Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Political Gnosticism, Genial and Lighthearted Version

I admit to indulging an on-going enthusiasm for the following lines from Herman Melville's Moby-Dick.  The effect is humorous, but nevertheless the language embodies a political statement that is vaguely paleoliberal in nature, with post-Calivinist and Gnostic overtones:
Long exile from Christendom and civilization inevitably restores a man to that condition in which God placed him, i.e. what is called savagery. Your true whale-hunter is as much a savage as an Iroquois. I myself am a savage, owning no allegiance but to the King of the Cannibals; and ready at any moment to rebel against him.
--Herman Melville, Moby-Dick, Chapter 57, "Of Whales in Paint; in Teeth; in Wood; in Sheet-Iron; in Stone; in Mountains; in Stars"

This way to the rebellion...


ilTassista Marino said...

I honestly find it difficult to see Gnosticism here. Wasn't their view on Nature the right opposite of this?

Carter Kaplan said...

By "their" I take it you mean Calvinists'? I am referring to a separate (albeit related) theological camp, that is "post-Calvinist". You might have a look at A.D. Nuttall, The Alternative Trinity: Gnostic Heresy in Marlowe, Milton and Blake

Click Here.

Melville is clearly in this post-Calvinist vein. We might also call it "early-modernism" or "early-existentialism."

But back to Gnosticism here: read "King of the Cannibal Islands" as "the creator of the universe" and the Gnostic subtext is clear.

The logic goes something like this: 1) the universe is "fallen". 2) it might be man's fault "legalistically" but the responsibility is God's, because nothing happens without Him knowing and determining it in advance. 3) Never mind Satan's complaint, he is simply an exponent of bad philosophy and, perhaps more importantly, bad politics; the "real" rebel is Jesus with his winning politics... the way we join his rebellion is by being loving people (an act of subversion in a fallen "cannibalistic" universe), as he tells us to do in the Sermon on the Mount, which, philosophically and politically, is an invitation to turn our universe upside down.

ilTassista Marino said...

"They" as the Gnostics. What I find to be strange is the statement: “vaguely paleoliberal in nature, with . . . Gnostic overtones." Why should Gnostics be "paleoliberal"? But the post you published tomorrow is much clearer :-)

Carter Kaplan said...

"Why should Gnostics be paleoliberal?"

I was suggesting that post-Calvinists with Gnostic tendencies are "vaguely" paleoliberal, and I was specifically thinking of Jeffersonians, who are clearly post-Calvinist in the tradition of the English Independents tracing back though Locke to Milton. Indeed, what could be more "paleoliberal" than Jefferson, Locke, and Milton? (I'll be the first to admit this to be an imprecise phrase, but nontheless these figures are the definitive representatives of the idea.)

In addition to Calvinism and Gnosticism, we should add Arminianism and Socinianism to the mix.

(Melville's antecedents are in Scottish Presbyterianism and the Dutch Reformed Church; and his political identification is to be found in the Democratic party of the Revolution and the early-19th century.)

Bienvenido Bones Banez said...

Interesting topic! but that was started in Israel-Apostasy!, Almighty God Jehovah from Israel commandments of the law condemned all apostasy, they were warned against the grave danger of apostasy some doing marriages with the people of the land/gentiles.-Deuteronomy 7:3-4, and other unprincipled men who, by means sugary words and false saying from lover-wisdom/philosophy, and according to Isaiah 24:5, the very land became ''polluted {cha-nephah'} under its inhabitants, for they have bypassed the laws, changed the regulation, broken the indefinitely lasting covenant.''
Early Christian congregation experienced at the hands of the Roman Empire in political system, some professed Christians were at times induced to deny their Christian discipleship, and those who did so were required to signify their apostasy they making an incense offering before some pagan god-politically-geniuses or by openly blaspheming the name of Christ.
And why was Paul convinced that God exists and is interested in His human creation? Paul revealed one reason when writing to fellow Christians in the city of Rome. He said of God: “His invisible qualities are clearly seen from the world’s creation onward, because they are perceived by the things made.”—Romans 1:20.

And here another experience:

Atheist Turns to God

A British philosophy professor who has been called “the world’s most influential atheist” now says that he believes in God. In an online preview of an interview scheduled to be published in the journal Philosophia Christi, 81-year-old Dr. Antony Flew said that he “had to go where the evidence leads.” According to Flew, this evidence includes recent scientific discoveries in the fields of cosmology and physics. Additionally, “the findings of more than fifty years of DNA research have provided materials for a new and enormously powerful argument to design,” he explained. Even the “biblical account [of Genesis chapter one] might be scientifically accurate,” he states. So, is he ready to become a practicing Christian? “It’s very unlikely,”

But for me...I believed Satan has taken sadistic delight in bringing the 666 philosophically and politically! Gnosticism is part of Satan inspiration into abstraction principle... the reality of "666-knowledge" which mixes 666-human's philosophy, metaphysics, curiosity into unknown, international culture, nova-knowledge, illuminati, and secrets society-666 of history and universe.

Maybe our world-666 full of wisdom from the Tower Babylon!

Carter Kaplan said...


Thanks for the comment and the biblical citations. Worth looking at further. You might find this interesting:

Do the Gospels Abrogate Mosaic Law?