March 9th, 2006

Rosicrucian Cross


While I was Googling around, looking for some images from which I could make an icon or two, I found this article:

The Spirit in the Sky: A brief history of seekers, from Druids to Zoroastrians by A.R. Goldyn, Max Sparber and Niels Strandskov

It begins:

Americans live in woeful ignorance of religion. We labor under the delusion that the world is dominated by three monotheistic religions (Christianity, Judaism and Islam) and everything else can be quietly lumped into the "Eastern Religion" or "New Age" sections of our bookstore.

Americans have always viewed the world as a vast buffet, a table covered with international delectables spread out for our delighted sampling. We read lightweight books with titles like A Pocket Guide to Zen while watching videotapes explaining the basics of yoga. We hang Native American dreamcatchers from our rear view mirrors, and with what purpose? Do we plan to fall asleep at the wheel? Our dilettante approach to alternative spirituality produces exactly this sort of metaphysical confusion, creating a culture in which religion involves either a strict allegiance to a monolithic mainstream or a notoriously vapid spiritual dabbling (think of Madonna's trifling studies of Hinduism and Kabbala).

There are genuine spiritual seekers out there, and there are religions with long histories and complex theologies that are never mentioned in college survey courses in religious studies. Some are indigenous religions, beaten down by hundreds of years of imperialism and dismissed as primitive practices. Some are modern creations, liberally borrowing elements from past cosmologies to create a contemporary vision of spirituality. Some are strange hybrids, dismissed (sometimes unfairly) by mainstream religions as cults but believed fervently by their followers. Some are religious societies, where individual members may belong to any religion but band together over shared rituals and goals.

What follows is a brief, necessarily incomplete selection of the incredible range of religious practice. This is intended as an introduction, nothing more, to the magnificent diversity of human belief.

While I don't believe that all Americans "live in woeful ignorance," I think it is true that a large number of us (them?) do, and I have encountered some of the more annoying things mentioned above (like improper use of Native American traditions, for example). In any case, I thought the authors put together an interesting article, and I thought some of you might like to read what they had to say about Rosicrucianism:

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