Looking at the list of Steiner activities in the area, ( Why? above ) I began wondering what would happen if they suddenly all decided to ditch the anthroposophy . Ok, I’m in a fantasy world now, but what if?
Some of what goes on, the work with adults with learning difficulties and the community agriculture seem on the surface to be worthwhile and to have positive affects for some people. It has even been suggested that Steiner schools do not use anthroposophy. Well, we know they do, but what if they didn’t ? What would remain?
I am not the first to ask this question, but I think it bears asking again, especially here where we have such a strong anthroposophical influence – although it is not always described or recognised as such.
In the case of Camphill communities, they admit their “raison d’etre” is the spiritual work they do.
In their information for co-workers at Orchard Leigh they say;
“Many of the young people who are attracted to live in a Camphill community are consciously striving on a spiritual path and may connect with Anthroposophy, the world view which underlies our work. Spiritual striving is manifest in many ways in our daily life. We attempt to permeate our work with a living consciousness of the spiritual behind the physical. We begin each meal with a grace. The Bible Evening is an occasion when everyone can contribute to the discussion of the reading in an atmosphere of respect for each other. We hold our own services and we endeavour to celebrate the Christian festivals in a creative and living way, often with a play, music or pageantry. The daily rhythms, and the yearly cycle of festivals are essential aspects of the therapeutic environment which we try to create within the community. Our spiritual striving is also manifest in the attitude we hold towards each other, towards the land and the ethical and cultural development of our future. The very busy nature of modern life and the amount of administration we are now required to do makes this a constant challenge. It is not easy to uphold Camphill values in these circumstances. We try to work constructively with this challenge to our work.”
Clearly “spiritual striving” is one of the most important aspects of their “work”. I wonder if the people who run this and other Camphill businesses in our area would carry on if anthroposophy was not a part of what they did.
“Some new co-workers may feel uneasy about the religious and spiritual component of community life. It does indeed present an inner challenge. You will be asked to support the needs of the residents in this realm with good grace if needed. However, your own freedom to think and feel as you wish will be absolutely respected.”
In other words, if you don’t go along with the Steiner occultism central to the activities at Camphill, things could get uncomfortable. I can’t see anyone without an interest in anthroposophy being keen to be a co-worker.
They (Camphill) must see anthroposophy as central to what they do. Does that mean it couldn’t operate without the religion? It is an interesting question.
According to Sharon Lombard who made a study of Steiner and his work;
“…he [Steiner] claimed that certain children with learning disabilities are not really human but inhabited by beings that do not belong to the human race:
The girl L.K. in class 1…is one of those cases that are occurring more and more frequently where children are born and human forms exist which actually, with regard to the highest member the ego, are not human at all but are inhabited by beings who do not belong to the human race…They are very different from human beings where spiritual matters are concerned. For instance they can never memorise sentences, only words. I do not like speaking about these things, as there is considerable opposition about this. Just imagine what people would say if they heard that we are talking about human beings who are not human beings. Nevertheless these are facts. Furthermore, there would not be such a decline of culture if there were a strong enough feeling for the fact that some people, the ones who are particularly ruthless, are not human beings at all but demons in human form. But do not let us broadcast this. There is enough opposition already. Things like this give people a terrible shock. People were frightfully shocked when I had to say that a quite famous university professor with a great reputation had had a very short period between death and re-birth and was a re-incarnated negro scientist. But don’t let us publicize these things. (Steiner, 1986, pp. 36-37)”
If anthroposophy suddenly became unlawful, or was deemed unacceptable , would these Camphill centres be viable without it? It seems doubtful the anthroposophical staff would see their activities as worthwhile without the “spiritual striving”.
Most people on the outside would see anthroposophy as the least useful aspect of what they do.