Sex and Scandal
I've finally finished Pierre Hadot's book, The Inner Citadel, on which I will comment in another post. Here, however, is a very pertinent quote for the contemporary cultural situation in which we are living:
"It would, moreover, be interesting to psychologize some historical psychologists; I believe we could discover in them two tendencies. One is iconoclastic: it takes pleasure in attacking such figures as Plotinus or Marcus Aurelius, for example, who are naively respected by right-thinking people. The other is reductionist: it considers that all elevation of the soul or of thought, all moral heroism, and all grandiose views of the universe can only be morbid or abnormal. Everything has to be explained by sex or drugs." (p.257)
Hadot says this in regards to scholars accusing Marcus Aurelius of being a heroine addict, but we can see a parallel in the whole Da Vinci Code fad going on right now, which is also tied in with a revived obsession with Gnosticism.
The modern enemy of Christianity of course cannot accept that Christ is the Son of God, so they attack Him by saying that He had carnal relations, and was thus just a regular human being. When truth is thrown out the window, the only thing left is the tantalizing idea that sex governs everything, and even the most revered person in history had to succumb to it. This is also the best way to justify any form of moral licentiousness. And in a hyper-capitalistic atmosphere, sex sells, even if it makes poor scholarship.
As for Gnosticism and the idea that the Christian Church has been hiding the truth, this is proof how much the Protestant ethic is ingrained into contemporary discourse. Yes, our Faith is based on the historical facts of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ who is the Son of God, but the primary witness and vessel of that Truth is the Church Herself, not a bunch of dead papyrus scrolls.
Christianity is an ecclesiatical phenomenon; the Church is not just a convenient addition to it. Many would-be neo-Gnostics would like to think that Jesus really taught a doctrine of "personal enlightenment", that Jesus wanted to help us with a better twelve-step program. (This is also not far from "evangelical" Christianity.) Thus, no Church is needed or even intended. But the truth is that Christ came that we might have life, and life in abundance. And this implies the sacramental system, fellowship, and communion with our brother in the Mystical Body. These aspiring heretics would like to make Christianity "about me", and that is NOT what it's about. Christianity is the union of persons and indeed the whole cosmos with God in the Church. And this is a very self-emptying thing.
The proposed Gnostic system is truly a very sad way of thinking.