Modern Gnosticism

I’ve been people watching for the last few months and I see a common problem – something I’d like to refer to as modern gnosticism.

Because our flesh is inherently flawed, we distrust the flesh.  Because we can now choose to retreat to the realm of the intellect through being plugged in to the internet, we pull ourselves away from reality.  This affects our ability to deal with reality.  As we draw ourselves away from others, from the life of the flesh, we forget that we need each other, flawed or not.    We forget that the flesh matters – that we cannot simply deny the flesh entirely, that we were made to enjoy the flesh – but within limits.

We’ve lost the pure mammalian reality of life in flesh suits – we don’t know how to touch other humans in non sexual ways, so we keep animals so we have *something* to touch, and our sex drives go off their rockers.  Women used to groom one another, men used to roughhouse.   Simple touch – a country dance, the rituals of chivalry, a game of tug of war – those things used to remind us (delightfully) of the difference between the sexes.  And humans need touch, from cradle to grave.   But we lost that casual touch, and now we don’t know how to touch at all.  Suddenly you have to give consent for a kiss…

We’ve lost the community of food, so we divide ourselves into those eating clean, those eating for comfort, and gastronomes.  Where is the simple breaking of bread among friends, with laughter?  Instead, we pour all our sensory desire into our mouths, making us obese or obsessed, with very little in between.   Food is the one place all our flesh desire ends up, it seems… the flesh *will* out, and everyone has to eat sometime.  And yet we admire those who evidently have overcome their flesh.

Where, for that matter, has laughter gone?   When was the last time you laughed with a real, live, friend?  Do you have real, live friends?  Do you know what the smell of their skin is?  What their hands feel like in yours?   The way they hold their faces when they’re angry or sad?

We are besieged by sound.  When do we get to listen to silence?  The modern world is always noisy, but how much of that noise do you actually *listen* to?  When do you sit, still and concentrating, to enjoy a musical performance?  No.  We drive with the radio on, watch TV while we eat, and layer noise upon noise.   We shield ourselves from the assault of noise by adding more noise.  We are constantly seeking aural input.  Why??

We like to pretend that only the life of the mind matters, that all this craziness going on around our bodies is irrelevant.

And the problem with that is that we ARE flesh.  Or at least we live in flesh, and always will.  (Yes, we get new fleshsuits – better fleshsuits – but still bodies that will be able to eat and hug and laugh).  We can’t separate out a problematic part of our nature and just ignore it.  And we can’t control all of it – we can’t control aging bodies or the behavior of others.  I can’t control the roar of a motorcycle gunning its engine outside my front door.  So then – do we learn to surf reality?  No, lately we pull ourselves away into virtual reality – it’s so much safer, after all.  We never have to deal with other humans, messy and complicated.

We forget how to deal with life in the flesh, and we were never meant to do that, no matter how tempting it is.

Give this some thought, and give me your feedback.  I’m seeing it more and more often these days… are you?




13 thoughts on “Modern Gnosticism

  1. Pingback: Yes, Gnosticism is the problem | Julian O'Dea

  2. Robyn

    This was so good, and yes I’ve noticed it as well. I think what you’ve captured our distancing from each other because we ARE mess and dirty and we hurt each other through it all. But we hurt ourselves in other ways too by this distancing. To me, it seems like we are ‘sanitizing’ life to make it appear like it’s something it’s not — something we are not. Perfect bodies, perfect reporting on social media, perfect pictures …. to hide the imperfections of our lives — of ourselves.

    Those of us with pets need to ask ourselves: Do I touch my pets more than my husband, kids and friends? Again, this was GREAT Hearth, thanks for writing it!

    On a more personal note: we LOVE to people watch. Something I’ve been doing purposely is to, NOT check my phone while I wait in any particular line-up out in public. Instead, I’m looking for a real connection with people; someone — anyone. And you know what? People DO want to connect! Even let you touch them …. THEY TOUCH BACK!

  3. Elusive Wapiti

    Found this via Julian O’Dea’s place. I’m a lurker nowadays.

    Good article, Hearthie. The call for more asexual contact strikes me as timely, particularly in these times of digitally enhanced isolation.

    Heck, even before the interwebz and ubiquitous wifi (I’m old enough to have used a rotary phone on a party line, and watched TV on a device the size of a chest of drawers), I’ve noted this in my own life experience. When I was a teen, it was unusual to have contact of any kind with another person. Outside of contact sports, there was nothing, and to be even brushed by a girl, even if it was accidental (or “accidental”) was rare as it was electric.

    Moreover, I am of the opinion that, as bad as this phenomenon is for females/women, it’s worse for males, especially young adult males. To call it a desert then would have been an understatement, I shudder to think what it is like now these days for those fellows too awkward to be on a girls’ radar and who are not well connected to male spaces or men’s community. We simply lack the organic cultural machinery these days to feed this basic human need, and I think we suffer as the natural result.

    Again, good stuff Hearthie. I chuckled at “fleshsuits”. Accurate, yet florid.

    Now back to have dinner with my family, and give my wife and children the gift of my attention and touch. Time to tend to my own personal garden.

  4. Pingback: Gnon and the anti Gnostics [Luke 1] | Dark Brightness

  5. Pingback: Disgust and Isolation. | Dark Brightness

  6. ballista74

    While not so much “gnosticism”, pretty good post overall. What you express is general community, and some of the many side effects that driving it out has done.


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