Monday, July 21, 2008

From the downfall of Gnosticism, through the pickle, to Dr. Horrible

In The Gnostic Gospels, Elaine Pagels explains one reason we don't have passels of Gnostics roaming the prairies anymore. In the early days, the fathers of what we now know as Christianity decided Gnosticism (which had a lot in common with early Buddhism) was too exclusive. It required years of study; it had a sort of expertise ladder which adherents had to climb. It was not a "real world" religion but a monastic one--you couldn't have a job and a family and be a true Gnostic. The "fathers" wanted a religion that anyone could participate in, and--this part's crucial--that anyone could understand. So they boiled the doctrine down to a few basic tenets, which, once swallowed, rendered one a Christian. No study, no robes, even no reading, really.

We now reap the, um, benefits of this decision's extraordinary success. Being a Christian's so easy, anyone, and I mean anyone, can do it. Which is both this guy's message, and the reason for his absolute lack of self awareness in delivering it. It's important to watch the video all the way to the end, where events turn spectacularly dark. (Could this be a hoax? Could it?)

Dr. Horrible also got dark at the end, which surprised me at first, but which, on reflection, seems appropriate. At least that ending was intentional. Maybe it's just me, but Dr. Horrible and the pickle video somehow share a core narrative.

Thanks to Zach for the tip.

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