Re: Merry Christmas
- As I was saying...
Here are the final six installments from the little series, "A Waldorf Christmas".
A Waldorf Christmas
According to Christian tradition, a group of Magi or wise men traveled from the East bearing presents for the infant Jesus. Anthroposophy accepts this tradition, but as usual Rudolf Steiner gave it his own interpretation. In his version, the three Magi were occult initiates and the gift they brought was Oriental "mystery" wisdom.
Initiation is a central concept in the Waldorf belief system. Spiritual truths are hidden, mysterious, occult. Only initiates people who have been admitted to the innermost circles of spiritual knowledge comprehend these truths. At a fundamental level, the purpose of Anthroposophy is to lead its follower to initiation. One of Steiner's central texts is HOW TO KNOW HIGHER WORLDS: A Modern Path of Initiation (Anthroposophic Press, 1994). Many Anthroposophists including Waldorf teachers believe that they are initiates.
"Who are the Magi? They represent the Initiates of the three preceding races or epochs of culture, the Initiates of mankind up to the time of the coming of Christ...." Rudolf Steiner, THE FESTIVALS AND THEIR MEANING, "On the Three Magi" (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1955), GA 96.
"This is the mystery of the ancient initiates bringing their offerings to the new mystery the Wise Men who are bearers of the wisdom of times past...." Rudolf Steiner, CHRISTMAS (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2007), pp. 143-144.
Steiner's followers, including many Waldorf teachers, believe that they possess secret spiritual knowledge extending far back into the ancient past. They think that ancient initiates, studying in their "mystery centers," understood the spirit realm well, but today's initiates (i.e., themselves) understand it even better because initiation today includes the knowledge and powers that Christ brought to humanity. Christ is the "new mystery" that Anthroposophists claim to comprehend. Thus, in the Waldorf universe, the mass of Christ Christmas revolves around initiation.
A Waldorf Christmas
Christmas celebrations at Waldorf schools sometimes seem conventional and thus inoffensive: a tree is decorated, carols are sung, presents are exchanged. Where's the harm in any of that?
No harm at all, if you believe the doctrines of Anthroposophy. But if you are not a devout Anthroposophist, you may want to think long and hard before joining Waldorf observances of Christmas.
Here is how Christmas is described by one Anthroposophical spokesperson:
"[T]he whole evolution of humanity* can be seen as a gradual approach to what approaches us in the figure of Christ ** ... Jesus and Christ are not one and the same***, but the former provided a vessel for a wholly non-material force and love to infuse ... the being of Christ who embraces, renews and transfigures the darkness and dead weight of earth, and seeds it with inner light.****" Matthew Barton, introduction to CHRISTMAS, a collection of pronouncements made by Rudolf Steiner (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2007), pp. 3-5.
* Many Christians do not believe in evolution. In Anthroposophy, the spiritual evolution of humanity is a central doctrine and goal.
** In Anthroposophy, Christ is our "prototype" we should evolve to become like him. [See "Prototype".]
*** Christ is the Sun God who incarnated in the body of the man Jesus.
**** Compare this to "The Little Sun Child", which we reviewed in episode IV of A Waldorf Christmas. Waldorf teachers often sneak Anthroposophical doctrines into the classroom. [See "Sneaking It In".]
A Waldorf Christmas
Christians, Jews, and Muslims believe in a single all-powerful God. This God occupies the central position in normal Christmas observances. Christmas is the celebration of the birth of God's son on Earth.
Anthroposophy sees things quite differently. There is no all-powerful God in Anthroposophical belief.* Omnipotence and omniscience are only distant ideals, which the evolving universe may reach in the distant future but they do not exist now. According to Waldorf belief, God does not exist, at least not as the monotheistic faiths describe Him. In Anthroposophy, there are many, many gods, including evil gods such as the arch-demon Ahriman. (Steiner imported Ahriman from Zoroastrianism. References to Ahriman are just one of the strange elements in the Anthroposophical version of Christmas.)
"We can speak of omnipotence as a kind of ideal, but at the same time this conjures the contrary image of Ahriman.** We can speak of omniscience as an ideal, but at the same time this conjures the opposing force of Lucifer ... The Jesus child as embodied in the Gospel of St Luke can be felt as a personification of love placed between omniscience and omnipotence."*** Rudolf Steiner, CHRISTMAS (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2007), p. 51.
When a Waldorf school celebrates Christmas, concepts such as these the existence of Ahriman, etc. are in the minds and hearts of many of the Waldorf faculty members. The faith enacted in Waldorf Christmas celebration is not Christianity. It is Anthroposophy.
* Anthroposophists sometimes speak of God, and the prayers Waldorf students recite often address God. But this is a disguise or misunderstanding. Anthroposophy is polytheistic. [See "Polytheism".]
** A note at the end of CHRISTMAS explains "Lucifer and Ahriman are the two polar forces of evil in Steiner's cosmology. Lucifer tempts us away from the earth while Ahriman fetters us to it." [p. 151.]
*** Steiner taught that Christ stands between Ahriman and Lucifer. These demons offer humanity gifts or temptations that must be balanced by the influence of Christ. Thus, the powers we are evolving toward including omnipotence and omniscience must be moderated by Christ so that they are not perverted by Ahriman and Lucifer.
A Waldorf Christmas
What is Christ's central message to us? Perhaps it is this: We should love God above all else, and we should love our neighbors as ourselves.* Most Christians, when considering their faith, will think of this injunction. For Rudolf Steiner's followers, however, the central Christian teaching is quite different. For them, all the statements attributed by the Bible to Christ have passed through the mind of Rudolf Steiner and emerged as something quite different. Here is the Anthroposophical version of "Love God and love your neighbor":
"The Gospel says, `Love thy neighbor as thyself, and God above all.' Another way of putting it is, `If one looks upon the divine in the light of the present day aspect of the three ideals [religion, art, and science]** as a modern human being must, one learns to love the divine.'" Rudolf Steiner, AWAKENING TO COMMUNITY (Anthroposophic Press, 1974), p. 83.
Whoa. Steiner has not given us the same message in different words. He has given us a different message. And this, gentle reader, is the point. If you are a spiritual person and you want to embrace the spirituality of Waldorf education, fine, do so. Enroll yourself and your children enter the Waldorf universe. But, please, do so with your eyes open. Know what sort of universe you are entering. It is not the universe of Christianity. Nor that of Judaism. Nor Islam. Nor Buddhism, nor Hinduism, nor even Theosophy. It is the universe of Anthroposophy, which Rudolf Steiner invented. Steiner's new religion incorporates bits and pieces of many other religions (which is why Waldorf students are required to study so many world religions), but it is identical to none of them. It is something different, something very strange. It is the gnostic, esoteric, occult concoction called Anthroposophy. If you want it, it is available to you. But walk through that door with your eyes open and send your children through that door only if you are completely sure that you are making the right decision for them.
* Matthew 22:365-40: "One of [the Pharisees], an expert in the law, tested him with this question: `Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?' "Jesus replied: `"Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind." This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: "Love your neighbor as yourself." All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.'"
** Here is Steiner's explanation of the three ideals. Note that it is polytheistic and thus incompatible with monotheistic Christianity. "[M]en's beholding of the gods became the inner life of the religious ideal. Their symbolical-allegorical expression of divine forms through the various media was the life underlying the ideal of art. In their re-telling of what the gods had told them lived the ideal of science. These three ideals merged into one in ancient Oriental times, for they were at bottom one and the same." [Ibid., p. 74.]
A Waldorf Christmas
To find the true meaning of Christmas, we need to examine the teachings of Christ. One of Christ's most important teachings is the Lord's Prayer, in which He showed us how to address God. Here is the prayer as traditionally used:
Our Father who art in Heaven,
Hallowed be thy name;
Thy kingdom come;
Thy will be done
On earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread;
And forgive us our trespasses
As we forgive those who trespass against us;
And lead us not into temptation,
But deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom
And the power
And the glory,
[See Luke 11:2-4 and Matthew 6:9-13;
also consult http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/348087/Lords-Prayer%5d
As usual, Rudolf Steiner found the Bible insufficient; he used several alternatives to the Lord's Prayer. The most extreme is this:
Bearing witness to I-being
and to selfhood's guilt
Incurred through others,
Experienced in the daily bread
Wherein the will of heaven
Does not reign,
Has separated itself
From Your Kingdom
And forgot your names
Ye Fathers in the Heavens.
[Rudolf Steiner, WHAT IS ANTHROPOSOPHY? (SteinerBooks, 2002), pp 21-22.
This truly bizarre text can also be found in some cases with minor alternations in
Rudolf Steiner, START NOW! (SteinerBooks, 2004), p.221,
Rudolf Steiner, ISIS MARY SOPHIA (SteinerBooks, 2003), p. 147,
and Rudolf Steiner, THE FIFTH GOSPEL (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2001), p. 66.
Anthroposophists proudly affirm it.]
Steiner's version reworks the prayer extensively, using different words, reversing the order, and addressing a plethora of gods rather than one God. If you are looking for the true meaning of Christmas, don't look for it in a school that accepts Rudolf Steiner's teachings.
A Waldorf Christmas
What is the true meaning of Christmas? Surely it is to be found in the teachings of Christ. One of Christ's most important teachings is the Sermon on the Mount, in which he pronounced blessings on suffering mankind. Here are the first three of these beatitudes as given in the Bible:
Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.
Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.
As usual, Rudolf Steiner found the Bible insufficient; he changed it to conform to his own teachings. Here is some of what he substituted for the first three beatitudes:
"All the members of [man's] being the physical and etheric bodies, the sentient, rational and consciousness souls, the ego, and even the higher soul members receive new life through the nearness of the Kingdom of Heaven. These teachings are in complete accord with the teachings of primeval wisdom.
"In order for an individual to enter the spiritual world in earlier times, the etheric body had to be slightly separated from the physical body, which was thus formed in a special way. Christ Jesus therefore said in regard to the physical body, `Blessed are the beggars, the poor in spirit, for if they develop their ego-ruled bodies in the right way, they will find the Kingdom of Heaven.'"
"Of the etheric body He [i.e., Christ] said, `Formerly, men could be healed of illnesses of the body and soul by ascending into the spiritual world in a state of ecstasy. Now those who suffer and are filled with the spirit of God can be healed and comforted by finding the source, the comfort, within themselves.'"
"Of the astral body He [i.e., Christ] said, `In former times those whose astral bodies were beset by wild and tempestuous passions could only be subdued when equanimity, peace and purification streamed to them from divine spiritual beings.' Now men should find the strength within their own egos, through the in-dwelling Christ, to purify the astral body on earth. Thus, the new influence in the astral body had to be presented by saying, `Blessed and God-imbued in their astral bodies are those who foster calmness and equanimity within themselves; all comfort and well-being on earth shall be their reward.'" Rudolf Steiner, THE TEN COMMANDMENTS AND THE SERMON ON THE MOUNT (Anthroposophic Press, 1978), pp. 29-30. [For more of Steiner's reworking of the Sermon on the Mount, see "Sermon".]
If you are looking for the true meaning of Christmas, don't look for it in a school that accepts Rudolf Steiner's teachings. Rudolf Steiner considered the Bible so inadequate, he wrote his own amendment. Literally. THE FIFTH GOSPEL gives Steiner's "clairvoyant" account of the life of Jesus, studded with unbiblical concepts such as karma and reincarnation. This is the gospel embraced by Anthroposophists. "The Fifth Gospel is the anthroposophical Gospel ." Rudolf Steiner, THE FIFTH GOSPEL (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2001), p. 37. Unless you are willing to accept Steiner's new gospel, and his revised Sermon on the Mount, and his revised Lord's Prayer, and all of his occult doctrines, you are unlikely to find what you seek in the Waldorf universe. The real meaning of Christmas like the real meaning of almost everything else lies elsewhere.
P.S. If you'd like to dig even deeper into the Steiner version of Christmas, see https://sites.google.com/site/waldorfwatch/christmas
- --- In email@example.com, Peter Staudenmaier <pstaud@...> wrote:
>Thank you Peter, you are very gracious in your understanding and I agree with your post. In the study of any subject one needs discipline of thought especially in such a mighty subject as spiritual science. Subjective thought trips me up every time and in my dieing I had terrible pangs of consciousness in that I was horrified that I was so undeservingly horrible to you.
> > > Grow up Peter, your intelligence is becoming artificial and your lack
> > of moral discernment is showing.
> > >
> > Sorry Peter I did not mean to be rude to you. I had this in mind:
> > http://rileybrad.wordpress.com/
> > I think I will just go die now for a bit.
> > Caryn
> Anthroposophists often make this mistake. It's a variation on the 'down the ladder' confusion. Many anthroposophists think they are being insulted when other people analyze and critique their beliefs. Many of them find it strange that other people study things they don't believe in themselves. Many of them think that critical exchanges of ideas are somehow a form of rudeness. Above all, they think that critics of anthroposophical obtuseness are engaged in personal disparagement of anthroposophists.
> This is a foolish way of approaching public discussion of anthroposophy. The problems critics point to are not the result of anthroposophists' personal predilections. Consider anthroposophical antisemitism as an example. Antisemitic motifs are not some sort of rare exception in contemporary anthroposophist discourse. They are not an occasional excess or a fluke occurrence. They are a consistent element in public statements by a variety of anthroposophists, from Caryn Louise to Bradford Riley to Michael Howell to Steve Hale and beyond. Critics are not insulting these anthroposophists, or any anthroposophists, by pointing out this uncomfortable feature of the anthroposophical movement today.
> A meaningful discussion of anthroposophy won't be able to tip-toe around factors like these. Here's to a new year with lots more critical thinking,
> Peter S.
With sincere respect to you