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Ár nDraíocht Féin
Three Cranes
Chaos Matrix

October 7th, 2004

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04:07 pm - I have a new favourite crazy man!
Recently, I've been reading about Theosophy in my New Age and New Religious Movements class. Let me tell you, it's a riot.

Anyway, we came across this guy by the name of James I. Wedgwood. He lived from about 1892-1950. The guy was pretty well a wacko, and his name appears to occasionally be spelled "Wedgewood".

He was consecreated into the Old Catholic Church, and then decided to make his own church, the Liberal Catholic Church. Of course, there's apparently an amusing question about his consecration (done in 1916), which I'm trying to get the official word from the OCC about. Then he joined the Theosophical Society and a number of other little tiny organizations.

The man appears to have been a "jumper", the kind of person who jumps from religious organization to religious organization, collecting titles and (occasionally) being generally destructive within them. Add that to his pedophilia and his cocaine addiction, and he's a model citizen.

And that's why I like James I. Wedgwood.

The following quotes are ones I read last night in the book, "Madame Blavatsky's Baboon", which I highly recommend to anyone:

"Wedgwood [had] the same taste for magic, ceremony and boys, and the same inexplicable influence over middle-aged women [as Leadbeater]."

"Wedgwood, trailed by the [Theosophical] Society's own private detective, had been seen to visit no less than 18 public lavatories in two hours. When question, he told police that he was searching for a friend he had known in a previous life."

"Now disowned by the [Theosophical] Society and on the run from the police because of criminal charges including drug abuse and buggery, Wedgwood had left England on very short notice, briefly taking refuge with Gurdjieff at Fantainebleau before setting up with his minions in Paris, where he indulged in a riot of promiscuity and drugs."

"When money ran low he turned to the long-suffering Annie Besant for help and she put him in touch with Duch Theosophists. But it was not long before their patience or their funds ran out, and Bishop Wedgewood was reduced to paying bills by smuggling cocane in the head of his episcopal crozier."

You'll find Wedgwood in the center-left of that picture. He's in the crazy-freaking-but-cool outfit.

[Leadbeater is another TS member who was crazy, and he's my second favourite Theosophist. I use the term "favourite" in a very loose manner.]
Current Mood: amusedamused
Current Music: "The Great Filling Station Holdup", -JB

(20 comments Leave a comment)


[User Picture]
Date:October 7th, 2004 02:11 pm (UTC)
It is the same guy, I'm about 95% sure. I'm unclear how the lineage becomes a Gnostic one, though. That makes me wonder even more if his own consecration was valid, and what that does to the rest of the line?

I have an email in to the Old Catholic Church for his records to straighten out the things I've read. Figured I'd go for the people who ordained him in 1916. They got back with me real fast, and kind of insinuated that they don't recognize his consecration, though, but promised some more digging.

Freaky. Not a guy I'd want to succeed, personally.

[User Picture]
Date:October 7th, 2004 02:15 pm (UTC)
Interestingly, I've found that the doctrine of Apostolic Succession was actually in response to Gnostics. This is making me even more curious about how it works!

"The Gnostics claimed that Christ or the Apostles passed on some teachings secretly, or that there were some secret apostles, and that they (the Gnostics) were passing on these teachings. Irenaeus responded that the identity of the original Apostles was well known, as was the main content of their teaching and the identity of the apostles' successors. Therefore, anyone teaching something contrary to what was known to be apostolic teaching was not a successor to the Apostles or to Christ."
- http://encyclopedia.thefreedictionary.com/Apostolic%20succession
[User Picture]
Date:October 8th, 2004 08:54 am (UTC)
Check out "The Refutation of All Heresies" by Hippolytus

It's a Early Christian Apologists work. Hippolytus does a good job of examining all of the different gnostic systems of the day and tries to refute their beliefs. Interestingly, its may easily be the most authoritave Gnostic reference book left. Many of the groups he detailed are gone, their works, their ideas etc... they live on in Hippolytus' book.
Date:October 8th, 2004 04:50 pm (UTC)
Well, Apostolic Succession wasn't really in response to Gnostics per se. In fact, I'd say that's downright erroneous information. Some Gnostic sects rejected the need for Apostolic Succession entirely while others (like the Valentinians) saw it as necessary even though they held meetings outside of the orthodox order. Christian Gnosticism is extraordinarily diverse in that regard.

The ancient canons of the Christian Church state that two or three bishops shall consecrate a new bishop. That is what was in response to the Gnostics. It's a safeguard for orthodoxy. In reality, one bishop can ordain another person a bishop; it's considered irregular but still valid.

Wedgewood is an interesting fellow. The stories I've heard about him (from old guard LCC bishops) are um... morosely hillarious.

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