Advent Spiral

I have been reading another post by Gregoire Perra, this time he explains the ritual of the advent spiral, which takes place on the Monday morning after the Christmas Market.

The market at some Steiner schools in this country will take place this Saturday. On a local school website there is the information that

We have two types of festival …; the seasonal festivals celebrated by the pupils, sometimes as a whole school, sometimes just the lower school or a few classes. Parents are sometimes invited to join in with these celebrations. Then we have parents festivals, where the classes are able to share work that they are doing with other classes and parents.”

Mr Perra says that in France the advent spiral takes place in school hours at 9 or 10 O’clock in the morning. It is a whole school festival but parents are not invited. He says;

“The ceremony is by no means a party, but a kind of initiation ceremony which is linked to the dogma of the religion that is anthroposophy.”

The ritual takes place in a hall where the windows are blacked out to make it as dark as possible. Candles are lit and the children, carrying a candle, walk in a pattern around a spiral of greenery laid out on the floor, whilst singing religious songs.

The ritual is carried out in line with Steiner’s vision of how “nature sinks into the earth in the winter and at night”.

During this time

“… the human soul must be turning in its inner “core”, that is to say in its “inner self “,  to find in it even greater cosmic force that will enable it to renew itself. This force is the “Word of the Universe.” Or the anthroposophical  “Christ” .

Mr Perra says this comes from “Twelve Zodiacal Harmonies “, by Rudolf Steiner.

For Rudolf Steiner and his followers, astrology has a direct influence on the cycle of nature and on the human psyche, and this is the reason for the ritual of the advent spiral.

In France at least this ceremony takes place without the permission of the parents, and Mr Perra speculates on the considerable psychological effect on the child. He says that surely this kind of religious ceremony should take place outside school, with the family. It is more akin to what might take place in a religious order or a secret society than in a school.

There is more to read and some interesting photographs of “advent spiral” on the blog “The truth about Steiner Waldorf schools and anthroposophy”.

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54 comments

  1. Helen

    Interesting this festival is referred to as an initiation ceremony – here is what Waldorf watch says about initiation;

    “Initiation is a central concept in the Waldorf belief system. Spiritual truths are hidden, mysterious, occult. Only initiates — people who have been admitted to the innermost circles of spiritual knowledge — comprehend these truths. At a fundamental level, the purpose of Anthroposophy is to lead its follower to initiation. One of Steiner’s central texts is HOW TO KNOW HIGHER WORLDS: A Modern Path of Initiation (Anthroposophic Press, 1994). Many Anthroposophists — including Waldorf teachers — believe that they are initiates.”

  2. Helen

    There are more observations on this in a new post on “The truth about Steiner Waldorf Schools and anthroposophy” here
    http://veritesteiner.wordpress.com/2013/11/29/la-ceremonie-anthroposophique-de-la-spirale-de-lavent-dans-un-jardin-denfants-steiner-waldorf/
    Many children first encounter this ritual at kindergarten, where on the morning the windows are blacked out and parents are not encouraged to stay. If they are curious they are told that it is the children’s own festival and they should respect it by not asking more questions. This is partly how Steiner Waldorf manages to keep aspects of its methodology secret. There are no written records of these rituals.
    The purpose of the ceremony is to effect a meeting with the “cosmic Christ of anthroposophy”. The children are supposed to feel the “forces of darkness related to winter”.

  3. Helen

    I was thinking about the differences between the way the colleges (Ruskin Mill, Hawkwood ) are generally more open about their practices than the schools. Perhaps this is because the schools are more dependent on the goodwill and support of the parents of the children they educate, whereas the colleges are there for post 16s who may not have parents who are curious about the methods used.

    • Jim

      Could it also be because, as I understand, the colleges are more dependent on state ( ie further education ) funding and therefore perhaps a little more constrained. Although isn’t that also true of the Novalis Trust which is one of the least open? Maybe the free schools will be forced to open up as well, though I wouldn’t bet on it.

      Perhaps a further factor is the old Jesuit claim “give me the child until he’s seven years old and I will give you the man”. Maybe they believe that if they haven’t had the child until seven it’s too late so no point pushing the weird stuff.

      • Helen

        No, I don’t think they are more constrained or rein themselves in. From what I hear some ceremonies are quite something – the attire of some participants being striking in its flamboyance. I think it is simply the fact that, to put it bluntly, there are no caring, nurturing parents around who might be worried by proceedings. If there are outsiders who turn up, they probably will not object to the rituals, they have no reason to. If they are shocked they will just shrug and make a mental note not to go again.
        And no, I don’t think the anthroposophists ever give up. It is their calling in life to persevere.

  4. tessa

    This ridiculous! As an atheist I followed these anti-Waldorf blogs for years before enrolling my child in our local Waldorf school. Yes, Steiner was a Christian man, and the books hew wrote are nearly 100 years old. The truth is, the practical application of these festivals in modern day Waldorf schools have nothing to do with Steiner or anthroposophy, but have everything to do with child development and secular appreciation of the seasons. We are heading to my son’s advent spiral celebration now… which is a family event open to anyone who is interested in coming. There are no songs, it is a quiet event that my son is thrilled to attend and we are excited to go to. For the kids it’s about getting to hold fire, and for the parents it is about taking a moment to appreciate our children for who they are in their own right.

  5. Helen

    Do you mean what Gregoire Perra says is ridiculous?
    I know what he says about other aspects of Steiner education is true, having worked in a Steiner school myself. In case you didn’t know, he was taken to court by the French Waldorf Federation because he blew the whistle – they lost their case.
    The Advent Spiral at a school here is not open to parents.
    You say the festivals are seasonal and have nothing to do with anthroposophy – did you read a recent comment on “MIchaelmas”?
    Does the Michaelmas festival at your son’s school include a dragon and a sword, as most do?

  6. Jim

    Hello Tessa
    The nearest I have to direct experience of Steiner schools is some 25 years ago when looking for a school for my young son. We visited Wynstones, knowing then nothing about Steiner, and despite some appealing aspects were put off by the anti-intellectualism and a vague feeling of creepiness.

    So I’m not in a position to debate the day to day practices in such schools. However the criticisms that emerge do seem to be remarkably consistent and regular. But what is more strange is the totally unconvincing nature of the Steiner response. As you say, Steiner’s writings are nearly 100 years old. Time enough one might think for current advocates of Steiner education to say “OK – Steiner was a man of his time and wrote a lot of very stupid things which we reject whilst still finding much of merit in his educational methods”. If you like a sort of reformed Steiner education which drops the karma, spirit worlds, astrology, homeopathy, clairvoyance, dubious science and so on. That would still leave a distinctive approach to education.

    What other conclusion can we draw from their refusal to do so than that this magical thinking is an important part of the educational practice?

  7. Helen

    JIm, the Steiner people often do say what you suggest – that they reject some of Steiner’s pottier/harmful ideas, and just keep the ‘good’ ones. Unfortunately this is never possible, no matter how many times people say it, it is just not true. Any school which is called “Steiner” or “Waldorf” has to incorporate Steiner’s doctrine – the SWSF see to that.
    The teacher’s handbook proves it.
    Without the aspects you list, there is no *Steiner*. It is impossible to separate out anything useful from the core beliefs. Anthroposophy is the whole basis of Steiner education.
    Everything about a Steiner school is there purely because of what the man himself wrote or said. Otherwise it would not be a Steiner school, it would just be a random collection of off -the- wall methods put together to see what happens. And who would send their child to a school like that…?

    • Jim

      Helen – I agree it would not be sufficient to drop just a few of the more obnoxious beliefs. It would have to be the lot and then you could debate which, if any, of the methods stand up to scrutiny.

      I guess whatever else you say about Steiner he was consistent. Consistently wrong. Consistently mad.

  8. Helen

    Following on… schools manage to make parents believe they are not incorporating ideas on karma and astrology etc, by dressing things up as “seasonal”, “artistic” and “ecological” and not revealing the real reasons for rituals and festivals.
    Reading the comment by doktorcecelia on Michaelmas reveals that the children themselves are in no doubt.
    https://stopsteinerinstroud.com/2013/09/18/michaelmas/
    For her, Michaelmas had nothing to do with harvest.

  9. Tina

    Hello, i did go through the Advent Garden this year for the first time in my life, it was very enjoyable, magical and there was nothing occult or creepy about it. I d say the less people the better, it has a certain intimacy. It is totally harmless, nobody sang any religious songs, there was only a quiet lyre music played in the background.
    Also, please, anthroposophy I would not call a religion.
    I am not overly familiar with this site, but felt like I should contribute with my experience.
    Anthroposophy you cannot really start to understand by reading or talking about it. It has to be experienced.
    Most of my experiences with it felt very natural. I guess it is a lot about the individual teachers.
    The philosophy itself should not be looked at badly because of some teachers who aren’t good.
    I m sure somebody somewhere takes advantages of this and misinterprets things. Like in any other field of human doings.
    Doesn’t mean whole idea would be bad or harmful.
    What are the comments on the Michael above about? Michael is about dragon and sword! ;-)

    • Jim

      Hello Tina. Your reaction to your experience with anthroposophy is clearly an emotional one and I’ve no doubt you are correct that experiencing it is different to reading about it. I don’t wish to denigrate the emotions but we also have intelligence, and emotion without the application of intelligence can lead us badly astray. And yes, it is also true that intelligence without emotion is unhealthy.
      A large part of my rejection of cults such as anthroposophy is that they reject intelligence in favour of blind acceptance of dogma. So much of anthroposophical teaching is simply wrong or nonsensical – do you seriously believe in elemental spirits or that the heart does not pump blood around the body or that burying dung in a ram’s horn energises the soil?
      And as for the limitations of reading and talking – if they are so ineffective why did Steiner and his followers spend so much time and energy writing and lecturing about anthroposophy? Steiner seems to have felt that humanity had become too rational and intellectual and wished to return to a more primitive mythical view of the universe. At least for the masses – for the anthroposophical elite he was not averse to constructing a pseudo-scientific fantasy of a world view.
      Of course you are correct to say that a few bad teachers do not invalidate a whole practice. but you need only apply your intelligence to the theories which underlie the practice to see that it is rotten to the core despite its superficial appeal to some.

  10. Helen

    Hello Tina thanks for the comment.
    You don’t say but maybe you are a parent attending a Steiner school festival? It seems “festivals” for parents are different to those just for the children and teachers. Often in a Steiner school there will be both, on different days.
    Gregoire Perra who wrote about the advent spiral is a former Steiner school teacher who wrote about what he experienced. I am sure the schools put on a good show for parents and also that it can be “magical” and for those not too bothered about the anthroposophical meanings, it will appear harmless.
    For others who object to not being informed, or even being misinformed about how anthroposophy impacts on their child’s education day in, day out, and the cumulative affects of this kind of indoctrination carried out on the quiet, it will be seen as disturbing and dishonest.
    As for needing to experience anthroposophy – as a matter of fact, I have seen it in action at first hand as an employee, a perspective most people do not have, and I regard it as something you either reject at the start or wrestle with and finally succumb to, as with similar groups – scientology being a good example.
    Not a religion? How should we identify it – belief system is perhaps more acceptable to those involved?
    You say the “bad teachers” are misinterpreting anthroposophy – I would say that those are the ones who are most accurately interpreting Steiner’s doctrine.

    • Mogens Christensen

      Hello Arne, I was thrilled to see that the Steiner kindergarden use the spiral in that beautiful way, called Advent spiral. I have just visited the Ecovillage, Damanhur in Italy. I saw them using the spiral, too. The had huge spirals outside and used them for a meditative praxis. The Stones of the spiral were in different colors…beautiful. I thing its a holy symbol…think about the galaxies in space…and our DNA…spiral-shaped…not a coincidence
      Good day to all

      • Helen

        “…not a coincidence” – what do you mean? The spiral has been an occult symbol for a long time, before DNA was discovered. So is this another sign that Steiner was clairvoyant? Or just an indication that Steiner people like using occult symbolism?

      • Jim

        Mogens – don’t make the mistake of thinking that those who reject superstition and mysticism are thereby forced to believe that the widespread occurrence of symbols such as the spiral is just coincidence. Of course they have a place in the human mind and tradition and are often aesthetically satisfying in themselves as occurring in nature. It is the same with ripples in a pond or the shapes taken by various crystals. It would have been very strange if over thousands of years humans had not seen such phenomena as revealing order in nature. But there is no justification today for extrapolating from that to an imaginary world of the spirit to which such order extends.

  11. Arne

    The Advent Garden is about first having courage to find your own (inner) light, then lighting it and then placing it in the spiral (cosmos) to shine among the other “stars” (If you shine by yourself you shine for others). The children are encouraged to do this on their own, but if they feel insecure the parents will most certainly help them.
    Michaelmass is about slaying the dragon (ego).
    I know some people find these ideas offensive…

    For those interested I would absolutely recommend a Steiner kindergarden.
    Keep what you know is good, that´s the intelligent thing to do.

    The mind is not contained to the cranium. It’s province is of the infinite imaginative spirit.

    • Jim

      So Arne, are you saying we should engage with the world and make up our own minds? Then have confidence in our own judgement whilst being open to revising our opinions in the light of experience?

      If so then I am happy to agree but you see such ideas can be clearly expressed without lapsing into childish psycho-babble. Or maybe you feel that plain language doesn’t make you feel special enough?

      • arnebeck

        Yea, that´s the mini mini version of it.

        Plain language? Oh yes, now I understand, what do we need all these microchips for, can´t we just build a plain computer? Or; what do we need all these bricks for, we could just live in that plain cave…

        As you probably realise, a word consists of at least one objective part and one subjective part, where the objective part is what we “all” know and the subjective part is what you make of the word (your own experiences), Steiner would probably call it karma, I know the buddhists would, but then everybody freaks out right? i.e. if I say “a car” to you, we all know what a car is, but while you perhaps are thinking about a Tesla someone else is thinking about their grandfathers insmoked Fiat. So what happens when you mix these two components (your own objective and subjective part), and then you light the fuse on this childish psycho-bubble?

        Plain language is just plain simple, I don´t care if it makes me feel special or not.

  12. we escaped!

    Thanks for that information Arne, its a shame that steiner schools dont tell non anthro parents about it, in fact, when questioned, they deny it.

    By steiner schools not being open and honest about their beliefs and the meaning behind festivals, it does not give the unsuspecting an option of choice. If its true that anthroposophy is not taught to children and plays no part in school life, we are bemused as to why these festivals continue to take place.

    We find the ideas rather silly, not offensive. If you believe, we fully respect your right to do so. We weren’t given a choice to make a decision. What we find offensive is being lied to and mislead by grown adults that call themselves teachers.

    • arnebeck

      Thank you for your reply.

      I am sorry to hear about your bad experiences with the teachers, but I can assure you that lying and deceiving is not part of Steiners teachings, quite the opposite. These things should be addressed in the parents council. Teachers behaving like this should find proper work elsewhere. The information about Steiners philosophy is readily available for those who seek it.
      Like someone posted earlier, the anthroposophy is not taught to, but experienced by the children. It surrounds them in the form of ecologic and biodynamical made foods, the colourtheories of Goethe, emphasis on the seasonal changes and the nature that surrounds us and much more. The idea is to enable the children to make their own decisions based on their own curiosity and experiences of their surroundings, and not something they are taught to be true. It´s about seeing the uniqueness of every individual as part of the whole.
      The festivals are in my opinion of profound beauty. They appeal to the imagination of the children and still they have a much deeper significance in the evolvement of the childrens identities.
      A choice is not something you´re given it´s something you make, and you can learn a lot from being a bit silly from time to time :)

      Teaching should be such that what is offered is perceived as a valuable gift and not as a hard duty.
      — Albert Einstein
      Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world.
      — Albert Einstein

  13. Jim

    Someone should have warned Arne that once you step through the wardrobe into Narnia you may never find your way back.

    • arnebeck

      And you should be cautious even stepping into your wardrobe, you may not find your way out again.

      People are so friendly in here aren´t they? I think I prefer Narnia :)

  14. Nick Nakorn

    Arne, you say “I can assure you that lying and deceiving is not part of Steiners teachings, quite the opposite.” Well, in fact steiner was very keen to keep the real meaning of his cult hidden…

    “We must worm our way through…[I]n order to do what we want to do, at least, it is necessary to talk with the people, not because we want to, but because we have to, and inwardly make fools of them.”

    Rudolf Steiner, Conferences with Teachers of the Waldorf School in Stuttgart, vol.1, 1919 to 1920 Forest Row, East Sussex, England: Steiner schools Fellowship Publications, 1986 [pp. 125]

    and

    “[W]e have to remember that an institution like the Independent Waldorf School with its anthroposophical character, has goals that, of course, coincide with anthroposophical desires. At the moment, though, if that connection were made official, people would break the Waldorf School’s neck.”
    Rudolf Steiner, Faculty Meetings with Rudolf Steiner (Anthroposophic Press, 1998) p. 115

    So Steiner advocated the very problem you claim he did not advocate. But I’m sure you knew that anyway. If you did not you’ve not read much Steiner and if you did then you’re not being honest – but you are following Steiner’s instructions.

    • Pete Karaiskos

      “We must worm our way through…[I]n order to do what we want to do, at least, it is necessary to talk with the people, not because we want to, but because we have to, and inwardly make fools of them.”

      But then the internet cane along and who are the fools now? Here’s Steiner talking about how to slip Anthroposophy into everything:

      “You need to make the children aware that they are receiving the objective truth, and if this occasionally appears anthroposophical, it is not anthroposophy that is at fault. Things are that way because anthroposophy has something to say about objective truth. It is the material that causes what is said to be anthroposophical. We certainly may not go to the other extreme, where people say that anthroposophy may not be brought into the school. Anthroposophy will be in the school when it is objectively justified, that is, when it is called for by the material itself.” Rudolf Steiner, FACULTY MEETINGS WITH RUDOLF STEINER (Anthroposophic Press, 1998), p. 495.

      More from the same source:

      “But something else plays an essential role, which is connected deeply with moral development. The following happens: at the beginning of the stage during which children completely trust authority, they accept this authoritative individual just as he or she is. Between the ninth and the tenth year, something happens—it doesn’t have to be conscious, it may happen deep in the realm of feeling, we might say in the subconscious realm, but it is unquestionably there—children find themselves, so to say, forced by their development to look through the authoritative person to what it is that that person represents.”

      In Steiner schools, that person represents Anthroposophy.

      “To know that, to count on the fact that just as one lovingly nurtures the seed in order for it to become a plant, so in the same way something — a physical seed—that at one time was being prepared in the child now stands before us, demanding to be nurtured psychologically; knowing this gives one a special relationship to the child. And, in this way, one plants the seed of religion into the child.”

      In Steiner schools, the “religion” is Anthroposophy.

            • Pete Karaiskos

              You’d think they could Google it. But they don’t know that they need to Google it. Who knows, maybe Waldorf can infiltrate Google and have all criticism removed from the web. Hey, it worked on Wikipedia, right?

              It still takes relentless work on the part of the critics to keep Waldorf’s practices spotlighted so that parents know they need to be informed.

            • Pete Karaiskos

              Hi Rain. BIOS – Basic Input Output System… (It’s a computer term) as it relates to Waldorf – it’s the system by which Waldorf schools take IN normal children and puts OUT Anthroposophists.

        • Mogens Christensen

          Yes, they can…why not see it as a luck that we have the possibility of choosing a kindergarden/school with teachings including esoteric Christianity for our children. Matters like reincarnation, vegetarian food among other things seems to have been hidden/cut out in the traditional interpretation of the New Testament. With the findings of the Deadsea scrolls in the Qumran caves and a Aramaic interpretation of new testament it tends to be clear and necessary that we have to get a step deeper in the meaning of the holy text. It is not a coincidence that these thoughts are popping up right now…not just in the Steiner School, but many places. It is time for us to open our hearts and let go of our old “box thinking” Through empathy and examination of our prejudges we have to move towards a world with a feminine focus. The masculine princip in both politics and religion is passé. ….If not us, then who If not now, then when?

          • Helen

            Another coincidence, Mogens?
            Maybe you don’t live in this country, but there are plenty of opportunities in the UK for parents to choose to send their children to an openly religious school if they deem it appropriate. The problem with Steiner schools is that a lot of the parents are not aware they are selecting a school where “esoteric Christianity”, as you put it, will be taught to their children.
            As I remarked a couple of years ago at the beginning of this blog, parents were not visualising Steiner’s sixth post Atlantean epoch when they first took their child to a Steiner kindergarten, But that is what Steiner teachers have in mind, according to the Handbook for Waldorf class teachers.
            You say it is time to “let go of our old box thinking”, but to me “box thinking” describes the enslavement in religion that has brought so much prejudice and misery for centuries. It is time to step out of the box of religion, and the fact that over 50% of the population here do not describe themselves as religious is progress.
            Empathy and examination of prejudices are not religious traits, on the contrary, they grow stronger as religion dies out.

          • Jim

            Quite why you think the Qumran scrolls are significant to anyone other than historians of religion is a mystery – they are just early copies of biblical texts and miscellaneous writing of a Jewish sect. No great revelations.
            If by moving to a world with a feminine focus you mean proper equality for women everywhere then I’m with you. Likewise if you mean espousing some of the characteristics archetypically associated with women – for example preferring to spend taxes on health and education rather than nuclear weapons. In practice I’m not sure women in power are so different to men – Margaret Thatcher, Imelda Marcos, Eva Peron……
            However do I detect a hint of the Goethean Eternal Feminine? The repellent notion that women’s destiny is to suffer, be exalted and through their forgiveness redeem us poor men. That also leads to a Mother Theresa figure who prefers to urge the poor to offer up their suffering as a gift to god rather than to do anything practical to relieve it.

            • Mogens Christensen

              Hello Jim
              The qumran scrolls with ex. The Gospel of Thomas, and writings like The Gospel of Maria, are gnostic writings revealing the early Christianity. Jesus and his mystic teachings were never quenched in the canonical gospels and they´re therefore incomplete. It seems that the feminine principe had a much larger place at that time, especially in the Essene sect where jesus were living in the first part of his life -and that it there after was suppressed. Several things are pointing to that in the bible. Why don’t we hear where Jesus was in his earlier days? About his connection to the Egyptian feminine principe- Why was Maria Magdalene described as a sinner? Why do we not hear that one of the disciples apparently was a woman? It looks like there wasn´t place for The Jesus, trained and raised as Nazarene Essene. Thats why we don’t hear of eastern and far eastern wisdom, yoga techniques including yogic breathing practices, teachings of tantrik vegetarianism and most strikingly the image of Feminine face of God.
              But why is it important right now to implement the feminine principe? As I see it, the world today is screaming for more spirituality and the implementation of the feminine principe…where the heart and empathy is the ruler to the benefit of all living on earth…our earth that right now is suffering because of the masculine way that man has treated earth, causing pollution, poverty, hostility, war, materialism….it is time to open our hearts and live and let live and understand the importance of meditation as a important element in heading towards peace on earth. The heart is the key.

  15. Helen

    Pete – I googled anthroposophy as soon as I realised it wasn’t a mis-spelling of anthropology, and went from there.
    That’s why they don’t like mentioning the word, in my opinion – until you know it, there is nothing to latch on to.

  16. David Clark

    Hi

    It is very good to see how this post has been attracting a very wide range of comments and contributions. Looking back to Helen’s original post, I reckon Professor Perra was right in suggesting that participation in Festivals can raise fundamental questions of rights. While I haven’t read his original blog in French yet, the extract from his “thick description” helps me to appreciate another perspective, and one that is clearly important. As a result of his work, I can appreciate some of the stresses that some visitors may face when meeting fresh and raw experience in a new way, especially in an unfamiliar environment.

    Reading comments on the blog tail, I understand these as a spirited conversation on the significance of rights and ways in which these social demands encounter schools’ earnest efforts to introduce a quite fresh cultural dimension. Taken as a whole, this blog post and its tail suggest to me that this intersection of cultural and rights domains, for example in the organisation and performance of Festivals, can actually be quite complex and sensitive when viewed through the lens of everyday experience.

    Before concluding my contribution, I should explain that my personal perspective owes much to two sources in quite different literatures. While my uncertain knowledge of the Festival derives from Anthroposophical sources, I have been inspired by the book “Personal Knowledge” by Michael Polanyi and related texts. While I reckon many Anthroposophical sources may be understood lexically and methodologically within a modern paradigm, I reckon Polanyi’s writing leads into quite new territory for philosophy. In a sense, I reckon Professor Polyani was very courageous in having left his early background in chemistry while at the University of Manchester to address fundamentally fresh questions of knowledge creation. By introducing the new field of “tacit knowledge”, he helped us to appreciate consciousness (and therefore phenomena such as Festivals) empirically. For me, the possibility of spiritual scientific investigation relies in part on this type of a blend between old and new perspectives in philosophy.

    In conclusion, I reckon the blog post and tail indicate one of the challenges that I consistently failed to meet in attempting doctoral research. Hence my recent dismissal from a Programme. For this reason, I cannot claim any proven expertise. Conventionally in academia a distinction is drawn between a critical understanding and the pursuit of criticism. While knowing that the distinction exists, I really struggle to apply it sensibly to my own pursuit of research as an amateur but wannabe scholar.

    Apologies for the long contribution. Sorry, I’m not too sure about any local links with Stroud, except that I am a Member of the former Royal Agricultural College, the alma mater where I learnt about e-communication

  17. Jim

    Mogens – in reply to your last comment:

    Some fundamentalists may say that the bible as we have it today is the complete and literal word of their god, allowing only for possible issues of translation. We know that in reality it was assembled over a long period from all sorts of texts, and therefore that other texts were excluded. Quite interesting historically but no reason to imagine that the excluded texts contain great truths and insights – just divergent views which the early church wanted to suppress. The early Christians were more rigorous in this respect than the Jews. For example a text such as Ecclesiates which is pretty much agnostic might have been hard to swallow but was presumably too well established.
    You do find characters such as Origen seeming to endorse reincarnation and something like karma but his views were rejected and largely suppressed. You won’t find any reference toTantra for the very good reason that it did not emerge until sometime around 400 CE.

    You assert that Jesus was raised an Essene but there is no evidence for that, and indeed little evidence at all about the historical person that may be behind the stories. Really there is not much to separate Christianity from many other cults of the time, apart from the vagaries of history which led to it being adopted by empowers and imposed by force.

    I have to agree with you about the misogyny of the early church, and it doesn’t seem to have changed much. But what you call spirituality I call superstition. Much of the screaming I hear is from its victims.

  18. Jim

    An afterthought for anyone interested in early Christianity. Read “The Procurater of Judea”, a short story by Anatole France. It pictures an elderly Pontius Pilate retired to Rome and reminiscing with friends. The conversation turns to the old days in Judea and all the troubles there. Someone mentions that a quarrelsome new sect is spreading to Rome and claiming to be followers of someone called Jesus – has Pilate ever heard of him. Pilate thinks for a while and then replies “No. Who was he?” .

    If only.

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