shepherds and kings
- part one: a modern tale of heresy -
by Joel A. Wendt
Two Thousand years ago, on the occasion of a Birth, two
archetypal groups crossed paths. I say archetypal, because it is crucial to understanding these events to
recognize that God too writes Dramas in the Events of the Creation, and
if we really wish to understand these Arts, we must see (think and
feel) them as speaking in far broader terms than has so far been the
case in our overly intellectual Age, which reduces far too much to mere
The Kings and the Shepherds in the Good News stories are
not incidental players in the Greatest of Plays.
Significance is given to the Shepherds in two ways.
One is that they were informed of the Event via the intersession
of an Angel. Secondly, the idea of a shepherd and his flock
became a main element of many of the parables, such that today we fully
recognize the significance of the Pastor (the Shepherd) and his/her
relationship to the spiritual support of their charges (their flock).
The Kings true significance seems lost, although it
should not have been had the course taken - by the leaders of the early
Church in the first five centuries following the Play - been different.
There are no parables regarding Kings, and perhaps too much
speculation as to their possible true names and fancied history.
We do need to remark and note that the Kings came to
knowledge of the Event in a way quite distinct from that of the
Shepherds. They needed no Angel, but had their own Way of
Knowing, which is represented symbolically in the Story of their
following the Star.
The early Church, when it was drawn into the politics of
the first centuries following the Event by the Roman Emperor
Constantine, participated in the conscious eradication of the ancient
mystery religions ... that is, they destroyed as far as possible the
older religious world from which the Kings had come. The Gospel
writers included the Kings, as a genuine and important element of the
Play, but the early Church was reactively jealous of these ancient and
once revered religious Ways, and went out of its way to tear down
temples, burn libraries and murder adherents.
As Rome fell, and the Church became even more powerful in
earthly affairs, this destruction of all thought that might compete
with Church doctrine continued, and thus was driven from the world the
last vestiges of the Pagan Mysteries, while at the same time their
truth was denied and the term pagan turned into a sign for a heathen,
suggesting that the falsely assumed polytheism of the Kings Stream of
Wisdom was inferior in truth, and unsophisticated in presence.
Yet, the Gospels pointed out something that has been
forgotten. The Kings came to the Event, and offered gifts of
sacrifice ... they did not oppose what was to come, but celebrated it
and when given an opportunity to betray the Birth to earthly powers,
did not and disappeared from the Story and into the Mists of Time, as
was later so eloquently captured in the novel by Marion Zimmer Bradly: The Mists of Avalon (where Christianity on arriving in England came to
destroy there as well the ancient mysteries of the Gods and the
One thousand years after the Event, on the occasion of
the beginning of the Second Millennium after Christ, another meeting
between Shepherds and Kings took place, during the building and
inhabiting of Chartres. The Story of this gathering can be found
included in the book by Renee Querido: The Golden Age of Chartres. How are we to see this?
The Ancient (Pagan) Mysteries were systems of initiation
and not only had unusual points of view, but also taught how the Priest
and Priestesses could come to a direct experience of the Divine.
Few were able to join in these deeper mysteries, and most
ordinary people, as well as aristocrats (Constantine was an exception),
prayed and worshiped as instructed by the initiate Priests, to which
the Story gives the name: Kings. Let us borrow another name and
call this process of direct knowing: Gnosis.
At the time of the beginning of the Second Millennium,
practitioners of Gnosis meet at Chartres with practitioners of Faith.
Christian Faith had replaced the older Way of Gnosis, and
the Church founded on Peter, and defined by Paul, needs to be seen as a
spiritual advancement over the Goddess Mysteries and their relatives.
We could appreciate this in the following way ...
The Pagan Mysteries had acquired too much social power
for the Priests and Priestesses, including on occasion at least the
appearance of magical powers. Part of the social work of Christ
was to begin the dissolving of this no longer viable distribution of
spiritual gifts (including powers), pointed to by Christ when he spoke
of the Law and the Prophets, concerning which He promised their fulfillment. This was done when He reduced the Law and the
Prophets to two commands: To love God with all our heart and all our minds and all
our spirit; and, to love each other as we love ourselves.
In a real way the authority of the Priests/Priestesses is
thereby lessened, and the self sufficiency of the laity enhanced.
Religious life and practice evolves (just as human consciousness
evolves and changes over time), and this was the beginning of an
extraordinary change in the nature of the relationship between
adherents and Priests. One thousand years ago at Chartres this
was noted as a few of the leaders of the stream of the Kings (the
wisdom of Gnosis) met for a time with a few of the leaders of the
stream of the Shepherds (the wisdom of Faith).
At the same time, the earthly religious institution that
was the Church continued to define and punish heresy. There was
no love or forgiveness for the spiritually different. Yet, if we
are awake to it we can see that in this stream of heretical
Christianity flowed the life blood of the ancient Kings wisdom, as it
too evolved in accord with the needs of humanity. Essenes,
Goddess worshipers, Gnostics, Manicheans, then a gap of darkness after
which appears the Tarot, then Alchemy, then Rosicrucianism, then Free
Masonry, Romanticism, Transcendentalism and finally in the 20th
Century: Anthroposophy and a revival of Tarot, called: Christian
Two main wisdom streams exist within and around
Christianity today: the non-heretical Faith based Catholic and
Protestant churches, and the heretical Gnosis based, almost new-agey,
efforts to revive goddess religions and magic and alchemy and tarot,
with the most modern (due to its integration with the Way of Knowledge
of Science): Anthroposophy.
We are now on the cusp of the Third Millennium after
Christ, and involved in another effort to bring into contact with each
other: the wisdom of the Shepherds and the wisdom of the Kings, fully
recognized in the beginning by the writers of Gospels, many of which,
if they had a gnostic-bent, were excluded when the early Church created
the institutionally-correct (but spiritually censored) New Testament.
Today once more the remaining clinging remnants of the
still aging overly male authority of Priests and Pastors is being
challenged, and not outside the wisdom of the Shepherds, but rather
right inside faith-based systems, where, for example the laity seeks
not only the ordination of women and gays and lesbians, but to be able
to practice morality rooted only in personal conscience and not defined
by doctrine. The real demand for intercourse between the
faith-nature wisdom of the Shepherds, and the gnosis-nature wisdom of
the Kings, comes from ordinary people, who are finding their
faith/beliefs under assault by natural science, and by atheists, but
most particularly by the demonstrated and continuous hypocrisy of far
too many church leaders, whether Catholic or Protestant.
Religious wars smolder beneath the social surfaces of
modern life. Atheism, in this sense, is also a religion - a kind
of anti-religion. Like its underpinnings - scientific materialism
- the anti-Christ spirit, which the first two John Letters describe as
being in denial of the Father and the Son, is fully in play in modern
The fundamental question is not which side is one on,
whether a believer in an ideological Faith, or someone more drawn to
deeper spiritual freedom (another underpinning of modern atheism), but
rather whether or not God is to be recognized as having already begun
to speak into the situation.
The first meeting/crossing of Shepherds and Kings took
place in the middle-East, two thousand years ago. A thousand
years ago the scene had shifted westward to Chartres, just as Christian
Civilization itself spread most strongly westward. Now the scene
shifts again further westward (crossing the Atlantic), and
institutional Shepherd wisdom in such places as the Harvard Divinity
School in Cambridge lies only a few miles away from a ongoing marriage
between Transcendentalism and Anthroposophy - the Kings once more -
that is taking place in contemporary Concord. Each millennium
begins with the same spiritual (yet constantly evolving) note/tone - an
encounter between the archetypes of Shepherds and Kings in relation to
the advancing and also evolving mysteries of Christ. The
Revelations of Christ did not stop with what was gathered into the New
On the cusp of the beginning of the Third Millennium,
Faith and Gnosis confront each other across a few miles of physical
space, but perhaps tragically across eons of intellectual space.
Emerson tried to be of both the Shepherds and Kings, but could
not yet bring it about, although the two impulses lived deeply in his
soul. Today, via this and other works, the most modern (and
scientific) King’s wisdom seeks contact with a few of the leading
elements of the Shepherd’s wisdom, by submitting this essay to a
Divinity School publication.
Dominance by the King’s wisdom is not sought.
Rather the King’s wisdom merely wants to serve - to Wash the Feet, recognizing that the wisdom of true Faith is still to
lead the way. New Revelation exists. God is speaking into
our times, everywhere - not just to the wisdom stream of the Kings.
What harm can come from a quiet dialog that wills to leap the meaning-gap that presently exists between Shepherds and Kings - not
seeking pride of place, but rather only wishing to provide
service to all?
There is more ...
part two: belief, faith and knowledge
Three words, which all ought to each mean something
different and distinct, but for a lot of people they don’t in practice.
Someone will have beliefs. These may be quite
definite, and could be written down on paper (sometimes requiring books
to elaborate). They will also call this list of beliefs their
faith, not making any distinction at all, as if belief and faith were
the same states of soul/mind. In addition people act on this set
of ideas (their beliefs or faith) as if they represented knowledge of
the real nature of the world.
So we have then a set of concepts/ideas, that is beliefs,
which we also think of as defining the content of our faith.
Then, just to make things even more ironic (the hallmark of our
age in its overly intellectualized religious sense), we act upon the
world as if this set of ideas factually represented existential reality
in the same way that we might have knowledge of real matters of concern
(such as how to help a woman give birth to a child). This really
gets troubling when this faith/belief is used to trump common sense
medical treatment for that same child, or seeks to insert itself into
the heart of everyone’s (including non-Christians) shared
From Frank Herbert’s original Dune novel: “When religion and politics travel in the same cart, the riders believe nothing can stand in their way. Their movement become[s] headlong - faster and faster and faster. They put aside all thought of obstacles and forget that a precipice does not show itself to the man in a blind rush until it is too late.”
Faith, during this transformation via belief, becomes a thing.
This is not a small point.
The words: my faith, for example, treats faith as a noun and not a verb.
I possess my faith, or my beliefs, and in my undisciplined
thinking about this I soon can no longer make a distinction.
Christ didn’t say, by the way: I am the Way, the Belief, and the Life. He used the words: the Truth.
I also don’t think (as in believe) St. Paul in 1
Corinthians 13 meant to use faith as a noun. Faith, Hope and
Charity (or Love, if you want to go that way), are actions, not
abstract things - verbs, not nouns.
Because we can (not everyone does this, obviously) treat
our faith then as a thing, it also can become some-thing
we possess. And, like any-thing
we possess we can feel threatened if it is threatened. A
little common sense psychology reveals to us that our egotism can be
offended if something we think we possess is endangered. In our
consciousness, by the way, to denude an object of perception (make it a
thing), whether a physical object (such as a physically
attractive woman) or an ideal object (a thought), is to loose the
connection to its real relationship to the Mystery. A culture in
love with things looses the dynamic relationship to the depths of meaning hidden in its religions (which has to include large
parts of natural science).
Wars and violence grow out of this process, for there are
lots of things we seek to own and to possess, whose protection will
also lead that way. Religious beliefs are just one flavor.
Nationalism is another. Property another. A spouse is
another, or a car. Or drugs or money.
We have come to a time where we need to once again
disentangle belief and faith. Faith, to me, is trust in the
Divine. Like the 23rd Psalm: The Lord is my shepherd, I
shall not want. A belief is a thing
in the form of a thought-content, such as believing Joseph Smith
received genuine revelations from God. Yet, if I transfer my
faith in God to another human being, have I not lost something?
Does it make any sense, in terms of the real potential meaning of
Faith - as trust in the Divine, to give that same trust to Reverend
Moon, or L. Ron Hubbard, or even to the Pope in Rome, or to my
Then there is knowledge, which ought not to be the same as belief or faith, - or
different words will soon have no different meaning whatsoever, and
religious expression will continue to descend (as it has already
started and keeps tending) into some form of unreasoning passion rooted
too strongly in the dark sub-conscious of our nature. The new
atheists are right about a lot of stuff for which they criticize
conventional religion (although they have no real idea of what it means
to be authentically
religious). They are also wrong,
as well, about what science really does and can do, much the same way
the traditionally religious have erroneously assumed that science has
gotten a great deal correct. In point of fact, once we bring to
the fore the evolving Kings Wisdom stream, a great realignment of
scientific thought will be the result, without any damage being done to
the idea of the scientific method (as a Way of Knowledge) itself.
Recall that Christianity, via the Roman Church, has/had
pretty much murdered for centuries all non-official belief systems of thought in Western Civilization, starting with
destroying the Pagan Mysteries in the 4th Century. We killed as
heretics: Essenes, Goddess worshipers, Gnostics, Manicheans,
practitioners of the Tarot, alchemists, natural philosophers,
Rosicrucians, and for a while even Free Masons. In the 19th
Century the Romantics and the Transcendentalists got a bit of a free
pass, but 20th Century systems of direct knowledge of the Divine (which
was the real “sin” or heresy of all of the above points of view), among
such as Anthroposophy, or Christian Hermeticism - we find no sign of
those in modern divinity schools like the one at Harvard.
We might get a Zen study group or some such about Eastern
spiritual wisdom, but the direct knowledge systems of thought from
Western culture are not on the Divinity School menu. The
reality is that these black-sheep cousins of exoteric Christianity (in
the form sometimes called: esoteric Christianity) are shunned in our
temples of religious learning. Mainstream Christianity, no
loner able to burn its heretics at the stake, now just ignores them
and/or defines them as of the devil, or anti-Christ and so forth.
When there is confusion about the distinction between
belief and faith, coupled with a need to protect what the egotistical
mind possesses, which it calls its belief or faith, a system promising
direct knowledge of the Divine is not very likely to get paid much
attention. It is too attractive in a way - too dangerous,
to challenging, perhaps to some even seductive.
Its alright for the cultural East to have Masters of
spiritual knowledge, but not the cultural West - too much competition
for the holders and guardians of systems and doctrines dependent upon a
confusion of beliefs and faith. The Roman Church locks up
their individuals with direct experience of the Divine into convents
and monasteries. Certain elements of protestant Christianity have
labeled the New Age (which is often about direct experience and
knowledge) as some form of devil worship, while at the same time
celebrating ecstatic and charismatic practices.
Okay to jump and shout in tongues, but please don’t
combine the rational, and the scientific with the Mystery.
Take now a closer look at Anthroposophy and Rudolf
Steiner. This man gave 6000 lectures in the first quarter
of the 20th Century, mostly in Central Europe, and wrote dozens of
books, the beginning ones placing his work right in the middle of the
ongoing philosophical discussions borne in the heart of the triumph of
materialistic (all is matter, there is no spirit) Natural Science.
His early books showed how to heal this split between Science and
Religion - between knowledge and belief/faith - but so far only a very
few have noticed. Steiner’s work then gave birth over time to
considerable practical arts, such as: Waldorf Schools, Biodynamic
Agriculture, Goethean Science, Anthroposophical Medicine, Camphill
Communities and much more. Celebrated people in the humanities,
such as Owen Barfield and Noble Prize winer Saul Bellow, have clearly
confessed to being inspired by Steiner.
The future will call this work: New Revelation.
This does not appear as a kind of “you should believe him",
by the way. Steiner called this Revelation: Spiritual Science. It involved providing considerable testable
details as to the underlying spiritual means by which the Creation
manifests in all features of our shared human existence. 6000
lectures and 30 plus books of details. It has been around
for almost 100 years, and all we moderns have to do is Google it and
the evidence of its practical success is everywhere.
Meanwhile mainstream Christianity looks the other way.
Heaven help us all if God decides to speak somewhere
outside the confines of a sometimes incoherent book that everyone likes
to interpret their own way. That is a big flaw in the
faith/belief world by the way - this putting the Mystery inside the
jail of a book only interpretable by human beings, most of whom don’t
agree with each other. No wonder modern atheists find so much
with which to dis-agree.
But knowledge - direct experience of the Divine in the
Age of Science - please save our beliefs from that - we just aren’t
ready to surrender them - our egos can’t handle it. Be dangerous
to even admit the existence of Anthroposophy and/or Christian
Hermeticism (including a marvelous update of Alchemy) - might call into
questions matters far beyond what modern atheists now question.
Perhaps what might be called real Anthroposophy - as against what is practiced today by
the so-called Anthroposophical Society (when Steiner died, the Society
he fostered fell into disarray) - has solutions for all kinds of
problems facing modern humanity. Maybe it isn’t about what
Steiner or his students do or do not do, but about what the world of
Spirit Itself offers to us today, transcendent of the confines of the
Bible - both Old and New Testament. If there is New Revelation,
isn’t that a reward for two millennia of true Faith? Doesn’t
humanity need for science and religion to no longer be antagonistic?
Why have we imprisoned the Revelations of God in a Book?
How will people know? What would happen if a
Divinity School publication published this little piece, and a dialog
ensued? Would the world come to an end? Only one way
to find out.
part three: a new Way of religious mastery
We know generally the idea of the guru - the spiritual or
religious master mostly honored in the Cultural East. In the
Cultural West we do have saints, and other revered figures of different
kinds, but not quite the same idea as the Zen Master, or the Yoga
Master, or the Sufi Master or the Tibetan Lama. We may know the
idea of enlightenment, and may even pursue such a goal ourselves, while
at the same time on occasion recognizing in some other human being that
they possess such a status.
Sometimes we think these matters are about wisdom as
well. In the West we do revere wisdom if we can find it, but like
beauty wisdom seems really to only exist in the eye of the beholder.
Where one person sees a wise man, another sees a charlatan and a
fake, or perhaps even a fool. An odd kind of reverence of this
type can be found in those Christian circles where the assumed more
pure and developed human being will be called: godly.
In general, human beings do elevate others, often above
themselves, and also often above others. In one of the spiritual arts of the West, but at the same time rather unknown in the West, this process of elevation is recognized to be
a by-product of a particular thinking-mode that can be called: comparative thinking (one among several other thinking-modes).
We think one thing is better than another thing, unless we
discover a reason to distinguish the two in the folk wisdom we call: its really just apples and
oranges. Not everything that seems
similar can really be compared.
When a person raises themselves up in this way, this is
called in the Cultural West: inflation of the ego. Clearly
someone who calls themselves a Master has demonstrated a quality that
brings that judgment itself into question.
Suppose we change the criteria in a way, and think not of
attainment (such as satori or enlightenment) but of skills, and crafts
and arts. This kind of thinking can step past the need to elevate
another person, but rather recognizes different levels of skills, not
unlike what distinguishes one fiddle player from another, both of whom
remain clearly human. What I am suggesting here is the idea that
spiritual development can lead to different levels of skill, craft and
art, such that we don’t have to think comparatively that this or that
person is a saint or a master, or more godly than another.
Rather they are just better at something - more experienced
perhaps - in the same way we seek out a good mechanic for the care of
There is a major difference in this regard between the
Cultural East and the Cultural West that is especially worthy of being
noted. In the West, those who are more experienced or more
skilled at the religious or spiritual arts, generally do not teach self-development, as do the various guru folk or masters of
the East. If they do point out self-development matters, this is
a by-product as it were of something else.
Take for example the Englishman Owen Barfield, who lived
from 1898 to 1997 or most of the 20th Century. If we
investigated him carefully we would find that in addition to his
avocation as a student of philology (he earned his living as an English
country solicitor - a lawyer), he also practiced various spiritual arts
such as meditation and so forth. It would, by the way, be
difficult to find any writer on the study of language and meaning as
well versed and as well rounded as he was. His earliest book
Diction - a study in meaning, written in his
late twenties (published originally in 1928) is extraordinary and
illuminating in a way that the rest of us may be centuries catching up
To place him more into our conventional cultural
awareness, Barfield was a member of the Inklings, a group that meet weekly at Oxford for a decade or more
that included J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis and Charles Williams.
They read to each other their work, and the
cross-fertilization of this circle of literary friends has contributed
much to our shared culture in the West, that well might not have
Yet, if we reach beneath the surface of this productive
life we find someone, who in terms of their skill, craft and art as a
religious person, is of the same level as that which we recognize in
the Cultural East when we correctly see someone as an authentic
spiritual Master. What is the essential difference here between
East and West?
In the Cultural East the object of much depth spiritual
teaching is self-development. The seeker pursues attainment in the
form of enlightenment or satori, and if successful then becomes another
teacher of this elevated spiritual life. In the Cultural West (in
general) the skilled individual produces work for the benefit of
others - we could see this as involving a desire to add to human
knowledge. This effort is not directed at an attainment for the self, but rather in accord with the impulse known in
Christianity as Washing
the Feet, it involves service to others - to
This we see in the life of Owen Barfield - service rooted
in spiritual skills, crafts and arts, but not done in a way where we
have to see him as a spiritual master. He is just a very good
student of language and meaning, and far far ahead of most of his
contemporaries in this realm. He does have much to teach us, but
not from an elevated spiritual or religious position. Being any
kind of guru has no meaning for him at all, although he is also a very
good student of the mind - of the life of soul and spirit in its
broader and little known Christian sense.
So we don’t pass this “Christian sense” behind, let me
give just one example.
Our consciousness (soul) contains within it our world
view, a sometimes complex self-created paradigm of ideas and beliefs we
create as explaining the world to us. It is possible to sacrifice fully this world view - to surrender it, such that it no longer arises in our consciousness
(soul), unless our self-consciousness (spirit) intentionally calls it
forth from that aspect hidden deeply in my thinking where my I (my
spirit) is directly connected to what the ancients might have called
the uncreated, or the unformed - the source of creation. In these inner disciplines of
sacrifice and surrender we find some of the “Christian” elements
of these new religious mystery practices (blessed are the poor
in spirit - that is blessed are those who have learned to sacrifice and
surrender their individual world view so that the Breath may speak
directly into this empty thinking).
Now I am not saying self-development in the East is worse
or better than the Washing of the Feet in the West - but rather just
pointing out an apples and oranges difference.
Of course, it would be easy for the reader of this to
find among their own favorites those to whom they might wish to apply
the term: master. Is there something about Barfield, or
perhaps some others, that allows a certain distinction to be made?
Again, we are in danger if we make this distinction out
of the mode of comparative thinking, for it needs to be understood that
I have a specific quality toward which I wish to point. This,
however, requires a few background statements to advance.
One of Barfield’s special graces was to introduce us in
the most remarkable fashion to the idea of the evolution of consciousness. Few people fully appreciate the fact that the
consciousness of human beings in the past was not the same as it is
today. Barfield, in his book Saving the Appearances: a
study in Idolatry, calls this lack of
That it is assumed almost by everyone, however, is of no
moment once we actually investigate the facts. All the facts
point otherwise, and in Barfield’s studies of changes over time in
language and meaning he can trace this evolution of consciousness into
very fine details.
This means that the human being at the time of Christ’s
Incarnation did not see the world the way we do today, nor was the
nature of his inwardness kin to ours at all. In Barfield’s History in English Words, he points out, for example, that our modern sense of self-consciousness is only recent, and in fact the words used
to express that did not exist 250 years ago. There are many
implications of this fact, but for our purposes I only want to point
out one of them.
The modern spiritual potential in thinking has only
become possible in the last couple of hundred years - as it is a
function of this evolution of consciousness. We find the instincts for it in
the Romantics and the Transcendentalists (Coleridge and Emerson, for
example). Rudolf Steiner worked out a way to marry this
already ongoing spiritual transformation of thinking to the underlying
principles of natural science.
This is a new inward skill, craft and art, which can be
called: the Mystery of Thinking. Steiner’s books on this are: A Theory of Knowledge
Implicit in Goethe’s World Conception; Truth and Knowledge; and, The Philosophy of Spiritual Activity. Success in this endeavor brings one to a direct
and self-conscious experience of the Divine in an entirely new Way,
never before understood or sought within any prior tradition.
This is religious, scientific and artistic mastery all
rolled into one. However, while it is probably the most important
discovery of the dawn of the Third Millennium, it is entirely possible
that few people will bother themselves to makes its acquaintance.
Normal thinking is easy, and can be won with just a decent
two or three cups of coffee. Spiritual thinking is a whole other
task, and since it doesn’t arise unless we choose to pull it out of
ourselves, only a few may trouble themselves to make the journey, even
though for a lot of people it is far easier than they yet imagine.
Americans, for example, have a instinct for it, and we can find
evidence of the emergence of this new thinking everywhere once we know
how to look for it.
As a result, some people will read such as Barfield and
others, gaining thereby some hints of what is possible, but we have yet
no idea of how many of those will go on to the trouble of learning to
do this new thinking religious mastery
themselves. The crucial matter to recognize is that we
don’t do this bothersome task for ourselves, but for the Thou.
That’s why it is related to Washing the Feet. Its not about
me - its about the
If we look at the history of Western Civilization, we
find along side the appearance and development of non-heretical
Christianity (the Roman Church and then later protestantism), a
heretical Christianity - a long sequence of Ways in which direct
knowledge was pursed, such that doctrines competitive with traditional
dogma were systematically destroyed, their authors tortured and/or
killed as long as those dark deeds continued to be historically and
Today heretical Christianity is merely shunned. All
the same, the sequence of seeming differing aspects of heretical
Christianity needs to be appreciated as something that is akin to a
powerful undercurrent, that rises into view for a time, takes on a
specific shape or form, and yet in spite of the different names given
historically to this undercurrent when it becomes visible, it is
essentially the same human impulse in all cases: the
hunger for direct spiritual experience (gnosis), outside of
systems of faith.
The names, whether Gnosticism, Tarot, Alchemy or today’s
Anthroposophy, are not really relevant. What is relevant is that
each appearance is progressive and brings something new, something
modern or related to the time in which it first appears. The
human impulse seeking for systematic direct experience adapts itself to
the time, and this is the basic reason for the superficial differences.
The language of Alchemy, modernized, can be found in
Catherine MacCoun’s remarkable: On Becoming an Alchemist. At the same time, this language is rooted in a
past that is now gone, and is very much not the same as the
Anthroposophy - the new Mystery of Thinking - as discovered by Rudolf
Causal explanations for these differences can be found in the study of Owen Barfield’s works, such as History, Guilt and Habit. In that book he illuminates modern existence in the light of what changes in language and meaning can provide. He goes so far as to suggest that what we today label as mental disorders are frequently rooted in the dissonance between the non-spiritual image of the human being, fostered by natural science, and the human beings own experience of himself. The paradigm of materialism (its anti-Christ spirit that denies the Father and the Son), runs against the grain of what the human being actually experiences within their own inwardness, with the result that inner conflict arises.
Our modern culture has been driving the philosophically
unsophisticated young into inner disharmony, because they cannot
reconcile even the self-evident existence of an inner life with the
insistence of natural science that our mind and sense of self is really
only an illusory by-product of a physical brain, born through a long
term process rooted in chance and accident. While the mind
naturally seeks everywhere meaning, the dominant paradigm of modern
culture says there is no such meaning. The resulting internal
conflict in many cases leads to illnesses, passions and addictions
whose symptoms appear in the life of spirit and soul.
Scientific materialism (all is matter, there is no
spirit) is a lie (anti-Christ spirit) with disastrous consequences.
We desperately need new knowledge - New Revelation.
Almost all social disharmonies, which are everywhere today,
reflect this loss of meaning fostered by an out of control natural
science, and burned into the minds of the young through education.
At the same time, the approach of systems of belief (masking the
reality of true Faith) are not actually capable of healing this
widespread social dis-ease of loss of meaning, because they refuse to
do anything other than demand a substitution of one weak doctrine
(rigid belief without true Faith) for another (all is matter, there is
no spirit). Modern atheism among the young is a valid effort to
balance this disharmony. To them, religion has failed, and their
only other viable choice presently is materialistic science,
unfortunately itself just another kind of disaster.
This kind of present day abstract and arid Christian
religion cannot do other than oppose that kind of science, for rigid
belief is in its own way a kind of religious materialism, and the lack
of trust in the Divine (no New Revelation is possible) is also a denial
of the Spirit. The anti-Christ spirit rules everywhere, even
among many Christian believers, as the writer of the John Letters
pointed out 2000 years ago.
All the same, many “Christians” sense these problems even
if they cannot yet precisely articulate them. Something is
missing, but just what is it?
Meanwhile, down the road in what can seem like a galaxy
far far away, the new Gnosis - the New Mystery of Thinking - awaits,
its skilled individuals assured in their understanding, and having no
need to dominate others. All we want to do is serve.
The New Revelation has produced a whole host of gifts,
for the benefit of all aspects of modern civilization, not just
traditional Christians. Further, this Revelation makes no demands
for servitude, no demands to be authoritative. Its essential
philosophical presentation is called (sometimes) The Philosophy of Freedom. We only draw from this new well of wisdom (the
return of the Kings) to the degree we wish. A Feast has been
prepared, the table is set - one hundred years of slowly ripening and
tested New Revelation, carried mostly by the Society Dr. Steiner
fostered a century ago. The only thing yet to happen is for the
prodigal sons and daughters to come home - to seek reintegration -
reunion/gnosis - with the Divine.
Not as something other than or distinct from Faith by the
way, but rather out of Faith - trusting that the Divine has kept the
promise made 2000 years ago: to return in clouds of glory and to be with us until the
ends of time. The Kings are in the Good
News stories for a reason.
The means for this is only as far away as the yet unknown
spiritual depths of your own mind - where through conscious spiritual
thinking, that is symbolized by the words: the clouds of glory, our mind’s spiritual depths can be directly known.
[I Corinthians 13: 11-12] When I was a child, I talked
like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I
became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. For now we see
only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I
know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
[John 3: 6-8] “What’s born of the flesh is flesh, and what’s born of the
breath is breath. Don’t be amazed because I told you you have to be
born again. The wind blows where it will and you hear the sound of it,
but you don’t know where it comes from or where it goes; its the same
with everyone born of the breath.”