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American Gnosticism
#1
This could go in any one of the various threads here (DJT/GOP/AlexJones/religion) but it casts a wide net, so...

From On the Media podcast....

Quote:The Ancient Heresy That Helps Us Understand QAnon
It’s been two weeks since Trump lost the election to Biden. But he and his followers are still claiming victory. Jeff Sharlet, who has been covering the election for Vanity Fair, credits two Christian-adjacent ideas for these claims. The first is the so-called “prosperity gospel”: the notion that, among other things, positive thinking can manifest positive consequences. Even electoral victory in the face of electoral loss. But the problem with prosperity gospel, like day-and-date rapture prophecies, is that when its bets don’t pay off, it’s glaringly obvious.

As prosperity thinking loses its edge for Trump, another strain of fringe Christianity — dating back nearly two millennia — is flourishing. Jeff Sharlet says an ancient heresy, Gnosticism, can help us understand the unifying force of pseudo-intellectualism on the right. Sharlet explains how a gnostic emphasis on "hidden" truths has animated QAnon conspiracies and Trump’s base.

[excerpts from transcript]
Quote:BOB GARFIELD: Now, one super handy aspect of Gnostic thinking is that the events on the ground and facts and evidence don't have to conform to your worldview for you to believe it. In fact, kind of the opposite, no?

JEFF SHARLET And there it is again, one of those contradictions. On the one hand, you don't have to trust expertise, you don't have to trust those who have put in the work of developing bodies of knowledge. Because here's the Americanized aspect of this Gnoticism is it has a small D democratic veneer, which is to say that you engage, you make this gospel through your research. You too can become an expert in the technology of voting machines with just a few hours on Parler and a few YouTube instructional videos. You know, obviously I'm mocking that, but it's important to recognize what I encountered as I was going in interviewing so many of these folks. They had what they were experiencing as a kind of intellectual excitement. They said, I am finding out for myself, I'm not beholden to authority. I personally am helping President Trump make America great again because I am making the real knowledge that is beyond the fake knowledge, the fake news, I make this truth.

Quote:BOB GARFIELD You spoke to a guy at a Trump rally, a guy named Dave. And I'm going to read a passage from your piece. Dave says, quote, The truth is right there in what the media think are his mistakes. He doesn't make mistakes. And you say that the message to Dave is study the layers. He says there are major operations going on, including one the guy tells you, which is to use COVID-19 field hospitals as a cover to rescue children from the deep state's sex trafficking. QAnon and what you call American Gnosticism seem to be just made for one another.
 
JEFF SHARLET Or rather, I would say that QAnon is made out of American Gnosticism. One of the most significant things is the way they adapt to changing circumstances. One of my favorites was one Q interpreter who said It turns out Trump is not a five-D chess player, he's a six-D chess player. There's always another dimension, there's always a new interpretation. And so the challenge for you is to maintain the faith and if you seem to have come to the hard wall of reality, that's a weakness of your faith. That's where you need to look deeper. And I think where this gains a lot of energy is to take this kind of Gnostic metaphor. And in this merger with evangelicalism, what began as transactional has become transformational, in a sense concretization what evangelicals have long called spiritual war, which essentially refers to an internal struggle. It's not a particularly exotic term unless you start thinking that the the demons, the powers and principalities are real and they have names like Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden that you yourself can be called into action to fight spiritual war, maybe on the streets of Washington with your fists.

I can't help but believe that this is the ultimate result of the GOP's deal with the evangelicals.
I used to be with "it", but then they changed what "it" was. Now, what I'm with isn't "it", and what's "it" seems weird and scary to me.   -Grandpa Simpson
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#2
It's tempting to joke that Garfield and Sharlet must not think very highly of Gnosticism to make that comparison, but in honesty I can see the coincidental similarities in the belief that the truth is being maliciously hidden, in the refusal to trust others who claim to have the objective truth, and in the experience (or false belief, in QAnon's case) that they were persecuted by authorities.
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http://citizens.trouble.city/showthread.php?tid=162311&pid=4721386#pid4721386
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#3
It's interesting to see this read on it, because I've long observed another component of Gnostic thought (contempt/disregard for the corporeal body and the physical world and the belief that these are ultimately unimportant or actively detrimental to the pursuit of spiritual perfection) underlying a whole lot of assorted weirdnesses in American Evangelical thought over the last 30-40 years - and not just in the whackadoo "prosperity gospel" scams, but the relative mainstream.
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#4
So, who is the false creator god in all of this?

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#5
CAN’T STOP THE POWER OF WISHFUL THINKING!!
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#6
I think the similarities are more than just coincidental.

This country was founded by a great many religious fundamentalists whose irrational beliefs have come to permeate US society in both an overt and subliminal way.

We have been taught that American values are better than other countries values/ways of life...(willfully) oblivious to it's faults even when they are right in front of us.

It could be argued that the idea of American exceptionalism has this core religious component to it and only within the last 50 years +/- have this belief started to be questioned.

To me, it seems that the those folk that lean conservatively (evangelicals/republicans) are leaning hard toward the denial of reality and change.

Subjective truth is the safer, more comfortable way forward so if it takes blaming something/one else for all of 'your' problems, so be it.

Or not.... Smile
I used to be with "it", but then they changed what "it" was. Now, what I'm with isn't "it", and what's "it" seems weird and scary to me.   -Grandpa Simpson
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#7
Add to that the explosive schismatism of Protestant Christianity in America and you have a vehicle where thought has room to mutate wildly instead of getting steered back toward any kind of orthodoxy.
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http://citizens.trouble.city/showthread.php?tid=162311&pid=4721386#pid4721386
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#8
(11-26-2020, 09:00 PM)commodorejohn Wrote: It's interesting to see this read on it, because I've long observed another component of Gnostic thought (contempt/disregard for the corporeal body and the physical world and the belief that these are ultimately unimportant or actively detrimental to the pursuit of spiritual perfection) underlying a whole lot of assorted weirdnesses in American Evangelical thought over the last 30-40 years - and not just in the whackadoo "prosperity gospel" scams, but the relative mainstream.

And Qanon seems to be exploding in popularity in the community we could call New Age/Alt Med too.
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#9
That surprises me not a bit. I vividly recall the number of people we encountered when my grandmother was casting about for an alternative (she desperately didn't want to do chemo again) who were so all-in on heard-it-from-a-guy-who-heard-it-from-a-guy thinking and straight-up denial of basic medical science that it made my head spin.
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