01: Although Transhumanism has been largely secular, even atheistic, the formation of the Mormon Transhumanist Association suggests a new openness to religion in the movement The society, formed in 2006, was accepted as the only religious special-interest affiliate of the World Transhumanist Association.
Transhumanism, which holds that technology will radically alter human nature, has been largely anti-religious, arguing that traditional religion and values are outmoded. But more recently the WTA has acknowledged that it would like to find better ways to communicate with and understand religious persons. Mormon transhumanists believe that their religion parallels and compliments transhumanism, especially in its belief that transformed humans can attain godhood.
More specifically, the millennial teachings or Mormonism, including the concept that the acquisition of knowledge and power are accelerating and that a fundamental change in our nature and our world is imminent, are also similar to transhumanist views. Mormon transhumanists believe that their traditional values and spirituality can help counter the tendencies of elitism (where only the wealthy can have access to life-enhancing technologies) and individualism in the wider movement. (Sunstone, March)
02: The Branch, The Lord Our Righteousness is the latest incarnation of the Branch Davidians after many of its members and leader David Koresh died in a fire after an armed standoff with the federal authorities 14 years ago. The new leader of the group, Charles J. Pace, said he planned to build a museum, a tabernacle, an amphitheater and a wellness center as part of the reorganized sect.
Pace left the Branch Davidians in the mid-1980s but returned to the site shortly after the fire to live on the property and rehabilitate the church from the influence of Koresh. About a dozen believers gather in a chapel on the grounds each week for services led by Pace. The few remaining Davidians who once lived on the compound oppose Pace’s project, saying he will misrepresent the group and Koresh.
(Source: New York Times, April 15)
03: Following years of controversies and tensions, the Canadian-basedArmy of Mary has been ruled out of communion with the Roman Catholic Church, according to a declaration by the Archbishop of Quebec. The canonical status of the group had been revoked as early as 1987, and a doctrinal note of the Canadian Bishops’ Conference in 2001 had stated that the Army’s teachings were erroneous.
However, it had long retained sympathizers (including some bishops), and efforts had continued in order to bring the movement back to the Catholic mainstream. But the unauthorized ordination of five deacons by a priest (only a bishop has the power to ordain according to Catholic teachings) has finally made the Army a schismatic group, according to the statement. The group may have had up to 25,000 followers, but the current figures seem to be lower.
The case shows once again the not infrequent tensions between the Roman Catholic hierarchy and groups organized around “private revelations,” usually with strong Marian accents. With a background of apocalyptic teachings, the Army of Mary is claimed to promote its foundress, Marie-Paule Giguère, as an incarnation of the Virgin Mary (or close to it) and to see the Virgin Mary as a fourth person of the Trinity (being “in” God, although not “of” God).
The Army’s leadership shows no intent to recant. It claims to continue to be faithful to the Church. It sees the bishop’s statement as a rejection of the “Work of God” and of the “Co-Redemptrix” given by God for our times. Giguère herself is reported to consider the condemnation as an expected “crucifixion”. According to the Army’s own magazine, The Kingdom (January-February), a new, mystical Church, the “Church of John,” is now initiated and renews the “Church of Peter.”
This goes along with the calling of new apostles – hence the power to ordain clergy, leading to what seems to be a final break with mainstream Roman Catholicism.
— By Jean-Francois Mayer