“I couldn’t care less”

That is from Oliver Müller who helps run the Food Hub in Stroud, the outlet for biodynamic produce from Stroud Community agriculture. I posted on their facebook page about the harm anthroposophy is doing to children and families.

I want to make him care, but it’s not an easy task.

Here is our exchange.

Stroudco Food Hub; Dear Helen, I know you have a bee in your bonnet about anything to do with Steiner, so I’m more than happy to discuss why people should or shouldn’t buy biodynamic. Unfortunately I couldn’t find any argument in the post you have linked to. I can see a screenshot of someone painting a cult-like picture of a Steiner School on some internet forum somewhere. The story may be true or not, I have no idea. I don’t sell anthroposophy but food. I know the farmers from SCA and they are great people. Whether my members buy SCA veg because it’s biodynamic or because it’s a local community farm with minimal food miles/carbon footprint, I couldn’t care less. What I do care about is doing my best to reduce the poisoning of our soil, water and air through artificial fertilisers, pesticides and fungicides. Obviously that’s only the beginning. I could write for hours about all the bad things in the world: food production, use of chemicals, plastic in our oceans, drinking water and air, exploitation of all kinds for short-term profit, government corruption, laws that benefit the few, the entire debt-based economic system, wars, famine….
Clearly your anti-Steiner campaign is dear to you. You’ve been going for years. I’m sure there is a good reason why you feel so strongly about it. I just wish I could bring you to see how much real “evil” there is to challenge in the world and that most people involved with biodynamic farming or who send their children to Steiner schools (I don’t by the way, as you may know) are the kindest of people who care about others, respect others and who would never behave in the way you quoted on your blog.
Anyway, I trust your violin playing is going well? Maybe we’ll meet at Anna’s Christmas event and you can try and bring me round to your way of thinking – though I’m secretly hoping you’ll have found a more deserving target for your campaigning energy by then. ;)
Kind regards, Oliver

 

 

Stop Steiner in Stroud; Thanks for the reply Oliver. You winked at me at the end and indicated you would be willing to discuss the matter in person – something that I would like to do, although Anna may not like us discussing it at her Christmas event, so maybe somewhere else? We can discuss my violin playing as well since you are interested. You seem to be saying that you don’t care what kind of group produces your food because there are all sorts of bad things going on in the world. I can’t see your logic there. “I don’t sell anthroposophy but food” – it’s a good line, but really you are saying it doesn’t matter where the food comes from, which is strange coming from someone who sets such lofty standards for the rest of the world to live by. And by that argument you wouldn’t care if it was the EDL as long as they seemed nice and didn’t talk about their beliefs. This kind of burying your head in the sand is not very helpful in the struggle against people who are secretive and damage lives with their spiritual nonsense, whilst at the same time using public money. You object to my campaign because it has been going on for years. Again, I can’t see the logic there. I also object to some of the things you are concerned about, but that is not a reason to stop trying to protect people form the harm done by anthroposophy. You put “evil” in inverted commas but it is not my word. The danger of the free school seems to have passed, but still anthroposophy is rife in Stroud, so I see no reason to give up. You would like me to stop and let all the Steiner businesses carry on unhindered. What was it brought you to Stroud anyway? I am genuinely interested to know. Kind regards Helen

 

Stop Steiner in Stroud; Also Oliver, as you must know it is not the innocent people who are on the periphery of these Steiner businesses (the parents who don’t know they are signing up their child for an anthroposophical education, and the Eco enthusiasts who think it is fun to stir the cauldron of manure but haven’t been told about the reasons) that I am criticising. It is those in charge, those in the know, that I am attacking. They wouldn’t be doing their biodynamic growing or opening schools if they didn’t believe in anthroposophy. They don’t care who gets hurt. They perpetuate a harmful cult and people like you who excuse their behaviour, defend them and turn on the critics instead are a useful tool they use. I think you probably know who are the real anthro believers in your circle and who are not. What would it take to make you question your support for a movement that continues to deceive and harm innocent people? I am all in favour of local food and looking after the soil, but you don’t need to overlook Steiner practices to be ethical in your choices.

It is strange that he doesn’t care about making money from food produced using anthroposophic rituals, and that he is so supportive of people involved with the Steiner movement. He says he cares passionately about “the poisoning of our soil, water and air through artificial fertilisers, pesticides and fungicides”, but apparently doesn’t care about the nature of the organisation he is supporting himself.

Oliver makes a statement about some people he knows on the fringes of Steiner groups;

…most people involved with biodynamic farming or who send their children to Steiner schools (I don’t by the way, as you may know) are the kindest of people who care about others, respect others and who would never behave in the way you quoted on your blog.

but he is missing the point. I am not accusing the average joiner-in of behaving in the way anthroposophists behave. Most of the ususpecting joiners-in don’t know about anthroposophy and are unlikely to accuse a child of having a dark soul or not having any skin, or harm children as Steiner teachers have done. It is the people in charge who know all about anthroposophy and are not telling that I have a problem with.

Bernard Jarman, for example, uses the skulls and bladders on the SCA biodynamic acres but admits that the average joiner in does not know about these rituals, or indeed that anthroposophy exists.  Why hasn’t he told them? Because it would “put them off” – to use his words.

Similarly Richard House writes to the local press defending Steiner education as “child-centred”, but knows full well that anthroposophic methods are used and doesn’t share this information with interested new families who should be told.

Very few people know anything at all about anthroposophy and that is what I am campaigning about.

Oliver may himself be one of those innocents who have got involved without doing his research, or he may not. If I was working for an organisation that profited from dealing with followers of an esoteric belief system, I would make it my business to find out. I asked Oliver what brought him to Stroud but I don’t know the answer.

The anticipated Steiner free school didn’t materialise in Stroud and anyone locally who wants to entrust their child to anthroposophists has to pay.

 

*****

Oliver has used a kind of passive aggressive way of communicating with me. I am used to it from Steiner people who are ruffled by the arguments but want to defend their stance whilst appearing not to care. He can say I have a bee in my bonnet as a way of having a little laugh at my expense, and put a smiley face at the end.  He referred to me by name and talked about my music to let me know he can have a giggle with his Steiner friends if he wants. I really have no secrets thanks to them and can’t protect myself from such intrusion as long as I carry on challenging a powerful movement locally and globally. It seems to be a price that has to be paid. People like Oliver who I am sure mean well in their social justice and eco-friendly activities suddenly forget themselves when dealing with critics, and behave differently. Oliver and I probably share many interests and concerns, but when it comes to Steiner it is very hard to get through to people who are resolute in their misplaced loyalty to the cause.

 

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7 comments

  1. Oliver

    I think you misunderstand me, Helen. I made my response personal not because of wanting to have a giggle or anything but because I wanted to take away the anonymity of online exchange, where both of us could have hidden behind the name of our Facebook pages and where often enough people forget they are communicating with another human being who has the best of intentions, even though they may have a different view point. Also because I knew we may meet in person in the future and so I wanted to start off personal and hence civil.
    I think a lot of what you have written about what I do or don’t care about, “people like Oliver” etc, is assumed. And I can assure you there is no money in running Stroudco, where SCA is only one small part of our total turnover. You are right in that we probably do share many concerns and I prefer focusing on what makes us similar rather than different. You can’t exactly blame me for dealing with a locally very popular community-supported agriculture because I don’t believe it supports a dangerous cult! I don’t think it’s my position that would be seen as extreme by most people in Stroud.

    I find your tabloid-style headline nasty, by the way and nor do I think it’s right to call us THE outlet for SCA. It’s true that I said “Whether my members buy SCA veg because it’s biodynamic or because it’s a local community farm with minimal food miles/carbon footprint, I couldn’t care less.” but you are implying I don’t care about what you call “the harm anthroposophy is doing to children and families.” How is that fair?

    • Helen

      I am very sorry I have been nasty and unfair in your eyes. I always try to be polite, since so many Steiner discussions descend into really bad language and personal insults and I have been careful not to do that here over the years. I am only too aware that I am talking to other human beings; I have spoken to people personally at Foodhub before, some of whom were very surprised to learn that BD is anything to do with Steiner and not happy at all about the rituals that are used to produce the food – the skulls, bladders and entrails etc. We had very civilised discussions. Nick Weir however was not very kind to me at all and treated my concerns with contempt.

      I said “people like Oliver” because your line of defence is so typical of those who show compassion to victims of corruption, war, famine, etc, but when faced with evidence of abuse by a group that you support, you say someone has “painted a picture” which “may be true or not” – in other words, accuse them of lying. You haven’t even bothered to ascertain the extent of the damage, it seems.
      The parents, care-workers, teachers, and former students who have commented here over the years are not lying, and all this is currently coming to the surface in the repeated failures of Steiner institutions to meet the basic standards required to care for vulnerable people in society. Steiner principles simply do not match up with the requirements the rest of society expects, and the internet is making that glaringly obvious to anyone who is interested enough to find out.

      I agree the headline is rather tabloid in style, and I did think before using it, but those were the stand out words to me, and perhaps you could have been a little more circumspect too. Your tone was dismissive and disrespectful. Giving out information about me is not what I would have wanted on a public forum. £40 an hour violin lessons are quite a stretch for a lot of people, even those who splash out on organic produce.

      I still feel you are not being very friendly towards me, despite your claim to be personal and civil. You intimate in your comment that my position is extreme, but why is it extreme to want to make people properly understand what they are getting involved with?

      I appreciate the discussion however, since it is only through listening to each other we can ever understand eache other’s position. I still find it ironic that someone so socially aware can completely dismiss the worrying aspects of a global movement they are involved with, seemingly without doing even the most basic research.

      • Oliver

        Hi Helen, I didn’t mean to post any sensitive personal details in my response on Facebook, hence why I didn’t mention Anna’s last name and if you hadn’t revealed it above, no one would know how much those lessons cost. In fact I was deliberately vague and neither made clear that it’s about lessons nor with whom nor that the name Anna is linked to the music. I don’t mind deleting the whole thing on FB and you can always edit things on here so to remove that link. I’d certainly appreciate not having my full name on a blog post under an outrageous sounding headline in return.
        When I say extreme, try see it from my perspective. I run a social enterprise for not much money and one supplier is SCA. I get on very well with my contacts there and know lots of people who are members directly with SCA and are very happy. I also vaguely know a few people involved with biodynamic land trust, some parents whose children attend Wynstone etc. I’ve never heard anything bad and so to shift to a view where anything Steiner related supports a dangerous cult IS extreme. You can’t blame me for finding that extreme when my personal experience is so different.

  2. Oliver

    Helen I’ve also been wondering about saying something else but not wanting to sound like I’m attacking or being dismissive. So please don’t take this as anything other than wanting to engage. It doesn’t mean we have to agree with each other.

    Is it not possible you find evil because you are looking for it? Take the following Google searches as an example:
    church child abuse 5,450,000 results
    christian child abuse 5,260,000 results
    muslim child abuse 2,130,000 results
    buddhist child abuse 1,140,000 results
    pagan child abuse 960,000
    steiner child abuse 303,000 results
    even
    atheist child abuse 1,030,000

    The point is NOT that Steiner came back with the lowest number, which was pure chance, NOR is the point to justify one bad thing with the presence of other bad things! It’s just that if you go looking you will find it. In my view you can either conclude that a) there is a problem with all the above religions as well as those that are atheists (i.e. everyone) or b) that you can find bad apples wherever you look.

    Coming back to my previous argument about judging individual behaviour rather than someone’s associations with a movement, based on the above, I’d have no friends left if I judged them based on their faith (or lack of) having done internet searches into whether their faith may be a cult.

    I think the same applies to the “scriptures”. I’m sure it’s possible to find all sorts of things among Steiner’s writings that seems unacceptable today (maybe even in his time) just like you could focus on the bits in the bible which are about sacrificing animals to have your sins absolved (so and so many animals for this type of sin, to be slaughtered in such and such a way, blood all over the altar). But instead of seeing everything Christian as supporting a blood cult, be that my local parish church or Christian Aid or whatever, I judge my local vicar by his behaviour and any charity by what it does and so on.

    I know you see the Steiner movement as different but to me and to many others, this difference isn’t at all obvious.

    • Helen

      “…this difference isn’t at all obvious”.

      I agree it is not obvious, but you are not thinking it through. I will give you the benefit of the doubt and assume you do not know much about anthroposophy.

      I hope we are agreed that there are people throughout society who commit abuse, religious and non-religious? You have listed some religions and atheism and there will be people of all faiths and none who offend. The opportunities they find are among vulnerable people.
      Steiner followers, as I have pointed out above, focus especially on the vulnerable in society, and in Rudolf Steiner’s lectures and books, which they regard as infallible texts to be adhered to (Steiner was clairvoyant, you see), they find advice about how to put their so-called spiritual ideas into practice. Steiner schools present a special risk because teachers are trained in how to use anthroposophy as detailed by Rudolf Steiner (that’s what the schools are for) and the tenets are not only bizarre but abusive when put into practice on vulnerable people.

      There is the issue of bullying where children are seen by anthroposophical teachers to be acting out their karma. There are documented accounts of this on many sites. Reincarnation is central to anthroposophy.

      There is the issue of temperaments – large headed and small headed children. I found another article about this the other day on the On line Waldorf Journal.http://www.waldorflibrary.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=941:waldorf-journal-project-2-child-observation-and-study&catid=24:waldorf-journal-project&Itemid=10
      Teachers are encouraged to categorise children and deal with them according to their ‘constitutional type’. Parents are told nothing of this when they sign up. So much for treating “each child as an individual”.

      The parents who wrote ‘A Steiner experience’ had similar treatment at the hands of Steiner teachers to the one you read on my initial post on your facebook page. Anthro teachers are so slavishly following Steiner’s words that they are abusing children routinely.

      Of course the fact that the belief system is hidden is what causes most of the problems; parents who are already initiated will not be so surprised to be told their child is a tortured soul or has no skin. The child is still being discriminated against of course, and will be affected.

      Coupled with all this is the way Steiner schools are continually failing to reach the standards expected by the authorities because they simply will not change – they can’t, because there are rules set by the SWSF, and ultimatetly by Dornach.

      There is a book ‘The Spiritual Basis of Steiner Education’ by Roy Wilkinson detailing how teachers can best use anthroposophy to carry out Steiner’s teachings. Each school subject is listed and there is a chapter called ‘Destiny and karma’ and to me this is one of the most harmful aspects of Steiner education. Anthroposophists who run schools firmly belief that the child’s current ‘incarnation is just preparation as part of the child’s journey into future epochs, and act accordingly.

      If you want to know about the abuse in care homes where clients are made to pay for useless anthro therapies I suggest you read The Laura experiment as listed in the blogroll.

      As for the bad apples you mention, in Steiner circles these are removed from one barrel and placed in another; child abusers turn up at different Steiner schools to start again. Read the Waldorf Review.

      So yes, Steiner is a special case. Hence the need for openness and honesty from the movement so people can be informed. That is what I am campaigning for.

      I am not asking you to drop your friends (I also have religious friends, believe it or not) but I am asking you not to provide a market place for people who are causing untold damage with their secretive ways.. I have asked for demonstrations of biodynamic rituals in Stroud but they won’t happen Bernard Jarman doesn’t want it on show. Perhaps you could have a word with him? – it would be very informative for the people of Stroud to see how all this BD stuff is produced. You know, the skulls and bladders and all that.

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