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From: "Alice K. Turner" 
Subject: Re: (urth) Gnostic Wolfe
Date: Mon, 4 Nov 2002 20:50:44 -0500

Jerry F. responded to Dan'l and Nutria's debate:

 > > > mouth, I would suggest that he
> > > is saying that some kind of gnostic/polytheistic
> > > understanding of the universe is what everybody naturally
> > > thinks until or unless they come to a Christian "creational"
> > > view of the universe; and that the psychological process of
> > > moving from the former to the latter does not happen overnight,
> > > but takes time.
> >
> > Well said.
> I hope he doesn't believe that!  Polytheistic, yes, but not gnostic.  If
> we can guess what everyone "naturally" thinks, it would be animism.  The
> animistic religions I have "a little learning" about, mostly those of the
> Navajo and Tewa, are far more this-world oriented than any kind of
> Christianity, and in this sense more or less the opposite of (most?)
> Gnosticism.

(This is so parenthetical that I'm putting it in parens, but two more that
many know something about (there are hundreds of small ones, mostly tribal)
are Rome before they adopted "Greek ways" in their drive to world
dominance--but they always kept their household "lares and penates," which
Latro dimly recalls--and Japanese Shinto, which was actively promoted in the
20th century as a way of keeping citizens loyal to the Emperor instead of
some important--or imported--god. I would go along with that "this-world"
guess, though I also think it is "natural" to be awed by the heavens and to
have some "other-world" feeling that way.)

Gnostic feeling, however, is not polytheistic. The Alien God is definitely
single; the archons stand in for angels, the Demiurge is specifically
described as an abortion, or mistake, and certainly not to be worshiped;
Sophia is not worshiped. What it has in common with other monotheistic
religions is the "knowledge" of the Way, the Truth and the Life and that
those who believe [in this] shall be saved. Tough on the rest of you. This
is not the religion of the Whorls, which is based on Hellenism. The
Neighbors\inhumi dichotomy in, I think, specifically taken from early
syncretic Christianity. The notion that Wolfe has borrowed, quite
successfully, from Gnosticism is that of the Demiurge (and I don't know why
some of you are making a Typhon/Pas split--Wolfe doesn't in his interviews).

(Back in parens: Gnosticism is not monolithic, of course. The Mandaean
version had a wonderful space-opera mythology that John Crowley paid tribute
to in his invented comic-strip, "Little Enosh: Lost Among the Worlds.")



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