The New Old American Gnosticism
If anything good has come out of the whole Bruce Jenner media frenzy of the past weeks, it is the opportunity to engage our neighbors in the ultimate questions of life — into conversations about truth and reality and the ultimate purpose of things.
One usually has to be careful when delving into philosophical and metaphysical theories as applied to popular culture today, because the curious thing about the way we live is that, having abandoned the search for truth, some if not most cultural actors today have not thought through their own worldviews.
They have spent very little time thinking about the implications of their thoughts and actions. They live on feeling, rather than reason (despite their purported support for “scientific” data) and, therefore, will accuse anyone able to identify the implications of their worldview of conspiracies and paranoia.
Dr. Russell Moore, President of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, astutely put his finger on part of the philosophy behind the Bruce Jenner encouragement we have seen.
Bruce Jenner, of course, is a symbol, a celebrity spokesperson for an entire mentality that sees gender as separate from biological identity. …
This narrative is rooted in the ancient heresy of Gnosticism, with the idea that the “real” self is separate from who one is as an embodied, material being. Body parts and chromosomal patterns are dispensable since the self is radically disconnected from the body, the psychic from the material.
You see, Bruce Jenner is not the issue; the culture that produces Bruce Jenner is. The philosophy and worldview that elevates him as role model and “hero,” that’s the reality we must face. Dr. Moore’s identification of Gnosticism as part of the problem is entirely accurate.
I have argued for some time now that our fundamental problem lies in the fact that we have lost our appetite for truth. This lies at the heart of Gnosticism: the rejection of the material world — of reality. Rather than turning to scientific fact and empirical data, as many claim to do today, our culture continues to move further away from verifiable facts, turning to personal fables in order to define reality.
Bruce Jenner is a woman because he says so. He feels it so; today, at least. That is his “true” self; his truth. But this “truth” is a completely subjective concept.
Have you considered this when you hear political pundits talking about our society’s fragmentation? When each individual defines reality as he or she sees fit, there is no commonality.
We have finally reached the point of George Orwell’s 1984, where he said: “[I]f all others accepted the lie which the Party imposed — if all records told the same tale — then the lie passed into history and became truth.”
This is the next step for the transgender movement, isn’t it? Lambda Legal is already fighting for the right of transgenders to amend their birth certificate so as to reflect their true identity and forever erase in history their physical beginnings as a man (or a woman), so that their “true” self may be the only thing remembered in the record books.
As described on the Lambda Legal website:
Amending the sex designation on a birth certificate may be an extremely important step for a transgender person, to accurately reflect on this legal document the sex with which the individual identifies, and as required proof of sex to obtain other identity and legal documents.
“And yet the past,” wrote Orwell, “though of its nature alterable, never had been altered.” Indeed.
Orwell put it in the voice of his main character, Winston:
The obvious, the silly, and the true had got to be defended. Truisms are true, hold on to that! The solid world exists, its laws do not change. Stones are hard, water is wet, objects unsupported fall towards the earth’s centre.
It is why Gnosticism is ultimately bound to fail every time it is applied. Truth is truth. Living out our fantasies will never change that. When a tree falls in the forest, it undoubtedly makes noise. Our awareness or acknowledgement of reality is not needed for its substantiation.
I am, because God created me, not because I think.
Objective reality lives and shines outside of us and will always be discovered by the inquisitive mind.
Americans have tried to be masters of their own lives for a long time now. We are freer than any other nation in the world. Yet we are not free to create our own reality. The experiment is bound to fail, as our Founders understood.
For we did not create ourselves, we were “endowed by our Creator.” And He gets the ultimate say.
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