We’re all familiar with the term “conspiracy theory.” For some, it’s used as a pejorative—a way to discredit information or something useful to calumniate someone who is not like-minded. For others, it’s an annoying word that they’re sick of hearing from those who never give them the benefit of the doubt. However you have heard the word, it is a loaded term, to say the least.
The past 15 months have certainly been a time when so-called conspiracy theories have been at the forefront of our minds. It seems that every day we are living through another example of vindication for what was heretofore considered a wild hypothesis. Whether we are looking at the proposed Great Reset, the notion of vaccine passports, or even the possibility of communist-engineered viruses, we are living through an era where what seem like conspiracy theories are actually conspiracy facts.
Now, I am not advocating for any particular narrative on any specific issue. That being said, anyone who knows me knows where I stand on a given issue, conspiracy or otherwise. I have no problem investigating the “rabbit-hole” of potential conspiracies, as I have found that often there is at least a nugget of truth to be found if you dig deep enough. However, as I look around and evaluate the various theories being bandied about, I wonder if perhaps we are missing the potential dangers of the conspiracy theory enterprise. I am referring to Gnosticism.
What is Gnosticism?
The Catholic Encyclopedia lends the following description regarding Gnosticism: “Whereas Judaism and Christianity, and almost all pagan systems, hold that the soul attains its proper end by obedience of mind and will to the Supreme Power, i.e. by faith and works, it is markedly peculiar to Gnosticism that it places the salvation of the soul merely in the possession of a quasi-intuitive knowledge of the mysteries of the universe and of magic formulae indicative of that knowledge.”
In addition, Gnosticism, properly understood, is an ancient heresy wherein the devotees seek for secret knowledge—gnosis—that sets them apart from everyone else. We have seen this manifest in various heresies and movements. The Manicheans, Albigensians, Illuminati (yes, the Illuminati is real), Freemasonry, and the New Age movement are all examples of gnostic errors. Gnostic manifestations do vary, and they might seem quite different on the surface, but in the end you can identify the spirit of gnosticism by a combination of similarities. Among other things, you will find notes of pantheism, secret knowledge of “elect” or “perfected” members, illogical dietary practices, sexual confusion, and even ritual suicidal ideation. There are, of course, more characteristics that have been a part of gnostic groups, but trying to pin down a comprehensive list would be a cumbersome endeavor.
In our day, Gnosticism is arguably most popular under the banner of the New Age. Perhaps you have been involved in New Age practices, or you know someone who has. If you know anything about the New Age, you know that gnostic characteristics are fundamental to the movement. Whether it is through popular astrology, psychic mediums—who are either frauds or devil worshippers—or pseudoscientific snake-oil, the New Age is everywhere.
What does this have to do with conspiracy theories?
Those of us who periodically consult the alternative media and “conspiracy” outlets usually do so because the “theorists” routinely question the mainstream information that we are given through the usual outlets. This is, of course, a good thing to do, as it is more than obvious that, through a combination of big government and big business interests, much of the “news” is nothing more than propaganda. Furthermore, even the traditional outlets of academic or scientific information are often the same. So, it is wise to dig deeper and to prudently distrust the usual outlets. However, there is a gnostic temptation inherent in this pursuit.
There is an inherent pleasure in figuring out some otherwise hidden truth. This is true for basic truths that were previously hidden to yourself, and it is even more so when we discover information that no one knew. This is why investigative journalism is so exciting, as is avant-garde scientific investigation. However, as with all pleasures, discovering hidden knowledge can tempt a man to curiosity that may not necessarily kill the cat, but it may endanger the soul.
An obvious example of this over the last few years has been the QAnon cult. Although attractive to many, it’s clear that it was a pseudo-messianic movement centered around the myth of Donald Trump as a sort of savior who would redeem American Exceptionalism. Granted, many people were skeptical of this, and most sensible people have abandoned it. Most notably, Q appealed to the desire for secret and salvific knowledge through a series of prophesied dates wherein The Donald would descend from a helicopter and take back America for the MAGA man.
It’s easy to poke fun at a movement like QAnon, but there are more pernicious gnostic temptations that can attract even the best of us. I have seen a growing influence of gnostic and New Age influence in the anti-lockdown movement.
As I live in Ontario, Canada, which is arguably the most locked down region on earth, I have a keen interest in any movement seeking to end the insane public health doctatorship that has taken over my country. As a result, I have attended various rallies and demonstrations that fight against the narrative. Understandably, there are many so-called conspiracy theorists who headline the stages to give talks to the crowds about the nonsense we are living under. Granted, the speakers have been dynamic and enlighten the onlookers to some important facts that fight against the lies we are told by our government.
However, at each event I have been to, there is a strong New Age contingent, either as speakers, or as a sizable part of the crowd. At the last event I went to, I saw an old friend, someone I hadn’t seen since high school, and we chatted about the madness of lockdowns and other related topics. He was surprised to see me and found it funny that a man like myself—a basic conservative Christian—could be “woke” to all these things. He then proceeded to ask me what I thought about a host of “conspiracies.” Again, he was surprised that I had given these things thought and that I did not just believe the lying media; conservative or otherwise. But, the conversation took a turn for the New Age/Gnostic when he explained to me how his mind had been “opened” through psychedelic drugs and Hindu-inspired meditation practices.
This is not uncommon among the conspiracy crowd. In fact, one of the most famous figures—David Icke, a British man—is a pure gnostic when you dive into his philosophy. I recommend caution, but if you are interested, here is a ten-minute clip where he goes on about how the human being is part of a “frequency” of “consciousness,” and other esoteric nonsense. I have listened to this man critique the elitist nature of our politics, and he says a lot of true things; but his message can be a Trojan Horse for Gnosticism for the uninitiated.
I fear that the same thing might be true for the current controversy surrounding the potential side effects of vaccine shedding with regard to the proposed COVID-19 injections. I am not suggesting one way or another what may or may not be true about these claims, as I have heard strong arguments both for and against by people I trust. However, there is definitely a strong presence of New Age Gnosticism among the intellectuals and doctors warning about the dangers of shedding. In a video that has gone viral (pun intended) about the proposed vaccines, a woman named Dr. Christiane Northrup has taken center-stage. She is a physician who has embraced a host of strange ideas, not the least of which include QAnon and sex-magic. At one time, she was part of Oprah’s inner-circle, which has always been full of New Age gurus and the like. At any rate, this doctor may have true things to say about medicine—I have no issue with alternative medicine—but she may also be a New Age lunatic.
These two examples of prominent figures in the “conspiracy theory” movement are just the tip of the iceberg.
I want to reiterate that I am not in the least “anti-conspiracy theory,” and I believe that this last year has shown us how we would be wise to listen to folks from this realm when trying to discern between what is true and false in society. However, we live in a time marked by massive confusion and lies at all levels in all realms of society, which means that the devil’s cloven hoof-prints will be everywhere. I urge fellow Catholics to take a step back and really test the spirit of the times, because even amongst the discovery of what may be heretofore hidden truth, the fallen angels are more than willing to engage.
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