Historical setting: 563 C.E., Remembering 452 C.E. Hispania
“Nic, I should tell you about this land where we are. This dot on our map of sand is the location for the Bishop’s see of Bracara Augusta. I was called to bring the Gospel of John by the Suebi Christians, who were in need because there was a deep and relentless root of heresy gnawing and sickening the Christian faith here.”
“I’ll bet it was the heresy that says Jesus was a human person of flesh and blood and pain and joy.” Nic assumes it was our own heresy named after Arius.
“No, I’m not talking about a heresy against substance of Trinity. Here it was called Priscillianism. It is a mindset that separates people from the love of life itself; those stricken are lost from noticing the love of the Creator who yearns for us to live and to love one another. This was an ancient and deadly heresy of extreme sacrifice. And like a plague it keeps returning.”
“Was it grounded in a Gospel teaching?” Nic asks.
“Not in the orthodox list of gospels we use. It was in some of the early gospels that were hidden away after someone with wisdom enough argued against it.”
Now Nic takes the stick and draws a long line across the sand. He says, “This is the line of your lifetime; at one end you were born, and the other end is now.”
This is the test that will surely expose my scrambled mind, not to mention the strange circumstance of my life that he already considers is only the product of a scrambled mind. So I choose to avoid the problem.
“For our purposes, Nic, let us rename this the timeline of Christian History.”
I start by measuring it off into its, what is it, four or is it five centuries? Then I add ancient emperors hoping that either my memory is immediately returned or that Nic jumps in to mark the ‘now’ of it all and saves revealing my loss of memory of recent years. I go down to “day 1” the birth of Jesus (and of me) and I start adding branch-lines, above and below the line: one to show the rise of mysticism among Jews; and there are other branches for mysticism among pagan worshipers like the Greeks and the Persians. Nic seems not particularly interested in this detail but it shows an amazing synchronicity in the rise of mysticism. All these added branches converge as mysticism.
(Continues Tuesday, August 11)