Steiner/Waldorf/Anthroposophy Disclosure to Parents

This thread begins with a discussion about what Waldorf schools ought to tell prospective parents before they enroll their children. We also meet Daniel Sabsay (of the East Bay Skeptics Society) and his interesting opinion about Sune Nordwall's webpages about science and homeopathy. And we discuss bigotry with Alan S. Fine MD, a doctor and a shrink specializing in hysteria and cult recovery.

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From: Michael Kopp
Subject: Steiner/ Waldorf/ Anthroposophy disclosure to parents
Date: Tue, 9 Feb 1999 11:07:48 +1300

From time to time new subscribers to the Waldorf Critics list ask why some critics are so strident, and what it is they object to so much in Steiner/ Waldorf/ Anthroposophical (SWA) education and schools.

One major criticism is paramount: some critics allege that SWA does not properly disclose its true nature to prospective customers; I am one of those who feels duped before enrolling.

To answer these questions and suggest a remedy to this alleged false advertising by SWA, several critics have expressed what they would have liked to know before they enrolled; and one person, Dan Saykaly, has written a proposed "full disclosure" document.

One such post (from me, Michael Kopp), and Mr Saykaly's document, are reproduced below for the benefit of new readers.

As far as we know, no SWA school anywhere gives parents any such document that comes close to the fullness of disclosure critics seek, although there are apparently some schools which have lesser documents.

Except for generally pooh-poohing the need, tone, and spcecificity of the proposed disclosure document, no SWA defenders or apologists have successfully argued that there is anything substantively inaccurate in this description of SWA.

Recently, I also suggested that there should be an international code of conduct of the SWA movement and its various associations and parts, which specifies exactly what any school that uses the names Steiner, Waldorf or Anthroposophy must tell parents before they enroll. This idea was rejected by SWA defenders as impracticable because of the "autonomy" of SWA schools world-wide.

Yet the name "Waldorf" is, in the United States, trademarked, and only schools which adhere to the Association of Waldorf Schools of North America may call themselves "Waldorf" schools (though the movement is using the name Waldorf with qualifications in the names of public and charter schools into which it has injected itself). There are such national Steiner, Waldorf or Anthroposophical associations in other countries, including New Zealand.

Finally, it is obvious from the similarities between SWA curricula around the world that there IS enough international `guidance' (I prefer the term "dogma") to make disclosure realisable if it was desired by the SWA movement.

I suggest it IS NOT desired, because it would lead to many people NOT choosing an SWA eduation for their children, and expose the SWA mumbo jumbo for what it is.

Cheers from Godzone,

Michael Kopp
Wellington, New Zealand

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My [Kopp's] original posts were as follows:

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I'll try to be constructive. Some things I would have liked to have known:

That Steiner/Anthroposophy child development theory is based on a belief in reincarnation, and the belief that various spiritual growth stages are the result of spiritual forces "incarnating" in children at various stages of life.

I wish I'd known that Anthroposophists and Steiner people like to have philosophical discussions (obviously built around a belief in reincarnation) which have themes like the following:

'...incarnating with the wrong parents...'

Now it seems to me that I probably would not have been particularly interested in having my children taught by people who believe that my children might have somehow picked (or had picked for them) the wrong set of parents.

That some of the Steiner science curriculum is apparently based on something called "spiritual science" which is not like the science that I learned and believe in as an intellectual pursuit. I have since read the Anthrosophical Science list and find most of it mystical mumbo-jumbo. "The heart is not a pump" is an example my kids have brought home.

That much Steiner science is based on the ideas of Steiner following Goethe; and that many scientific ideas of both, which the science world I am a part of has rejected, are taught in the classroom as being equally valid to Newtonian physics.

That many Steiner teachers -- I cannot say if this is because it comes from the canon of Anthroposophy or Anthroposophical Science or some wierdness -- believe that the "ancients" had powers and knowledge lost to us, such as alchemy, and that they will tell the children they believe in these things.

That much of the "religious study" that is used in the classroom as a vehicle for studying ancient "history" is of religio/spiritual ideas that are found in Anthroposophy, and which are a very narrow vehicle for understanding history, in my opinion. This is especially so when there is no comparative study, no framework for the study, no interpretation, no study of religious metaphor, nothing to relate the development of religions to the development of civilisation, and no critical questioning, but simply repition of the religious myths. By class ten I would expect these aspects to be coming to the fore.

That Anthroposophy is not "Christian-centred", but occult-based.

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I reproduce below (excerpted, but not substantively altered) Dan Saykalay's proposed disclosure document. The original post may be found in the archives under the header:

From: (Daniel Saykaly)
Subject: Informing parents/"Miranda rights"
Date: Sun, 10 Nov 1996 19:33:02 -0500

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"Informing new parents about Waldorf and Anthroposophy"
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"Anthroposophy is a philosophy of life and of man's spiritual role in the evolution of the cosmos. Its core teachings are reincarnation and karma, and it teaches the existence of higher worlds and higher beings who created our world. It also teaches the relationship of humanity to these higher worlds and beings. Christ, Lucifer and Ahriman three of the most important of these spiritual beings. Anthroposophy teaches that the cosmos is in constant evolution, and that humans have evolved and will continue to evolve individually over many lives. Anthroposophy teaches that man existed as a spiritual being before the beginning of the world, and that his evolution on earth goes back to (and precedes) the lost continent of Atlantis; that his evolution has continued up through the various races (red, black, brown, yellow and white) of mankind, towards newer, higher forms of humanity still to come. Although Anthroposophy believes that certain races are more spiritually mature than others, it also teaches that most individual souls reincarnate in the various races on their way to greater enlightenment, and we therefore believe that there is no racism inherent in our philosophy. People of all races are welcome to the school.

"Anthroposophy was founded by Rudolf Steiner, whom we as Anthroposophists revere as a great thinker, scientist and philosopher. We are convinced that Dr. Steiner had the ability to see into and investigate the higher spiritual (nonphysical) worlds. He taught a spiritual discipline that we are convinced permits individuals to attain such knowledge as well, and you yourself may be able to do so if you diligently apply yourself to practicing his method.

"Persons and reference books outside the Anthroposophic movement often refer to Dr. Steiner as a 'mystic' and as 'the founder of a religion or of a religious movement', but we see him rather as a spiritual scientist whose spiritual research into the higher worlds permitted him to become an authority on numerous important fields of human endeavor, including education, medicine, dance, art and agriculture. While mainstream authorities in our country may not accept his discoveries in these fields at this time, his teachings are finding a growing audience among persons seeking alternatives to mainstream medicine, education and agricultural techniques.

"Waldorf Education (WE) was created by Dr. Steiner to provide a truly complete education of the full human being. WE rejects an exclusively academic, marks-driven approach to education present in many schools today. WE follows Dr. Steiner's indictions for an approach that progressively educates the body, the imagination and the intellect of the child. The goal of Waldorf education is to develop complete human beings capable of fulfilling their karmic destiny in this life and in future life cycles. As Dr. Steiner said, "We do not only educate the child for the age of childhood, we educate him for his whole earthly existence, and even, as we shall see later, for the time beyond." (The Roots of Education).

"Every aspect of the Waldorf school is inspired by the Anthroposophic philosophy, and in this respect, it is fair to say that Waldorf schooling is indeed Anthroposophic schooling or Anthroposophically directed schooling. Anthroposophy itself is is _not_ taught to the children, since it is a highly complex and demanding esoteric philosophy. However, WE aims to raise children according to the principles and values of Anthroposophy in much the same way that, for example, a Catholic school teaches elementary students in accordance with the Catholic philosophy of life without teaching them the complex theological concepts that inspire and direct the Catholic world view and approach to education.

"All aspects of the school and its curriculum are Anthroposophically directed and reflect the spiritual teachings of Anthroposophy. The schooling is very spiritually oriented. We consider this religious content - which is present in everything taught by the teachers - to be essentially Christian and non-sectarian, since we do not believe that Anthroposophy is a religion, but rather an esoteric spiritual philosophy. It should be noted, though, that some persons outside the Anthroposophic movement consider Anthroposophy a religious movement and Waldorf Eduction to be a form of sectarian religious education. _We reject this idea, but leave it up to the parent to make up his or her mind on this issue._

"Here are some examples of how Anthroposphy directs the curriculum and the activities of the school:

1) "The school believes your child has an eternal soul that has once again reincarnated on earth; that he/she chose you to be his/her parent before she/he incarnated on earth ; and that he/she has led you to this school as part of his/her karma in this lifetime.

2) "The School won't teach your child to read before age 7 because it believes that your child's etheric body - as distinct from his physical body - will only be born at age 7, and that your child would be damaged by a too-early introduction to reading before the birth of his etheric body.

3) "The school will avoid any abstract intellectual training for your child until he or she is 14 because his/her astral body - as distinct from his/her physical and etheric bodies - will be born at that time, permitting him/her to think intellectually.

4) "The school believes that changing this timetable and letting your child read or think abstractly before the indicated ages will tend to cause serious health problems such as sclerosis in your child's later life.

5) "The school believes that race, blood and temperament are extremely important factors in understanding your child's deep being, karma and potential. The school also believes that astrology, numerology and phrenology are important and valid guides to our understanding, as educators, of your child. The school's founder taught, and the school accepts, that racial origin may be a key to your child's potential and limitations. However, since the school believes that your child will reincarnate many times in future, evolving each time, if things go well, the school does not think that this esoteric view of race and potential is in any way a prejudicial or racist concept. The school does acknowlege the belief of its founder that some races are inherently more spiritually childlike or mature than others. Some of our staff may agree with this concept. Others may not. Nevertheless, we stress that our school is open to all races.

6) "The school day starts with a verse/prayer being repeated every morning. A candle is lit for this prayer/verse. An angel is placed on the table while the candle is lit. This ceremony represents the Anthroposophic deeply held devotion to and reverence for Christ in his role as the Sun God, and sets the spiritual tone for the day.

7) "At Christmas, 4 angels are displayed in the classroom to represent the angels that Anthroposophy teaches govern the destinies of the different races of mankind. Anthroposophy teaches that these angels do indeed exist and do indeed affect and guide the destinies of the different races.

8) "There are four seasonal festivals celebrated at the school, each representing an important aspect of Anthroposophic teaching. The festival of Michael, for example, celebrates the mighty Archangel Michael who, Anthroposophy teaches, really exists and really rules over the present age. This present age of cosmic history began in 1879, at which same time, the Anthroposophic Society was created in the Spiritual Worlds in preparation for its incarnation on earth in the 20th century.

9) "The school believes that WE is always developing, but must adhere to certain guidelines to be true to its mission. It will not be willing to consider changes to this fundamental method which were laid down by the founder of Anthroposophy. The school would request the departure of any family attempting to bring about such changes over the objections of the teachers.

10) "The pedagogical and spiritual life of the school are solely in the hands of the College of Teachers - a small group of more experienced teachers, all of whom are fully committed both to WE and to Anthroposophy. There is no director. The teachers effectly run the school and are the main stakeholders in the school.

11) "The College decides issues by consensus, a process recommended by Dr. Steiner as more in keeping with the spiritual life of the school. Parents can bring issues and problems to the College, but will not have a part in the decision making process. The consensus process is often longer and less clear than a voting system, but lies at the very heart of the school's structure, which is modeled after Anthroposphy's vision of society. This model is spiritual and hierarchical, not secular and democratic.´Parents do not vote on issues of the school's pedagogical and spiritual life.

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From: Tarjei Straume
Subject: Re: Steiner/ Waldorf/ Anthroposophy disclosure to parents
Date: Tue, 9 Feb 1999 09:01:26 +0100

Michael Kopp wrote

That Anthroposophy is not "Christian-centred", but occult-based.

It is based on Christian occultism, or Esoteric Christianity. It is inaccurate, therefore, to say that it is not "Christian-centred."

Tarjei

http://www.uncletaz.com/

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From: Bruce
Subject: Re: Steiner/ Waldorf/ Anthroposophy disclosure to parents
Date: Wed, 10 Feb 1999 06:55:09 EST

In einer eMail vom 09.02.99 00:40:01 MEZ, schreiben Sie:

I had not seen the proposed "disclosure" before, but find *personally* no HUGE disagreement. The parents DO have some say in what in Germany is called the Vorstand, a mix of parents and teachers who govern the school. In some schools the College of Teachers is NOT small, almost the entire teaching body. In very few schools are more than 75% card-carrying Anthroposophists, but this is only my guess, such information cannot be proven - the non-Anthroposophists have often differering views.

Specificall, the following is simply not true. In none of the schools where I have been, and there follows a list, is this true (at least in the classes where I taught or observed)

6) "The school day starts with a verse/prayer being repeated every
morning

**THIS IS TRUE**.

A candle is lit for this prayer/verse. An angel is placed on the table while the candle is lit. This ceremony represents the Anthroposophic deeply held devotion to and reverence for Christ in his role as the Sun God, and sets the spiritual tone for the day.

**THIS I HAVE NEVER SEEN**

7) "At Christmas, 4 angels are displayed in the classroom to represent the angels that Anthroposophy teaches govern the destinies of the different races of mankind. Anthroposophy teaches that these angels do indeed exist and do indeed affect and guide the destinies of the different races.

**THIS I HAVE NEVER SEEN**

I have taught or observed in the following schools: Germany: Wahlwies, Hamburg-Harburg, Bochum-Langendrier, Schloss-Hamborn, Hannover-Maschsee, Nuremberg, Wiesbaden, Rendsburg. Britain: Michael Hall, Edinburgh, Totnes, Kings Langley.

I am not trying to suggest that what is stated above is never done, but that is waldorf - we are NOT all the same. Where DOES it happen?

Personally I would prefer that NO family is brought in under false pretenses - it causes much heartache, especially for the children, if they then have to or chose to leave. I think the statement about having to leave is also too strong!

Bruce

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From: Dan Dugan
Subject: Re: Steiner/ Waldorf/ Anthroposophy disclosure to parents
Date: Wed, 10 Feb 1999 09:55:28 -0800

Bruce wrote,

6) "The school day starts with a verse/prayer being repeated every morning

**THIS IS TRUE**.

A candle is lit for this prayer/verse. An angel is placed on the table while the candle is lit. This ceremony represents the Anthroposophic deeply held devotion to and reverence for Christ in his role as the Sun God, and sets the spiritual tone for the day.

**THIS I HAVE NEVER SEEN**

7) "At Christmas, 4 angels are displayed in the classroom to represent the angels that Anthroposophy teaches govern the destinies of the different races of mankind. Anthroposophy teaches that these angels do indeed exist and do indeed affect and guide the destinies of the different races.

**THIS I HAVE NEVER SEEN**

The candle is standard procedure. I agree with Bruce about the angels; that particular use of angels must have been the practice of one particular teacher or school. Dan Saykaly, can you give us any illumination on that? I have photos of angel figures in several public Waldorf school classrooms.

-Dan Dugan

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From: Bruce
Subject: Re: Steiner/ Waldorf/ Anthroposophy disclosure to parents
Date: Wed, 10 Feb 1999 13:41:07 EST

In einer eMail vom 10.02.99 19:00:09 MEZ, schreiben Sie:

Every explanation I've heard of the "science" in anthropology has sounded like calling "white" "black".

Nice one!

See what a simple little g can do to make one think that anthropologists are racist <g>

Bruce

PS I am out of bed now - the flippancy will abate soon!

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From: Tarjei Straume
Subject: Re: Steiner/ Waldorf/ Anthroposophy disclosure to parents
Date: Wed, 10 Feb 1999 21:19:23 +0100

Bruce wrote,

6) "The school day starts with a verse/prayer being repeated every morning

**THIS IS TRUE**.

A candle is lit for this prayer/verse. An angel is placed on the table while the candle is lit. This ceremony represents the Anthroposophic deeply held devotion to and reverence for Christ in his role as the Sun God, and sets the spiritual tone for the day.

**THIS I HAVE NEVER SEEN**

7) "At Christmas, 4 angels are displayed in the classroom to represent the angels that Anthroposophy teaches govern the destinies of the different races of mankind. Anthroposophy teaches that these angels do indeed exist and do indeed affect and guide the destinies of the different races.

**THIS I HAVE NEVER SEEN**

Dan Dugan:

The candle is standard procedure. I agree with Bruce about the angels; that particular use of angels must have been the practice of one particular teacher or school. Dan Saykaly, can you give us any illumination on that? I have photos of angel figures in several public Waldorf school classrooms.

The relationship of angels to folk-groups given above is wrong. It is the archangels that govern human races and national and cultural groups. It is from the archangels, for instance, that we get our different languages, and with whom we work when translating texts. Michael was the archangel for the Hebrews as the face of Jehovah and is mentioned in the Old Testament as such. Since then, Michael has become an archai, a time spirit, and is now the guide of all humanity as the countenance of Christ. I am mentioning this because of the knuckleheaded and slanderous allegation of anti-semitism in Steiner and anthroposophy.

Tarjei

http://www.uncletaz.com/

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From: Bruce
Subject: Re: Steiner/ Waldorf/ Anthroposophy disclosure to parents
Date: Wed, 10 Feb 1999 16:57:43 EST

In einer eMail vom 10.02.99 20:23:22 MEZ, schreiben Sie:

The candle is standard procedure. I agree with Bruce about the angels; that particular use of angels must have been the practice of one particular teacher or school. Dan Saykaly, can you give us any illumination on that? I have photos of angel figures in several public Waldorf school classrooms.

The candle is NOT standard procedure. I have never lit a candle in a lesson (except for a birthday and at advent) so it CANNOT be standard. It may happen even in the MAJORITY of schools (I dont know) but that cannot make it STANDARD.

Bruce

Pictures of Angels exist the world over!

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From: "Alan S. Fine MD"
Subject: Re: Steiner/ Waldorf/ Anthroposophy disclosure to parents
Date: Wed, 17 Feb 1999 09:52:14 -0700

And if one were to follow these steps and come to an entirely different belief? Why then you would say that the steps were not properly taken, for belief in your truth is part of the methodology itself.

This is not science. You use the word science to underscore your belief that Anthroposophy is not just your truth, but the Truth. The use of the word science to describe your spiritual path is not only objectionable to scientists, but even more objectionable to those many deeply spiritual people who follow a path and a truth different than yours. It is surprising that for all his knowledge and inspiration, Steiner did not show us the inhumanity behind universalizing spirituality this way. History certainly has.

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From: "Alan S. Fine MD"
Subject: Re: Steiner/ Waldorf/ Anthroposophy disclosure to parents
Date: Thu, 18 Feb 1999 06:23:55 -0700

OK then, I am sorry if I have jumped to a conclusion, so clarify it for me. If I were to follow the steps and the method you are suggesting, and I did not come to any realizations that matched yours or Steiner's, would you or would you not believe that I must have followed the steps improperly? (This of course is the same as Michael's arguement in different words.)

I am in no way criticizing the quality or importance of your effort to learn what you have learned. I have encountered many people on many paths and those people will vouch that I always treat them with the utmost respect for their paths and their truths. But I expect them to accord me the same respect. Steiner's methodology to gain cognitional experience of the spiritual world is meaningful to you. I respect that more than you will ever appreciate. But it is in my view an act of great hubris to imply that it is similarly meaningful and truthful to others, and carelessly tossing out words like science to support that conjecture. Tell me that I can seriously follow Steiner's methodology, and I that I might come up with spiritual realities other than Steiner's, and that these realities would be just as important and vital as his. Tell me that there are other methodologies besides Steiner's that can give me a meaningful spiritual experience. And most of all tell me that the Muslim faith and the Jewish faith are spiritual paths that are as real, as enduring, and as high as yours. If you can tell me these things, you will be according me the respect that I am ready to accord you.-

Alan S. Fine MD wrote:

And if one were to follow these steps and come to an entirely different belief? Why then you would say that the steps were not properly taken, for belief in your truth is part of the methodology itself.

[What an interesting way to reason. First you invent the result of following the methodology, without of course actually following the methodology. Then you invent my reaction to your invention. I have no doubt you do not practice your professional life in such a fantastic fashion. Please deal with realities and cease making up things. That is not any kind of response at all.]

It is also obnoxiously disrespectful to judge in a negative fashion, without any real knowledge on your part, the quality of effort I have put forward to learn what I have learned.]

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From: Michael Hirsch
Subject: Re: Steiner/ Waldorf/ Anthroposophy disclosure to parents
Date: Thu, 18 Feb 1999 11:53:20 -0500 (EST)

Joel,

Thank you for the lengthy reply. You are certainly right that I would have to study long and hard to understand and comprehend Steiner. But I am not asking to understand Steiner, I am asking to understand your use of the word "scientific". It still appears to me that your meaning of the term is in opposition to the meaning as ascribed by actual scientists.

Joel A. Wendt writes:

I made the statement in my "disclosure" piece that Waldorf was based upon a scientifically valid understanding of human nature. We are thus at the core problem: How to we come to knowledge and understanding of human nature? With the addition of a subsidary problem: How do we do this in a scientific fashion?

Yes, that is the crux. Scientists are notoriously bad at understanding human nature. If it were possible to do so scientifically, that would be great.

At present "science" confines itself to knowledge gained essentialy through methods of counting and pointer instruments of various types. Are such methods adequate to the discovery of deeper truths about human nature? I think clearly they are not, so the question becomes, what extentions of methodology can be made, yet which still retain the right to call themselves "scientific". In order to answer this question we have to look at the scientific method for some statement of its essential features, which does not violate its fundamental premises.

Again, I agree with this. It is important not to violate the principles that make science work even while trying to extend it to new fields of research.

I put forward as such a possible statement the following: One is scientific if one postulates truths along with the relevant methodology so that the methodology itself can first be tested, and then applied and the truth replicated. This allows us to expand our methods, while remaining in concert with the fundamental "truth" principle of science, i.e. the ability to replicate.

Here is where we part company. Science does not make progress by demonstrating truth, but rather by demonstrating lack thereof. Science progresses by theorizing that a certain model expresses a certain aspect of reality. Then people "prove" the model by testing it. "Prove" here is in the sense of "proving grounds" or "testing grounds", not the mathematical sense. The model makes certain predictions. If these predictions fail then the model is disproven. If the predictions are correct then the theory is now in probationary status.

If the model passes the first test, researchers then design further, more difficult tests. A theory never really leaves probationary status, though occasionally some theories become so ingrained we call them laws, but that doesn't mean we stop testing them. We are still testing Einstein's theories and "laws" such as conservation of energy all the time.

So if I say "such and such" is true about human psychology, I have to give you a method for finding that out for yourself. I don't have to confine the method to counting and pointer instruments, but can use some other method as long is it is accessible and testible.

To be science you need to give me a way to show that it isn't true. If there is no way for me to (potentially) disprove your statement, then it isn't science and your belief is not scientifically based. It might be true, but it isn't scientifically testable, and hence does not deserve the name "science".

As you can see, it is not necessary for me to read anything Steiner wrote to discuss this. I am prepared to admit he may be right about everything he says, but I am denied the opportunity to test his theories. This is what makes it a matter of religion and faith to me. "If you do this you will agree" is not a scientific answer to a request for knowledge, no matter how heartfelt.

--Michael

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From: "Joel A. Wendt"
Subject: Re: Steiner/ Waldorf/ Anthroposophy disclosure to parents
Date: Thu, 18 Feb 1999 18:06:11 -0500

Dear Alan,

I have placed a couple of comments in your remarks below, in [brackets].

warm regards,
joel

Alan S. Fine MD wrote:

And if one were to follow these steps and come to an entirely different belief? Why then you would say that the steps were not properly taken, for belief in your truth is part of the methodology itself.

[What an interesting way to reason. First you invent the result of following the methodology, without of course actually following the methodology. Then you invent my reaction to your invention. I have no doubt you do not practice your professional life in such a fantastic fashion. Please deal with realities and cease making up things. That is not any kind of response at all.]

This is not science. You use the word science to underscore your belief that Anthroposophy is not just your truth, but the Truth. The use of the word science to describe your spiritual path is not only objectionable to scientists,

[Since you have not made any attempt to practice the methodology, you are in no position to state what it is or is not. I have also not stated any "beliefs". There are certain universal psychological facts involving the nature of the relationship between thinking and experience. It is certainly "scientific" to observe one's inner life and confirm, or not, the truthfulness of the reported observations concerning this relationship. It does, however, take a bit of work, not unlike the work you engaged in in earning your M.D. It is also obnoxiously disrespectful to judge in a negative fashion, without any real knowledge on your part, the quality of effort I have put forward to learn what I have learned.]

but even more objectionable to those many deeply spiritual people who follow a path and a truth different than yours.

[This again is just a statement of assumptions convienient to your presumptions about what I am refering to. I have carefully left out any details of the methodology, so it is quite impossible for you to know anything about it. Of course, you could have read the suggested books, but it is clear from you remarks that you have not bothered to. That is fine. I am not insisting that you do so. I will state again, however, that if you refuse to attempt, with good will, to replicate the methodology, you are not entitled to speak at all about what might or might not be the result.]

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From: "Joel A. Wendt"
Subject: Re: Steiner/ Waldorf/ Anthroposophy disclosure to parents
Date: Fri, 19 Feb 1999 17:22:04 -0500

Dear Alan,

You continue to operate under mistaken assumptions. I do not fault you for this. I believe such problems are inherent in the nature of the subject under consideration. I will try to develop matters further, in line with your questions.

The world is full of a variety of spiritual paths. It was my great fortune to live in Berkeley, California, during the end of the 1960's and all through the 1970's, when living teachers from many of these paths were present. It was a remarkable community of seekers to be a member of, and I have great respect, as do you, for all these teachers and seekers and their wise individual Ways.

There is something different about anthroposophy, however -- different from all these other paths. This does not make anthroposophy better, or more pure or any such category. Rather the difference is rooted in an intention of young Dr. Steiner to proceed to develop his work out of the scientific impulse of his time, the rich and remarkable developments of the 19th Century.

In order to do this he had to appreciate deeply the thought content of science, and as well the fundamental integrity of the method of truth seeking which underlay it. The result was that he built up the ideas which he worked with, entirely out of the approach to knowledge of his contemporaries. The process (method) arrives at a spiritual content only because the ground of the world is factually spiritual.

As you are no doubt aware, the philosopher Kant (among many others) in considering the epistomological question, concluded that human knowledge was limited, and that knowledge of the divine was not within the capacities of a human being. Steiner has disproved this limitation.

The proof involves a careful examination of the universal properties of human consciousness, from the inside, as would appear to an objective introspection. It is a completely "scientific" examination of consciousness, and has been replicated by many individuals. But like all science, one has to do the work.

Now you give me a hypothetical question about what I might or might not do, if you were to follow the methodology and get different results. Sorry, but I don't argue hypotheticals. They are an illusion and have no meaning whatsoever.

You don't have to bother even with this dialogue, much less involve yourself in any kind of examination of the details of your own consciousness. Just don't expect me to pretend that knowledge, of the kind I have confirmed for myself, does not exist.

You seem to be assuming that I am asserting that everything that Steiner ever said is true, or something of that order. That, I have not done. I would not be surprised if much of it was true, but that has nothing to do with the point I have been trying to make.

Let me restate it. In order to understand what anthroposophy is about, you have to go in by the front door. At the front door you come to the problem of freedom. If one learns to understand the epistomological problem (in practice), then one comes upon an enormous inner freedom and an appreciation of the right of every other human being to enjoy that freedom. Properly understood, one is even free of Steiner "thought", of the vast content which he gave in the thousands of lectures he did not want published. The anthroposophical movement (and Waldorf education as well) is haunted and enchained by a great ghost (technically called an egregore), because this problem is not understood, even among those attracted to Steiner and to anthroposophy.

It is the presence of this ghost which causes many people to so quickly dislike and distrust much that they come upon in their encounters with anthroposophy or Waldorf Education. Many people instinctly recognize the lack of freedom among those whose souls are enchained with a dogmatic relationship to anthroposophical content, and quite rightly have no desire to join them.

In spite of this garment of confusion, at the heart of anthroposophy is a jewel of remarkable worth -- complete spiritual freedom. I would do a grave disservice to my fellow human beings, were I not to continue to point toward this divinely ordained gift, and all the possibilities which flows from its existence as an aspect of human potential.

warm regards,
joel

Alan S. Fine MD wrote:

OK then, I am sorry if I have jumped to a conclusion, so clarify it for me. If I were to follow the steps and the method you are suggesting, and I did not come to any realizations that matched yours or Steiner's, would you or would you not believe that I must have followed the steps improperly? (This of course is the same as Michael's arguement in different words.)

I am in no way criticizing the quality or importance of your effort to learn what you have learned. I have encountered many people on many paths and those people will vouch that I always treat them with the utmost respect for their paths and their truths. But I expect them to accord me the same respect. Steiner's methodology to gain cognitional experience of the spiritual world is meaningful to you. I respect that more than you will ever appreciate. But it is in my view an act of great hubris to imply that it is similarly meaningful and truthful to others, and carelessly tossing out words like science to support that conjecture. Tell me that I can seriously follow Steiner's methodology, and I that I might come up with spiritual realities other than Steiner's, and that these realities would be just as important and vital as his. Tell me that there are other methodologies besides Steiner's that can give me a meaningful spiritual experience. And most of all tell me that the Muslim faith and the Jewish faith are spiritual paths that are as real, as enduring, and as high as yours. If you can tell me these things, you will be according me the respect that I am ready to accord you.-

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From: Daniel Sabsay
Subject: Re: Steiner/ Waldorf/ Anthroposophy disclosure to parents
Date: Sat, 20 Feb 1999 00:08:09 -0800

Joel Wendt wrote

The proof involves a careful examination of the universal properties of human consciousness, from the inside, as would appear to an objective introspection. It is a completely "scientific" examination of consciousness, and has been replicated by many individuals. But like all science, one has to do the work.

What nonsense. You do not have to do any work to see that the result of triggering a nuclear bomb is unlike any chemical bomb. You do not have to do any work to see the result of smallpox vaccine. You do not have to do any work to see an airplane take off, or a transistor radio deliver the evening news, or to see a computer display this message.

-- Daniel

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Daniel Sabsay, president "Ignorance is the ultimate renewable resource"
East Bay Skeptics Society http://www.eb-skeptics.org

mail@eb-skeptics.org

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From: "Alan S. Fine MD"
Subject: Re: Steiner/ Waldorf/ Anthroposophy disclosure to parents
Date: Sun, 21 Feb 1999 03:26:59 -0700

Joel,

I am not a skeptic. I believe in matters beyond our immediate material perception. Of the thousands of people who have honored me by making me a major guide in their life, many have shared the view (perhaps overstated) that they consider me to be a deeply spiritual person. I relate naturally to people's spirituality, when used for meditation, consolation, contemplation of the beauty of nature,inspiration to do good deeds, and the like. Those things I respect and admire. Where I have trouble is with those people who take spirituality a step further, beyond personal inspiration, into the realm of thinking they know God, and know the TRUTH. As my mother would say when we kids started to quarrel, here is where the bloodshed starts. When they think they know the TRUTH about God, they place their spiritual views in a higher (more truthful, more complete, whatever word you want to use) plane than the next person's spiritual system- a phenomenon which history has proven is all too easy to act upon with horrific results. When they think they know the TRUTH, they begin to blur the material reality we all share with their spiritual beliefs. The fundamentalist Christians want to teach creationism in the schools because it is written in the Old Testament which to them is the literal TRUTH. The Jewish extremists, will build houses on other peoples land because they believe that God promised that land to them and that is the TRUTH. The Anthroposophist will deny the student the essential backround of hemodynamics because hemodynamics is not the TRUTH. Well if you want the truth, let me tell you my version. God is not man from Nazareth, or a boy from India. God is not the author of books, and not a real estate agent. God is not the impulse of racial development, and certainly not a cardiologist. God is God. Going beyond that is divisive, disrespectful, and dangerous. The ghost you describe is a direct result of the Anthroposophists claim to know God, and it will haunt you until you adopt a more enlightened and humane posture.

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From: Stephen Tonkin
Subject: Re: Steiner/ Waldorf/ Anthroposophy disclosure to parents
Date: Sun, 21 Feb 1999 22:11:01 +0000

Alan S. Fine MD <asf@peakpeak.com> wrote:
[some reasonably good sense leading to:]

God is God. Going beyond that is divisive, disrespectful, and dangerous.

...but spoilt it by continuing:

The ghost you describe is a direct result of the Anthroposophists claim to know God,

Another thing that is disrespectful and dangerous is the propensity of some people to generalise from the particular (or even from a false perception?). I certainly don't claim to know God, and I don't think I know any anthropops who have claimed to either. I'm trying not to be offended by your implication that because I am an anthropop, I have claimed to know God.

Alan, you seem to have some curious notion of that anthropops are homogenous -- we are (as I think I have said before) a delightfully diverse bunch; it infuriates those who try to shove us into convenient little boxes with neat little defining labels. This is the nature of the beast, I'm afraid.

Noctis Gaudia Carpe,

Stephen

--
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+ Stephen Tonkin | ATM Resources; Astro-Tutorials; Astronomy Books +
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From: Tarjei Straume
Subject: Re: Steiner/ Waldorf/ Anthroposophy disclosure to parents
Date: Sun, 21 Feb 1999 23:53:51 +0100

Alan S. Fine wrote (to Joel):

I relate naturally to people's spirituality, when used for meditation, consolation, contemplation of the beauty of nature,inspiration to do good deeds, and thevlike. Those things I respect and admire. Where I have trouble is with those people who take spirituality a step further, beyond personal inspiration, into the realm of thinking they know God, and know the TRUTH.

You are supporting Immanuel Kant and his dualism, which has been shared by most branches of inquiry for a couple of centuries. You are saying that it's ok to hold a spiritual view of life and the universe as long as you don't treat it as reality. Treat it as a dream, as a wish, as unreality. Don't rock the boat by interpreting natural-scientific phenomena as external expressions of a divine-spiritual natural order. Because that gives you trouble.

When they think they know the TRUTH about God, they place their spiritual views >in a higher (more truthful, more complete, whatever word you want to use) plane >than the next person's spiritual system- a phenomenon which history has proven >is all too easy to act upon with horrific results.

Why wouldn't you say the same thing about any field of knowledge? If you know something, you have a truth. Wouldn't it be dangerous for a man to know too much about Greek history because he could place his knowledge higher than someone who only knows geometry, English law, and Italian painting, and whose views about Greek history are based upon too little reading? It is no more dangerous to know some truths about Greek history, which is also a part of "God's truth," than some truths about spiritual phenomena.

When they think they know the TRUTH, they begin to blur the material reality we all share with their spiritual beliefs.

If you insist upon keeping spiritual truth separated from material truth and declare that they shall have nothing to do with one another, they should in no way interact - then you postulate that one of these two realities must be illusion. So I am permitted to say with the ancient Indians that the external world of the senses is maya, illusion. I am also permitted to say with the atheists that the spiritual does not exist. My third option is to believe in the spiritual and confess ignorance about the physical.

The fundamentalist Christians want to teach creationism in the schools because it is written in the Old Testament which to them is the literal TRUTH.

They have tried to solve the riddle of physical origins by denouncing evolution, and they cannot maintain their religious faith without creating a non-reality based upon "the authority" of poorly understood scripture. Rudolf Steiner took an entirely different approach. He first investigated the events recorded in Genesis by initiation science; then he checked the old scripture to see if the perceptions told by Moses matched his own. They did, and Steiner did actually say that the Bible is absolutely true and gives an accurate account of evolution, provided we learn how to read the text.

The Jewish extremists, will build houses on other peoples land because they believe that God promised that land to them and that is the TRUTH.

As an anthroposophist, I don't believe that God or anyone else has promised me anything material whatsoever. As an anarchist, I am aware that I am an extremist. As an anarchosophist, I think that land belongs to those who are using it and that the Sionists are guilty of a terrible injustice against the Palistinians.

The Anthroposophist will deny the student the essential backround of hemodynamics because hemodynamics is not the TRUTH.

As an anthroposophist, I WILL NOT deny anything to anybody. And as an anthroposophist, I take that as a personal insult.

Well if you want the truth, let me tell you my version. God is not man from Nazareth, or a boy from India. God is not the author of books, and not a real >estate agent. God is not the impulse of racial development, and certainly not a cardiologist. God is God. Going beyond that is divisive, disrespectful, and dangerous. The ghost you describe is a direct result of the Anthroposophists claim to know God, and it will haunt you until you adopt a more enlightened and humane posture.

This is what Rudolf Steiner says about God:

"The all-encompassing attribute of the Godhead is not omnipotence, neither is it omniscience, but it is love - the attribute in respect of which no enhancement is possible. God is uttermost love, unalloyed love, is born as it were out of love, is the very substance and essence of love. God is pure love, not supreme wisdom, not supreme might."

It's that simple.

Cheers,

Tarjei

http://www.uncletaz.com/

P.S. The RS quote above is from the lecture "Love and its Meaning in the World," which is available in English at

http://www.uncletaz.com/lovemeaning.html

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From: "Joel A. Wendt"
Subject: Re: Steiner/ Waldorf/ Anthroposophy disclosure to parents
Date: Mon, 22 Feb 1999 11:39:59 -0500

Dear Alan,

I can't speak for those "anthroposophists" you refer to since I don't know any such people (as I stated before). I also know quite well the distinction between truth and Truth, and studiously avoid the temptation to be involved in pronouncing on the latter. I don't think Rudolf Steiner was involved in the latter either, although many who read him seem to give the impression that they have the Truth.

I was very much a "rationalist" (three years of technology and science at the U.S. Air Force Academy and three years of law school), and was a very conscious agnostic until my early thirties when, while I was living in Berkeley, certain inner experiences compelled me to re-evaluate my view of such matters. In my first years of this work, I was taught by a Tibetan Llama (Choygam Trungpa) that Buddha's beginning point was to decide, for himself, the truth of everything, and to preceed only on that basis. Thus, there was no god, no me, no nothing unless I could establish it to my scientifically and legally trained thinking. I worked very hard at this, over many years, before I even met Steiner and anthroposophy, by which time I had already replicated (on a crude level) the philosophical-epistomological facts pointed to in Steiner's "Philosophy of Freedom". Finding the Truth had no interest to me at all.

Along the way I had to dismantle the dominate paradigms of my culture in order to be free to build up the whole system independently. I don't assert anything that I haven't independently established for myself, although I will use some Steiner thought as an hypothetical for purposes of investigating something that interests me. My main field of interest is the social-political, which as you (and Michael H. Stephen Talbot etc) well know is very difficult to apprehend in a rational scientific fashion. Only in Steiner's exposition of Goethe's Theory of Knowledge, did I find a method of thinking that proved practically useful for such work.

Perhaps some day you will meet me where I am, and not where you prejudge me to be.

warm regards,

joel
"Strange Fire: the Death, and the Resurrection, of Modern Civilization"
http://www.tiac.net/users/hermit/stgfr.html

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From: Sune Nordwall
Subject: Re: Steiner/ Waldorf/ Anthroposophy disclosure to parents
Date: Mon, 22 Feb 1999 21:06:56 +0100

Commenting on Alan S. Fine:

I relate naturally to people's spirituality, when used for meditation, consolation, contemplation of the beauty of nature,inspiration to do good deeds, and thevlike. Those things I respect and admire. Where I have trouble is with those people who take spirituality a step further, beyond personal inspiration, into the realm of thinking they know God, and know the TRUTH.

Tarjei, you write:

You are supporting Immanuel Kant and his dualism, which has been shared by most branches of inquiry for a couple of centuries. You are saying that it's ok to hold a spiritual view of life and the universe as long as you don't treat it as reality. Treat it as a dream, as a wish, as unreality. Don't rock the boat by interpreting natural-scientific phenomena as external expressions of a divine-spiritual natural order. Because that gives you trouble.

You may be right about Kant.

Yet, I´m wondering if there is not also another shade in what Alan writes. My feeling, partly supported by reading and maybe knowledge, is that there are different forms of Christianity and spirituality.

One is reflected in one of the parables of the New Testament, that I don´t find at the moment. In the parable, one of two persons is saying that he will do what his master tells him, but then does not. Another says he won´t, but does anyway. Who is then the one obeying his masters wish? Not the one who says he will, but the one who does.

Somehow, I came to think of it when reading your excange with Steve on the meaning of "Christian" in relation to Judaism, Christianity, Buddhism, the Baha'i Faith and Secular Humanism a few days ago.

Another form is the Christianity or spirituality of the heart, more maybe cultivated by the more Platonic/Franciscan tradition, pointing to how knowing and expressing what is in the heart is something else than knowing and expressing what is in the head, the third form of Christianity or spirituality more developed by the Aristotelean/Dominican/scholastic tradition.

I have not read up on it, but know that Aristotle was accused of having mistakenly put forth the opinion that the heart was the center of the nervous system, something also Steiner comments on somewhere. Somehow, I suspect it has to do with this discussion through the centuries of the heart as a "sense organ"/organ of knowledge, even if not in the sense "center of the nervous system".

_Something_ of Thomas Aquinas, really analyzing and dissecting Christianity down to the tiniest detail, I think still lives on in anthroposophy, with its effort to unite the Platonic and the Aristotelean traditions.

In spite of all the efforts by Steiner, one can understand those who think that it in different connections leans more to the "head" than the "heart" side, in a way that I feel is the other shade of what Alan expresses in his view of anthroposophy as something that stands out as if really gives you KNOWLEDGE about the spiritual world in a way that does not completely do justice to what your heart tells you.

In my experience, what Alan points to is an issue that also a number of deeply Christian oriented persons with a strong interest in anthroposophy have felt unable to solve and therefore have withdrawn from anthroposophy.

I don´t disagree with you, Tarjei. Yet, I think the monist/dualist issue you bring up not is an easily solvable one, and one that extends beyond the limits of the either/or logic of Aristotle.

Regards,

Sune
Stockholm, Sweden

http://hem.passagen.se/thebee/indexeng.htm
- a site on science, homeopathy, cosmological cell biology and
EU as a mechanical esoteric temple and threefolding of society

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From: Tarjei Straume
Subject: Re: Steiner/ Waldorf/ Anthroposophy disclosure to parents
Date: Tue, 23 Feb 1999 17:26:16 +0100

Sune wrote:

In spite of all the efforts by Steiner, one can understand those who think that it in different connections leans more to the "head" than the "heart" side, in a way that I feel is the other shade of what Alan expresses in his view of anthroposophy as something that stands out as if really gives you KNOWLEDGE about the spiritual world in a way that does not completely do justice to what your heart tells you.

In my experience, what Alan points to is an issue that also a number of deeply Christian oriented persons with a strong interest in anthroposophy have felt unable to solve and therefore have withdrawn from anthroposophy.

I appreciate that, but Alan is not simply saying that anthroposophy may be right for some people but not for him. He is saying that we are dangerous, to be feared and loathed, and he says that history shows examples of what terrible catasprophes we may cause by thinking the way we do. He compares us to religious fundamentalists, Christian and Jewish, not recognizing that these are the results of "Old Age" faiths rooted in the ethos of the Old Testament that condones aggression and violence.

For this reason, I would like to approach Alan's objection to anthroposophy from a different angle. Alan is not objecting to accepting anthroposophy in his own philosophy, because nobody is asking him to do that. He is objecting to other people accepting the works of Rudolf Steiner, which is something he and his fellow critics want to do everything in their power to prevent.

This is why I am going back to basics here, to anthroposophy, or religious pseudo-science, as a human rights issue. There are many people who manage to entertain religious beliefs that do not concur with the dictates of natural science. (The Christian faith is a special challenge here, because it includes the Immaculate Conception of the virgin Mary, and the physical resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ.) There are other people in this world, however, who have a longing for Christianity but who cannot compromise intellectual honesty by accepting dogma that contradict natural-scientific logic. I happen to belong to this category.

Rudolf Steiner saw it as a major task to help such people. When he was once asked by some Roman Catholic clergymen who had attended his lectures, why he did not join the church, he replied: "I speak to those who stand outside the church. They also have the right to be led to Christ."

Here is the central reason why I take slander, ridicule, and scorn against anthroposophy very personal. I would not have found it possible to be a Christian unless Rudolf Steiner had succeeded in explaining the Gospel in such a way that I could comprehend it with my logical, scientifically oriented intellect. You may call it my "pseudo-scientifically oriented intellect" if you like; that is not the point. The point is that the premises for my Christianity are disrespected when I am accused of adhering to the philosophy of Nazi war criminal Alfred Rosenberg, and when I am told that my understanding of the New Testament is something dangerous, despicable, and loathsome. In addition to this, I'm being told that I'm a brainwashed nitwit incapable of critical thinking. And to top it all off, to these juicy invectives is added the charge that I am a religious supremacist and a racist supremacist. I am beginning to wonder who is playing superemacists here.

The critics may defend their scientific orthodoxy tooth and nail for all I care, and they may demand that their own children are educated - or indoctrinated - to hold the same opinons about science. They also have the perfect right to freedom from religion. Nevertheless, anthroposophically oriented Christianity does not deserve slander, scorn, and hostility, because it does not seek to proselytize anyone. And even if it did, it deserves the same respect as other Christian denominations. For many people, anthroposophy is a path to Christ.

Cheers,

Tarjei

http://www.uncletaz.com/

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

From: "Steve Premo"
Subject: Re: Steiner/ Waldorf/ Anthroposophy disclosure to parents
Date: Tue, 23 Feb 1999 09:42:55 -0700

On 23 Feb 99, at 17:26, Tarjei Straume wrote:

I appreciate that, but Alan is not simply saying that anthroposophy may be right for some people but not for him. He is saying that we are dangerous, to be feared and loathed, and he says that history shows examples of what terrible catasprophes we may cause by thinking the way we do.

That's funny; I don't recall him saying that. Could you provide an exact quote of Alan's comments? I suspect that your summary is not entirely accurate.

He is objecting to other people accepting the works of Rudolf Steiner, which is something he and his fellow critics want to do everything in their power to prevent.

Assuming that Alan has stated such an objection, what is the basis for your belief that other critics want to prevent people from becoming anthroposophists? Waldorf critics, like anthroposophists, are a diverse group of people.

Steve Premo -- Santa Cruz, California
"There is a right and a wrong in the Universe and
that distinction is not difficult to make." - Superman

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From: Tarjei Straume
Subject: Re: Steiner/ Waldorf/ Anthroposophy disclosure to parents
Date: Tue, 23 Feb 1999 20:15:01 +0100

I wrote:

I appreciate that, but Alan is not simply saying that anthroposophy may be right for some people but not for him. He is saying that we are dangerous, to be feared and loathed, and he says that history shows examples of what terrible catasprophes we may cause by thinking the way we do.

Steve Premo wrote:

That's funny; I don't recall him saying that. Could you provide an exact quote of Alan's comments? I suspect that your summary is not entirely accurate.

My summary may be incomplete, but here is Alan's text (from a previous post in this thread):

"Where I have trouble is with those people who take spirituality a step further, beyond personal inspiration, into the realm of thinking they know God, and know the TRUTH. As my mother would say when we kids started to quarrel, here is where the bloodshed starts. When they think they know the TRUTH about God, they place their spiritual views in a higher (more truthful, more complete, whatever word you want to use) plane than the next person's spiritual system- a phenomenon which history has proven is all too easy to act upon with horrific results. When they think they know the TRUTH, they begin to blur the material reality we all share with their spiritual beliefs. The fundamentalist Christians want to teach creationism in the schools because it is written in the Old Testament which to them is the literal TRUTH. The Jewish extremists, will build houses on other peoples land because they believe that God promised that land to them and that is the TRUTH. The Anthroposophist will deny the student the essential backround of hemodynamics because hemodynamics is not the TRUTH. Well if you want the truth, let me tell you my version. God is not man from Nazareth, or a boy from India. God is not the author of books, and not a real estate agent. God is not the impulse of racial development, and certainly not a cardiologist. God is God. Going beyond that is divisive, disrespectful, and dangerous. The ghost you describe is a direct result of the Anthroposophists claim to know God, and it will haunt you until you adopt a more enlightened and humane posture."

In other words, anthroposophy is dangerous. If we add to this Dan Dugan's view of anthroposophy as a Nazi ideology, we get a clear picture of what kind of smear campaign is being collaborated here.

He is objecting to other people accepting the works of Rudolf Steiner, which is something he and his fellow critics want to do everything in their power to prevent.

Assuming that Alan has stated such an objection, what is the basis for your belief that other critics want to prevent people from becoming anthroposophists? Waldorf critics, like anthroposophists, are a diverse group of people.

What the hardcore critics of anthroposophy are concerned, they may be diverse in many respects, but they contribute to the view that anthroposophy is dangerous, dishonorable, conniving, sneaky, harmful, abusive, unhealthy, unintelligent, and Nazi-inspired. Something to be feared and loathed and warned and protected against.

Cheers,

Tarjei

http://www.uncletaz.com/

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From: "Steve Premo"
Subject: Re: Steiner/ Waldorf/ Anthroposophy disclosure to parents
Date: Tue, 23 Feb 1999 12:04:16 -0700

Tarjei quoted Alan as saying:

"Where I have trouble is with those people who take spirituality a step further, beyond personal inspiration, into the realm of thinking they know God, and know the TRUTH. As my mother would say when we kids started to quarrel, here is where the bloodshed starts. When they think they know the TRUTH about God, they place their spiritual views in a higher (more truthful, more complete, whatever word you want to use) plane than the next person's spiritual system- a phenomenon which history has proven is all too easy to act upon with horrific results. When they think they know the TRUTH, they begin to blur the material reality we all share with their spiritual beliefs. The fundamentalist Christians want to teach creationism in the schools because it is written in the Old Testament which to them is the literal TRUTH. The Jewish extremists, will build houses on other peoples land because they believe that God promised that land to them and that is the TRUTH. The Anthroposophist will deny the student the essential backround of hemodynamics because hemodynamics is not the TRUTH. Well if you want the truth, let me tell you my version. God is not man from Nazareth, or a boy from India. God is not the author of books, and not a real estate agent. God is not the impulse of racial development, and certainly not a cardiologist. God is God. Going beyond that is divisive, disrespectful, and dangerous. The ghost you describe is a direct result of the Anthroposophists claim to know God, and it will haunt you until you adopt a more enlightened and humane posture."

From this, Tarjei made the following statement:

Alan is not simply saying that anthroposophy may be right for some people but not for him. He is saying that we are dangerous, to be feared and loathed, and he says that history shows examples of what terrible catasprophes we may cause by thinking the way we do.

He's saying that Anthroposophists think they know the truth about spiritual matters, and that everyone else is wrong. He's also saying that those who think this way sometimes blur the distinction between spiritual beliefs and knowledge of the material world. I agree with him that anthroposophists tend to do the latter, and that many anthroposophists are guilty of thinking that they know the "truth" better than the rest of us, not only about the spiritual realm, but about the material world as well.

Alan also points out that this kind of thinking has led to wars. I agree that this kind of thinking has led to wars, but I also agree with Tarjei that it does not necessarily lead to war. That depends on the belief system involved, and I don't see Anthroposophy as posing a threat in this regard.

I think Tarjei is exagerating one aspect of Alan's statement and ignoring the rest. Alan does not say that anthroposophy is dangerous, or that anthroposophists are to be feared and loathed. Indeed, it is the fear and loathing of those following other spiritual paths that causes the horrific problems to which Alan refers, and I suspect that he would agree.

Tarjei continues:

In other words, anthroposophy is dangerous. If we add to this Dan Dugan's view of anthroposophy as a Nazi ideology, we get a clear picture of what kind of smear campaign is being collaborated here.

Tarjei, you're starting to sound paranoid. I've been on this list for a couple of years, and I've seen no evidence of a grand conspiracy to smear anthroposophy. The fact that various critics agree on some key points (and disagree on others, such as that Nazi nonsense) does not mean that they are collaborating. I certainly see no evidence that Dugan and Alan are collaborating on some campaign.

What the hardcore critics of anthroposophy are concerned, they may be diverse in many respects, but they share the view that anthroposophy is dangerous, dishonorable, conniving, sneaky, harmful, abusive, unhealthy, unintelligent, and Nazi-inspired. Something to be feared and loathed and warned and protected against.

As I said....

Steve Premo -- Santa Cruz, California
"There is a right and a wrong in the Universe and
that distinction is not difficult to make." - Superman

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

From: Tarjei Straume
Subject: Re: Steiner/ Waldorf/ Anthroposophy disclosure to parents
Date: Wed, 24 Feb 1999 08:21:44 +0100

Steve Premo wrote (about Alan's post):

He's saying that Anthroposophists think they know the truth about spiritual matters, and that everyone else is wrong. He's also saying that those who think this way sometimes blur the distinction between spiritual beliefs and knowledge of the material world. I agree with him that anthroposophists tend >to do the latter, and that many anthroposophists are guilty of thinking that they know the "truth" better than the rest of us, not only about the spiritual realm, but about the material world as well.

Alan also points out that this kind of thinking has led to wars. I agree that this kind of thinking has led to wars, but I also agree with Tarjei that it does not necessarily lead to war. That depends on the belief system involved, and I don't see Anthroposophy as posing a threat in this regard.

I think Tarjei is exagerating one aspect of Alan's statement and ignoring the rest.

I did not ignore the other aspects of Alan's post, but I skipped it to focus on what I saw as the essential part. There are certainly many other tangents to get off on here - one of them being that if "this kind of thinking" (that has led to wars), refers to anthroposophy, then anthroposophy is simply not understood at all, because *anthroposophical thinking* did not really exist before it was developed by Rudolf Steiner; it has been evolving for one hundred years only. And the wars of the twentieth century were certainly not initiated by anthroposophical thinking.

Alan does not say that anthroposophy is dangerous, or that anthroposophists are to be feared and loathed.

He is saying that anthroposophy is based upon a kind of thinking that is dangerous and that has caused catastrophes. This is an erroneous statement based upon ignorance of anthroposophical thinking.

Indeed, it is the fear and loathing of those following other spiritual paths that causes the horrific problems to which Alan refers, and I suspect that he would agree.

He was implying very clearly anthroposophy belongs to what that what you call those "other" spiritual paths; that going beyond faith onto knowledge in spiritual matters easily leads to fanaticism and war.

Tarjei continues:

In other words, anthroposophy is dangerous. If we add to this Dan Dugan's view of anthroposophy as a Nazi ideology, we get a clear picture of what kind of smear campaign is being collaborated here.

Tarjei, you're starting to sound paranoid. I've been on this list for a couple of years, and I've seen no evidence of a grand conspiracy to smear anthroposophy. The fact that various critics agree on some key points (and disagree on others, such as that Nazi nonsense) does not mean that they are collaborating. I certainly see no evidence that Dugan and Alan are collaborating on some campaign.

First of all, bein' paranoid don't mean they ain't out to getcha - in this case, warning parents against the dangers of Waldorf education, calling for the licences of anthroposophical doctors to be revoked, etc. Secondly, I did not intend to imply that there was a conscious, deliberate off-list cooperation among hardcore critics to create a smear campaign. Dan Dugan has constructed the main body, and the others are hammering in the nails and painting it. But it is a smear campaign, because even if you think the Nazi thing is nonsense, this lie is yet being spread among people who swallow such disinformation.

Cheers,

Tarjei

http://www.uncletaz.com/

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

From: Michael Kopp
Subject: Re: Steiner/ Waldorf/ Anthroposophy disclosure to parents
Date: Wed, 24 Feb 1999 22:36:06 +1300

Tarjei Straume writes:

{quoting Steve PREMO:]

Tarjei, you're starting to sound paranoid. I've been on this list for a couple of years, and I've seen no evidence of a grand conspiracy to smear anthroposophy. The fact that various critics agree on some key points (and disagree on others, such as that Nazi nonsense) does not mean that they are collaborating. I certainly see no evidence that Dugan and Alan are collaborating on some campaign.

And STRAUME says:

First of all, bein' paranoid don't mean they ain't out to getcha - in this case, warning parents against the dangers of Waldorf education, calling for the licences of anthroposophical doctors to be revoked, etc. Secondly, I did not intend to imply that there was a conscious, deliberate off-list cooperation among hardcore critics to create a smear campaign. Dan Dugan has constructed the main body, and the others are hammering in the nails and painting it. But it is a smear campaign, because even if you think the Nazi thing is nonsense, this lie is yet being spread among people who swallow such disinformation.

Michael KOPP says:

Well, now, you're stepping on my toes, Mr Straume.

As a vocal critic of Steiner/ Waldorf/ Anthroposophical affairs, I take it you are including me in your broad-brush condemnation of all critics. Methinks you do exactly what you claim others are doing to SWA.

I don't have anything to do with PLANS. I don't correspond much off-list with Dan Dugan or any other of the PLANS group -- certainly no more than I correspond off-list with defenders of the faith [TM], including yourself.

I am a journalist by profession. When I write facts, I label them as facts. When I write opinion, I label it as opinion.

Everything I have written about my experience with and knowledge of a Steiner school is factual. It has to be, or I would be open to suit for defamation in this country. The fact that I have not named my former school is thin protection, as many people are aware what school my children attended.

Every opinion I have voiced about SWA is for the purpose of exposing to the light of day aspects of SWA which I believe its adherents and practitioners want to keep from prospective customers. The fact is that no school of which I am aware has a disclosure document that comes within cooey (Kiwi slang = a very long distance) of what I believe, and have stated, prospective consumers should be told.

I take very strong exception to being included in your calumnious insult that critics are engaged in a deliberate smear campaign. I am not engaged in any smear campaign; I am not (yet, anyway) engaged in any kind of campaign. I'm just a long-time, determined participant in a critical discussion.

I have on occasion (you should read the archives) said that there are aspects of my children's time in a Steiner school which I found beneficial. I have on occasion (you should read the archives) said that I think that there are some interesting ideas and possibilities for educating children in Steiner's oeuvre.

I have also said that I think there are harmful practices of SWA schools based on Steiner's pedagogy, and that I do not believe that the overall education is superior or valuable for my children -- or other people's children -- just to obtain the few good things.

Now, how is any of what I do a "smear campaign"?

I just want people to know more about SWA than its adherents, defenders, apologists and practitioners seem to want people to know.

If I mistake your intent to include me in your broad brush insult, please accept my sincere apologies for having misconstrued your view of me.

If I am not mistaken, and you do include me in your insult, I will accept your apology and clearly stated assurances, published on this list, that you do not think I am intent on "smearing" SWA, or that I am part of any cabal with such an intent.

Cheers from Godzone,

Michael Kopp
Wellington, New Zealand

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

From: Tarjei Straume
Subject: Re: Steiner/ Waldorf/ Anthroposophy disclosure to parents
Date: Wed, 24 Feb 1999 12:23:58 +0100

I wrote:

First of all, bein' paranoid don't mean they ain't out to getcha - in this case, warning parents against the dangers of Waldorf education, calling for the licences of anthroposophical doctors to be revoked, etc. Secondly, I did not intend to imply that there was a conscious, deliberate off-list cooperation among hardcore critics to create a smear campaign. Dan Dugan has constructed the main body, and the others are hammering in the nails and painting it. But it is a smear campaign, because even if you think the Nazi thing is nonsense, this lie is yet being spread among people who swallow such disinformation.

Michael Kopp wrote:

Well, now, you're stepping on my toes, Mr Straume.

As a vocal critic of Steiner/ Waldorf/ Anthroposophical affairs, I take it you are including me in your broad-brush condemnation of all critics. Methinks you do exactly what you claim others are doing to SWA.

If you perceive my above statement as a "broad-brush condemnation of all critics," so be it. But in that case, you need to specify what you mean by condemnation.

I don't have anything to do with PLANS. I don't correspond much off-list with Dan Dugan or any other of the PLANS group -- certainly no more than I correspond off-list with defenders of the faith [TM], including yourself.

In my above statement, I made it very clear that I did not imply any off-list "conspiracy" among critics.

<snip>

I take very strong exception to being included in your calumnious insult that critics are engaged in a deliberate smear campaign. I am not engaged in any smear campaign; I am not (yet, anyway) engaged in any kind of campaign. I'm just a long-time, determined participant in a critical discussion.

Read my post again, included above. It says: "Secondly, I did not intend to imply that there was a conscious, deliberate off-list cooperation among hardcore critics to create a smear campaign."

Now, how is any of what I do a "smear campaign"?

What I call a smear campaign first is the result of the impression given by the PLANS website, secondly the amplification of this impression by various posts to the WC list. When someone visits this site who knows nothing or little else about anthroposophy, then subscribes to the WC list, and reads certain posts full of invectives, half-truths, and even falsehoods, it is not improper to call it a smear campaign, though it may be disputable. But some of your posts have contributed to this.

I just want people to know more about SWA than its adherents, defenders, apologists and practitioners seem to want people to know.

If I mistake your intent to include me in your broad brush insult, please accept my sincere apologies for having misconstrued your view of me.

I have not made any "broad brush insult."

If I am not mistaken, and you do include me in your insult, I will accept your apology and clearly stated assurances, published on this list, that you do not think I am intent on "smearing" SWA, or that I am part of anycabal with such an intent.

In a post from Thu, 11 Feb, you wrote:

"Tarjei Straume's crocodile tears and false accusations should be seen for
what they are: anti-rational, anti-modern, and anti-U.S demagoguery.

"Most of what Straume says on this list does merit laughing at, as his
little <g>'s invite. But it ain't funny, is it."

If I were you, I wouldn't hurl bricks from a glasshouse by demanding apologies for insults.

Tarjei

http://www.uncletaz.com/

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

From: toner
Subject: Re: Steiner/ Waldorf/ Anthroposophy disclosure to parents
Date: Wed, 24 Feb 1999 13:37:10 +0100

After researching Waldorf education on the web for only a few weeks I must agree with Tarjei's point about the impression which perspective Waldorf parents do recieve. I am quite disturbed. I didn't have any idea that there existed behind the Waldorf shools anything more than a "educational standards" type of organization. I would never have guessed that there was a connection to a "spiritual/religious" group. But I am flabbergasted to hear that generally accepted scientific theorys, such as light defraction or the purpose of the heart, are not covered or perhaps distorted.

I attended parachial schools most of my life without being a member of any organized church. It was never a problem. In Catholic school, tricky points, like evolution, we taught as "this is the way the church sees it and this is the way most scientists see it and we will discuss both view in the appropriate classes.." ie: religion class and biology. (Religion class was optional for non-Catholics, I might add.) Both views were covered.

If what I've read on the web is half true then I feel quite deceived. I did not blindly choose Waldorf. I visited the Austin Waldorf school open house with my wife two years ago and we asked a lot of questions about the course materials. I had the concern that math and science were not adequately covered, so I asked more questions. I didn't know about Anthroposophism or it's views, but I did see a lack of school laboratory equipment.

In the end, after visiting three times and reading a book of interviews with graduates, and being highly impressed with the gentle environment and the fantastic arts / crafts / good food / humanistic approach we applied for a place.

After visiting the Dugan site and reading the emails from this list server, it is clear to me that we will not accept a position in the school and will probably just find a "good" public school district. It's a pity, the school is 80% perfect (the approach) 10% reasonable (new age views, when not taken to extremes, are appealing to me) and 10% completely unacceptable. To live in this world, you must understand basic science or you will have great difficulties.

It's a pity that the last 10-15% cursed what is otherwise a clearly superior approach to nurturing and educating our children.

Colin MacDougal

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

From: Tarjei Straume
Subject: Re: Steiner/ Waldorf/ Anthroposophy disclosure to parents
Date: Wed, 24 Feb 1999 15:10:32 +0100

Michael Kopp wrote:

I just want people to know more about SWA than its adherents, defenders, apologists and practitioners seem to want people to know.

You are telling the subscribers that I do not want people to know certain things about SWA. Have I expressed any desire to hide factual information from the public, thus giving you cause to come with a statement like that?

Tarjei

http://www.uncletaz.com/

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

From: Sune Nordwall
Subject: Re: Steiner/ Waldorf/ Anthroposophy disclosure to parents
Date: Wed, 24 Feb 1999 16:44:34 +0100

Dear Colin MacDougal,

... I am flabbergasted to hear that generally accepted scientific theorys, such as light defraction or the purpose of the heart, are not covered or perhaps distorted.

Why don´t you ask the physics and biology teachers at Austin Waldorf school how they approach the subjects of circulation and light in their teaching? I´d be _very_ surprised if they do not cover all of the normal material on light refraction/reflection and the normal view of the heart and its role in circulation when treating the subjects in the upper grades in a rather undramatical way.

The present chairman of the Anthroposophical Society in America (I think) the physicist Arthur Zajonc in 1993 published: "Catching the Light: the Entwined Destiny of Light and Mind" (Bantam Books) (ISBN 0195095758) (or at http://199.72.49.25/gcdocs/gc_0195095758.html), a rather comprehensive description of the enquiry into the nature of light through history. It gives an understanding, I think, of how the subject of light is taught at its best in waldorf schools. I think few waldorf teachers on physics are unaware of it (not because he´s a chairman of something, but because it´s a rather good book on the subject). Zajonc has contributed in a number of publications. If you use any search engine and his name, I think you´ll find a number of them. I found 116 according to http://www.stpt.com.

His book on light is now part of Selected readings on science and art at for example http://www-graphics.stanford.edu/courses/cs99d-98/bibliography.html or recommended by HCI at http://www.liquid.org/bibliofrset.html or Science & Nature / Physics / General Physics at http://www.stavar.i.se/bookstore/Sci_Phy_General.html. The last page also gives a link to a review of the book at http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ISBN%3D0195095758/stavarnetA/002-3975925-2952654.

Maybe Stephen Tonkin or other presently active teachers on the list can tell you what they know about how the different subjects are approached in different schools?

Else, http://www.waldorfworld.net/waldorflist/ describes how you can join a waldorf discussion list for parents and teachers involved in Waldorf schools or Rudolf Steiner schools. I think they can answer any question you can have about waldorf schools and waldorf education.

My personal impression is that smaller waldorf schools can have a difficulty in finding teachers for the subjects of the natural sciences in the upper grades. And I don´t know, but think it is somewhat more normal that they take in rather conventionally educated and thinking non waldorf teachers than to find more creative or excellent teachers like Stephen on this list.

It is also not uncommon for pupils to change over from waldorf to conventional public schools in Sweden, when the waldorf schools don´t have upper grades, that is after class 8 or 9.

Regards,

(mr) Sune Nordwall
Stockholm, Sweden

http://hem.passagen.se/thebee/indexeng.htm
- a site on science, homeopathy, cosmological cell biology and
EU as a mechanical esoteric temple and threefolding of society

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

From: Debra Snell
Subject: Re: Steiner/ Waldorf/ Anthroposophy disclosure to parents
Date: Wed, 24 Feb 1999 11:20:10 -0800

Tarjei wrote,

[snip]

First of all, bein' paranoid don't mean they ain't out to getcha - in this case, warning parents against the dangers of Waldorf education, calling for the licences of anthroposophical doctors to be revoked, etc. Secondly, I did not intend to imply that there was a conscious, deliberate off-list cooperation among hardcore critics to create a smear campaign. Dan Dugan has constructed the main body, and the others are hammering in the nails and painting it. But it is a smear campaign, because even if you think the Nazi thing is nonsense, this lie is yet being spread among people who swallow such disinformation.

For the record, PLANS has never called Waldorf dangerous. Deceptive, inadequate, religious, cult-like, racist roots -yes. Dangerous in the sense that Waldorf proponets are eating babies or anything of the like? Never. I see it as quite harmless overall. My own hot button is the deception. Waldorf teachers do not fully inform parents of Anthroposophy's tenets, therefore parents are denied the ability to make a fully informed choice. That issue alone is enough to create PLANS. Personally I have done little research into Steiner's Nazi relationship and I don't plan to explore it either.

Debra

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

From: Bruce
Subject: Re: Steiner/ Waldorf/ Anthroposophy disclosure to parents
Date: Wed, 24 Feb 1999 14:52:08 EST

In einer eMail vom 23.02.99 20:37:05 MEZ, schreiben Sie (Tarjei):

What the hardcore critics of anthroposophy are concerned, they may be diverse in many respects, but they share the view that anthroposophy is dangerous, dishonorable, conniving, sneaky, harmful, abusive, unhealthy, unintelligent, and Nazi-inspired. Something to be feared and loathed and warned and protected against.

I have not got the impression that ALL waldorf critics have ALL of these views, and as Steve(?) stated, waldorf critics are as diverse as anthroposophists. I would venture that there may even be anthroposophists who dont like waldorf! Its a free world - almost!

Bruce
anthroposophist, and pro waldorf!

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

From: Bruce
Subject: Re: Steiner/ Waldorf/ Anthroposophy disclosure to parents
Date: Wed, 24 Feb 1999 14:52:18 EST

In einer eMail vom 24.02.99 13:58:09 MEZ, schreiben Sie:

After visiting the Dugan site and reading the emails from this list server, it is clear to me that we will not accept a position in the school and will probably just find a "good" public school district. It's a pity, the school is 80% perfect (the approach) 10% reasonable (new age views, when not taken to extremes, are appealing to me) and 10% completely unacceptable. To live in this world, you must understand basic science or you will have great difficulties.

Deliberately not stating the poster (cos it is irrelevent):

PLANS is against the introduction of waldorf through the backdoor in public schools. In a bitter struggle to achieve its ends it attempts to discredit waldorf education, using often very unrelated topics as arguments (homeopathy, christianity etc, etc). There are FAR MORE (my opinion) ENTIRELY SATISFIED waldorf pupils and parents than dissatisfied.

If you are 80% satisfied with waldorf I think that is pretty good - could you be sure that you are 81% satisfied with the nearest public school?

None of us is perfect, but as waldorf teachers we try to give what we believe is the best for your children. We are only humans, as are all teachers, and thus capable of mistakes. No teacher is perfect, no school is perfect.

Before letting PLANS send your children to a state/public school remember this:

It is your children's education, not yours - one way or the other they will thank you for your decision later. I know very many adults who wish that they had attended a waldorf school. No doubt PLANS knows a few waldorf products who wish they had attended public school.

Bruce Jackson
waldorf teacher in Germany

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

From: Sune Nordwall
Subject: Re: Steiner/ Waldorf/ Anthroposophy disclosure to parents
Date: Wed, 24 Feb 1999 21:40:14 +0100

Debra Snell wrote:

For the record, PLANS has never called Waldorf dangerous. Deceptive, inadequate, religious, cult-like, racist roots -yes. Dangerous in the sense that Waldorf proponets are eating babies or anything of the like? Never. I see it as quite harmless overall. My own hot button is the deception. Waldorf teachers do not fully inform parents of Anthroposophy's tenets, therefore parents are denied the ability to make a fully informed choice. That issue alone is enough to create PLANS. Personally I have done little research into Steiner's Nazi relationship and I don't plan to explore it either.

That´s a REALLY weak defense of the racism-nazism-antisemitism campaign against anthroposophy and waldorf schools that Dan repeatedly has been running as the moderator of this list as the CENTRE and CORE sensational argument to support his otherwise 90 % unfounded allegations about the danger of waldorf education to the future life of the children and young people at waldorf schools.

The only noticeable complaint that a number of former waldorf pupils had in a great survey in the seventies, I think, in Sweden, was that they did not think they had got _quite_ as good a math education as pupils in public schools. I have not tried to check out that problem lately.

You REALLY overdo your arguing by 500% on your home page and 1000% on this list!

Do you think the Former Chancellor of Germany Helmuth Schmidt would have put and probably kept his child or children at a waldorf school (as I think someone told in a posting on this list some months ago) for 12 years or that Willy Brandt, Former Chancellor of West Germany would have said that "The advent of the Waldorf schools was in my opinion the greatest contribution to world peace and understanding of the century." (http://www.austinwaldorf.org/brochure/back_cover2.htm) if they considered it racist-antisemitic-antirational-antiscientific mumbo jumbo crap?? I don´t they got their position by being dumb. You seem to.

I VERY seldom get angry at people.

But when taking in the totality of your argumentation on your page and on this list I REALLY get angry because it stands out as so totally out of proportion to what you want to say.

Sune Nordwall
Stockholm, Sweden

http://hem.passagen.se/thebee/indexeng.htm
- a site on science, homeopathy, cosmological cell biology and
EU as a mechanical esoteric temple and threefolding of society

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

From: Bruce
Subject: Re: Steiner/ Waldorf/ Anthroposophy disclosure to parents
Date: Wed, 24 Feb 1999 15:49:48 EST

In einer eMail vom 24.02.99 20:37:21 MEZ, schreiben Sie (Debra):

For the record, PLANS has never called Waldorf dangerous. Deceptive, inadequate, religious, cult-like, racist roots -yes. Dangerous in the sense that Waldorf proponets are eating babies or anything of the like? Never. I see it as quite harmless overall. My own hot button is the deception. Waldorf teachers do not fully inform parents of Anthroposophy's tenets, therefore parents are denied the ability to make a fully informed choice. That issue alone is enough to create PLANS. Personally I have done little research into Steiner's Nazi relationship and I don't plan to explore it either.

Debra

As I already said I think Tarjei is way OTT (over the top) with some of his generalisations.

But I PERSONALLY would never "not fully inform parents of Anthroposophy's tenets", and therefore this generalisation is also false. I think that a statement on the lines of those quoted already is a good idea, since no-one can know everything that parents might want/need to know. The problem (and I speak from experience) is that a lengthy statement remains (largely) unread. And that brings us nowhere fast.

**Constructive** development of this thread, from both sides, would help us all.

Can we try to treat each other like human beings please?

Bruce

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

From: Tarjei Straume
Subject: Re: Steiner/ Waldorf/ Anthroposophy disclosure to parents
Date: Wed, 24 Feb 1999 22:21:30 +0100

Debra wrote:

For the record, PLANS has never called Waldorf dangerous. Deceptive, inadequate, religious, cult-like, racist roots -yes. Dangerous in the sense that Waldorf proponets are eating babies or anything of the like? Never.

I have not said that the PLANS website voices suspicions about anthroposophists eating babies. Alan S. Fine expressed the opinion that anthroposophical thinking incorporates dangerous elements for two reasons: The guru factor, and the step from blind faith to knowledge, or gnosis, in spiritual matters. He also thinks that Rudolf Steiner was a "lesser person" than anthroposophists of today, and that he fell for an unspecified temptation in connection with the reverence and admiration by his contemporaries. Dan Dugan and others have suggested that anthroposophical medicine is dangerous and harmful, and that all anthroposophical doctors should have their licences revoked because they are guilty of quackery. As for the rest, I conclude from your above statement that I am a deceptive racist.

I see it as quite harmless overall. My own hot button is the deception. Waldorf teachers do not fully inform parents of Anthroposophy's tenets, therefore parents are denied the ability to make a fully informed choice. That issue alone is enough to create PLANS.

I agree that prospective Waldorf parents should be given a list of relevant literature, and appropriate summaries of Rudolf Steiner and his works. But *fully informing parents* with little or no prior knowledge about anthroposophy is no small task. It is not just the 350 plus volumes; it is also the fact that the digestion of this literature requires a deeper, more active concentration than other literature. It must be acquired step by step. Most Waldorf parents I have known personally are anthroposophists; others are New Agers or something who like the profile of Waldorf without feeling the need to study anthroposophy.

Because Waldorf schools do not teach anthroposophy, but simply apply the educational technique developed by Rudolf Steiner based upon his insight with regard to the spiritual evolution of the child and the young man and woman (the seven year stages), it is quite natural to explain the external aspects of this technique to outsiders to begin with. But it should be outsiders who are genuinely attracted to the Waldorf approach and who do not have misgivings about the best aspects of the New Age Movement, which covers a broad spectrum. I think the perception that Waldorf and anthroposophy is deceptive is based upon a misunderstanding, inadequate communication. But I sincerely doubt that the intention has been to deceive.

Personally I have done little research into Steiner's Nazi relationship and I don't plan to explore it either.

You should explore it, especially because you voice the opinion that anthroposophy is a racist philosophy. I wrote an article about Nazi occultism two years ago. Unfortunately, it is only in Norwegian, but those of you who read this language may pick it up at

http://www.uncletaz.com/norsktaz/nazi.html

But I'll give you the English language sources. None of these books were written by anthroposophists:

Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke: "The Occult Roots of Nazism"

James Webb: "The Occult Establishment"

Both of these authors are ultra-rationalists, secular humanists, and they do not admire Steiner. But they are historically accurate and quite informative.

Gerald Suster: "Hitler: Black Magician"

Some interesting quotes By Hitler and other leading Nazi personalities. The author, however, is a follower of Aleister Crowley, and the book is sensational and sloppy with historical accuracy.

Nigel Pennick: "Hitler´s Secret Sciences"

In my opinion, this is the best book on the subject. The author is not an anthroposophist, but he has a keen understanding of the occult powers of good and evil. This book helped me to understand *how* a small fanatical party could possibly succeed in mass-hypnotizing the populations of Germany and Austria.

Fascism: A Reader´s Guide (Wildwood House)

Göts Aly, Peter Chroust og Christian Pross: "Cleansing the Fatherland" (about racial hygiene and Nazi medicine. The book created quite a stir in Gemany and a public debate about health care and ethics.)

When you've read these books in addition to a lot of anthroposophy (including the parts that certain critics may not want you to read), you may post your conclusions about "Steiner's Nazi relationship."

Cheers,

Tarjei

http://www.uncletaz.com/

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

From: Tarjei Straume
Subject: Re: Steiner/ Waldorf/ Anthroposophy disclosure to parents
Date: Wed, 24 Feb 1999 22:33:56 +0100

Bruce wrote:

I have not got the impression that ALL waldorf critics have ALL of these views, and as Steve(?) stated, waldorf critics are as diverse as anthroposophists. I would venture that there may even be anthroposophists who dont like waldorf! Its a free world - almost!

What I tried to explain was that the various views from a variety of critics, especially the "hardcore" ones, contribute to forming a certain picture that I do not ascribe in its entirety to each critic. Incidentally, I have never considered Steve a hardcore critic, and I don't think he has contributed anything to what I would consider smear or false accusations. (We had an obvious misunderstanding when I objected to his comparing freedom for anthropops with freedom for Nazis.)

Tarjei

http://www.uncletaz.com/

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

From: Daniel Sabsay
Subject: Re: Steiner/ Waldorf/ Anthroposophy disclosure to parents
Date: Wed, 24 Feb 1999 13:58:01 -0800

Sune Nordwall (Sune.Nordwall@home.se) wrote:

That´s a REALLY weak defense of the racism-nazism-antisemitism campaign against anthroposophy and waldorf schools that Dan repeatedly has been running as the moderator of this list as the CENTRE and CORE sensational argument to support his otherwise 90 % unfounded allegations about the danger of waldorf education to the future life of the children and young people at waldorf schools.

Note, not a word here about the creepy science you (Sune) keep pushing on this list.

I'll tell you a little secret, Sune, your defense on this list of homeopathy in anthroposophy, and your presentation of science in general, particularly:

http://hem.passagen.se/thebee/indexeng.htm
- a site on science, homeopathy, cosmological cell biology and
EU as a mechanical esoteric temple and threefolding of society

is one of the most persuasive anti-Waldorf arguments anyone could wish for.

Thanks again for keeping it all so visible.

-- Daniel

Daniel Sabsay Macintosh Consultant
http://www.eb-skeptics.org Ignorance is the Ultimate Renewable Resource

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

From: "Tolz, Robert"
Subject: RE: Steiner/ Waldorf/ Anthroposophy disclosure to parents
Date: Wed, 24 Feb 1999 18:23:56 -0500

Daniel Sabsay wrote:

Note, not a word here about the creepy science you (Sune) keep pushing on this list.

I'll tell you a little secret, Sune, your defense on this list of homeopathy in anthroposophy, and your presentation of science in general, particularly:

http://hem.passagen.se/thebee/indexeng.htm
- a site on science, homeopathy, cosmological cell biology and
EU as a mechanical esoteric temple and threefolding of society

is one of the most persuasive anti-Waldorf arguments anyone could wish for.

Help me out here, Daniel. I don't follow your logic. How does Sune's defense of homeopathy or anthroposophical medicine (assuming for the sake of argument that both are quackery) translate into a "persuasive" anti-Waldorf education argument? So far as I can tell, neither of those "sciences" or "medical approaches" is part of Waldorf education. I just don't get the connection your making.

Bob

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

From: Sune Nordwall
Subject: Re: Steiner/ Waldorf/ Anthroposophy disclosure to parents
Date: Thu, 25 Feb 1999 01:07:44 +0100

Daniel wrote:

Note, not a word here about the creepy science you (Sune) keep pushing on this list. I'll tell you a little secret, Sune, your defense on this list of homeopathy in anthroposophy, and your presentation of science in general, particularly:

[snip site, see below]

is one of the most persuasive anti-Waldorf arguments anyone could wish for. Thanks again for keeping it all so visible.

Dear Daniel,

As you may have forgotten, the paper on my site on the concept of science at http://hem.passagen.se/thebee/SCIENCE/Science.htm was "well approved" by the life time Professor of the Theory of Science; Haakan Toernebohm at the University of Gothenburg when I wrote it in 1980. My memory tells me he was a physicist before his professorship. He retired some years ago. Argue with him, not me.

The paper at http://hem.passagen.se/thebee/SCIENCE/Potprobl.htm tries to apply the basic concept of science, developed in the paper the Professor seemed to like for some reason, to the problem of homeopathy. I don´t say it solves the problem, yet maybe covers the problem to 5-10 % as a very rough personal estimate.

I´m not 100% sure I´m right about the reality of the potentiation effect. As I say at http://hem.passagen.se/thebee/SCIENCE/SciPotIn.htm I still think "the research still mainly seems to stand on square one, greatly as a result of the problem to understand the potentizing process theoretically and the basic problem of the unpredictable reproducibility of the research results in experimental environments".

The potentiation effect is not a Whitney Houston or Barbara Streisand performing on stage after you´ve signed the contract and pay it. It is still more an angel in the wings. Yet I have a very strong hunch, based on all research done on the problem, that it will perform predictable.

The problem is, some things or natural phenomenon are like gardens; they don´t "perform" if you haven´t learned to love them the right way; objectively. Blindfold a good gardener with "green fingers" and try to make make _him_ perform. All things in nature aren´t stones you can move about completely blindfolded. I think that´s a complex dilemma you have to face.

Sune
Stockholm, Sweden

http://hem.passagen.se/thebee/indexeng.htm
- a site on science, homeopathy, cosmological cell biology and
EU as a mechanical esoteric temple and threefolding of society

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

From: "Alan S. Fine MD"
Subject: Re: Steiner/ Waldorf/ Anthroposophy disclosure to parents
Date: Thu, 25 Feb 1999 05:55:55 -0700

Tarjei,

I have added a few comments to your message.

This is what Rudolf Steiner says about God:

"The all-encompassing attribute of the Godhead is not omnipotence, neither is it omniscience, but it is love - the attribute in respect of which no enhancement is possible. God is uttermost love, unalloyed love, is born as it were out of love, is the very substance and essence of love. God is pure love, not supreme wisdom, not supreme might."

It's that simple.

Then can we dispense with the cosmology, the root race theory, reincarnation, the New Testament, Jesus of Nazareth, the Mystery of Golgotha, the angels above, the gnomes below, Ahriman, the etheric body, the Christ impulse, etc.etc.etc? If it's just love were into, pure and simple, count me in too. It seems to me however that there is a lot more to your notion of God than just that. And the devil is in the details.

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From: "Alan S. Fine MD"
Subject: Re: Steiner/ Waldorf/ Anthroposophy disclosure to parents
Date: Thu, 25 Feb 1999 05:56:08 -0700

I am sorry, I meant no disrespect. I was writing somewhat metaphorically. What I meant to say is that Anthroposophists claim to know truths about the spiritual world, but that Anthroposophists' truths in these matters may not be the truth to other people. Those Anthroposophists who can accept these spiritual matters as their own beliefs, and not necessarily truths that apply to all, (and perhaps you are among them), will be the ones I would feel most respected by, and the ones I would respect the most in return.

-----Original Message-----
From: Stephen Tonkin

Alan S. Fine MD <asf@peakpeak.com> wrote:
[some reasonably good sense leading to:]

God is God. Going beyond that is divisive, disrespectful, and dangerous.

...but spoilt it by continuing:

The ghost you describe is a direct result of the Anthroposophists claim to know God,

Another thing that is disrespectful and dangerous is the propensity of some people to generalise from the particular (or even from a false perception?). I certainly don't claim to know God, and I don't think I know any anthropops who have claimed to either. I'm trying not to be offended by your implication that because I am an anthropop, I have claimed to know God.

Alan, you seem to have some curious notion of that anthropops are homogenous -- we are (as I think I have said before) a delightfully diverse bunch; it infuriates those who try to shove us into convenient little boxes with neat little defining labels. This is the nature of the beast, I'm afraid.

Noctis Gaudia Carpe,

Stephen
--
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From: Daniel Sabsay
Subject: RE: Steiner/ Waldorf/ Anthroposophy disclosure to parents
Date: Thu, 25 Feb 1999 06:34:41 -0800

Tolz, Robert (RTolz@TNSJ-LAW.COM) wrote

Help me out here, Daniel. I don't follow your logic. How does Sune's defense of homeopathy or anthroposophical medicine (assuming for the sake of argument that both are quackery) translate into a "persuasive" anti-Waldorf education argument? So far as I can tell, neither of those "sciences" or "medical approaches" is part of Waldorf education. I just don't get the connection your making.

Both ARE quackery.

Unfortunately these stupidities are so interwoven into the foundations of anthroposophy that they can never be separated; this is a package with revealed truth as its basic modus operandi. This taints all its fruits, and selects for people (administrators & teachers) who don't know the difference between science & knowledge based on scripture. The evidence is on this list constantly, and I have seen it first hand for myself at several Waldorf schools.

-- Daniel

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Daniel Sabsay, president "Ignorance is the ultimate renewable resource"
East Bay Skeptics Society http://www.eb-skeptics.org

mail@eb-skeptics.org

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From: "Tolz, Robert"
Subject: RE: Steiner/ Waldorf/ Anthroposophy disclosure to parents
Date: Thu, 25 Feb 1999 10:04:09 -0500

-----Original Message-----
From: Daniel Sabsay

Tolz, Robert (RTolz@TNSJ-LAW.COM) wrote >

Help me out here, Daniel. I don't follow your logic. How does Sune's defense of homeopathy or anthroposophical medicine (assuming for the sake of argument that both are quackery) translate into a "persuasive" anti-Waldorf education argument? So far as I can tell, neither of those "sciences" or "medical approaches" is part of Waldorf education. I just don't get the connection your making.

Both ARE quackery.

As I said, I'll assume for the sake of argument that they are.

Unfortunately these stupidities are so interwoven into the foundations of anthroposophy that they can never be separated; this is a package with revealed truth as its basic modus operandi. This taints all its fruits, and selects for people (administrators & teachers) who don't know the difference between science & knowledge based on scripture.

I thought you'd say something like that. I really don't buy the fruit and the tree argument at all.

It's sort of like saying that because Bill Clinton is a miserable person (which I will again assume for the sake of argument to be true), everything he has done as president is tainted. That argument has recently been raised but has been soundly rejected.

Now, I'm sure you'll distinguish my analogy from what we're discussing on this list, as it is easy to do so, but the lack of logic in your argument remains the same.

I suspect you are a person who prides himself on his rationality. Are you perhaps setting aside your faith in logic and the rational here in order to attain an objective which is more important to you?

Bob

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From: "Steve Premo"
Subject: RE: Steiner/ Waldorf/ Anthroposophy disclosure to parents
Date: Thu, 25 Feb 1999 08:24:40 -0700

On 25 Feb 99, at 6:34, Daniel Sabsay wrote:

Tolz, Robert (RTolz@TNSJ-LAW.COM) wrote

Help me out here, Daniel. I don't follow your logic. How does Sune's defense of homeopathy or anthroposophical medicine (assuming for the sake of argument that both are quackery) translate into a "persuasive" anti-Waldorf education argument? So far as I can tell, neither of those "sciences" or "medical approaches" is part of Waldorf education. I just don't get the connection your making.

Both ARE quackery.

Unfortunately these stupidities are so interwoven into the foundations of anthroposophy that they can never be separated; this is a package with revealed truth as its basic modus operandi. This taints all its fruits, and selects for people (administrators & teachers) who don't know the difference between science & knowledge based on scripture.

Unless I'm misreading you, your argument, boiled down to the essentials, goes like this:

Anthroposophy is a set of beliefs, some of which are nonsense.

Anthroposophical beliefs about child development form the basis for the pedagogy of Waldorf schools.

Therefore, the pedagogy of Waldorf schools is based on nonsense.

Your conclusion does not follow from your premises. Assuming for the sake of argument that homeopathy and anthroposophical medicine are nonsense, it does not follow that anthroposophical child development theory is nonsense, since that theory is not based on homeopathy or anthroposophical medicine.

But I'm not really being fair to your argument. You actually seem to be saying that only very gullible people would believe that homeopathy and anthroposophical medicine have value, and such people are likely to believe anything. Therefore, any opinions that they have about child development are likely to be as nonsensical as their opinions about medicine.

I still don't think that follows, though. If anthroposophical concepts about child development are wrong, you're only going to show that by attacking those concepts directly.

Steve Premo -- Santa Cruz, California
"There is a right and a wrong in the Universe and
that distinction is not difficult to make." - Superman

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From: Ezra Beeman
Subject: Re: Steiner/ Waldorf/ Anthroposophy disclosure to parents
Date: Thu, 25 Feb 1999 12:16:26 -0500

What an inane observation. Hello logical fallacies?

I challenge you to outline quackery in the EDUCATIONAL methods preparing me personally, and all my classmates, to a successful college experience and a rewarding career. I just recently saw another classmate who just graduated from the UNiversity of Washington (anyone heard of Microsoft??) with a degree in Computer Science and in Mathematics. The firm he works for designed the the NTFS MS eventually bought and packaged with NT. His boss (the president) is so enamored of his ability, he keeps him solely for pet programming/engineering projects. Why is this particular young man so good at computer science compared to his colleagues (all educated and hired in about the same fashion)? He thinks different (TM). You might think Steiner was a 'quack', as you probably would have thought Newton was a 'quack' for his religious beliefs, but his triumphs are not hinged to his theosophy, thank goodness.

BTW I didn't think Sune went to Waldorf.

e

PS The law of large numbers suggest a uniform distribution of Skeptic's in their rational abilities. The majority are only average skeptics, and at least half are below average. The list should keep this in mind.

Daniel Sabsay wrote:

Tolz, Robert (RTolz@TNSJ-LAW.COM) wrote

Help me out here, Daniel. I don't follow your logic. How does Sune's defense of homeopathy or anthroposophical medicine (assuming for the sake of argument that both are quackery) translate into a "persuasive" anti-Waldorf education argument? So far as I can tell, neither of those "sciences" or "medical approaches" is part of Waldorf education. I just don't get the connection your making.

Both ARE quackery.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

From: "Alan S. Fine MD"
Subject: Re: Steiner/ Waldorf/ Anthroposophy disclosure to parents
Date: Thu, 25 Feb 1999 11:37:44 -0700

This is in reply to the interesting discussion about whether I am calling Anthroposophy dangerous. It is a certain mentality that I fear. It is the mentality of one that places absolute faith in a single man's views. It is the mentality of one that sees spirituality not only as a personal belief but as an absolute truth. It is the mentality of one who cannot see the spiritual path of others as being as true and as high and as complete as his own. I have seen this mentality in many places: not only among cults such as the Scientologists, but among the Christian Fundamentalists, among the Jewish Hassids of Lubavitch, (where incidentally the parallels to Anthroposopy are strong - you with your Dr. Steiner, they with their Dr. Schneerson), Some would say you can see something similar among special armed forces.

Because this mentality involves subsuming aspects of individual judgement to that of the group (or leader), and because the beliefs are framed in this absolute high realm, there is always potential for the beliefs to be acted upon in a forceful and unquestioning manner. The actions prompted by such spiritual fervor have always carried a potential for misdeed. Suicide, torture, human sacrifice, and military crusade are as common as building hospitals, schools, and orphanages (and all can occur within a single group). With individual autonomy impaired, it is natural (and essential) to ask just what kind of actions will the belief system prompt? It is here that the particular content of a groups beliefs becomes critical. Among the concerns are: Are there precepts that could justify violence? or the oppression of outside people? Or, for that matter, what do those within the group have to submit to? What about the leader? Is he stable? (I admit that I could not trust any such group whose leader is still alive. Even the saintliest of humans can become psychotic from Altzheimer's or a brain tumor, and then what becomes of the followers?).

As for Anthroposophy in particular, I do believe that it involves the mentality I am referring to.(although there may be individual Anthroposophists who do not so subscribe.) And because I see this mentality in operation, I am very concerned about the question of exactly what actions this group may have prompted in the past, and what actions might it prompt in the future. And my scrutiny is likely to continue.

Alan S. Fine MD

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From: Bruce
Subject: Re: Steiner/ Waldorf/ Anthroposophy disclosure to parents
Date: Thu, 25 Feb 1999 14:04:36 EST

In einer eMail vom 25.02.99 15:47:43 MEZ, schreiben Sie (Daniel):

Help me out here, Daniel. I don't follow your logic. How does Sune's defense of homeopathy or anthroposophical medicine (assuming for the sake of argument that both are quackery) translate into a "persuasive" anti-Waldorf education argument? So far as I can tell, neither of those "sciences" or "medical approaches" is part of Waldorf education. I just don't get the connection your making.

Both ARE quackery.

Unfortunately these stupidities are so interwoven into the foundations of anthroposophy that they can never be separated; this is a package with revealed truth as its basic modus operandi. This taints all its fruits, and selects for people (administrators & teachers) who don't know the difference between science & knowledge based on scripture. The evidence is on this list constantly, and I have seen it first hand for myself at several Waldorf schools.

If this is supposed to be a logical answer perhaps you could supply the question.

AT BEST one could say that anthroposophy is a kind of umbrella under which can be found anthroposophical medicine and waldorf education (as well as numerous other things).

As to homeopathy, there are undoubtedly more homeopaths in the world than anthroposophists, so any connection there is totally irrevelant.

I think if PLANS were to arm themselves with rifles, certain so-called supporters would very quickly find themselves in hospital with gun-shot in their feet!! :-))

Bruce

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From: Stephen Tonkin
Subject: Re: Steiner/ Waldorf/ Anthroposophy disclosure to parents
Date: Thu, 25 Feb 1999 23:11:11 +0000

Daniel Sabsay, president East Bay Skeptics Society, wrote:

Tolz, Robert (RTolz@TNSJ-LAW.COM) wrote

Help me out here, Daniel. I don't follow your logic. How does Sune's defense of homeopathy or anthroposophical medicine (assuming for the sake of argument that both are quackery) translate into a "persuasive" anti-Waldorf education argument? So far as I can tell, neither of those "sciences" or "medical approaches" is part of Waldorf education. I just don't get the connection your making.

Both ARE quackery.

[...]

I really am amazed that self-proclaimed skeptics can promulgate such fallacious logic. Peregrines and kiwis both ARE birds; but there's not a heck of a lot of demand for kiwis for falconry ... I wonder why.

Noctis Gaudia Carpe,
Stephen

--
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+ Stephen Tonkin | ATM Resources; Astro-Tutorials; Astronomy Books +
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From: Tarjei Straume
Subject: Re: Steiner/ Waldorf/ Anthroposophy disclosure to parents
Date: Fri, 26 Feb 1999 01:58:39 +0100

"Alan S. Fine wrote:

Then can we dispense with the cosmology, the root race theory, reincarnation, the New Testament, Jesus of Nazareth, the Mystery of Golgotha, the angels above, the gnomes below, Ahriman, the etheric body, the Christ impulse, etc.etc.etc? If it's just love were into, pure and simple, count me in too. It seems to me however that there is a lot more to your notion of God than just that. And the devil is in the details.

Yes, we may also dispense with the theory of relativity, with gravity, astronomy, mathematics, etc. - even with dance, theater, literature, poetry, mythology, and theology. And the devil is in all the details. What the hell would we do without the devil? But God is love, and the Mystery of Golgotha is the most perfect expression of this love.

Cheers,

Tarjei

http://www.uncletaz.com/

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From: Tarjei Straume
Subject: Re: Steiner/ Waldorf/ Anthroposophy disclosure to parents
Date: Fri, 26 Feb 1999 02:19:57 +0100

Alan S. Fine wrote:

I am sorry, I meant no disrespect. I was writing somewhat metaphorically. What I meant to say is that Anthroposophists claim to know truths about the spiritual world, but that Anthroposophists' truths in these matters may not be the truth to other people. Those Anthroposophists who can accept these spiritual matters as their own beliefs, and not necessarily truths that apply to all, (and perhaps you are among them), will be the ones I would feel most respected by, and the ones I would respect the most in return.

An atheist knows that there is no god, he knows that natural science proves that there is nothing supernatural. He knows this is the truth for all people. He knows that the sun, that nurtures biological life as we know it, is nothing but a gaseous ball.

The anthroposophist knows that the physical sun is the external expression of the spiritual sun, inhabited by spiritual beings, and that no living creature can evolve and grow without the fiery love from the spiritual sun.

Any sincere world-conception, or philosophy of life, would lose its weight and value if it is not accepted as a perspective embracing all of existence. The atheist hopes that all Christians, Hindus, Muslims, Theosophists, etc. will wake up to the fact that we are all products of chemical processes and that spiritual visions are only figments of our imagination. All religious and spiritually oriented people feel that atheism is a misfortune and an illusion. But it is perfectly possible for people to hold such diametrically opposing views and still have the deepest respect for each other.

Tarjei

http://www.uncletaz.com/

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From: "Tolz, Robert"
Subject: RE: Steiner/ Waldorf/ Anthroposophy disclosure to parents
Date: Fri, 26 Feb 1999 11:19:17 -0500

-----Original Message-----
From: Alan S. Fine MD

This is in reply to the interesting discussion about whether I am calling Anthroposophy dangerous. It is a certain mentality that I fear. It is the mentality of one that places absolute faith in a single man's views. It is the mentality of one that sees spirituality not only as a personal belief but as an absolute truth. It is the mentality of one who cannot see the spiritual path of others as being as true and as high and as complete as his own.

I share your concern about a mentality that places absolute faith in a single man's views and/or which places oneself in an elite crowd.

About 25 years ago, when I was searching for some method of organizing my somewhat disjunctive ideas on spirituality, I was walking down Fifth Avenue towards Washington Square Park when I was accosted on the sidewalk by someone holding a clipboard who invited me to take a personality test. I thought it would be fun. The questions on the multiple-choice exam were pretty easy to see through, and I felt like I "aced" my exam. My "proctor" went over the results with me and then started giving me the sales talk for what I discovered was Scientology. She said I did pretty well but could have done better. After listening to her, I told her the trouble I had with her presentation was that it sounded like she thought her group "possessed" the truth and I could not put stock in that. She lost me for good when she said, "But what if it **is** the truth?"

You see, my firm belief is that each individual needs to discover truth for himself or herself. It is difficult to do so completely alone, so it is useful to find a group of others who have walked the path ahead of you and can point out certain aspects of the "map" such as where the potholes and quicksand might be and what sorts of scenery one might see along the way. I remember going to a lecture by Krishnamurti at Carnegie Hall, when he admonished his audience to stay away from groups and to do it themselves. Sure, I thought, **you** can do it yourself. The trick, I believed then and still maintain, is to find a group of people who can be supportive without resulting in relinquishing one's own responsibility for one's own unfolding.

I did find such an environment (not anthroposophy). The details of my particular choice are really off-topic to the list, but those who want that info can get it from my website at http://www.cosmoweb.net/~rtolz

There are a few observations that I can make with respect to your concerns about anthroposophy, based partly on the "history" I've related in this post.

You appear to observe that anthroposophists have the sheep mentality which you decry. In my dealings with them, I have not observed that mentality at all, neither in personal contact with those who are involved at the Waldorf School to which I send my children nor in the electronic contact with those on the list. What I see is respect for other individuals, other religions, other traditions. And, based on what I read from the anthroposophists who have posted here, they do not follow the "Der-Doktor-hat-gesagt" line of thinking.

Of course, that does not mean that doctrinaire anthroposophists don't exist. They have to exist. Otherwise, Dan, Kathy, Deby, Michael and others would not have their stories to tell. The problem comes from generalizing from the particular. It would be as wrong for me to conclude that all anthroposophists are independent thinkers, based on my limited experience, as it would be for you or any of those who consider themselves to be Waldorf Critics to say that anthroposophists display a cult-like mentality, based on their own limited experience ....and I won't get into any arguments with Waldorf Critics based on well-I-know-more-of-them-than-you-do or my-experience-is-more-valid-than-yours.

I think back to that run-in I had a quarter century ago with the Scientologist. My experience there was one which forever taints my view of Scientology. As I look at my own reaction against Scientology, I have an appreciation for the way that the Waldorf Critics may feel about anthroposophy or Waldorf Education. It seems that each of them formed their view based on a bad experience.

It also seems that there is a mission-like quality which characterizes the Waldorf Critics' approach to Waldorf Education as they seek to save others from falling into evil clutches. I really don't think I need to be saved. I personally find the approach of some of the Waldorf Critics to be as arrogant and offensive as I would find either a Scientologist or an anthroposophist telling me or otherwise implying that they were in possession of the Truth.

Bob

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From: Tarjei Straume
Subject: RE: Steiner/ Waldorf/ Anthroposophy disclosure to parents
Date: Fri, 26 Feb 1999 18:09:01 +0100

Bob Tolz wrote:

About 25 years ago, when I was searching for some method of organizing my somewhat disjunctive ideas on spirituality, I was walking down Fifth Avenue towards Washington Square Park when I was accosted on the sidewalk by someone holding a clipboard who invited me to take a personality test. I thought it would be fun. The questions on the multiple-choice exam were pretty easy to see through, and I felt like I "aced" my exam. My "proctor" went over the results with me and then started giving me the sales talk for what I discovered was Scientology. She said I did pretty well but could have done better. After listening to her, I told her the trouble I had with her presentation was that it sounded like she thought her group "possessed" the truth and I could not put stock in that. She lost me for good when she said, "But what if it **is** the truth?"

My good friend Ray's account of his scieno personality test in Copenhagen made great success on alt.religion.scientology when I posted it there. It's off-topic so I won't go into it, but Ray's highly entertaining story is posted on my website at

http://www.uncletaz.com/raythetans.html

By the way, the Scientologist match your results against a standard set of "correct" answers. The details are available at

http://xenu.net/archive/oca/

More about Scientology, which has been labelled by some people as "Anthroposophy's shadow," can be found on my entheta link pages at

http://www.uncletaz.com/linksfolder/enthetalinks.html

and

http://www.uncletaz.com/backyard/entheta/

A comparative analysis of Anthroposophy and Scientology is posted on

http://www.uncletaz.com/hubbstein.html

Cheers,

Tarjei

http://www.uncletaz.com/

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From: Ezra Beeman
Subject: Re: Steiner/ Waldorf/ Anthroposophy disclosure to parents
Date: Fri, 26 Feb 1999 10:56:44 -0500

Aha, I suspected it might be the Scientologists!

My friends (from college, one working for the management consulting firm Delloite and Touche, the other working for the investment bank Montgomery Securities [I put this in so I won't be accused of being gullible or suggestible as a result of WE]) and I found a similar personality test, but it was tacked in a laundromat on the corner of Fulton and Masonic (grin) in SFO. My friends found it so amusing, they completed the entire thing that evening. Many of the questions were non sequitur, some made no sense whatsoever, but they persevered and completed the 100+ questionnaire. By the end of the survey, we decided anyone foolish enough to fill out the form (it took a few hours) is ripe for Scientology. We all nearly went to the local office to get vetted, but never got around to it. My point is only that Scientology, at least here on the West Coast (I used to live in Portland, which has a rather large, centrally located office downtown), is not taken seriously. In fact, I wouldn't think anything of the group except I read "Messiah or Madman" which I found interesting, if alarming. To speak of it in the same breath as anthroposophy is foolish at best. If you know anything of L. Ron (sounds like a DJ's moniker), you could no more compare him to RS than to Mahatma Gandi or the Dali Lama. (both cult leaders by the yardstick on this list). Some things never change (critics and Scientologists).

e

"Tolz, Robert" wrote:

About 25 years ago, when I was searching for some method of organizing my somewhat disjunctive ideas on spirituality, I was walking down Fifth Avenue towards Washington Square Park when I was accosted on the sidewalk by someone holding a clipboard who invited me to take a personality test. I thought it would be fun. The questions on the multiple-choice exam were pretty easy to see through, and I felt like I "aced" my exam. My "proctor" went over the results with me and then started giving me the sales talk for what I discovered was Scientology. She said I did pretty well but could have done better. After listening to her, I told her the trouble I had with her presentation was that it sounded like she thought her group "possessed" the truth and I could not put stock in that. She lost me for good when she said, "But what if it **is** the truth?"

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From: "Luke Schelly"
Subject: RE: Steiner/ Waldorf/ Anthroposophy disclosure to parents
Date: 26 Feb 1999 16:30:22 -0500

From: "Alan S. Fine MD"
Subject: Re: Steiner/ Waldorf/ Anthroposophy disclosure to parents
Date: Thu, 25 Feb 1999 11:37:44 -0700

This is in reply to the interesting discussion about whether I am calling Anthroposophy dangerous. It is a certain mentality that I fear. It is thementality of one that places absolute faith in a single man's views.

This "mentality" may be a figment of your own mind. Please name just one person who places *absolute faith* in RS. Please have them provide a letter stating that they believe this way.

>It is the mentality of one that sees spirituality not only as a personal belief but as an absolute truth.

What? So a spiritual person can be safely spiritual only as long as they, deep down inside, recognize that it is really a false allegiance, that they are actually decieving themselves? As in: "I believe in God (although not in an absolute kind of way but more in a quaint cultural crutch kind of way, otherwise (Alan says) I would be dangerous)"

I think what you may have wanted to say was that it might be dangerous if it was an absoluteness that made this person (mentality) need to have all others conform to it. In that case name me one solely spiritual path that demands everyone in the world conform to it. Note, I am not asking you to list a spiritual path that gives believers a reference by which to distinquish between believers and non-believers in the world, but one which demands that all must be believers. If I am wrong again and you do mean that having this reference point for non-believers is the dangerous aspect, please show how anthroposophy as a spiritual path (or philosophy) specifically requires anthroposophists to menace non-anthroposphists in order to be an anthroposophist.

Alan, do you have a belief in human rights or do you just go along with the crowd who first thought it was a good idea? Do you you have a belief in the Hypocratic oath or will you ascribe to whatever it is that doctors decide they should follow as a code of conduct? Do you have any core ethos?

> It is the mentality of one who cannot see the spiritual path of others as >being as true and as high and as complete as his own.

Please provide the name of one living person involved in anthroposophy who feels this way. Please have them write a letter stating this is true.

Because this mentality involves subsuming aspects of individual judgement to that of the group (or leader), and because the beliefs are framed in this absolute high realm, there is always potential for the beliefs to be acted upon in a forceful and unquestioning manner. The actions prompted by such spiritual fervor have always carried a potential for misdeed. Suicide, torture, human sacrifice, and military crusade are as common as building hospitals, schools, and orphanages (and all can occur within a single group). With individual autonomy impaired, it is natural (and essential) to ask just what kind of actions will the belief system prompt?

Alan are you an entirely autonomous entity? If not, what part of your individual judgement do you feel is subsumed to that of a group? Be sure not to explain it such a way that makes it any higher or better than anyone else's judgement. Some self-examination might be in order here Alan.

It is here that the particular content of a groups beliefs becomes critical. Among the concerns are: Are there precepts that could justify violence? or the oppression of outside people? Or, for that matter, what do those within the group have to submit to?

Name one group in the history of humankind and that exists today that can claim innonence of all (or any?) of your charges.

What about the leader?

To a much lesser extreme this is my question with RS. I can not tell whether 1) he was as he said he was and was completely accurate, 2) he was as he said he was but also at times unaware of the imperfections of his own "scientific" processes, 3) he was interestingly intuitive, 4) he was at times misled by his own human mental process, or 5) he was completely deluding himself. Personally, I have a problem with absolutes so I tend to think that it is probable he would fall in the range of 2-4 at different times. FWIW, I rarely look to RS for any validation of WE, I tend to look to the people and children that I know both in and out of the WE movement. I notice that the existence of WE adds to the whole mix some interesting components of a diverse array of personal and group entities that I encounter in my life.

As for Anthroposophy in particular, I do believe that it involves the mentality I am referring to (although there may be individual Anthroposophists who do not so subscribe.)

Anthroposphy can not have a mentality, it is people who are anthroposophists who you are attepting to generalize. Once again Alan, please name just one anthroposophist who fills the profile you describe. Your group bigotry is starting to get annoying. Take care of that stick in your own eye Alan, it is blocking your vision.

And because I see this mentality in operation,

Which mentality is this mentality and please give us the name of this person who you are describing. Please have them provide a letter that states they agree with you, otherwise quit wasting our time by defaming these fictional people.

I am very concerned about the question of exactly what actions this group may have prompted in the past, and what actions might it prompt in the future. And my scrutiny is likely to continue.

Alan S. Fine MD

Just don't confuse your scrutiny with your bigotry.

Luke Schelly (not an anthroposophist)

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From: "Alan S. Fine MD"
Subject: Re: Steiner/ Waldorf/ Anthroposophy disclosure to parents
Date: Sat, 27 Feb 1999 07:41:29 -0700

-----Original Message-----
From: Luke Schelly
Date: Friday, February 26, 1999 5:10 PM
Subject: RE: Steiner/ Waldorf/ Anthroposophy disclosure to parents

This "mentality" may be a figment of your own mind.

I am a certified psychiatrist, and have been in practice for 17 years. Of the thousands of patients I have had, over two hundred have been involved in various cults. I am a specialist in hysteria, including mass hysteria, and have lectured throughtout my region on cult phenomena. In so doing I have had the opportunity to exchange ideas with others. The cult mentality I speak of is not just something I drummed up. It may be a figment of my own mind, but many well trained professionals have noticed the very mental phenomenon I am referring to. I can provide many good references if you are interested.

Please name just one person who places *absolute faith* in RS. Please have them provide a letter stating that they believe this way.

In fact I know several quite well. I will not give you their names because I in fact do believe in human rights, including the right to privacy.

It is the mentality of one that sees spirituality not only as a personal belief but as an absolute truth.

What? So a spiritual person can be safely spiritual only as long as they, deep down inside, recognize that it is really a false allegiance, that they are actually decieving themselves? As in: "I believe in God (although not in an absolute kind of way but more in a quaint cultural crutch kind of way, otherwise (Alan says) I would be dangerous)"

There is no one aspect of this mentality that automatically makes a person dangerous. But I do believe that those who see their spirituality as a personal preference rather than devotion to the truth are less vulnerable to imposing their beliefs on others or acting out in other ways.

I think what you may have wanted to say was that it might be dangerous if it was an absoluteness that made this person (mentality) need to have all others conform to it. In that case name me one solely spiritual path that demands everyone in the world conform to it. Note, I am not asking you to list a spiritual path that gives believers a reference by which to distinquish between believers and non-believers in the world, but one which demands that all must be believers. If I am wrong again and you do mean that having this reference point for non-believers is the dangerous aspect, please show how anthroposophy as a spiritual path (or philosophy) specifically requires anthroposophists to menace non-anthroposphists in order to be an anthroposophist.

Once the absolutism is there, people find there own ways to act on it. It needn't be part of the ideology itself. Catholicism preaches love and human respect, but it inspired the "auto de fe". Anthroposophy preaches love and respect for man, the absolutist spiritual ideal may indeed have inspired Naziism.

Alan, do you have a belief in human rights or do you just go along with the crowd who first thought it was a good idea? Do you you have a belief in the Hypocratic oath or will you ascribe to whatever it is that doctors decide they should follow as a code of conduct? Do you have any core ethos?

yes to all these questions. But as part of my oath, I am committed to the health and safety of individuals and those around them. If I see that a certain way of thinking is unhealthy or dangerous, I am free to warn people of it. I am not throwing spiritual people in jail, but although the followers of Jim Jones (two of whom, by the way I treated directly and they are among the few still alive today) did no harm to anyone outside their group, I have never condoned that group's existence. Many grieving families agree with me.

Alan are you an entirely autonomous entity? If not, what part of your individual judgement do you feel is subsumed to that of a group? Be sure not to explain it such a way that makes it any higher or better than anyone else's judgement. Some self-examination might be in order here Alan.

We are all vulnerable to group thinking and group pressures. In my training (the psychoanalytic tradition) we work hard over years to try to overcome these tendencies enough to treat people without imposing our own belief system upon them. In the initiation and training of people in cults, the precise reverse occurs. The direction is one of supporting only the beliefs of the group and discouraging in one way or another beliefs which contradict the group. When you finally adopt the beliefs as your own realities without doubts and apprehension, you have arrived. I may be influenced by many groups, but I always try to move in the direction of autonomy..I see this as a healthy place to be for myself and for society.

It is here that the particular content of a groups beliefs becomes critical. Among the concerns are: Are there precepts that could justify violence? or the oppression of outside people? Or, for that matter, what do those within the group have to submit to?

Name one group in the history of humankind and that exists today that can claim innonence of all (or any?) of your charges.

Maybe none, which is why I feel the group mentality sould be avoided regardless of the group. And it is why I get little reassurance when Anthroposophists quote Steiner and the like to try to convince me that the content of their particular group is loving and peaceful. The constant defense of Steiner creates more alarm in me than the content can reassure me.

What about the leader?

To a much lesser extreme this is my question with RS. I can not tell whether 1) he was as he said he was and was completely accurate, 2) he was as he said he was but also at times unaware of the imperfections of his own "scientific" processes, 3) he was interestingly intuitive, 4) he was at times misled by his own human mental process, or 5) he was completely deluding himself. Personally, I have a problem with absolutes so I tend to think that it is probable he would fall in the range of 2-4 at different times. FWIW, I rarely look to RS for any validation of WE, I tend to look to the people and children that I know both in and out of the WE movement. I notice that the existence of WE adds to the whole mix some interesting components of a diverse array of personal and group entities that I encounter in my life.

That is quite simply the most intelligent, centered, and healthy comment on Rudolf Steiner I have ever heard. . I hope there are people like you in the movement.

Anthroposphy can not have a mentality, it is people who are anthroposophists who you are attepting to generalize. Once again Alan, please name just one anthroposophist who fills the profile you describe. Your group bigotry is starting to get annoying.

I only partially agree. I believe the steps outlined by Steiner to "scientifically" gain knowledge of the spiritual world do involve generating the mentality I refer to. Anthroposophy does not have a mentality, but the mentality seems to be part of the path it is prescribing.

I am very concerned about the question of exactly what actions this group may have prompted in the past, and what actions might it prompt in the future. And my scrutiny is likely to continue.

Just don't confuse your scrutiny with your bigotry.

I am a doctor, not a bigot. It is a certain unhealthy state of mind which is at the core of my concern. And unhealthy actions which might thereby result. )

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From: Tarjei Straume
Subject: Re: Steiner/ Waldorf/ Anthroposophy disclosure to parents
Date: Sun, 28 Feb 1999 05:08:23 +0100

Alan S. Fine wrote:

There is no one aspect of this mentality that automatically makes a person dangerous. But I do believe that those who see their spirituality as a personal preference rather than devotion to the truth are less vulnerable to imposing their beliefs on others or acting out in other ways.

Conclusion: Devotion to truth is potentially dangerous and unhealthy.

<snip>

And it is why I get little reassurance when Anthroposophists quote Steiner and the like to try to convince me that the content of their particular group is loving and peaceful.

Alan, I am not trying to convince you of anything, and I would be extremely surprised in any of my posts affected your opinions. My posts with quotes by Steiner are for the benefit of those who have only read the excerpts on the PLANS website, the impression of which is amplified by comments like in your post Fri, 12 Feb 1999, when you wrote:

"However, several websights provide ample documentation of the fact that Steiner himself was a racist and an Aryan supremicist. I hope today's Anthroposophists (most of whom in my view are far better human beings than Steiner) have enough autonomy to challenge those aspects of Steiner's views and to form Anthroposophy into something more enlightened."

In other words, selected excerpts that form a bigoted and distorted picture of what Rudolf Steiner stood for is enough to convince you of the truth. I will not accuse you of devotion to the truth, which you regard as unhealthy and dangerous. But perhaps precisely because you are not devoted to the pursuit of truth, you don't care to investigate Steiner's works further in order to prove or disprove your first impression. That is called prejudice, because you are pre-judging something on insufficient data.

The constant defense of Steiner creates more alarm in me than the content can reassure me.

I appreciate your concern, doctor, because I know that I have the virus of the body snatchers, and that I ought to be deprogrammed or given an antidote of some kind. But if I can choose which doctor I am to see, I prefer a witchdoctor.

I am a doctor, not a bigot.

The two are obviously not mutually exclusive.

It is a certain unhealthy state of mind which is at the core of my concern. And unhealthy actions which might thereby result.

... like smoking pot.

Cheers,

Tarjei

http://www.uncletaz.com/

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From: "Alan S. Fine MD"
Subject: Re: Steiner/ Waldorf/ Anthroposophy disclosure to parents
Date: Sat, 27 Feb 1999 11:40:46 -0700

I would appreciate it if you would not degenerate to personal attack. These kinds of comments certainly do not contribute to the free exchange of ideas.

Alan S. Fine wrote:

I am a doctor, not a bigot.

The two are obviously not mutually exclusive.

http://www.uncletaz.com/

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From: Tarjei Straume
Subject: Re: Steiner/ Waldorf/ Anthroposophy disclosure to parents
Date: Sun, 28 Feb 1999 13:46:48 +0100

Alan S. Fine wrote:

I am a doctor, not a bigot.

My comment was:

The two are obviously not mutually exclusive.

Alan:

I would appreciate it if you would not degenerate to personal attack. These kinds of comments certainly do not contribute to the free exchange of ideas.

In that case, I apologize, Alan. and I'll moderate my comment by replacing "obviously" with "necessarily": Being a doctor and being a bigot at the same time is not *necessarily* mutually exclusive.

My apology does not mean that your posts are free from bigous statements about anthroposophists however.

Cheers,

Tarjei

http://www.uncletaz.com/

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