GnosticNYC is a new centre for the study and practice of contemporary gnosticism in the New York area. Although billed as a non-denominational organisation, it seems to operate largely under the aegis of the Apostolic Johannite Church. It’s on Madison Avenue, perhaps suggesting how media-savvy these guys can be. That’s not meant as a slight; the increased public profile of contemporary gnosticism in recent years is largely down to these guys, particularly through their creation of the North American College of Gnostic Bishops which presents a united front of gnosticism and allows them to attend such events as the 2009 Parliament of the World’s Religions in Melbourne, Australia.
Co-founder and AJC priest Anthony Silva recently gave an interview with Miguel Conner, a prominent promoter of contemporary gnosticism (though not, to my knowledge, affiliated with the AJC). It can be read here, but I present a couple of choice quotations below;
Our view of Gnosticism is informed by the Nag Hammadi scriptures, inspired by the Gnostics of the early centuries of Christianity and the Neo-Platonists, and follow generally the two points put forward by Jules Doinel at the restoration of Gnosticism in the late 19th century. Namely: The doctrine of emanations and salvation by Gnosis.
Historically, this is pretty accurate, which is not always the case with contemporary gnostics. Informed by Nag Hammadi is correct, because the lineage to which the AJC belong predates their discovery. Inspired by the early gnostics is accurate, because there is no historical connection, and indeed, they may not even have existed at all.
I first came to Gnosticism, believe it or not, through The Da Vinci Code, but my searching started long before that. From the time I was in my early teens I started to question the Roman Catholic faith of my upbringing, as many people do these days. I started to read as much as I could about the different religions of the world to try to find my place among them. The neo-pagan movement appealed to me for some time, but it was never really quite right for me.
This underlines the point I’ve made before, that contemporary gnosticism is essentially a critique of Catholicism which seeks to reconcile contemporary notions of individuality with a Catholic-derived liturgical organisation. But The Da Vinci Code? Really? You only heard of gnosticism in 2003 and you’re a priest already? That’s some spiritual fast-tracking!
Just as in the popular move The Matrix, we know that there are many today who feel like that there is something wrong with this world we’ve come to know as the “real” world. GnosticNYC is for them. The practices, rituals and dogmas of Gnosticism in its many forms are tools that people can use to escape the Matrix and defeat the archons/Agents.