Cult - NOT

 

From: golden3000997
Date: Tue Mar 9, 2004 3:37 pm
Subject: Cult - NOT

In their efforts to acquire a base of support for their legal efforts against Waldorf Charter Schools, PLANS has actively sought particular statements by Rudolf Steiner and passages from published books and books of lectures that can be interpreted to make Rudolf Steiner, the philosophical movement known as Anthroposophy and by association, the Waldorf School Movement to appear to be an elitist, racist organization that promotes a narrow world view that seeks to involve people in a cult movement. The words "racism" and "cult" are powerful buzz words in this culture and are very effective in promoting an emotional backlash toward any group associated with them. PLANS has been well aware that the use of these words would gain them a large number of supporters who may other wise have no particular objection to the presence of Waldorf Education in their public school classroom, indeed, who may not have had any particular interest in it, one way or another. The WC/ PLANS organization has gone out of its way to paint the Anthroposophical Movement and everyone in it with the National Socialism emblem and to associate it emotionally with a neo-nazi cult mentality. This is a libelous association which does a severe injustice to the movement at large and to the widely diverse philosophical, social and political backgrounds of its members and associates. It is my belief that PLANS has a legal basis for removal of Waldorf Education from the public school system without this defamation of character (although support for its objectives may have been slower to come and smaller in scope). The association of WE/ Anthroposophy with either word must be stopped and irrefutable evidence brought forward into the arenas of legal and social opinion that both Anthroposophy and Waldorf Education are in concept and practice universally human and make no qualitative or quantitative differential between any persons in respect to race, creed, color, sex or national origin. In fact, Waldorf Schools for example are more universally inclusive in both concept and practice than many private school systems and organizations and have a curriculum in which is built a basic introduction to every religious thought system of mankind - ancient and modern. To my knowledge, no other school system has this claim to make.

As to the use of the word "cult" in relation to either the Anthroposophical Movement or the Waldorf Education Movement, this is also a libelous allegation and it does not stand up against current definitions of "cult" which can be found in movement such as the following:

www.factnet.org
American Family Foundation (AFF)
Community Resources on Influence & Control (CRIC)
Cult Awareness & Information Centre, Australia
Cult Awareness Network (CAN)
Cult Hotline & Clinic
Cult Information Center (CIC)
Dialog Center International (DCI)
Escape
Ex-Cult Archive
FAIR
Info Cult
reFOCUS Network
Religious Movement Resource Center
Resource Center for Freedom of Mind
The Ross Institute
V.V.P.G. vzw
Watchman Fellowship
Wellspring Retreat and Resource Center
Cult Information Service
The Ex Cult Member Organization

While any group of people whose stated purpose is to study and possibly put into practice the ideas and teachings of any individual, living or dead, can be viewed to a certain point as a "cult", which would include by such definition, all recognized churches and philosophical organizations, the use of "cult" in the context of attack against the Waldorf School and Anthropsophical movements has been an attempt to associate them with the concept of "coersive persuasion". Cults which perform the actions and reactions that make of the technique of "coersive persuasion" use the following tactics as outlined at www.factnet.org:

HOW TO DETERMINE IF A GROUP IS A DESTRUCTIVE CULT

Q) Anybody can unfairly attack a group they disagree with by calling it a cult or saying they are using coercive mind control. How does FACTNet prevent this type of problem and determine fairly whether or not a group is a cult?

A) FACTNet uses specific criteria to determine if a mind control system has been used, and does not suggest organizations are destructive or dangerous cults without careful research and determination that the evidence fits definite criteria. These criteria are threefold.

The first set of criteria comes from the group' use of a specific set of mind control tactics. Please see "A technical overview of mind control tactics" at http://www.factnet.org/rancho1.htm for details or see http://www.factnet.org/coercivemindcontrol.html for a shorter version. These two documents are derived from the work of Dr. Margaret Singer professor emeritus at the University of California at Berkeley the acknowledged leading authority in the world on mind control and cults.

The second set of criteria has to do with defining other common elements of mind control systems, as defined by Robert Jay Lifton's eight point model of thought reform. Please see "Robert Jay Lifton's Eight Point Model of Thought Reform" also at http://www.factnet.org/rancho1.htm. If most points in this model are being used in a cultic organization, it is most likely a dangerous and destructive cult.

The third set of criteria have to do with defining common elements of destructive and dangerous cults. The following section will help clarify what some of those specific elements and criteria are.

Common Properties of Potentially Destructive and Dangerous Cults

The cult is authoritarian in its power structure. The leader is regarded as the supreme authority. He or she may delegate certain power to a few subordinates for the purpose of seeing that members adhere to the leader's wishes and roles. There is no appeal outside of his or her system to greater systems of justice. For example, if a school teacher feels unjustly treated by a principal, appeals can be made. In a cult, the leader claims to have the only and final ruling on all matters.

The cult's leaders tend to be charismatic, determined, and domineering. They persuade followers to drop their families, jobs, careers, and friends to follow them. They (not the individual) then take over control of their followers' possessions, money, lives.

The cult's leaders are self-appointed, messianic persons who claim to have a special mission in life. For example, the flying saucer cult leaders claim that people from outer space have commissioned them to lead people to special places to await a space ship.

The cult's leaders center the veneration of members upon themselves. Priests, rabbis, ministers, democratic leaders, and leaders of genuinely altruistic movements keep the veneration of adherents focused on God, abstract principles, and group purposes. Cult leaders, in contrast, keep the focus of love, devotion, and allegiance on themselves.

The cult tends to be totalitarian in its control of the behavior of its members. Cults are likely to dictate in great detail what members wear, eat, when and where they work, sleep, and bathe-as well as what to believe, think, and say.

The cult tends to have a double set of ethics. Members are urged to be open and honest within the group, and confess all to the leaders. On the other hand, they are encouraged to deceive and manipulate outsiders or nonmembers. Established religions teach members to be honest and truthful to all, and to abide by one set of ethics.

The cult has basically only two purposes, recruiting new members and fund-raising. Established religions and altruistic movements may also recruit and raise funds. However, their sole purpose is not to grow larger; such groups have the goals to better the lives of their members and mankind in general. The cults may claim to make social contributions, but in actuality these remain mere claims, or gestures. Their focus is always dominated by recruiting new members and fund-raising.

The cult appears to be innovative and exclusive. The leader claims to be breaking with tradition, offering something novel, and instituting the only viable system for change that will solve life's problems or the world's ills. While claiming this, the cult then surreptitiously uses systems of psychological coercion on its members to inhibit their ability to examine the actual validity of the claims of the leader and the cult.

A careful, honest and factual study of Rudolf Steiner and the Anthroposophical movement will prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that NONE of the above criteria apply. The last criterium seems to be the one that the WC/PLANS groups most want to associate with the WE movement. However, the following is in fact the truth:

1. Rudolf Steiner carefully placed his teaching in the context of objective world history and scientific fact as it was known through 1925. Anthroposophists since 1925 have constantly re-examined the original world to see if it remains valid in light of developments in both fields since 1925.

2. There is no social, economic or political structure in place anywhere in the world by which the Anthroposophical Society headquartered in Dornach, Switzerland or the Anthroposophical Society at large can influence anyone to join the movement, pay money to the movement or limit their personal expression and/or interpretation of Rudolf Steiner's material. There is no persuasive element, either obvious or covert that can or tries to put pressure on anyone inside or outside of the organization to "believe" anything that Dr. Steiner said or to support through words, deeds or money any ideas contained in his work or any individuals who have gone on to work with his ideas. Members of the Anthroposophical Movement are not under any directive, spoken or unspoken as to what they wear, eat, read, watch, listen to, say or do. Members are never encouraged in any way (direct or indirect) to avoid or ignore other religious teachings, scientific findings or philosophical, social or political ideologies.

Members are never requested, directly or indirectly, to locate in a geographic area or to limit or restrict their contacts with any family members or friends outside the "movement." Members are never requested or required to reliquish any memberships or associations with any other religious, political or social organizations. Members are never limited or restricted in participating in the work or society of the movement through judgments or evaluations by other members, other than considerations of basic civic and ethical proprieties. Members do not hold in "veneration" any other member of the society, either living or dead, including Rudolf Steiner, beyond an affectionate respect. Members do not actively recruit people to join the Anthroposophical Society, nor is there any such recruitement system in existence. Members are never solicited for money except for yearly dues if active, subscription fees for publications and occasional appeals for economic assistance for specific projects, the response to which is always voluntary and confidential.

3. Rudolf Steiner never promoted himself or allowed himself to be promoted as a cult leader or figure. In point of fact, when the Anthroposophical Society was created, after a group of people wished to separate themselves from the Theosophical Society, Rudolf Steiner was asked to be the "President" of the Society. He refused the position, while agreeing to be involved as a teacher and lecturer. It was only after the burning of the first Goetheanum in Dornach on New Year's Eve, 1921, that Rudolf Steiner accepted the position of the President of the Anthroposophical Society in an effort to renew the courage and vitality of the worldwide movement in the face of brutal attack (my interpretation). Rudolf Steiner maintained avidly the supreme importance of the individual's study of Anthroposophical concepts on their own, and their own personal connection with and committment to those ideas. He refused point blank on many occasions to tell any person what he or she "ought to do" in any given situation, personal or Society related. He stated definitively on many occasions what the result (physical, emotional or spiritual) was of particular human activities, but he expressly left it to the individual to do or not do what he or she saw fit.

The other primary objection that I have to the tactics and strategies of the WC/ PLANS groups is the use of personal problems as being illustrative of problems to be found worldwide inherently in the practice of Waldorf Education. By this I mean, that while each individual parent or family has a perfect right to express dissatisfaction with the methods and practice of Waldorf Education in relation to themselves, they repeatedly infer that Waldorf methods and techniques are inherently destructive to all students and their families. They also characterize all Waldorf Teachers and Waldorf Schools as being uniformly alike and "mindless" in their application of those methods and techniques. This is far from the truth and borders on a "smear" campaign. In the stories that I have read so far on their websites, I find no indication that the whole story is being told or that the parents feel themselves to have had any responsibility for the outcomes of the situations they are describing.

I personally have never known two Waldorf teachers to be exactly alike on anything! I have never known any Waldorf teachers who are instructed to "take Steiner's word for it." or who would consent to do so. I have known Waldorf teachers who were not Anthroposophists and many who considered themselves Anthroposophists but who also participated in other religious or philosophical groups at the same time. There were conflicts from time to time when several teachers, usually with a group of parents, tried to promote an outside sect (for example, Sufiism) in a school in a way that interfered with standard Waldorf curriculum and practice.

I can't even remember having had any "Anthroposophical" parents in the initiative schools that I taught at. (I'm trying to remember if there were.) I have had classes of children whose parents ranged from "pagan" to "Christian" with everything possible in between. I can't remember any Moslems, but I have written an article called "Religion in the Waldorf Schools" which outlines why I think most fundamentalist Christian or Moslem parents would not choose a Waldorf School for their children. The Waldorf curriculum is specifically designed to expose all of the students to all major world religions at the appropriate age and stage of development of the child. Any parent with a strong fundamentalist or atheistic view would quite rightly not choose a Waldorf School for his or her child. Every parent should be made aware of the Waldorf curriculum and how it is taught as soon as they approach the school for information.

Lastly, I object to the tactic used by both the Waldorf Critics and PLANS groups of asking for answers to their questions or objections then refusing to listen to the answers or information provided or to acknowledge the honest and open minded efforts of Waldorf supporters. This is a common strategy (concious or otherwise) of groups and individuals who adopt an offensive approach. Questions asked with this motivation are designed only as springboards to further attacks and the position in taken in which it is assumed that the side being attacked will not provide any meaningful answers. The motivation here is not one of inquiry and research but of adversarial debate. Since PLANS has a legal agenda to promote, it makes sense to use the political debate forum as a model. Unfortunately, political debates are not designed to reach understanding and consenus of opinion. They are designed to be emotionally charged and devisive and usually, to mask real problems behind the buzz words and catch phrases of popular "issues." A real mutual study of Waldorf methods and educational perspectives in the light of other philosophies and techniques of education in use today in both public and private schools would be a really useful tool for educators and parents in the Waldorf Movement and outside of it. Like any other practice, in art or science, there is always room for evaluation and adaptation.

Human beings are never static, children the least of all. There is something new to be learned every day. We do not live in the same world as Rudolf Steiner, Maria Montessori, Piaget, Froebel, Dewey, Aristotle, Albertus Comenius,

Sylvia Ashton-Warner or any other wonderful educator or educational philosopher that we can study and learn from. Every idea has to be metamorphosed into today's lesson, today's experience.

I have heard experienced Waldorf teachers say that after they have completed an eight year journey with one class, when they come to take a second First Grade, it is like they never taught before. The world has already changed and the children have changed too. So has the teacher. It is a different concept from the kind of school where a teacher may teach Third Grade for thirty years, after a while possibly falling into a "routine" of teaching the same material the same way, no matter what the children may bring into the classroom, adapting only to material obtained from time to time through required "teacher refresher" courses mandated by the state. This repetition of material has as its very good intention the goal of making a teacher an "expert" in his or her field and niche of curriculum. It does not, however, failsafe against mistakes that the teacher may make, in some cases repeatedly. It does not guarantee the optimisation of student learning from year to year. It does not guarantee that every child in a public school will be understood and evaluated as an individual and that each child's strengths and weaknesses will be factored into the learning process by every teacher he meets in the course of eight years. Waldorf schools cannot make that guarantee, either. But the fact that the teacher must "live" with the results of his or her mistakes over the course of eight years and cannot pass them off to another teacher in the following year, means that the teacher is inherently making a committment to self evaluation and continued learning and growth. The smaller size of any private school and the more intimate working together of parents and teachers to promote and support the school offers the opportunity for more frequent dialogue and communication. It may also lead to more heartbreak when such communication breaks down, but it is a very human risk and must be weighed against the kind of state school system where the communication is less frequent and more artificially constructed and censored.

Waldorf Education requires the following principles, the three H's of education, from every one of its participants - parent or teacher:

Honesty - to be ruthlessly honest with one's self and tactfully honest with each other
Humility - to be ready to learn and adapt to what comes both from the children and from the community
Honor - to honor both the ideals which live in one's own heart, mind and soul and to honor what lives in the heart, mind and soul of the other, whether child or adult

To the extent to which any group that seeks to criticize or challenge the Waldorf School Movement and its Members, that group should adopt, promote and defend these three principles as well.

Christine Natale
February 8, 2004

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From: holderlin66
Date: Tue Mar 9, 2004 4:10 pm
Subject: Re: Cult - NOT

golden3

Stunning! Superb...thank-you Christine!

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From: golden3000997
Date: Wed Mar 10, 2004 4:46 am
Subject: Re: Cult - NOT

In a message dated 3/10/2004 3:32:33 AM Eastern Standard Time, awaldenpond writes:

Subj: Re: Cult - NOT
Date: 3/10/2004 3:32:33 AM Eastern Standard Time
From: walden
To: waldorf-critics@topica.com


Hi Christine,

I openly admit that I was involved in what I consider a "cult." It took a few years for the realization to reach the surface. Friends outside of the cult constantly asked about the meetings I attended regularly. I have no problem now seeing that entire experience for what it was. To deny the experience is to deny a few years of my life. The "cult" was anthroposophy and the outreach was Waldorf. I know many people who have similar feelings with regards to Waldorf/Anthroposophy - most of whom have no interest in PLANS. I am speaking of first hand conversations with people I know.

For what it's worth, I don't see the word "cult" as a bad thing. If it makes the experience more palatable for you I would offer "cult-like religious sect." Or perhaps an NRM (new religious movement).

If anthroposophy helps you make sense of your life - I respect that. I respectfully ask you, however, to respect my "cult experience" and get on with helping me share the very real impulse of anthroposophy and Waldorf education with those who need and deserve to understand such concepts. We seem to agree that such vital information is sadly lacking in Waldorf public relations.

You have not responded to previous posts and I am patiently waiting. Please, let's get on with it.

-Walden

Hello Walden,

No, I cannot "respect your 'cult experience' because you have not established for me or anyone else through recognized criteria that you were indeed involved in a "cult experience." The only sentence in your post above which you offer as an example of a phenomena that supports your assertion that your involvement with Waldorf Education was involvement with a "cult" is:

Friends outside of the cult constantly asked about the meetings I attended regularly.

Shall we start a list of groups and organizations, including every office I have ever worked in which involves their members attending regular meetings?

Please be so kind as to answer these six questions below, yes or no and if yes, please give me a concrete example of such.

As to answering your former questions, I will when I have time. I am answering many more on this site and on Anthroposophy Tomorrow and I have previously answered several of yours. One of your "questions in waiting" is for me to look at the list of "questions and answers" commonly given to incoming Waldorf parents and to see if some of the answers should be revised for more disclosure.

I answered you a while ago that I would try to find the time around mid-March and I asked you to also prepare the same list yourself, so that we can compare our answers. Have you been working on your list of answers?

I look forward to your answers to the six questions below.

Christine

Six important questions to everyone formerly or currently involved with a Waldorf School and/ or community. Can you provide me with an example in which, at any point in your connection with a Waldorf School or community you were ever asked to:

1. Join the Anthroposophical Society (other than if you had initiated the inquiry to do so yourself)

2. Make a financial donation or contribution to the Anthroposophical Society (directly - not money for school tuition or a solicitation for financial help for a particular project.)

3. Make any kind of pledge of money, property, allegiance or other item of value to the Anthroposophical Society or to the "Waldorf Movement" as a whole (other than paying tuition for school or solicitation for financial help for a particular project such as a building fund or aid to a school in need.)

4. Recruit family members, friends or strangers for membership in the Anthroposophical Society worldwide or the Anthropsophical Society of North America

or were you ever:

5. Told directly or indirectly that membership of yourself or any other member of your family in the Anthroposophical Society was a requirement of your child's enrollment in a Waldorf School.

6. Told that membership in any other religious, ethnic, political, philosophical or other social organization would be a condition that would prevent your child from being enrolled in a Waldorf School.

I would appreciate direct and honest answers to each of these questions. Not things like "Well, people looked at you funny if...." or "I was made to feel uncomfortable about....". I would like actual examples of any of these events taking place as I have outlined above.

I invite all other "Waldorf Critics" to answer these six questions directly as well. I have read lots of your stories (definitely not all of them, I know.) and I understand that many of you have "felt" "oppressive attitudes" (my paraphrase) and that sort of thing. What I am looking for are direct and concrete examples of the above.

Thank you in advance for your cooperation in this matter.

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From: golden3000997
Date: Wed Mar 10, 2004 4:50 am
Subject: Fwd: Cult - NOT

From: Dan Dugan
Date: Wed Mar 10, 2004 12:19 am
Subject: Re: Cult - NOT
To: waldorf-critics@topica.com

DAN DUGAN

Cult-like characteristics of Anthroposophy include:

CHRISTINE NATALE

Where do you get the definitions that you have listed?

From my experience. Those are my personal justifications for my opinion that Anthroposophy is cult-like. It was a cult while Steiner was alive. Now it's evolving, very slowly because it's very conservative, into a religion, but it still clings to most of its cult characteristics. The history of Mormonism makes a useful parallel.

-Dan Dugan

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From: Myaso
Date: Wed Mar 10, 2004 5:38 am
Subject: Re: [anthroposophy_tomorrow] Fwd: Cult - NOT

Hello golden3000997,

DAN DUGAN

Cult-like characteristics of Anthroposophy include:

CHRISTINE NATALE

Where do you get the definitions that you have listed?

From my experience. Those are my personal justifications for my opinion that Anthroposophy is cult-like. It was a cult while Steiner was alive. Now it's evolving, very slowly because it's very conservative, into a religion, but it still clings to most of its cult characteristics. The history of Mormonism makes a useful parallel.

ME:

So, you cannot prove it, if you cannot provide objective measurement system for the world view being religion or not, especially cult-like.

Okay.

So, I would say that your world view is cult-like religion.

Studying your letters for approximately 5 years, I found a lot of words that ensured me you yourself are involved in cult-like religion called PLANS.

First of all, let's use your recent arguments against you:

--Cult-like characteristics of PLANS include:

* It clings to rejected knowledge.
-- PLANS clings on the rejected issues like "Antropops are doing anything like Steiner said", however, Antropops are based on the doctrine to check anything; also PLANS are sure if you believe in God your own way - it is cult-like religion.

* It requires teachers to commit to the world-view for advancement in status. (WC mailing list)

* Its core doctrines are not published. (it does not even exist)

* It is exclusive. (only PLANS has true knowledge if Waldorf and Anthroposophy)

* It guards revelation of "difficult" knowledge. (that anything Anthroposophy is related is quite successful - even business)

* It is a closed system.
(PLANS is a California 501(c)(3) charitable non-profit corporation, look at their member's names
PLANS Membership (US dollars)
Member: $15 or more per year
Patron: $100 or more per year
Angel: $1000 or more for life)

* It uses jargon that redefines common terms. (their members use terms in their own desired meaning, for example, "cult-like religion", "sect")

* It maintains separation from the world by generating fear and loathing. (Denigrating waldorf schools, "us vs them" attitude, paranoia)

* It suppresses critical dialogue, resulting in elaboration but no development of theory. (Consensus government, "close the schools immediately", "sue me if you think I am wrong").

Thank you for providing useful list of your own way of judging world views. Despite it is completely wrong and useless, THE fact you provided it here shows internal uncertainty of PLANS in the core issues.

PS: I am NOT an Anthroposopher, either not member of opposite organization. I am just the independent watcher for some particular purposes. So, I would not say Steiner was right, I am just saying you are definitely wrong.

--
Best regards,
Myaso

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From: Frank Thomas Smith
Date: Wed Mar 10, 2004 8:13 am
Subject: RE: [anthroposophy_tomorrow] Cult - NOT

Beautiful, Christine. Thanks.

Frank

In their efforts to acquire a base of support for their legal efforts against Waldorf Charter Schools, PLANS has actively sought particular statements by Rudolf Steiner and passages from published books and books of lectures that can be interpreted to make Rudolf Steiner, the philosophical movement known as Anthroposophy and by association, the Waldorf School Movement to appear to be an elitist, racist organization that promotes a narrow world view that seeks to involve people in a cult movement.

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From: at
Date: Wed Mar 10, 2004 4:28 pm
Subject: Re: Cult - NOT

Daniel ruminates,

Personal opinions, personal definitions. I suppose the accepted definition of what constitutes a cult is too restricting for Mr. Dugan.

Now isn't it one characteristic of a cult that it redefines common terms to new meanings?

And anyway, what makes Mr. Dugan an expert on cults? So much an expert, indeed, that he feels qualified to redfine the term?

Daniel Hindes

----- Original Message -----

From: Dan Dugan
To: waldorf-critics@topica.com
Sent: Wednesday, March 10, 2004 3:19 AM
Subject: Re: Cult - NOT

DAN DUGAN

Cult-like characteristics of Anthroposophy include:

CHRISTINE NATALE

Where do you get the definitions that you have listed?

From my experience. Those are my personal justifications for my opinion that Anthroposophy is cult-like. It was a cult while Steiner was alive. Now it's evolving, very slowly because it's very conservative, into a religion, but it still clings to most of its cult characteristics. The history of Mormonism makes a useful parallel.

-Dan Dugan

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From: golden3000997
Date: Wed Mar 10, 2004 5:54 pm
Subject: Re: Cult - NOT

Hello Walden,

Having been a Waldorf Parent and (by your assertions) heavily involved in the Waldorf school and how it functioned, I should think that you have some idea of how those questions should be answered. If not, don't hold your breath waiting for me to do your "assignment." I was willing to put myself out for it, but only with an equal effort on your part.

I am still getting vagueness and "feelings" from you on the "cult" question. There are concrete definitions that are objective and able to be measured. If you will answer the direct questions I asked, then I will be able to evaluate those answers, or we can evaluate them together, against the established criteria. If you are not willing to answer those questions, then I can't take your assertions seriously. I have already acknowledged and sincerely sympathized with the fact that you and other have had some "bad experiences" with Waldorf. But translating those personal experiences into blanket indictments of the whole worldwide movement is to take upon yourselves the position of judge and jury. But no matter how a "judge" or "jury member" feels about a case, he or she must weigh the facts and evidence against law and precident and give as objective a judgement as possible.

If you consider my attitude toward your feelings "disrespectful" - consider the fact that by labeling Waldorf Education and the Anthroposophical Society as "cults" (in terms of the definitions which I have been able to find so far and am still researching), you are completely disrespecting the intelligence, autonomy, aesthetic awareness and independent reasoning ability of hundreds of thousands of people worldwide. This is a big hat to wear, Walden. Are you sure you are really up to it? Are you sure that your personal experience is the objective one and none of "our" experiences and thoughts are objective or have any independent perspective behind them?

I personally have had no contact whatsoever with any Waldorf or Anthroposophical person or organization for over 10 years before I joined a couple of internet groups in the past year. Wouldn't you think that no matter HOW "brainwashed" I could have been in the past, that a full decade would have been enough time to "recover" and to recognize the "terrible" effects it had on my life? And if not, why am I not "running back" to the "safety and security" of a Waldorf community of some sort, "confessing my sins of omission", "asking forgiveness" and to be "taken back into the fold"? Am I just plain "dumb" or what? Am I an ignorant person, Walden? Are my bookshelves full of NOTHING but Steiner books and do I run screaming from any discussion with a person who doesn't think like I do? Are the vastly differentiated life experiences that I have had over my 48 years and over all four corners of this country totally irrelevant to my life and totally invalid as tools for me to evaluate the meaning and purpose of Rudolf Steiner's influence in my life?

Have you heard the widely individualistic voices on Anthroposophy Tomorrow, Walden? Have you heard us argue among ourselves and even criticize each other's opinions and viewpoint? Have you gotten any glimpse of the amazing individuality between us all? In my opinion, no two voices among "us" sound the same - no two life stories are alike and there are extremely different streams of interest and discussion among "us". Does this speak to you at all about "cookie cutter" personalities or relationships with Rudolf Steiner's work?

In my opinion, there is vastly more similarity that I find in "your" group of critics among yourselves in tone, expression and even in the phrases "shared" between you all when arguing than I can perceive among the "Anthropops" on the AT site.

I have always respected your personal experience, Walden - yours and everyone else's who have expressed difficulties with Waldorf Education, generally or specifically. I have said so and spent time discussing those experiences seriously and with the attitude that they are real and valid. I have never indicated or suggested that anyone only "thought" they had those experiences because they were too stupid to see the truth or to understand what was "really going on." But I have found an appalling amount of disrespect being shown to me and to other who openly and honestly attempt to communicate on this forum, sometimes directly, sometimes by implication.

The charge of "cult" is very serious to me, Walden, as a true cult is the antithesis of human freedom. It involves surrendering one's intelligence and independent power of thought, discernment and critical judgement. It involves devotion based on faith alone and unquestioning allegiance. And it involves a surrendering of one's will to action and allowing that will to be placed in the service of an individual or group without any application of moral or ethical evaluation of that action. As a person who has spent 48 years rejecting anything in her life that could ask her or make her surrender her freedom in any of these areas, I have a passionate antipathy towards the level of self-righteousness exhibited among you who venture to "have pity" on me for my stupidity and blindness.

Get the log out of your own eyes before you start worrying about my splinters.

Christine Natale
March 10, 2004

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From: golden3000997
Date: Thu Mar 11, 2004 4:20 am
Subject: Fwd: Re Cult - NOT

From: Peter Farrell
Date: Wed Mar 10, 2004 10:35 pm
Subject: Re Cult - NOT
To: waldorf-critics@topica.com

Christine wrote (extracted from quite a long post to Walden):

But I have found an appalling amount of disrespect being shown to me and to other who openly and honestly attempt to communicate on this forum, sometimes directly, sometimes by implication.

Peter F. responds:

G'day Christine,

I am amazed that you think there is a lack of respect here compared to the stupidity that goes on over on AT. Contributors are treated with much more respect here than they are there, and yet you are complaining about a lack of respect here and not there. This makes no sense to me at all. Walden, among others, is universally respectful. I know you disagree with Peter Staudenmaier, but he is also always much more respectful of others' ideas and opinions than any of the Anthroposphist defenders have been of his.

I agree that the inhabitants of AT are a diverse bunch, but they do share in common this inability to dispassionately examine what it is that Steiner said and wrote. I can understand that the arguments about racism might be difficult. Arguments of the value of Steiner's work as a scientist ought not be.

I asked you earlier about whether St Michael or Steiner was the source of the "Warmth Course". In so far as the warmth course talks about science, it is almost completely wrong. There may be something correct in it but I am yet to find it. To be specific, in Lecture 2 (http://wn.elib.com/Steiner/Lectures/GA/GA0321/19200302a01.html) Steiner misstates and distorts well known science of the time. Johannes van der Waals won the 1910 Nobel Prize for his work on the equation of state for gases (see http://www.nobel.se/physics/laureates/1910/waals-lecture.pdf) His work gave the higher order corrections for gases that Steiner gives incorrectly as the change in volume. van der Waals work effectively refutes everthing Steiner says. No part of it is correct. As well the mathematical argument is just plain wrong. Either Steiner was largely ignorant of the scientific understanding of the time and went ahead anyway without any care for accuracy or any thought of his own limited understanding, or he has deliberately distorted it knowing it to be wrong. If the former is true, Steiner is guilty of arrogance, if the latter, he is guilty of dishonesty. All of the scientific work of Steiner that I have looked at, and for which I have some expertise, has this character. He is often inaccurate to the point of serious distortion, usually attached to some message related to his particular version of spirituality, and sometimes to a criticism of scientists of the time for their stupidity.

This says nothing about the truth or otherwise of any spiritual matters that arise in it. But it should act as a call to examine all of Steiner's work with some skepticism.

Respectfully, Peter

...................................................................................................................................

From: golden3000997
Date: Thu Mar 11, 2004 4:26 am
Subject: Fwd: Cult - NOT

From: walden
Date: Thu Mar 11, 2004 12:45 am
Subject: Re: Cult - NOT
To: waldorf-critics@topica.com

Christine wrote:

I am still getting vagueness and "feelings" from you on the "cult" question. There are concrete definitions that are objective and able to be measured. If you will answer the direct questions I asked, then I will be able to evaluate those answers, or we can evaluate them together, against the established criteria. If you are not willing to answer those questions, then I can't take your assertions seriously.

I already informed you that I am not interested in discussing whether you believe my experience. I offered two dictionary definitions ("anthroposophy" and "cult") to help you understand, yet I see no acknowledgement of this in your post.

I have already acknowledged and sincerely sympathized with the fact that you and other have had some "bad experiences" with Waldorf. But translating those personal experiences into blanket indictments of the whole worldwide movement is to take upon yourselves the position of judge and jury.

No, there was no blanket indictment on my part. You do not see Waldorf/Anthro as a cult - I do. You seem to see "cult" as evil - I don't. I have one friend who openly speaks of his time in Scientology as disturbing, yet good for him at the time (he *had* a drug problem and is now clean). His bottom line is that the "cult" helped him clean up. He has other things to say about the cult but over all - he thinks it might have saved his life. Another friend lived in a cult-like community for years (complete with real life guru) and while he finds it difficult to talk about some of the goings on, he does not see his time there as wasted or demonic. This friend was later involved in anthroposophy and sees it as "cult-like." Again, I am not here to judge you or anthroposophy, Christine.

If you consider my attitude toward your feelings "disrespectful" - consider the fact that by labeling Waldorf Education and the Anthroposophical Society as "cults" (in terms of the definitions which I have been able to find so far and am still researching), you are completely disrespecting the intelligence, autonomy, aesthetic awareness and independent reasoning ability of hundreds of thousands of people worldwide. This is a big hat to wear, Walden. Are you sure you are really up to it?

You did not read what I wrote, Christine. Please try again. I never said or inferred everyone affiliated with Waldorf education belongs to a cult. Many people are not directly involved and simply see it as the best option at a particular time. Please read what I do write. Or leave it and let's work on what we agree needs to be done regarding Waldorf PR. BTW, hundreds of thousands? You might want to check the membership of the AS.

Wouldn't you think that no matter HOW "brainwashed" I could have been in the past, that a full decade would have been enough time to "recover" and to recognize the "terrible" effects it had on my life?

I did not suggest you are "brainwashed and did not use the words you "quote" above and continue with in the rest of your post.

Am I just plain "dumb" or what? Am I an ignorant person, Walden? Are my bookshelves full of NOTHING but Steiner books and do I run screaming from any discussion with a person who doesn't think like I do?

You're losing me here. You seem to have misconstrued my post and seem upset and that is not a good thing if we are to work together. FWIW, I did not say you were "dumb" or ignorant. Actually, I complimented you on your writing.

I feel that we are being pulled away from something tangible and meaningful. Let's work with the FAQ's, shall we?

-Walden

...................................................................................................................................

From: VALENTINA BRUNETTI
Date: Thu Mar 11, 2004 6:07 am
Subject: R: [anthroposophy_tomorrow] Fwd: Re Cult - NOT

----- Original Message -----

Tks again a lot Christine.

In the fwd'd message we can see another favourite riff of the "Cthulhu Heads Band", Namely "Steiner as incorrect scientist".

How does it play ? It's enough to counter Steiner's statement hiding oneself behind some "big fish" authority in this case a "Nobel Prize":- and we all know what was is the accuracy and seriousness of the "lottery" (how E:Fermi called it) and most of all the everlasting objective scientific value of the "discoveries "- shake it welll and oh-la-la-la !! the drink is on the table.

So everyone is able to claim that Steiner was:
"racist and co-founder of volkisch movement"
"incorrect scientist"
"twister of christian religion "
"false physician"
"false architect" (this is a little more difficult to demonstrate but, shake it!, and some WC-head able to "demonstrate" that the Goetheanum did fall due to RS's inaccuracy and was NOT burnt will be surely found)
"incorrect philosopher"
Again.

He was also :
"ignorant of every agricultural practice " (in spite of his close friendship with Hess, Darrè and Mara Von Pisel whose cousin Heinz was the doorkeeper of an aunt who had married in her first wedding Goebbel's neighbour Herr. Strudel)
"jew"
"anti-jew"
"bolshevik"
"Workers' Class enemy"
"atheist"
"bigot"
"magician"
" absolutely deprived of any magick"
and so on and on and on ..........

Andrea

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