Monday, 8 July 2019

The opposite of abstraction is experience

I've been reading Rudolf Steiner and listening to his ideas being expounded; and realise that a fundamental problem is that Steiner tended to end with abstraction. Although he stated that reality consisted of living Beings; these were explained in their nature and effect using abstractions.

The opposite of abstraction - and the nature of reality - is experience (i.e. the experience of Beings) - thus reality is within-time, and happens through time; experience is process not category. 

Abstraction (as in my sentences above) is usually the fate of human discussion and exposition, since these are conducted in language, and language is abstract. We can use language to point-at experience, to describe the context of experience; but of course this will be secondary.

It is perhaps this that makes people sake that mystical experience is ineffable, un-expressible - but that is true of all experience, so the property of ineffability is not distinctive to the mystical. e.g. We cannot capture being-in-love - or any other emotion - in language.

Behind all abstraction, language and any other form of interpersonal communication there is direct, unmediated experience, a 'knowing' that is potentially a shared experience of Beings. And this is going-on all the time, in all of us - but nearly always unconsciously.

In other words, our true and divine self is always there; even when it is never attended-to. Because the real self is not inside us, so much as a perspective on reality. Reality is universally accessible, but each of us has a perspective on it; and we can only come to know reality in a linear and sequential fashion.

So, in a way, the real self is like a peephole opening onto the totality of reality (the underworld, the dwat, the collective conscious and unconscious...). Of course it is more than just a peephole; because the real self is also the source of real freedom; and a producer of (uncaused) thought; and potentially the mans of our participation in divine creation.

But in terms of our ability directly to know, we might imagine it as a peephole through which we can incrementally discover everything there is to know, eventually (but of course, that everything will keep growing, and we may contribute to it)- but always from our unique perspective.

There is an abstraction for you! A crude and simple abstract model of reality - looking through a peephole at the ocean of reality that is always everywhere and within... As such it is certainly false - both ridiculously partial, and seriously distorted. What, then is the point of it?

By my understanding, much of our learning - nowadays in this mortal life - is a matter of becoming conscious of something that is already happening, but beyond our awareness. Thus, the abstraction is helpful if or when it draws attention to some neglected reality that we may then - by experiencing it in our thinking - come to know for ourselves.

However, probably only when we come to know it for ourselves. Abstractions at the level of abstraction - and locked into that level by the need for language in public discourse - are a lethal tyranny for the soul.

And all public discourse, all institutions and organisations, operate solely at the level of abstract language or other symbolism; and so are always partial and distorted - always false. This is a big lesson that we need to learn - it is one of the big lessons of our time.

And our learning is assisted by the fact that our institutions and their leaders are so obviously corrupt and increasingly evil that we are quickly learning that they are wrong - and the abstract laws, rules and guidelines by which they attempt to control us are also wrong.

And if we want to know what is right we can derive it only from that which is validated by direct personal experience. and we are wrong.

 

Monday, 1 July 2019

The objectivity of truth in Final Participation

Yesterday I described how men and women characteristically - but in different ways - tend to regard Truth in a passive and materialist sense, as being That Which Overwhelms. Men by the overwhelming of imposing force, women by the overwhelming of social (especially peer group) consensus.

But that is, of course, potentially to leave out the spiritual aspect of life - the divine aspect; since the overwhelming is mostly (women especially, but nearly always men too) done by 'other people'.

And so we have these 'operational definitions' of truth that are, in practice, very 'relativistic' - in the sense that if lots of people, or just a few powerful/ high status people, decide something - then we are naturally - at a materialist level - inclined passively to accept it as true.

As I say, this is truth as 'that which overwhelms'; such a truth 'comes from outside' each us us - we are 'victims' of truth. If that was all-there-is top truth (in practice) then there could be no truth - because consensus isn't truth, power isn't truth...

If there is to be truth at all - and if that truth is to be something we personally endorse, rather than being compelled to submit-to; then there must be a higher truth that is not psychological but objective; and active, not passive. Because if truth is merely the external coercing, and our-selves submitting - then it would not be something that we personally would want. We would be merely slaves to truth.

(Obviously!) on the other hand, truth can't be something we make-up for ourselves - as a kind of wishful thinking.

Yet for most people these are the only choices - truth is either seen as that which is imposed (which in practice is usually 'other people'), or whatever-I-say (which is truth-as-delusion, since truth is private and unique).

In sum - these are demonic views of truth - with the choice being submission or pride, a hierarchy of coercion - we submit to the truths of those more powerful, and impose our own truth upon those whom we can dominate: i.e. the hierarchy of Hell.

This is another argument for the Goodness of Final Participation. That the truth that is Good, the truth which Saves, the truth which brings us towards being ourselves gods in harmony with the purposes of God - all these are the truth of Participation. They are voluntary truths in the sense that the truth is God's creation, we choose to endorse the purpose and nature of that creation, and because of love we joining our-selves to that ongoing work of creation.

So truth is not compelled but chosen - hence subjective; and truth is also objective and not just a figment of my mind, but has universality. And truth is mine, because I contribute to it; and truth is for anybody else who also chooses the heavenly life of collaborating in the work of creation.

If Time is primary instead of Space (Final Participation)

Transformation - a process in Time - has been described as the underlying principle (or assumption) of nomadic hunter-gatherer life and spiritual belief - a metaphysics to which I believe Man is destined to return, but in a freely-chosen and conscious way (Final Participation)

Most philosophy (and classical Christian theology) assumes that Space is primary, and therefore end-up (when pushing analysis to the limit of metaphysics) by discarding Time.

For instance, Plato had the ultimate reality as a Time-less realm of eternal, archetypal forms. Classical Christian theology follows this by making God outside of Time; in an eternity in which past, present and future are one.

But if, instead, we regard Time as the primary reality, then things look very different. Things exist in Time, which means that their reality stretches back either to eternity or to when they are made. Things are not defined by their cross-sectional 'spatial' properties - because they exist longitudinally, through-Time.

What we see now is a probably-ephemeral property of an entity defined as a self that goes backwards... More exactly, the entity is (in physics terms) a process. Its cross-sectional properties may, probably will, change - but it stays itself because it is lineally related to its earlier selves.

More simply, the ultimate entities are Beings, and Beings are distinguished historically. There need not be any specific thing or things about a Being that remains constant through the changes a Being undergoes in Time. It stays the same being, even if everything about it has changed.

In a system in which Time is primary, the 'units' are Beings, and the principle of their continued reality could be described as continuing-Life; and continuing-Life may entail Transformation.

A Being may transform (like a caterpillar to a butterfly, or a Man to a god) so completely that nothing about it remains unchanged - yet it is the same Being; lineally the same and going back forever without beginning.

So which is primary, Space or Time? It cannot be both although it could be neither. The question is one of metaphysics, hence answerable only by primary, direct personal intuition - each for himself. But unless asked and answered; you will merely passively, unconsciously, be absorbing the metaphysical assumptions of others.

  

Sunday, 16 June 2019

How can a genius of Romantic Christianity affect society more widely?

This question arises when comparing the 'impact' of Rudolf Steiner - who founded an international society and movement; and William Arkle, who died known only to a 'handful' of people and remains almost wholly obscure.

In general, the most valuable kind of genius is one who dicovers something 'simple'; that is, something that was difficult to discover (because, in fact, it was Not discovered until the genius did it) but, once discovered, easy to learn.

This can be seen by technologies such as the bow and arrow, wheel or arch, whose origins are unknown, were absent from many (or all) ancient cultures, and were (I believe we can infer) discovered by specific persons (i.e. geniuses) in particular times and places.

More recent examples would include the technologies of the agricultural and industrial revolutions, which were adopted quickly and widely - oince the intellectual heavy lifting had been done by specific geniuses (who often gained nothing personally from the inventions)


Rudolf Steiner was a genius of Romantic Christianity; but he made many serious strategic errors; and in the end embedded his major (and simple) discoveries in a vast structure of mostly-dubious factual-assertion; which formed the (infallible) scriptures of a bureaucractic Anthroposophical Society; housed in a grandiose headquarters of concrete (in both senses) buildings; engaged in all sorts of formal/ procedural/ bureaucratic institutional activities relating to education, medicine, agriculture, the arts etc.

In sum, Steiner attempted to 'impose' his esoteric message on the world via an organisation, by a stepwise process, that is - by a kind of compulsion - and this is an internally-contradictory, hence ineffectual, strategy.

The outcome is that it is very hard to find the core spirit of Steiner anywhere in the world; except among a handful of individuals who are essentially outside of the Society and institutional structures (and even these Steinerites usually remain captivated by the Ahrimanic distortions of their Master, rather than discarding them).

In sum, that of Steiner which we can perceive is merely the distortion. 


By contrast, except for a few disciples (who have not, apparently, made public their thoughts) anyone who has come to share Arkle's ideas must re-experience them for himself.

In other words, insofar as he has affected people, Arkle can only have influenced other people via imperceptible esoteric and direct spiritual routes. One who would share Arkle's thinking, needs to do so on the 'plane' of ultimate and universal reality - since their is neither System nor Institutions to 'educate' him. 

The question is whether the existence and effect of such esoteric and direct ways of sharing are really-real (or just wishful thinking).


It strikes me that William Arkle, especially in his pictures and his 'simple' prose pieces - such as Letter from a Father, Equations of Being and the Late Prose items - made some very simple spiritual discoveries that therefore could be learned rapidly and applied very widely.

Arkle's core insight is that we can come directly and by experience to know the detailed and personal love of God the Creator for ourselves; which will give us a great confidence and faith in our own lives.

And the fact that we are God's children means that we have a share of his divinity, and this will guide us through - enable us to learn from - all possible experiences that our life brings us.


The point is that all this is knowable for ourselves, once we know about it. It is effective, if we genuinely believe it is true. The insight is very simple, and our life can be very simple.

Of course, in works like A Geography of Consciousness or Hologram and Mind; Arkle also produced works with a great deal of complexity, involving metaphors drawn from physics and engineering.

The underlying message remains simple, and I think these complex works were produced as a form of persuasive rhetoric in response to the typical kinds of questioning of modern intellectuals, who are unable to take-seriously or to believe the truth of anything that is simple and obvious.

These works of Arkles function mostly like the mathematical 'working' done to convince a skeptic, when the actual result may be simple; they provide models or analogies of spiritual truths that strike us as childishly obvious; and by that hope to get past the 'watchful dragons' of the modern skeptical intellect (based upon deep and denied reductionist assumptions and dishonest arguments).


It would seem to me that Arkle 'must have' had a considerable influence on The World; since someone of his spiritual quality could not help but have done so! But not, of course, by the normal, perceptible, means of 'communication'.

Instead, I regard the creative insights of Arkle as having made a permanent addition to the primary thought-world that is the basis of divine creation. Anyone who engages in primary thinking, who has direct intuition, may therefore encounter Arkle's insights for themselves and without ever having heard of Arkle.

As a genius, Arkle was able to think some things for the first time; but now they have been-thought - and these thoughts are available to 'everybody' who would not have had the genius to create them anew from scratch.


Since Love is primary and a part of creation; I would further emphasise that the 'spead' of Arkle's ideas depends upon love. The 'range of effect' is therefore set by the scope of Arkle's love, and the difference made will be initially in realtion to that scope.

For example, when Arkle painted something with love that embodied his genius insights, those things will have been strengthened and sustained by that love - in an objective fashion: they will have been 'Romanticised' in an objective and universal sense. A better known example would be Walter Scott or Wordsworth, who permanently transformed the power of The Scottish Borders and the Lake District (and similar landscapes) to inspire and elevate us - even for those who have never read either.

I am suggesting that - as an example, but much more widely - the Scottish Border and the Lake Distict were objectively changed by Scott and Wordsworth - we who lovingly-experience them now, do so in a way that is qualitatively different from the way such landscapes were experienced 300 years ago - and indeed we cannot recover the way they used to be regarded. And later on Tolkien further modified our experience of landscapes.

The new experience is unlocked by shared love.

This can be explained (to use the terminology of Steiner's Philosophy of Freedom) in terms of the concepts we use to interpret the raw perceptual data and memories of these places - our concepts are, when they are true, drawn from the universal, impersonal store of divine creation - and this store has been modified by the 'final participation' of human geniuses.

This, then, (as a general mechanism) is the main way in which a spiritual genius like Steiner or Arkle affects the world; not by their communications, and certainly not by institutional transmission - but by participating-in, and permanently transforming, the ongoing nature of divine creation - henceforth available to all that are attuned to it. 

Saturday, 15 June 2019

The polarity of our outer and inner guidance

Since we are each, from eternity, unique souls - then there is an unique destiny, a personal destiny, for every individual.

But discovering (and then, of course, following) one's unique destiny is a difficult matter, and many people don't know how to start - or how an unique destiny differs from randomness or arbitrariness.


To make an unique destiny possible requires both internal and external guidance, and it is from the dynamic polarity of their relationship that we can navigate our destined (but not pre-destined) path through life.

Our external guidance is known as the Holy Ghost, and is accessible to all Christians; since the Holy Ghost (according to the Fourth Gospel) was provided by Jesus after his ascension.

Yet if the Holy Ghost had been the only kind of guidance, then our destiny would be 'given' to us; and our task would merely be to consult the Holy Ghost, and then passively to 'follow' its instructions, as best we could.This would be a life a spiritually children (and was indeed our own life as children, and probably the life of all Men in earlier periods of Man's history.)

Such a life of obedient passivity is a one-sided caricature, because it never was, nor could be, wholly the case; but this life of child-like obedience to external dictates was surely once regarded as an ideal; wheras now a passively obedient life is Not the task of modern Man.

(Such a life is simply Not An Option. Modern Man is an adolescent in spiritual terms, negatively rejecting of passive obedience; and as adolescents we cannot return to childhood. Our task is freely to choose to develop, to grow-up, into spiritual adults... or else we will remain, as we are: perpetually adolescent.) 

Due to the evolutionary-development of human consciousness since the time of Jesus, our task is now to take an active, conscious path through life - freely chosen. This does Not At All mean that the Holy Ghost has been superseded, but instead that we now have a 'dual guidance system' formed from the interaction of outer and inner.

The inner guidance comes from our real self; the eternal self that is divine; albeit an undeveloped divinity; which is how it can be the creative source of uncaused thinking, primary thinking. A life guided solely by the inner guidance system would be merely egotistic, prideful, rebellious, hedonistic, impulsive - adolescent. 

But outer and inner guidance combine to form a classic polarity; in the sense that the outer guidance is centripetal, constraining, receptive, 'feminine'; while the inner guidance is centrifugal, generative, exploratory, 'masculine'.

This is a polarity because although they can legitimately be distinguished, neither guidance can exist in actual detachment from the other - and this union arises because at a deep level outer and inner are continually-being-produced-consequences of a single, living, conscious, dynamic process.

So our task in this mortal life is therefore actively to work from our own inner motivation, which is in continual interaction with the Holy Ghost. The result is experienced as 'intuition', which is our directly known direction and purpose through life.   

Monday, 3 June 2019

Love and Time = Creation

What Owen Barfield (drawing on Steiner) terms 'polarity' - I have reformulated as Beings in Relationship.

In other words, polarity is described abstractly in terms of a self-generating distinction, a dynamic process - but ultimately I understand this is terms of the Beings that constitute reality having Relationships.

When it comes to Creation - the relevant Relationship is Love.

To put it differently - When Love between Beings acts over Time, there is Creation.


This applies to God - it is God's Love acting through Time, that is Creation. (In other words, the process of love between beings in intrinsically creative.)


However, when Time (process, change) is Not mediated by Love; then we have evil - because any relationship other-than Love is anti-Creation.

So the Good/ Positive situation is of Creation (made by Love through Time).


Not-Love (anything other-than Love) is a negative situation - and is destructive of Creation.

(This is evil and the situation is hell. Absence of Love is hell.)


Not-Time is No-Creation; it would be Stasis; it would be neither Good nor evil; neither Heaven nor Hell - but Just-Be.

(Not Be-ing - just Be, just mere Existence.)

This situation is the Nirvana asserted by 'Eastern Religion'.


Note: This clarifies why Christians should acknowledge the reality and necessity of Time - and should set-aside pre-Christian hangovers and metaphysical errors (common to almost all mainstream, classical Christian theology) about God being outside-of-Time, or a state of Timelessness being the highest state. One would have thought (hoped) that the incarnation of Christ in history would have made this clear - but apparently not. Unless there is Time, there would be no Good, no direction, no Freedom - and no Love. Thus Time is necessary for Christianity; without Time, Christianity is refuted. It is a superiority of Romantic Christianity that it regards Time as necessary and intrinsic. 

Tuesday, 28 May 2019

Romantic Christianity and morality

I should first say that Romantic Christianity is for adults, for post-adolescents. It is, in other words, a product of the modern adult consciousness.

It is for all Western adults, because all modern Western adults are Romantic; and all may (if they want it) choose to accept the gifts of Jesus.  

But I need to say this because this means that Romantic Christianity is neither intended-as nor suitable-as as a Christian way of bringing-up children - raising kids is still, essentially, pretty much the same as it was in the era of traditional Christianity. In other words, for pre-adolescents guidance must necessarily be external, and therefore a Christian environment is the key (home, school, church, books, 'media' etc).

But beyond adolescence lies the destiny of a Romantic consciousness, and the new thing needed is that this be a Christian consciousness.


One major concern about Romantic Christianity relates to morality - and in these times and this place, this means primarily sexual morality. Traditional Christianity was pretty clearly defined in relation to sexual morality; and mainstream modernity has as its (perhaps) core value the Sexual Revolution in its various dominating phases.

The Sexual Revolution is, of course, ever 'advancing' its scope (despite the contradictions) via advocating positively divorce, extramarital promiscuity, abortion, feminism, homosexuality, sadomasochism, transexualism and so on 'forward' toward paedophilia and I don't know what next - the stages of dominance of which define modern culture.

Traditional Christianity is clearly against the sexual revolution - on various grounds: for example the teachings of scripture, the authority of the church, the primacy of tradition, the rigorous implications of theology. Now, all of these grounds are 'external' - so Romantic Christianity requires that they must be validated by internal and intuitive understanding and assent.

The problem has often been that the Romantic impulse has, since the time of Lord Byron and Shelley, often been used as a reason to reject traditional sexual morality - by simply claiming that one does not find intuitive confirmation of 'conventional' morality; and that - on the contrary - inner conviction validates unfettered expression of one's own current lusts and desires.

This 'morally relativistic' way of reasoning has become 'official' over the past several years; so that the sexual revolution requires no greater validation than that claim that it would make some person or group unhappy, or simply unfulfilled (here and now) if they were prevented from doing some sexual thing that they currently very much want to do. If, that is, the 'thing' is currently approved-of by the mainstream sexual revolution at that particular point - and this has changed, and reversed, through recent history. For instance, 'Weinstein-type' promiscuous behaviour was strongly supported, positively-media-depicted, and leftist-advocated in the late 1960-70s, when 'hetero'-sex was officially regarded as merely a pleasurable type of physical exercise; not to be taken seriously.

This validation of extended sexuality began by being applied only to 'consenting adults in private' and was presented as toleration; but has swiftly been extended to public situations and to children of any age and it is now necessary that extending the sexual revolution (in officially approved direction) be actively and publicly embraced - and this positive attitude is compulsory. 


It certainly seems (to traditionalist Christians) as if Romantic Christianity is either sure to be distorted to rationalise the sexual revolution (as happens all the time among the mainstream churches, and by 'liberal' Christians'). But then, the fact is that anything can-be/ has-been/ is-being perverted to rationalise the sexual revolution - whenever the motivation to do so outweighs the desire for truth.

The way I think of it is that the intuitions of Romantic Christianity do not merely 'validate' the truth of sexual morality as it is (partially, with some distortions) represented by the various traditional Christianities (which situation would suggest that the intutions are not necessary, because we could take traditional moal codes as a short-cut to where we wanted, ultimately, to go). Instead, what happens is that by Christian intuition we are able to know for our-selves that sexual morality arises-from ultimate and universal reality.

We personally tap-into the very source of morality, in the nature-of-things - that is in God's creation. 


But this direct knowledge of ultimate sexual morality is Not in the traditional form of general laws and rules about collectives of people; instead (as Rudolf Steiner makes clear in Philosophy of Freedom).

What would be (can be) discovered is that morality is on the one hand absolutely specific to each situation, and also absolutely objective - there is always just one right thing to do, and one only.

And this we can know for-ourselves, and can only know for-ourselves - although equally the judgement of what we may say or do is open to the unique and direct evaluation on others who love us*.


*But only those who love us - because only such have the ability to know directly concerning our souls - by contrast, with other strangers and secondhand observers, they will merely be applying general principles to general situations.

  

Tuesday, 21 May 2019

Barfield on Buddhism (in the twentieth-century West)

From Owen Barfield on CS Lewis (1989) ed. GB Tennyson, page 13:

Lewis had spent his early manhood striving in all sincerity to experience living what Alan Watts has called 'The Supreme Identity'. 

Lewis's very success in that endeavour - compared with the average run of idealists, who do not even make the attempt - proved to him that insofar as the experience is genuine and not merely a complacently fancied experience, it reveals itself as a theoretical truth but a pragmatical error. 

It is and can be an intellectual experience only. 

When it comes to the will, there is no identity, and the prayer must always be 'They will be done', just because my own will, if I look it squarely in the face, is a rag-bag of lusts and feeblenesses and terrors.  

Not for Lewis, therefore, are the lofty strivings of the twentieth-century Buddhist and his condescending smile as he contemplates Christianity and all other formulated religions.


This is also my conclusion. That 'twentieth-century Buddhists' - i.e. more generally Western advocates of Eastern deistic religions - are (to use another and blunter terminology) complacent hypocrites (i.e. do not rigorously practice what they preach) and self-aggrandising advocate of the dark side (because they refuse to acknowledge and repent their lusts, feeblenesses and terrors).

Harsh, I know; but that is my evaluation - on similar grounds as Barfield describes for Lewis. Here and now and for us; Buddhism and the like are not just an ineffectual spiritual dead-end; but an inducement to self-justified embrace of the dark powers - and thus associated with joining and fighting-with the wrong side in the unavoidable spiritual war. (As did Alan Watts.) 

For us; God must be personal, and our religion must be Christian. No alternative. Doing this - each of us, for his own life - is not straightforward; but the conclusion to be drawn from such difficulties to get to work on making it possible

Saturday, 18 May 2019

Video interview with Bruce Charlton on the spiritual significance of Owen Barfield and the Inklings


Keri Ford has interviewed me about the vital relevance of the Inklings for our time; with special reference to Owen Barfield.

I discuss Barfield's relation to the group; and the nature and history of my own engagement with Barfield - including the origins of this blog.


Sunday, 28 April 2019

The pervasive Ahrimanic and Luciferic errors of Rudolf Steiner

"There slumber in every human being faculties by means of which he can acquire for himself a knowledge of higher worlds."

Thus wrote Rudolf Steiner, the founder of Anthroposophy. In The Philosophy of Freedom he demonstrated that thinking was the power that allowed modern human beings direct access to the spiritual worlds, an access that had once been the privilege of only a handful of mystics. 

No longer was it necessary for average human beings to depend on scripture and other forms of religious authority, for they could discover spiritual truth directly through strengthened thinking. This direct knowledge, he argued, was the only foundation for true moral freedom. He went on to develop and teach practical methods by which it could be achieved.

A century later, the Society he founded seems dedicated mainly to preserving and disseminating his nearly 60,000 transcribed lectures [Note: this number seems considerably too large an estimate, since Steiner only lectured actively for about 25 years, which is about 9,000 days - and he did not deliver six lectures every day]. 

The result of his own spiritual research, these lectures cover everything from gnomes to seraphim, from the history of Atlantis to recipes for compost. "Steiner says" is the constant refrain of anthroposophists, who seem to prefer citations from these lectures to direct knowledge of anything. While Steiner's initiatives in education, biodynamic agriculture, homeopathic medicine and care of the mentally retarded have been lovingly preserved, anthroposophy has, since his death, produced little in the way of social innovation. 

Anthroposophists, when they can be understood at all, express superstitions and prejudices that would embarrass a redneck. Fearing injury by everything from rock music to microchips to Jesuits, they have become a society of esoteric hypochondriacs, in neo-Amish withdrawal from modern political and economic life.

How is it that a movement dedicated to strengthened thinking produces so many goofy and morally useless ideas?

How did the author of The Philosophy of Freedom become this ghost to whom his readers so idolatrously surrender their independence of judgement?

That sound and stirring concepts give rise to corrupt and neurotic human organizations is pretty much a summary of the history of all spiritual movements...


I have been again engaging with Rudolf Steiner - because I regard him as one of the most significant thinkers of all time, and because he is a vital contributor to my deepest understanding of reality. Steiner is essential, but...

Yet again I find myself up against the phenomenon of which MacCoun speaks above. When I read or listen to Steiner's own lectures, or to the best of his followers expounding, I am overwhelmed by a sense of suffocation under such a mass of wrongness that I find it hard to continue.

But I disagree with MacCoun in her specific diagnosis that this is due to the Anthroposophical Society (AS), and the way it dealt with Steiner's legacy. I also disagree with her belief that the AS could - in principle - be reformed... I regard the AS as a symptom of Steiner's deep mistakes, and therefore it is unreformable

The problems lay with Steiner himself, and with his decision to become a spiritual leader of an organised movement.  But I repeat myself...


The problems are deep, because Steiner made the serious error of developing a meditative technique that he regarded as intrinsically scientifically valid; and spent two and a half decades, day after day, putting himself into this trance-state and spouting forth in lectures whatever came to him in this state.

Steiner did not live up to his own best understanding - indeed as a matter of daily routine he fell below the standards he himself had understood and explained. Steiner distinguished the Luciferic and Ahrimanic types of spiritual evil - and he fell into both in his late work of lecturing and organising the Theosophical then Anthroposophical societies.

Steiner's focus on meditative technique - and training in this method - was Ahrimanic, materialistic. But (contrary to his own assertion that meditation should be in clear, alert consciousness) the actual meditative method he used was Luciferic - it was (according to multiple descriptions) a dissociated trance state of lowered consciousness, including lucid dreaming. He then took this unconsciously-generated, 'altered state', 'atavistic' material and systematised and taught it as fact - Ahrimanic again.

For many years, Steiner had this working like a machine. Ask him a question, he would go into a trance, and from his unconscious would generate vast masses of material on the subject - and by Steiner's unique intellectual brilliance (he was a genius) this dream-material would be systemised and rationalised even as it emerged in his speech

The vast bulk of Steiner's work from about 1900 was, then, an exemplification of exactly those errors and evils that he himself first diagnosed as spiritual problems of our time: the backward looking Luciferic trances, and the modern bureaucratic organisation he founded, led and left-behind: the Ahrimanic Anthroposophical Society.

Thursday, 25 April 2019

That monotheistic feeling...

If man wishes to build for himself a world conception, he rightly strives toward harmonizing the individual parts...

One who approaches the world with the expectation that everything must explain itself without contradiction, as if it arose from an undivided foundation of the world, will experience many disappointments when he faces the world and its experiences in an unprejudiced way. It is traditional for the human being to treat all that he perceives in the world according to a pastoral world conception, in which everything is led back to the undivided, divine, primordial foundation; everything stems from God and therefore must be understandable as a unity.

This is not the case now, however. What surrounds us in the world as experience does not stem from the undivided primordial foundation. Rather it stems from spiritual individualities different from one another. Different individualities work together in all that surrounds us in the world as experience. This is how it is above all...

Various individualities work together in influencing these events that are relatively independent of each other. If you do not take this into consideration, if you assume everywhere an undivided foundation of the world, you will never understand these events. Only when you take into consideration what is to a certain degree the ebb and flow of events, the varied individualities who work with or against one another, only then will you understand these things in the right way.

This matter is indeed connected with the deepest mysteries of human evolution. Only the monotheistic feeling has veiled this fact for centuries or millennia, but one must consider it.

If one wishes to progress today, therefore, with questions of a world conception, above all one must not confuse logic with an abstract lack of contradiction. An abstract lack of contradiction cannot exist in a world in which individualities are working together independently of one another. 

A striving for conformity will therefore always lead to an impoverishment of concepts; the concepts will no longer be able to encompass the full reality. Only when these concepts are able to take hold of this world full of contradictions, which is the true reality, will they be able to encompass the full reality.

From Individual Spirit Beings and the Undivided Foundation of the World: Part 2 by Rudolf Steiner.

This particular section of a lecture by Rodolf Steiner jumped out at me; because he shares my own understanding that monotheism is an understandable but misguided urge; one that can only be achieved by an 'impoverishment of concepts', an ignoring of primary and intuitively-known realities, that - in the end, and especially at present - plays into sustaining this age of secular materialism.

In other words, a highly abstract monotheism, one that primarily asserts the unity of the world, is hostile to our intuitive knowledge of the multiplicity of agent Beings in reality. This world is Not merely 'aspects' of a primordial unity; it is a Society of Beings.


And this is why, for Christians, Love is the primary necessity; because it is Love which harmonises, and aligns the purposes of Beings into a participation in creation - Beings whose wills otherwise would be chaotically at war.

Christians are One in Love and Purpose - not in monotheistic Being. 

There is a qualitative distinction between the false monotheistic harmony of unity, and the true Christian harmony of Love.

This is why it is important for Christians to acknowledge that in deepest truth they are not monotheists, nor are they 'Trinitarian' monotheists - but that Christianity implicitly acknowledges and works-with the genuine autonomy of many, many Beings.

Tuesday, 23 April 2019

A world without edges

The world Now is qualitatively different from how it was a few generations ago. The changes themselves were not hard-edged, but the cumulative consequences are qualitative.

The world used to be one in which there were hard-edges outside of us. The task was to work from within one or other category that was made by the hard edges.

But the edges dissolved, or were-dissolved... Some of this dissolving was done by the forces of evil - but other forces of evil were concerned to introduces new hard-edges; especially, the global totalitarian bureaucratic System is all about hard-edges. But the reason that we experience The System as tyranny is that we recognise its categories are arbitrary, not-true. We only stick by them because we are compelled, and we can only be compelled because we cannot conceive of any better alternative.

To my mind, those who wish to reintroduce the old hard-edges are welcome to try; but I think this simply cannot succeed. All attempts have failed, and I think they have failed because Men's minds have changed, in a fundamental fashion.

We experience the world differently, which is as much as to say that our world is different - really different. The edges have gone because - for us - the edges are no longer present. 

In a world where there are no edges, or more exactly, no edges that we spontaneously and whole-heartedly recognise as real and 'objective' - we must either live by (what will be experienced as) passive compliance with some arbitrary external source of edges - or else must develop another way of discernment, that comes from within rather than from without.

Yet it is difficult - sometimes impossible - for Men to imagine and believe any inner source of objective reality. The loss of edges is experienced as a loss of all reality, a world of arbitrary, fluid, subjectivity. Imagination is seen as untruth.

The answer, and perhaps the only imaginable answer, can be described; but to believe it, to regard it as real, to regard it as objectively valid... well, that requires a great deal of metaphysical rebuilding, the making of new foundations - which most people are unwilling even to consider embarking upon (perhaps for fear of losing what they already have, but mostly because they think-they-know that the effort would be futile).

In a world without edges, and where edges are not coming back; then that primary task is to derive discernment each from his own resources; but to know that discernment to be objective, and to reference a single and shared reality.

To put it differently, we seek a world where the imagination is true, and where that truth is universal - for all Men.

This has been sought for more than 200 years - but mostly the first and fatal step has been to discard Jesus Christ. Among the minority of Christians who sought this path, there has been a failure to re-imagine Christianity in the necessary, post-edge-world, personal-objective mode.

The consequence is that few have succeeded - yet succeed we must, because an honest and rigorous analysis tells us that there is no alternative.

More exactly, the consequence of failure is that mortal life will be a Waste of Time, because all our lived experience will come to nought of value, because our frame of understanding will negate experience.

Incarnation and death will become the only positive value of mortal life - and everything in-between At Best only a Waste of Time.

And that, I suppose, will be the end of things.

  

Christianity in an Ahrimanic age

I have found a modified version of Rudolf Steiner's schema that evil can be distinguished in two forms - Ahrimanic and Luciferic - to be a valuable tool.

The Luciferic is (roughly) the impulsive, instinctive, self-gratifying, psychopathic kind of evil - as characterised by the frenzied violence and torture of unbridled war; or the greedy lustfulness that drives the sexual revolution. This tended to be the dominant form of evil in ancient times - and of course it still continues.

But that does not capture the modern form of evil - which may originate in this kind of 'id'-driven thirst for instant gratification; but which takes this and operationalises it in the form of definitions, laws, regulations, and bureaucracy - enforced by omni-surveillance and micro-control mechanisms. This is the Ahrimanic - a cold, rational, systematic form of evil.  

In other words, the distinctive and dominant form of evil of this time, of modern times, is totalitarian. The Ahrimanic is the totalitarian, bureaucratic, strategic...

It is the evil of a whole society organised in pursuit of evil that has been pre-defined as Good. It may be an evil without pleasure; evil as an industrial process - a crushing, icy evil. The modern sexual revolution is presided-over, guided, implemented - not by passion crazed Caligulas - but by stony-eyed officials.


The problem is that almost all the real and serious Christian denominations and churches (I mean the best churches - not those that are liberal, apostate, vaguely-Christianised-leftist organisations) still seem to regard evil as Luciferic; and respond to its threat (or try to respond) by doubling-down on the Ahrimanic aspects of Christianity.

For example, the sexual revolution is seen by Christians as primarily about the Luciferic - to be opposed by better organisation. Whereas the real problem is not the work of lust-crazed individuals seeking pleasure; but the Ahrimanic, incremental, planned strategy of a vast army of drab, cold-eyed, strategising bureaucrats; armed with United Nations mission statements, European Union laws, International consensus definitions, guidelines, terms-of-service, models of best practice etc etc.

All too often the Christian response to the sexual revolution has been along exactly the same lines as the totalitarian bureacrats. An increase in planning, systems, supervision; a greater number and precision of rules; tougher enforcement - and so forth.

This is to fight ice with more ice; to fight Sauron with the One Ring. Such a Christianity presents the individual with what looks like nothing more than a choice of rival bureaucracies - one powerful and growing, the other small and collapsing. A choice of two would-be totalitarian monitoring and control systems. Both alienate, both are evil in form.

One can either be crushed by secular materialism, or crushed by religious practices...


The answer to the dominant Ahrimanic evil cannot be merely a different version of the same. Nor can it be a version of old-fashioned Luciferism; which is, anyway, an impossibility...

The middle sixties saw a massive cultural upsurge in the Luciferic (turn-on, tune-in, drop out - let it all hang out etc.) and that would-be explosion of the id and the instinct, merely fuelled decades of ever-expanding and further-encroaching bureaucracy. Nowadays, the Luciferic 'liberation' serves merely as an excuse for ever-more Ahrimanic constraint.

If evil comes from some combination of the domination of the Genital urges (Luciferic), and the raionalism of the 'Left Brain' (Ahrimanic) - what is needed is the Heart. And that is something new, something untried - but something profoundly Christian.


What Christianity needs cannot be captured in any formula or rule (that is just more Ahrimanic stuff) - in a totalitarian age we cannot expect to protect Christianity, or even to be Christian, by adhering to any principle of truth, or any flow-diagram of validity.

Nor can we fall into the trap of regarding anything other than the systematic as Luciferic, hence evil. There is a third way - the way of Jesus - and that is the only Good way. 

We must acknowledge the individual person in relation with God to be the fundamental unit of truth, beauty and virtue. This has been said many times before - but never done. A religion of the heart must be rooted in persons, not abstractions; because only persons can love - yet love is objective, the primary basis of all creation, the heart of Christ's teaching.

Monday, 22 April 2019

Intuitive knowing and final participation

I have written a fair but about Primary Thinking in an attempt to clarify what Owen Barfield meant by Final Participation.

The difficulty with the 'thinking' aspect of the term, is that most of thinking is not primary - and I have felt a misleading temptation to strive to attain a new and different 'method' of thinking - perhaps a meditation technique. I know this is an error, and method/ technique is not a path to wisdom - but the call to change the mode of thinking seems to lead in that direction...

I am currently finding it more helpful to think of what I am aiming at in terms of Intuitive Knowing, with a metal emphasis on the 'ing' aspect of knowing - that intuitively know-ing something is not a thing static and categorical, but an active process; the attribute of a conscious Being.

And, for me, Intuitive Knowing is a proper goal however is may be achieved, by whatever method or technique or by none at all. I need to know intuitively - that is the goal; and how this best happens may vary widely or open-endedly according to the unique situation. 

My understanding is that - in life - there is a lot which we 'know' in a shallow, contingent, secondhand fashion; but that the aim is to base all knowledge, thought, action on only that which we know directly and intuitively - know for our-selves, from that of us which is divine.

In this mortal life, intuitive knowing only happens sometimes and temporarily - it cannot be attained as a permanent state. That is sad but not tragic; because this mortal life (for those of us who have it, the minority of Men who survive the womb and early childhood) is a time of experiencing and learning - a vital yet transitional phase.

This mortal life is a time of change - the one thing impossible is any fixed state of Being. Fixity is not an option. This situation intrinsically maximises our experience; we must keep learning, because we always keep experiencing change.

Since I am still alive, I have more that I ought-to learn; more situations in which I need to discern and rely-upon direct and intuitive knowing. Beyond death - if I actively wish it - I could live eternally in a state where intuitive knowing is the norm.

But clearly, for me, there is value in continuing to live here, now, in my situation; because there are things that I can learn best in mortality.

My conclusion is that I should seek intuitive knowing; but should not despair that it is an exceptional state that cannot be held-onto. Not holding-onto is one of the things I must learn.

Wednesday, 17 April 2019

Pre-mortal life

From The Salutation by Thomas Traherne

These little limbs,
These eyes and hands which here I find,
These rosy cheeks wherewith my life begins,
Where have ye been? behind
What curtain were ye from me hid so long?
Where was, in what abyss, my speaking tongue?

When silent I
So many thousand, thousand years
Beneath the dust did in a chaos lie,
How could I smiles or tears,
Or lips or hands or eyes or ears perceive?
Welcome ye treasures which I now receive.

(Read the whole thing)


It seems to be characteristic of Romantic Christians that they - we, including myself - have a belief in having lived before this mortal life.

Often this takes the form of some version of reincarnation - which seems to be a basic, default belief among tribal people, and many Eastern religions. But the key things seems to be not reincarnation, but the direct, intuitive conviction of having lived before this mortal life; of having lived as a spirit, before being incarnated.


In the poem above Traherne describes (or imagines) the memory of being incarnated; and many people - perhaps all Romantic Christians - have some such memory, although they may be unsure of its validity.

William Blake explicitly believed in a pre-mortal existence; Wordsworth described it in glorious detail in his Intimations of Immortality; Coleridge in a poem to his son. But of these, Coleridge seemed especially uncomfortable about his statements - and rejected the  reality of pre-mortal life; and Wordsworth became similarly negative about in his later life - because it conflicts with the metaphysical assumptions of traditional Christianity.

(The reality of pre-mortal spirit life is, however, consistent-with the Fourth Gospel - being specifically asserted for Jesus; and indirectly in the discussions of the Baptist's identity, and at John 9:2.) 


I have come to recognise that a belief in my pre-mortal existence is more powerful and more causally-important for me than a belief in post-mortal Life Eternal.

This is so, because the pre-mortal implies the post-mortal; and the pre-mortal is more sure.

Memory of my pre-mortal life, albeit dreamlike and hazy, is a direct and personal experience. And since I also believe that pre-mortal life had no beginning, but was from eternity; then this implies to me that post-mortal life is also eternal.

Since I have lived from eternity, then I expect that I shall live - in some form - to eternity; since I was transformed (not created) at birth, then I expect to be transformed (not annihilated) at death. 

By contrast, post-mortal life eternal (after biological death) can, for me at least, only be known indirectly*.


*Those who know post-mortal life directly are (I guess) those who (potentially) believe in reincarnation; but I do not have such memories or intuitions.
 

Thursday, 4 April 2019

Romantic Christianity - from the past to the future

One fundamental idea of Romantic Christianity is that we took a wrong turning in the past and therefore need to recover and reconnect with lost things - another fundamental idea is that when this recovery and reconnection is achieved, we will develop to a future that is new and has never previously been experienced anywhere in the world.

So, Romantic Christianity has an element that is conservative, or even reactionary; and another element that is radical, or even progressive.

This can be seen in its antecedents: those writers from whom Romantic Christianity intends to pick up the torch and carry it forward. These include William Blake, ST Coleridge and Novalis - authors who looked back and were also innovators. Authors who were deeply Christian, and also unorthodox or heretical.

But their work was not taken up by society, and was perhaps incomplete - or, at least, their task and project was lacking in that self-conscious, explicit awareness which we modern people (it seems) require to be sufficiently convinced by an idea that we can powerfully be motivated by it.

In particular; it is part of the intuitive conviction that leads to Romantic Christianity, that the destined future must be - can only be - one that is consciously known and voluntarily chosen. That, indeed, the only free choice is a conscious choice - and this is, of course, necessarily the choice of a single person.

Such an ideal of free individualism has not been seen at any time or place in the past... nonetheless, the conviction is that nothing else will suffice, here-and-now. 


The idea of going back and reconnecting with this Romantic Christian impulse was, I think, only itself made fully self-aware and explicit by Owen Barfield (in the essays collected in Romanticism Comes of Age, from 1944) - although he could perceive that it was solidly implied by the work of Rudolf Steiner.

But the possibilities for Romantic Christianity have changed over the past two hundred years, and indeed over the past decades. When it began, there was the possibility that the whole of a national culture (or a substantial segment of one) might take-up the project of Romantic Christianity - that, for example, England might do so.

To be more exact, that English culture might recognise the incoherence and insufficiency of the ruling assumptions of materialism (aka. positivism, scientism, reductionism) and reconnect with the embryonic spiritual and Christian tradition it had incrementally, and very fully, abandoned throughout the 19th century.

Such a large scale self-transformation now seems to be impossible; or at least the trends are contrary. So the hope of Romantic Christianity has narrowed to the individual. It is a project that operates one person at a time, one soul at a time.


This might seem trivial - except that (unlike for materialism) for Romantic Christianity each soul is immortal and of unbounded value.

By contrast, any and all worldly gains are bounded by the decay, sin and death that are intrinsic to this mortal world.

A culture, society or planet is evanescent; but a soul lasts forever.


Sunday, 24 February 2019

What evidence for the evolutionary-development of consciousness in Western Man?

On the face of it, there seems little evidence for anything like a divinely destined evolution of consciousness in Western Man. Looking around in the public realm, or even in direct and personal experience; there seems little to suggest anything of the kind. Nothing that looks like 'progress'.

This is because of two things: 1. Materialism and 2. Negativity.

The materialism which absolutely monopolises modern public life means that consciousness appears only in an indirect way. We only see the indirect effect, the consequences, of consciousness change - and we see only its material - this worldly - manifestations.

Abstraction - including the reduction of qualities to the pseudo-materialism of number - is a major aspect of materialism.Indeed, it is more extreme: qualities are denied reality (because qualities are material) yet simultaneously these non-existent qualities are given numbers and used for calculation of decisions. This is the basis of such managerial technologies of quality managements, racial and sexual monitoring etc. 

The negativity means that the change is expressed by criticism, and not by positive assertion. We get some (materialist) version of what people do Not want; but don't get an expression of their goals.

So, the evolution of consciousness can be seen in the dominant aspects of the dominant ideology of Leftism - but reduced and one-sidely.


Take feminism. The positive spiritual ideals of feminism are related to the positive aspiration of a permanent, literally-divine spiritual and creative marriage relation between a man and woman after death and in the life everlasting as Children of God.

But modern feminism has reject the ideal along with the eternal; and the true spiritual impulse has been concretised to this-worldly economics and power differences. The imperfections of mortal marriage means that marriage itself is rejected as oppressive. What remains is only the negative side of anti-Man aggression- and this is implemented materially in laws and regulations. The deterioration in relationships between men and women is then celebrated.


Another aspect of the evolution of consciousness is an awareness of the uniqueness of each individual, and the knowledge that we have a divine seed within each of us - so that we may grow to become a distinct creative deity - each contributing to God's work of creation.

But of this modern culture expresses only the material aspect: we take into account only that which is measurable and mortal - even while refusing to allow the validity of any measure.

There is a negative refusal at accept any rationale for any economic differences - but without any positive desire for actual equality. We reject actual equality, because we demand that differences in individual circumstances be taken into account; but reject any actual method of doing this.

There is a rejection of legal and cultural impartiality, as a sham and a mask for prejudice; but reject individual judgement as also obviously prejudiced.


More generally; modern Leftism generally regards any reference to to the ideals of post-mortal life as merely an excuse for injustices during mortal life ('pie in the sky', 'jam tomorrow').

Another instance: Leftism celebrates racial and ethnic differences, yet refuses to tolerate racial inequalities; and (negatively) there is no acceptable, objective categorisation of race, ethnicity, culture or economics... Race is simultaneously deconstructed and its reality denied - because race is not material; and abstracted into numbers, so as to be implemented in the material processes of modern government.

The same applies to sex and sexual ientity. Modern negativism denies the reality of these categories because they are not material and do not have hard edges; modern materialism simultaneously creates abstract and hard-edged sexual categories for monitoring and control purposes.


In sum; the ideology of Leftism is implicitly trying, but of course failing, to build a positive system from a host of negative rejections. It is always appealing to morality while its materialism erodes the validity of all moral systems.

So Modern Man does indeed show evidence of the development of underlying positive impulses; but because of (covert, denied) metaphysical assumptions these are systematically distorted such that there is not even the possibility of good outcomes, and we get that moral inversion by which bad consequences are regarded as evidence of virtuous motives.

This is why anti-spiritual, mortal-life-focused Leftism has been the main tool of the dark forces; since a system of inevitable, irreconcilable, competing negativities is the perfect seedbed for evil.

In inducing modern Western Man to accept materialism and reject all spiritual things as impossible; and in making these beliefs a matter of deep, metaphysical assumption - woven invisibly into the enitre realm of public discourse; the demonic powers have created a machine by which even good and necessary impulses can only be manifested as evil.

Thursday, 21 February 2019

Inspiration, imagination and intuition

Human development - of the maturing individual and also throughout the evolving of the race - can be understood to follow a path from inspiration, through the transitional state of imagination, and with the ideal destination of intuition.

(I derive these terms from Rudolf Steiner - but, while valuable, I regard his sequence, analysis and treatment of them to be significantly mistaken. For example he wrongly puts Imagination as first and Inspiration as intermediate, and argues Inspiration as primarily analogous to 'hearing'.)

Inspiration - This is the state characteristic of childhood and ancient Men. It locates knowledge outside the individual in God, or the Muses etc.); acknowledges the possibility of genuinely new knowledge; and regards knowledge as actively put-into the individual - who passively receives it. The self is porous to reality.

Imagination - This is the state characteristic of adolescence and modern man. Imagination is a step forward of maturity, in the sense that it is an active process, which may be consciously pursued. However, Imagination denies the possibility of genuinely new-and-true knowledge of reality; and regards Imagination as (merely) the recombination, extrapolation and interpolation of psychological images derived (passively) from experience and inheritance. In essence, Imagination is all we can 'know' but is solipsistic; the self is cut-off, disconnected-from, reality - so Imagination is merely an internal swirling of delusory patterns.

Intuition - This is the state of direct, or primary, knowing. It is a meeting of reality half-way; it is the mind actively-grasping reality; and of reality as created such that this activity be both possible and Good. Intuition regards knowledge as outside, and also regards Imagination as (potentially) knowledge. The self and reality are re-connected; but Not by passive-porosity - instead by the self and reality meeting in the realm of intuitive thinking: which is conscious knowledge.

Sunday, 17 February 2019

Prayer is participation

I think it has to be assumed that only some prayers are 'effective' - and that there are many prayers that are 'wrong', and make no difference - for example being mere habitual repetitions, or askings for bad things.

But there is no doubt that some prayers are effective: all Christians know this from experience. This probably happens because prayer can be an act of creation: more precisely in prayer we can participate in God's ongoing creation.

That is how prayer can affect the future - we personally enter-into the creation, and add to it our personal creativity.

That is how we, individually, make a difference by our prayer. Creativity is always happening; and then we pray and introduce a new element by our prayer - so that the future is changed.

Changing the future is a creative act. Prayer is, in effect, each of us working-with God.


Prayer works by love: love is that which is aligned-with God's motivation in creation. It is love that 'ensures' our prayer is aligned with the goodness of divine creation.

This happens because love is the basis of creation - it is the cohesion of creation. Love is what allows personal creativity to be real - because by real I mean that our creativity is permanently woven-into creation.

Only loving prayer is effective - because unloving prayer is incompatible with creation.

Conversely, when we pray with Love - and only then; what we pray is intrinsically creative. And loving prayer is always effective - loving prayer changes the future.


This does not mean that the effect of prayer is predictable by us, nor that praying for some specific thing always gets us just what we ask-for.

But loving prayer always makes a difference, and that difference is always positive (when seen from a God's eye view).

Tuesday, 12 February 2019

Romantic Religion: A Study of Owen Barfield, C. S. Lewis, Charles Williams and J. R. R. Tolkien by RJ Reilly (1971/ 2006)

Over the past couple of years I have come to regard Romantic Religion by RJ Reilly as one of the very best books I have read - I am now on my third slow, detailed read-through.

The book is probably the earliest (1971) serious study of the ideas of The Inklings - and its central chapters focus on Owen Barfield, C. S. Lewis, Charles Williams and J. R. R. Tolkien. As such, and despite its narrowish selectivity; RR remains far-and-away the deepest and best explanation/ analysis/ advocacy of the underlying (implicit) significance of this literary, philosophical and theological group of friends.

The title Romantic Religion encapsulates the thesis; although in fact it would be more accurate if the title were Romantic Christianity, since that is The religion at issue here; and one that could not be substituted by any other.

The method is to define Romanticism, mainly by means of its historical lineage; and then (in the first main section) to use Barfield as the philosopher who best understood Romanticism and its unique significance and necessity. Lewis, Williams and Tolkien are then considered separately in terms of how they exemplify, and how diverge from, the framework of Barfield.

This time reading; I have become convinced that Romantic Christianity is the best term for what I personally believe, and regard as the essential future of Western Man - and especially English Man! I shall probably be referring to myself, in shorthand, as a Romantic Christian from now onward.

Of course Romantic (and Romanticism) are mostly, in the cultural mainstream of the past century and more, rather widely differently understood from the Inklings (and especially Barfield) mode. Indeed, 'romantic' is usually a pejorative or pitying term, signifying escapist, wish-fulfilling unrealism.

Nonetheless, Romantic remains the best term, for both its historical and etymological accuracy - and because many of the common ideas of 'Romantic' are entirely appropriate and correct from a Barfieldian-Inklings perspective: for example, a focus on love, creativity, fantasy and imagination, nature, ecstatic emotion, inspiration and intuition.

All of these seem to me desirable, as well as necessary; so long as they are rooted in Christianity. Indeed, it was-and-is the subtraction of Christianity from Romanticism, as early as Byron and Shelley, that led to the degeneration of the historical Romantic movement: degeneration into hedonism, Leftist politics and the sexual revolution.

No doubt I shall quote from Romantic Religion in the future; but anyone who shares my conviction on these matters, and who is prepared to make the effort to engage with such a book, would need to read RR if note entirely, then at least extensively.


Note: I find it significant that such an outstanding piece of intellectual and critical work, by such an deeply intelligent and rigorous scholar, should originally have been done as a PhD thesis at Michigan State University (a long way from the Ivy League); by an academic who was teaching rather than research orientated (he spent his career at the University of Detroit); and it was issued by an obscure publisher: The University of Georgia Press. This confirms a pattern I have often observed with genuinely high quality and original work in the late 20th century - it comes from the cultural periphery, not the centre. Or rather - what is officially the centre is actually trivial, derivative or corrupting - almost wholly, and vice versa. The reasons will be obvious to regular readers of this blog.  

Implications of Steiner's great 1918 Zurich prophecy

As I keep revisiting Rudolf Steiner's now-validated century old prophecy; I realise that, although the prophecy is about Western society, and what it needed to do - but hasn't done; and although the prophecy has been fulfilled at this social level - its true implications are for the individual.

The prophecy was based upon an understanding of what would happen if Western man continued in the path of increasing materialism/ positivism, scientism/ reductionism in public discourse and private thinking - and we did continue.

The spiritual realm is now regarded as purely 'subjective' - hence not really real, hence without relevance for social living. Reality is mainstream-structurally-regarded as meaningless, hope-less, going-nowhere; and we our-selves as irrelevant.

It is, of course, a disaster that The West has made these choices; but the lesson of the prophecy was actually for individuals primarily - it was that we must (and must means must) develop our spiritual consciousness into new realms - more exactly into a 'animism of thinking': a recognition that ultimate reality consists of living, conscious, purposive Beings in a creation that has been transformed by Christ.

This means that the modern public discourse has become - in rejecting God, Christ and the Holy Ghost - (quite literally) insane - as well as calamitous and dull.

But this operates at the individual level - and the social level cannot budge without first the transformation of individual consciousness - and this transformation can only be done by conscious choice; it cannot be coerced or compelled; nor can people be induced to do it by unconscious manipulation/ propaganda/ habit-training.

We must now choose the Good - because evil is the default. 

The the lesson of the true prophecy is for you, and me, and everyone as an individual. It tells us what we must do if we are to avoid the general fate of our society: mental sickness, despair and demotivation.