloved disciple”? And probably the main reason that John was included over some other Gospels is because it was very popular among the Gnostics. After Iraneus included it, he then instructed how it would be interpreted. So…not only did the early church tell you what to read…but HOW to read it.

    and what you would do and what the Bishop of Lyons might do…are probably two completely different things…unless of course you knew the guy and tell me what was running through his mind at the time…

    As far as you not understanding my suspicion…what can I say…maybe you could explain why the Gospel of Thomas was lost for around 1700 years…only found because a heretic buried them in the desert…maybe you could explain why the teachings of the apostle Thomas had such a large following in the beginnings of Christianity, but no one had heard of his gospel until the last century???

    You seem to have all the answers…and I’m happy for you…I’ve got tons of questions…still

  • Baronius

    That’s a curious theory. I guess because some of my favorite parishes, and two of my favorite saints, were named after Thomas, I’ve never considered him “discredited”. Augustine and Ignatius talk about Thomas’ profession. The Second Council of Constantinople in 553 uses Thomas’ confession of faith to defend the doctrine of the Incarnation. Today, we repeat it at the holiest moment of the Mass. If John was attacking Thomas, it didn’t work.

    John’s gospel alone tells of “doubting” Thomas, but John’s gospel has a lot of unique accounts. Perhaps John’s gospel was accepted only because of the “Bread of Life” sermon, or because of Lazarus. The Gospel of John alone describes Thomas’ bravery, when he says “let us go along [to Bethany], to die with Him”. The first chapter of John, and much of the Last Supper, is unique to his Gospel.

    None of the apostles come off particularly well in the gospels. Peter’s a coward in all four of them. Luke depicts Paul as a murderer. Paul doesn’t come off much better in his own writings. James and John look silly in Mark. Were these all the result of infighting?

    But even if John were trying to discredit Thomas, that’s a long way from discrediting the Gospel of Thomas. There were numerous writings with apostles’ names attached. John, Barnabas, Peter and Paul, et cetera. If I were going to denounce the Epistle of St. Clement, for example, I wouldn’t badmouth Clement. I’d attack the doctrines of the epistle.

    So I just don’t understand your suspicion of the Gospel of John, on the basis of a perceived slight against Thomas. It seems too farfetched.

  • thank you gonzo – the Gospel of John, in my opinion, was included in the list of “approved” gospels for the sole purpose of discrediting the writings of Thomas.

    Only in the Book of John does it tell the stories of “doubting” Thomas and only in the Book of John is Thomas excluded from the visit by the Holy Spirit. showing him as not being present when the Holy Spirit filled all the other apostles would tend to help discredit Thomas’s teachings.

    There’sa couple of pretty good book reviews around here about some good Gnostic reading…check it out…I’d post the link to one of them…but I don’t like to brag…


  • Baronius

    Gonzo, Andy raised questions about Catholicism. After 21 posts, no one had presented the Catholic understanding of the issues. That’s what I was trying to do. It’s interesting that every other comment has encouraged him to move further from Catholicism.

  • gonzo marx

    Baronius sez…
    *The position of the Catholic Church is that it was inspired by God when it signed off on the current scriptures.*

    and thus the crux of the matter as to the relative “worth” of various texts

    it requires one to have “faith” in the “inspired by God” bit

    due to the nature of the individual who originally compiled those texts as we know them today… bishop Iraneus of Lyon in 180AD…
    and the text of not only his other Writings (including the “Book of Five Heresies” and his letters to other bishops urging them to Lie even in the face of what they “know to be true” in order to squalch the “heresies” and establish a “universal” church)

    this alleged “inspiration” is highly suspect, to say the least

    might i sugges tthat if you need to Ask, “to what are you referring”…then you are unAware of MANY pertinent Facts regarding this subject matter


  • Baronius

    It takes an authoritative church to compile an authoritative holy text. The position of the Catholic Church is that it was inspired by God when it signed off on the current scriptures.

    There were a bunch of texts floating around the Christian world in the 200’s, and at times during Rome’s persecution, a person could get killed for having a copy of one. Some people were willing to risk death for their faith, but no one wanted to die for the sake of a non-inspired book. So the church compiled a list of the genuine (you might put genuine in quotes) books. By 397, the obvious non-Apostolic books had been dropped, but there were still a few books in doubt. The Council of Carthage finalized the list.

    The books we commonly call “gnostic” were among the earliest dropped. They are historically interesting, but there’s no reason to think their age grants them authority. I’ve read some gnostic works, and wasn’t impressed. It’s not that they’re controversial and challenge my faith; they’re just poorly written and uninteresting.

    You said, “It seems that because one or two people didn’t like some things, they were left out and in one case a gospel appears to be placed in the bible specifically to argue for the exclusion of another!” To what are you referring? You said that history is written by the winner, but that doesn’t make the loser necessarily right. It seems like you’re giving the losers extra leeway.

  • It’s not as much a process of finding as it is a process of losing. Bit by bit the conditioned response to life and outlook on life has to fall away. When some people seek freedom they simply rebel against their conditioning, but they are still being determined by conditioning. Things fall away, fall away, fall away…and it brings great fear. Something happens and you laugh because it was so obvious and you feel sorrow that you missed it for so long. Your eyes are glued open. You wish to share it, but you can’t.

  • gonzo marx

    oh Mark me boyo..ya miss it, “Stranger” is NOT any kind of Answer…it just points you towards asking the Questions…

    definately read it again…

    take the Tai Chi class…as a favor to me, i want you to stick around for as long as possible, and the overall beneficial effects for you Health, if nothing else…are well worth the time

    Full Disclosure: i am not a practitioner in Tai Chi myself…my martial Arts background is very diverse…beginning in ’69 with a hybrid of ba gua/hsing-i called the “White Ape sets”…a joke by my sigung(“grandfather” who was chinese) about my sifu(“father” who is of Scots ancestory, and well over 6’6″ tall)…i have studied a bit of wing chun and various other forms…was a professional bouncer for a few years…and am currently a lazy bum when it comes to physical training…


  • Andy, I applaud your honesty & share your confusion.

    Aside: Shark & Gonzo–you’re both punks. I was out of grad school in ’74, barely employed, lost in the wilderness, seeking everything but the Truth.

    But I digress. I’ve been an agnostic for as long as I can remember. I’ve stood at the edge of the cliff desperate to take the “leap of faith” but have always been unable.

    Yet, as I get older, there’s a spiritual side of me that’s getting more and more intrusive. But a spiritual journey need not include the Judeo-Christian-Islamic God–certainly the Buddhists teach us that. It is a search…although, ironically, as I try to finish that sentence, all i come up with are a bunch of platitudes.

    “Search for one’s self” is soooo trite, as is “search for one’s place in the world,” or “search for one’s moral or ethical foundation.”

    Rats. All I know…and it sounds like you’re doing the same…is searching. With all due respect for his most magestic self, I disagree with Gonzo about “Strangers in a Strange Land.” Great book…probably should read it again…but not the answer. Don’t know about Tai Chi–that’s worth looking into.

    And, with all due respect to those who believe the Bible should be taken literally, the Bible is, at best, a source of inspiration. It is also, at best, the word of God as delivered by human beings. You’re also right that the early Church was a theological battleground and who knows if the “losers” weren’t closer to the truth?

    Good luck & I agree with others who’ve said, keep us informed about your journey. There are a lot of us on the same dark path.

    In Jamesons Veritas

  • i woudl also Advise to ALL you gentle Readers…from yer gonzo…go and take a Tai Chi class!!!

    Truer words were never spoken, Gonzo – I’ve been studying tai chi for several years now, and it’s filling my spiritual needs more than any organized religion could possibly do – and you really begin to understand that the journey is way more important than the destination (and more fun, too).

  • Very interesting that you would quote Wizard of Oz in regards to your own journey since it wasn’t the Wizard or the red shoes that got Dorothy home. She had the power the whole time and was unaware of it.

    I’d wish you luck on your journey, Andy, but you don’t need it since you are already on it.

    Pardon the brief aside, but every time I turn around Gonzo is mentioning the Rush article by myself and Fumo Verde in different threads, and I just wanted to thank him.

  • Shark

    Andy, the baloon will arrive when you’re ready.

  • did I come here for a brain???

    there’s no place like home…there’s no place like home…there’s no place like home…shit…where’s those red shoes!

  • gonzo marx

    John makes a very excellent Point, of course

    might i suggest, that especially to Westerners who are entirely unfamiliar with some of the Concepts under discussion here, but with the History of those they hold as Beliefs…

    that the suggested Readings and activities are merely the First Steps along the Path towards the Way

    one must open a Door before they can step through

    it helps to show some that there is even a Door where they have only perceived a Wall previously…re-enforced by cultural as well as dogmatic pressures

    sheeesh…here i am spouting off again…

    pay no Attention to the Man behind the Curtain


  • In the end Gnosis is not the result of reading. For one discourse the Buddha simply held up a flower for all to see. Christ was not a Christian and the Buddha was not a Buddhist. They simply discovered what was there to be discovered.

  • gonzo marx

    Shark in number 9 shows that he and i have read and remembered different translations of the same Works


    punk?…moi?..is that in an Iggy/Ramones sense?

    i’ll cop to that gladly!

    but i digress…

    Andy..my Advice is to finish Mary, take a break this evening to wath the Rush bit on VH-1 classics this evening(see the R30 post by El Bicho for times…you too Shark…please watch this one! as a fan of “classical” that you are, you might appreciate the instrumental virtuosity and symphonic compositions…even if it ain’t yer “style”)

    and then read “Stranger” , digest what you have absorbed so far…it will help ya in the next Steps along the Path

    i woudl also Advise to ALL you gentle Readers…from yer gonzo…go and take a Tai Chi class!!!

    best thing EVER for your Body, Mind and Spirit…all in the original no-impact aerobic

    so sayeth yer gonzo…


  • You know Shark, You’re really not a bad guy…despite what Dave says!


  • Shark

    Andy, as far as “locating” a nice church:


    “Cleave a piece of wood; I am there. Raise up a stone, and you will find me there.”

    (Jesus – Gospel of Thomas, Saying #77)

  • gonzo – Shark is right…you are a punk…a very knowledgable punk…but a punk…I was 15! hehe

    My Journey of Discovery as gonzo so rightly calls it seems to lead me away from ANY church. Kinda funny…it was the church that led me away from the church in the first place.

    I get the impression that first communion in the Episcopal Church is very similar to confirmation in the Catholic Church. In the catholic church I did my first communion when I was in 1st grade. later, the confirmation, with questioning from the bishop to verify that you knew the “Laws” of the faith. The bishop finally told me to stop raising my hand, he was convinced that I knew “the faith”. After this week, I’m convinced I don’t!

    So far, I’ve read The Gnostic Gospels, Beyond Belief, bot hby Elaine Pagels. I’m currently working on The Gospels of Mary Magdala…I also have a copy of Stranger in a Strange Land…should be fun.

  • Shark

    um… what Gonzo said.


    Gonzo, 13 in 1974?! Yer a punk!

    (I was in college!)


    ATTN: new arrivals

    This Conversation Began Here

    ..and continued here: Part ii – Gnostic Gospels review


    Personal Anecdote Warning!

    My own quest began with my love of dinosaurs and fossils at a very young age — coupled with being ostracized by my fellow Baptist kids ’cause I went to a different elementary school.

    I figured:

    1) I don’t wanna spend eternity with these pricks.

    2) Why weren’t dinosaurs ever mentioned in the Bible?

    When I asked my father about Universe being made in 7 days — and how was it that a few hundred million years passed between T-Rex and Adam — my brilliant father, bless his heart, explained the meaning of “symbols” to that curious 6 year old.

    Whoo-boy. That was it for me. I exited that Baptist Church faster than a pair of Mormon boys heading for their bicycles after they see ME answer the door!

    Later — (yall still with me here?) I was debating a good buddy who was “returning” to the Catholic Church. We used to argue for hours — and he always tossed up this conversation-killing phrase, “That’s what it says in the Bible.”

    I decided if I was going to get anywhere, I would have to know the New Testament and WHERE it came from and HOW it got here.

    That was my “in the beginning.”

    Thanks for listening.

    (Epilogue: Oh, and for those interested — I later beat the hell outta one of those little Baptist kids who treated me so mean. And much later in life, he was later convicted for child molestation and attempted murder. So much for a religious upbringing, eh?)


    Ad astra per aspera!

  • gonzo marx

    Comment #4 sez…
    *Sounds like you’re ready to go Orthodox.*

    i disAgree…

    the Journey of Discovery that Andy is embarking on inevitably leads the Individual AWAY from any kind of Institutionalized church, dogma or reliance upon a priest class…by definition

    what one tends to find is that the very organization of a “church” is merely the physical manifestation required for a priest class to indoctrinate and control the “community” via authoritarian dogmatic assertions in order to extort blind adherance and of course, money

    i am not saying that all such organizations are “bad”…many do quite a few good works…

    however, the very Intent of said organizations is to stifle exactly the type of Questioning that Andy is experiencing in his readings

    (side note, notice the root of “questioning” is Quest)

    for Andy’s edification, and to help expand on his Thought when he wonders…
    *and wonder where I might be today if this had been shared with me when I was younger.*

    i was 13(1974) when two things happened in my Life that year…i was deeply into Biblical studies, in order to make my First Communion in the Episcopal Church(the Stone Church in Navesink) and i read “Stranger in a Strange Land” for the first time

    further background: i was considered a bit precocious in my biblical studies, and was going to have my Examination done by the Bishop when ready…there was some Thought in both the Church and some of my Family that i might wind up pursuing a Vocation within the Church

    my Curiosity, spurred on by Heinlein’s work, and deep appreciation of History in general and my inate personal requirement to not only Question Authority but to Question everything, lead me to some very esoteric places in my studies

    i passed my Examination quite easily, both amazing and infuriating aforementioned Bishop…i took my first Communion…and have not stepped into a Church ever since

    “split a log and I am within, lift a rock and you will find Me”

    your mileage may vary


  • The word “heretic” originally meant “one who has made a choice.” Culturally and religiously, the church fears choice as the work of the devil. That is the story of Adam and Eve, the demonization of the power of choice. Snakes can be important. They bring the news from underground where we try to bury things.

  • Sounds like you’re ready to go Orthodox. All the tradition of the Catholic Church and none of the oppressive institutional agenda.
    Plus there are all sorts of cool homegrown Orthodox variations like Celtic Orthodoxy which are kind of funky.


  • It sounds like you’re at an important place in your personal development – if you’re so inclined, I hope you’ll continue to share some of it with us. These larger issues affect us all sooner or later.

  • I’m working on it Lisa…I have a long long way to go.

    I don’t consider myself religious anymore…but I have to say…I find this very interesting…and wonder where I might be today if this had been shared with me when I was younger.

    I’m not sure where I’m “going” with this search…or why I’m even on it…but I feel like it’s affecting me…we shall see.

  • Nice one, Andy (and nice to see you around these days)! I, too, have always been interested in some of the differences between various forms of Christianity (raised like you, but not religious any more).

    If you figure any of this out, let us know!