Recently a discussion came up at the Kairos Center about the way theologians, writers, and public intellectuals brand movements or schools of thought. I raised the example of conservative pundit Rod Dreher’s Benedict Option — the idea that, as conservative Christians have essentially lost the culture war in American life, they should follow the example of St. Benedict of Nursia and withdraw into small, countercultural communities of work, prayer, and contemplation. There, as in the monasteries of the early medieval period, they can weather the storm of the “barbarian takeover” of what remains of Western Christendom, and preserve what is valuable for future (and perhaps more amenable) generations.
Tag: esoteric history
Stephen K. Bannon — political strategist, filmmaker, financier, and … occultist? Really: multiple sources have reported that Donald Trump’s advisor, right-wing populist, and former Breitbart News editor Steve Bannon has a penchant for the occult and the esoteric. Bannon had notably cited the early twentieth century Italian esotericist, traditionalist, and Nazi affiliate Julius Evola during a 2014 conference with traditionalists at the Vatican. More recently, Mitch Horowitz — author of Occult America: The Secret History of How Mysticism Shaped our Nation — wrote in Salon that, after the 2009 publication of his book, Bannon had called the author to express his “deep interest in the book’s themes,” encouraging Horowitz in his work on his next volume, an exploration of the positive thinking movement in American life. Horowitz goes on in his article to give a history of American conservatism’s interest in occultism and New Age mysticism, including Ronald Reagan’s use of Manly P. Hall’s esoteric ideas about America’s “secret destiny,” Donald Trump’s belief in the power of positive thinking, and the Freemasonic symbols in the Great Seal of the United States.
The Light Invisible is a blog that will touch on diverse traditions of Christian Esotericism — traditional Rosicrucianism, Christian mysticism, Christian Hermeticism and Cabala, European alchemy, Renaissance magic, the Golden Dawn tradition, the legends of the Holy Grail, and folk magical traditions. The lens through which I will reflect on these esoteric traditions is primarily orthodox — in other words, I affirm the traditional theology of orthodox Christianity, specifically the creedal, liturgical, apostolic Christianity of the Roman Catholic Church, Anglo-Catholicism, and Eastern Orthodoxy (I myself am a practicing Catholic who spent a long time in the Anglican church before confirmation as a Roman Catholic, my family’s tradition).
Originally posted as a part of my column, The Blooming Staff, on the Agora, the group blog of the Patheos Pagan Channel.
In 1947, Protestant theologian Karl Barth introduced the phrase Ecclesia semper reformanda est — “the church is always to be reformed.” Barth used the phrase to express the Reformed conviction that the Christian Church must constantly examine itself and continue to evolve and reform; a teaching that thinks of the Reformation as a permanent state rather than an historic event. Since the Second Vatican Council, certain radical Catholic theologians like Hans Küng have also used the saying to express their desire for a Church that remains open to the world and to the spirit of the times. Pope Francis has in many ways resumed this spirit of dialogue and openness within the Church, especially when it comes to issues like poverty and climate change.