Interview: Inner Christianity and Esotericism With Richard Smoley

Richard Smoley is a consulting editor to Parabola magazine and the author of several books on esotericism, religion, and spirituality, including Supernatural: Writings on an Unknown History, How God Became God: What Scholars Are Really Saying about God and the Bible, and Inner Christianity: A Guide to the Esoteric Tradition.

During the 1980s, Smoley was a writer for the respected esoteric journal Gnosis, and in 1990 he became the journal’s editor. Under his editorship, Gnosis released issues on Gnosticism, Freemasonry, G.I. Gurdjieff, the spirituality of Russia, and more.

We spoke to him about the spiritual crisis of the West, alternative spirituality, and inner Christianity.  Continue reading “Interview: Inner Christianity and Esotericism With Richard Smoley”

Drawing on Different Traditions

We tend to think of the ancient world as having many distinct religions, all somehow pure and authentic in themselves. But the truth is more complicated, of course. Muslims, Christians, and Jews debated each other at times, and their religions influenced each other. Platonism also influenced these three religions, or at least their more mystical and esoteric schools of thought. Moreover, even in antiquity people often practiced different faiths, having, for example, to be a part of the state religion, for example, while practicing their own religion in their own lives. In the modern era, in Freemasonry, we find the influence of Hermeticism, alchemy, ancient Egyptian culture, etc., in the “higher Degrees.”

Today, whether ancient or modern, dead, obscure, or having millions of members, every religious tradition is available to us in some way, even if only through books. It is an odd thing to see, but esoteric schools, such as Martinism and those following the teachings of Armenian mystic G. I. Gurdjieff, virtually inaccessible two decades ago, now regularly appear on the net, including in my social media streams. Continue reading “Drawing on Different Traditions”

Focusing on The Smaller Things

The Western is a genre of literature, cinema, or other arts that depicts life in the American Old West during the latter-half of the 19th century and first decade of the 20th century. A common feature of such depictions is a vision of grandeur, limitless horizons, and untamed wilds. Lawmen vie with outlaws in desolate places to bring American civilization and order to new lands.

In the Western genre dreams of greatness are often expressed: a hope at establishing a new life “out West,” finding a fortune in the gold rushes of California, seeking personal revenge, or finding fame through heroic acts against Indian tribes or bandits. The modern version of the knight errant, the lone ranger seeking justice, is bound no social institution but only to his internal sense of honor. Continue reading “Focusing on The Smaller Things”