Our esteemed group at the Gnostic America Conference.
Forbidden Gospels Blog
If you subscribe, my new posts will automatically be sent to you.
I thought it would be fun to track the papers at the conference and post a few words about each one with a photo.
Catherine L. Albanese (Keynote)
“The Gnostic in Us All: Thinking from the Macrobiotics of Michio Kushi”
Abstract: Way back when in graduate school, I wrote a paper on the Gospel of Thomas, one of the documents discovered at Nag Hammadi in 1945. The debate over its gnosticizing elements was alive and well, and I weighed in with an argument that its thorough oblivion to history rendered it Gnostic—in the capital-“G” sense. Of course, there were other Gnostic elements cited then by scholars—such as Thomas’s turn within to a self on divinity’s edge and its enigmatic sayings with their salvific and mystical secret. Later, in 1976, I published the paper in an academic journal. That was the end of my Gnostic story.
Or so I thought. But in 1986, I began the practice of macrobiotics. As I studied the teachings of Michio Kushi, its foremost American teacher, I began to smell more than a whiff of religion. His wife, Aveline, had published a cookbook with the subtitle For Health, Harmony, and Peace. Michio Kushi himself, with longtime political interests in world government, elaborated on a cosmological spiral, with humans descending from a “unique principle” as it divided into yin and yang. Finding balance with yin and yang energies through diet and lifestyle would lead to alignment and peace. What lay ahead, if macrobiotic principles were followed, was “one peaceful world.”
Somewhere on the road to one peaceful world, Kushi discovered the Gospel of Thomas. He began to use it regularly, incorporating it into popular “spiritual” seminars. I will leverage an account of the gnostic (here small-“g”) content of macrobiotics on Michio Kushi’s commentary on the Gospel of Thomas—The Gospel of Peace (1992)—and also on related works. My task will be to think through the gnosticism of brown rice and a peaceful world in terms of late twentieth-century American society and culture, to find the lines of connection, and to explore them as encrypted signs—in the twenty-first century still—of the gnostic in us all.
Catherine L. Albanese is J. F. Rowny Professor Emerita and Research Professor in the Department of Religious Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara. With a Ph.D. in American religious history from the University of Chicago (Divinity School, 1972), she is former department chair at UCSB Religious Studies (2005-2010) and former president of the American Academy of Religion (1994). Her award-winning book, A Republic of Mind and Spirit: A Cultural History of American Metaphysical Religion, was published in 2007 (Yale). She is the author of numerous other books and articles, including America: Religions and Religion, now in its fifth edition (Cengage, 2013). In 2014, she was elected a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
We hope you can join us for all or part of the Gnostic America conference, March 28-31.
Wednesday, March 28
3:30-5 pm PANEL 1: FROM ANCIENT TO MODERN GNOSTICISM
April D. DeConick, The Sociology of Gnostic Spirituality
Gregory Shaw, Can We Recover Gnosis Today?
7-8:30 pm KEYNOTE LECTURE
Catherine L. Albanese, The Gnostic in Us All: Thinking from the Macrobiotics of Michio Kushi
Thursday, March 29
9-10:30 am PANEL 2: THE THEOSOPHICAL CONNECTION
Erin Prophet, Hermetism, Kabbalah and “Double Evolution” in Blavatsky’s Root Race Theory
Simon Cox, Theosophical Gnosis and Astral Hermeneutics
10:45-12:15 PANEL 3: GNOSTIC NEW RELIGIONS
Victor Nardo, Illuminating the Illuminatus: The Gnosticism of Richard, Duc de Palatine
Cathy Gutierrez, Know Place: Heaven's Gate and American Gnosticism
2-3:30 pm PANEL 4: NEW AGE GNOSTICISM
Simon Joseph, American Gnosis: Jesus Mysticism in a Course in Miracles
Mitch Horowitz, The New Age and Gnosticism: Terms of Commonality
4:30-5:30 pm GNOSIS IN RHYTHM AND SONG, RICE MEMORIAL CHAPEL
April DeConick, Sonja Bruzauskas, and Craig Hauschildt
Friday, March 30
9-10:30 am PANEL 5: GNOSTIC MEANING-MAKING IN MODERNITY
Miguel Connor, Exiting the Black Iron Prison: How My Podcast on Gnosticism Taught Me We Live in Gnostic Times
Matthew Dillon, The Afterlives of the Archons
10:45-12:15 PANEL 6: LITERARY GNOSTICISM
Eric Wargo, The Space Jockey and the Future of Enjoyment: Alienated Sentience in the World of H.R. Giger
Samuel Stoeltje, Channeling a Utopian Apocalypse: Alice Neihardt Thompson’s The Great Adventure
2-3:30 pm PANEL 7: GNOSTICISM AT THE MOVIES
Lautaro Roig Lanzillotta, A Metaphysical Rebel? Camus’s Analysis of Gnosticism and Its Influence on Literature and Cinema
Fryderyk Kwiatkowski, Eric Voegelin and Gnostic Hollywood: Cinematic Portrayals of the Immanentization of the Eschaton
7-10 pm SCREENING OF DARK CITY with POST-FILM PANEL, RICE MEDIA CENTER
Saturday, March 31
9-10:30 am PANEL 8: INTELLECTUAL RESPONSES TO THE GNOSTIC RENAISSANCE
Lance Owens, C.G. Jung and the Gnostic Renaissance
Arthur Versluis, Gnosis in the American Study of Religion
10:45-12:15 PANEL 9: ESOTERIC CURRENTS IN AMERICA
Timothy Grieve-Carlson, American Aurora: Early American Religion and Jacob Boehme
Hugh Urban, The Knowing of Knowing: Neo-Gnosticism from the O.T.O. to Scientology
2-3:30 pm PANEL 10: THE MYSTIC AND THE GNOSTIC
Erik Davis, The Electric Chrism Acid Test: The Problem of Psychedelic Gnosis
Jeffrey J. Kripal, The Mysteries of Safed: Unexplained Correspondences in a Modern Jewish Visionary
There are several special events, all open to the public, as part of the Gnostic America Conference. Here is the poster for the Keynote Address by Catherine Albanese. Hope you can join us. Please share this event around.
I am pleased to announce the Gnostic America Conference. We will convene at Rice University on March 28-31. The conference is free and open to the public. We are exploring the afterlives of Gnosticism in America.
In addition to cutting-edge paper presentations by 20 international scholars and graduate students, we have some spectacular special events in the evenings. Check the poster for times and locations.
On Wednesday evening, Catherine Albanese will deliver the Keynote Address on the Gospel of Thomas and the Macrobiotics of Michio Kushi.
On Thursday evening, the soprano soloist Sonja Bruzauskas and percussionist Craig Hauschildt will be performing GNOSIS IN SONG AND RHYTHM, based on Gnostic liturgies that I translated from the Nag Hammadi literature.
On Friday evening, we will be screening the Director's cut of Dark City, followed by a panel discussion of the film.