Or: An Open Letter on the Salvation of the World
This Page is in process of a regrettable Deconstruction.
The Deconstruction will be ongoing over the days ahead.
We will explain the reasons for this regrettable Deconstruction and aim for a Reconstruction with most of this material and indeed expanded on.
Until that happens, the Page below may become increasingly cryptic in certain places at least, though hopefully meaningful content will remain.
My apologies for any inconvenience which has been due to unforeseen circumstances, which have brought me distress – though perhaps not as much as the distress I may have caused (?)
Again, some explanation will be forthcoming (perhaps in a new weblog entry).
Meanwhile, my latest entry on Steiner, Tomberg and Belloc continues with some of the themes from this page – RB.
Dear X (and All who share Similar Concerns to her)
This post, as my subtitle above says, is an Open Letter to you, in response to your recent searching and thoughtful comments at this website.
It began, in fact, as responses in the comments boxes themselves, but has grown too big for that. Thus I am dedicating an entire post to some very important and serious things that you raise.
In fact, these things are central to my whole life and are at the heart of this website.
They include concern about the New Age movement, for as you know, I am a former member of Findhorn, who is now deeply troubled that the New Age is burying Christianity.
They also include the Catholic Church, the Way of the Heart and indeed as you have put it, ‘the salvation of the world’.
In connexion with all of these, you have invoked Valentin Tomberg, the former Anthroposophist who converted to Catholicism.
What has emerged in response to you is quite lengthy, but hopefully it will help if I break it down into sections – and so I commence with such.
Valentin Tomberg and the Way of the Heart
Now, not only has Tomberg featured strongly in your responses, but you have spoken of him as a ‘great mentor’ and have quoted his pre-Catholic Anthroposophical writings – writings which moreover he renounced and did not wish to be republished. I am concerned by this and will say more on that in a moment.
However, I want to begin with something, where we share, I think, deep and sympathetic accord.
For while we disagree on many things, I feel an essence in what you write, which moves me deeply. It is an essence I shall call the Way of the Heart. I feel this repeatedly in what you write, for example in your words regarding the cognition of the Heart:
[See Apologia above]
May I say that it was this quality of warmth and the heart in Tomberg’s work that as a New Ager, first drew me powerfully to Valentin Tomberg, as I indicate in my review of his Meditations on the Tarot, where I wrote:
In my experience, to engage sincerely with this book is to engage with more than a book. It is to engage with a living spiritual saint, master and genius of the highest order. A very human being, with the warmest of hearts, the most lucid of minds. A profound, profound thinker whose heart, burning with compassion for the world, gave us [this book].
This is the most human book I have ever read. Human, human, human – profoundly kind and warm – yet calling us to God. And with God and with Christ and His Church, calling us to heal our lives, heal our culture, calling us with the most rigorous clarity of thought and the most tender of feelings.
Yes X, this Way of the Heart is most pronounced in Tomberg’s work.
However after long years of inner struggle, I have also come to believe that it is precisely this Way of the Heart which ultimately led Tomberg away from many of the positions you appear to champion.
I do not say this lightly – it did indeed take me year after year of inner turmoil and inner struggle in order to be able to write such a sentence to you today.
Because in the past, I also championed so very much of what you champion.
For example in the past, how much I would have resonated with your sentiments here:
[See Apologia above]
And you go on, I think, to imply that they may be more qualified for this ‘salvation of the world’ than traditional Christians. How in my youth, I would have warmly and vigorously nodded in agreement!
But I have broken – quite painfully – with such views and the reason for this owes very much to Valentin Tomberg himself.
Now, it feels important for me to say this, for you quoted the younger, Anthroposophical Tomberg in support of what you say. As for example, when you quote that youthful Tomberg writing:
[See Apologia above]
All this brings me to the following.
The Need to Distinguish between the Younger Anthroposophical Tomberg and the Mature Catholic Tomberg
This quote is taken Tomberg’s Anthroposophical Studies and yet the mature Valentin Tomberg made this plea regarding these Studies:
Nothing lies further from me today or would be more tiring than to see the ashes of the Anthroposophical past dragged up … Shield me from discussions about the ‘Studies’ … and similar things, which are now totally alien to me.
This plea was made in response to a central European Anthroposophist who was so impressed by Tomberg’s 1930s Anthroposophical Studies that he tracked the reclusive Tomberg down to his home in Reading, England. Indeed, the Anthroposophist was so impressed by these Studies he wished to visit England to meet him. But Tomberg’s response was that he should not come – in order to spare himself disappointment:
Because a disappointment would be unavoidable if you came to Reading to meet me personally; you would not encounter the one who emerged as the author of the ‘Studies’ … simply for the reason that he isn’t here anymore, he no longer exists … Really I should now have a different name; but for civil reasons that is not possible.
It would seem hard to imagine a stronger renunciation of his Anthroposophical past than all of this.
The letter above is quoted in Valentin Tomberg and Anthroposophy: A Problematic Relationship by Sergei O. Prokofieff (which is that author’s second book attacking Tomberg for betraying Anthroposophy). We will come to back to Prokofieff later on. For now, let us stay with Tomberg’s past Anthroposophical writings from which you have quoted – perhaps unaware of his own wish that these Studies never be republished.
There are very, very grave things here – and they are all to do with Tomberg’s Way of the Heart.
Now I certainly understand why these Studies have been republished and I do not wish to quarrel with those who have done so. For I trust that like your own heart, X, their hearts too are pierced by the world crisis and that they too, in their own way, are seeking Salvation for the World.
Nonetheless, I feel a duty to really call attention to the distance that Valentin Tomberg emphasised between his later Catholic period and his earlier Anthroposophical thought – with the sharpest of language: ‘totally alien’ … ‘nothing lies further from me’ … ‘Really I should now have a different name.’
I believe we owe it to Valentin Tomberg to take him at his own word – and not try to pretend that he did not really mean these things, which he said, no doubt, with sincerity.
Now, I mentioned my long years of inner struggle, as I moved from heartfelt accord with you to quite strong disagreement today.
And much of that struggle lies in the fact my conscience bade me to ‘take Tomberg at his own word’ and listen to the distinction he himself makes between his pre-Catholic and his Catholic Christianity. Yes, I have been with this for fifteen years now and most of these years were tough work.
What I want to do here X, is to present some fruits of that tough work – which as we shall see have much to do with both the Modern Age and the New Age Movement.
Now, there are Anthroposophical parrots, who go around parroting what Steiner said. The refrain ‘Steiner says’ is famed in Anthroposophical circles. ‘Steiner says this, Steiner says that …’
Perhaps I will be judged by some who read this as a ‘Tomberg parrot’ myself: ‘Tomberg says this, Tomberg says that’.
Perhaps you might even think that I am saying, ‘You are wrong X, because “Tomberg says”.’ But I hope it will be clear that I am attempting something more profound than such.
Because X, you express views that are held by innumerable noble souls today. And although I have shed such views, you may hold them in common with such noble souls until the day you die.
What follows then, X is not so much a call to dissuade you from such opinions, but to invite you to the same struggle as I have made: Trying to understand how and why Tomberg changed.
But if Tomberg is a ‘great mentor’ for you, I believe such a struggle – should you choose to undertake it – will lead to not only facing the disjunction between the mature Tomberg and younger Tomberg – but the disjunction between the mature Tomberg and many of the views you express here in your comments.
And I have no idea where facing this disjunction would take you (or indeed anyone else). It may well lead you (or others) in a direction like Prokofieff’s, who has at least faced the enormous gulf that lies between the Anthroposophical and the Catholic Tomberg.
Tomberg on the Spirit of Reformation and Revolution
In trying to understand the Catholic Tomberg, one cannot avoid the issue of the Reformation.
Indeed in so many ways, the Reformation is the crux of the matter here. For the Anthroposophy of Rudolf Steiner and the younger Tomberg draws from Rosicrucianism – ‘esoteric Protestantism’ if you like. And I hope it will become clear from what follows that herein lies an axis on which so much turns. As a point of departure, I would refer to you saying:
[See Apologia above]
I would observe that the issue of ‘giving one’s self over to a priest’ represents the fundamental issue of the Reformation.
For the whole of the pre-Reformation Church – Catholic in the West and Orthodox in the East – is to do with obedience to a hierarchy composed of bishops and priests.
However it is not simply pre-Reformation Christianity, because over 60 per cent of global Christianity – Catholic and Orthodox – still hold to this, at least in principle.
We in the Anglophone world tend to forget that – because our own culture has been dominated by the Reformation.
And Reformation Christianity is the break from ‘giving one’s self over to a priest’ in favour of an unmediated approach to God.
That break is something that Rudolf Steiner very much believed in. The younger Anthroposophical Tomberg believed in it also. But I have had to face the fact that it is precisely at this point where the Catholic Tomberg broke from Steiner.
Here is why this Catholic Tomberg critiques the Reformation continuously – in very strong language, far stronger than contemporary Catholicism would. For example, he speaks of the ‘Lutheran heresy’ (Meditations on the Tarot pg 387).
No Pope would say that today – and I recall when I first read those words – which shocked me – that I needed to ask why had Tomberg chosen – consciously chosen! – such strong language.
Elsewhere, Tomberg speaks of the “catastrophic upheavals which have taken place in the history of Christianity’ in connexion with Luther and Calvin. He then proceeds to say that the Counter Reformation Catholic Saints were needed to atone for the sins of Luther and Calvin:
St. John of the Cross atoned for Martin Luther … St. Ignatius of Loyola atoned for John Calvin [Tomberg’s italics] (Meditations on the Tarot pg 396).
In approaching St Ignatius of Loyola, we of course approach the issue of the Jesuits – whom you also invoke.
Now Steiner was famously and intensely critical of Saint Ignatius and Jesuitism. But we find something very different with the Catholic Tomberg. Not only does Saint Ignatius, according to Meditations on the Tarot, atone for Calvin’s sin, but in his final writings, Tomberg goes still further.
For in Lazarus Come Forth, Tomberg will say that the Counter Reformation spearheaded by Saint Ignatius expresses a new pentacostal miracle in the Church. This, he will write:
expressed itself in a great movement of interiorisation connected with the bringing into existence of the Jesuit Order through St Ignatius of Loyola and his comrades … It was a matter in this [Jesuit] spiritual training of awakening the whole human being to the reality of Christianity through inner experience. Through the meditative training [of St Ignatius], people became more than pious; they became witnesses to the truth of Christianity …
It was the impulse towards inwardness of a Christianity reawakened through meditation which rescued the Church from the storms of the so-called ‘Reformation.’
All this, of course, is key to Prokofieff’s now two volume set of books attacking Tomberg for betraying Anthroposophy.
And Prokofieff is right in at least this: a vast difference does exist between Steiner’s relentless pro-Reformation critique of Jesuitism and the Catholic Tomberg’s unwavering criticism of the Reformation and affirmation of St. Ignatius of Loyola.
On the Salvation of the World
But rather than focus on Prokofieff, what I really wish to do X, is return to your phrase: the Salvation of the World.
For here, it seems to me, is the key. Both the young Tomberg and the late Tomberg were gravely concerned with how civilisation might be saved.
This is because Tomberg never stopped seeing grave danger to civilisation, right till the end – and his life story is all about how to respond to that grave danger.
For as we shall see below, the Anthroposophy which consumed the young Tomberg is all to do with the Salvation of the World from materialism. And after his conversion, Tomberg reveals continuously the very same concern – that the world is degenerating into ever deeper materialism.
This is perhaps nowhere more evident than in his Catholic legal works on the degeneration of jurisprudence, but it also features repeatedly in Meditations on the Tarot.
For example, we may regard this historical chain of events that the Catholic Tomberg clearly sees as bringing degeneration:
The Reformation, rationalism, the French revolution, materialistic faith of the nineteenth century, and the Bolshevik revolution, show that everywhere mankind is turning away from the Virgin. The consequence of this is that the sources of creative spiritual elan are drying up, one after the other, and that an increasing aridity is showing up in all domains of the spiritual life of the West [Italics mine].
It is said that the West is growing old. But why? Because it lacks creative elan, because it has turned away from the source of creative elan …
Each revolution which has taken place in the West —that of the Reformation, the French revolution, the scientific revolution, the delirium of nationalism, the communist revolution — has advanced the process of aging in the West (Meditations on the Tarot pg 292, 294).
Yes, Tomberg was gravely concerned that the West was ageing – indeed dying. And repeatedly he cites the Reformation in this context. In some recently published notes, he speaks very starkly indeed:
The impoverishment of humanity caused by Protestantism: without the Mother the Word is not ensouled, and consequently humanity is deprived of the effect of the Universal Remedy. Christ becomes a Master who only teaches, not a Universal Healer [Tomberg’s italics] (The Wandering Fool pg. 90).
From the above, there is not only further critique of the ‘impoverishment’ of the ‘Lutheran heresy’, but still more besides. We see the Catholic Tomberg’s ongoing critique of all forms of rebellion and revolution. The ‘emancipated personality’, free spirits, revolutionaries, rebels, Tomberg – as we shall see – repeatedly sees all of these, as falling into:
The weakness of revolt (for revolt is a weakness where one lets oneself be carried away by the current of emotional impatience — the fundamental weakness of all rebels, including religious reformers as well as political revolutionaries and the most celebrated social reformers) (Meditations on the Tarot pg 535).
Throughout all this, the Catholic Tomberg stresses his difference from Steiner in terms of the Modern Era – this is to say the epoch, which began with the Renaissance. Steiner called this the ‘fifth cultural epoch‘ and spoke in support of the Reformation and many further revolutions that have happened since.
Now there is a profound passage where Tomberg echoes Steiner in speaking of this ‘fifth cultural epoch’ as the Age of the Pentagram (following the fourth epoch of the four arms of the Cross). For anyone trying to understand the difference between the young Tomberg and the late Tomberg, this passage merits the deepest consideration. And I hope that you will join me Charlotte, in giving it your profound attention:
The Middle Ages erected the cross above the nations, societies, aspirations and thoughts of Europe. This was the epoch of obedience and faith —accompanied by every imaginable human abuse. This was followed by an epoch where the dawn of hope made itself felt. Humanism, with its flourishing of Renaissance art, philosophy and science, was born under the sign of hope. The sign of the pentagram began its ascent.
It was then that opposition arose between the sacred pentagram of five wounds and the pentagram of the emancipated personality. A purely humanistic art, science and magic had its development under the sign of the pentagram of hope in man, as opposed to the sign of the pentagram of hope in God, i.e. the sacred pentagram of the five wounds …
The impulse of freedom — of hope in emancipated man —has built up and demolished a great deal. It has created a materialistic civilisation without parallel, but at the same time it has destroyed the hierarchical order— the order of spiritual obedience. A series of religious, political and social revolutions has ensued.
But the hierarchical order is eternal and obedience is indispensable.
Now new hierarchical orders are beginning to be established, replacing obedience by tyranny and dictatorship. For he who sows the wind shall reap the whirlwind (cf. Hosea ix, 7)—this is a truth that we are learning with so much suffering today. The pentagram of hope in emancipated man has in former times sown the wind —and we and our contemporaries are now reaping the whirlwind (Meditations on the Tarot pg 118-119).
In Meditations on the Tarot, Tomberg has articulated our desperate need for the Sacred Way of the Five Wounds of Christ. But he suggests that our civilisation is now imperilled by the precise opposite of this – an unsacred pentagram of the ‘emancipated personality’.
From all that Tomberg writes, this rise of the unsacred Pentagram clearly follows in his eyes, from the ‘Lutheran heresy’. The Renaissance followed the Age of the Cross, but instead of being followed by the Age of the Five Wounds of Christ, our modern epoch has been derailed in favour of:
The Reformation, rationalism, the French revolution, materialistic faith of the nineteenth century, and the Bolshevik revolution
The result has destroyed that which is ‘indispensable’ according to Tomberg: hierarchy and obedience. The consequence has been a whirlwind of false hierarchy involving ‘tyranny and dictatorship’.
All this I would say – along with Hilaire Belloc – includes our current plutocratic capitalist tyranny, which is now leading us to ecological disaster. Now some of these ‘new hierarchical orders’ are somewhat visible and they have names attached to them – as I wrote in this post concerning Tomberg and Napoleon, and Murdoch, Gates and Hefner. Other false hierarchies are largely invisible, but they nevertheless work to destroy the world, leading us towards capitalist-environmental catastrophe.
Now X, I am writing all this conscious that your responses at this site gave a narrative, which in many ways emphasised reaction to injustice as a way to account for the changes during the Modern Era:
[See Apologia above]
X, I appreciate the evident thought and study you have clearly undertaken in trying to understand history as well as the roots of the New Age movement. However, may I also say that your narrative seems to me deeply, if subtly coloured by the Anglophone perspective?
You write, for example, that [see Apologia above].
What may I ask of ‘true Christians’ across Spain, Italy, Portugal, France, Austria, Hungary or Poland, who did not feel so compelled?
Or will you tell me that this is all because, they remained in ‘[see Apologia above]‘? If you do, I shall only suspect you of being further in the grip of Anglophone ideology.
Now the French-born Hilaire Belloc studied history at Oxford and spent the rest of his life afterwards trying to work against this ideology that he believed coloured the English interpretation of history. He noted for example, how very much the English Reformation owed not to ‘true Christianity’ but Henry VIII’s liquidation of the monastic property, which fell into the hands of the rich and the violent repression of Catholicism that followed …
Tomberg on Obedience, Authority and Hierarchy
But leaving Hilaire Belloc, your opinions or my opinions aside, let us return to Tomberg.
Tomberg was fluent in several languages and thus his reading was less circumscribed by either Protestant or Catholic prejudices.
Please note that I will very readily admit Latin Catholic prejudice, as well as Anglo Protestant prejudice. However with Tomberg I think we need to look to something deeper than prejudice when he gives such a very different narrative of history than your own.
That ‘something deeper’ I say is his heart ripped open for the ‘impoverishment of humanity’ leading to ‘new hierarchical orders … replacing obedience by tyranny and dictatorship’.
In any event, we are dealing with very, very grave matters at this point. And this is where Tomberg came to differ so deeply from Steiner.
For as we said, Steiner certainly affirmed the Reformation and many of the revolutions that followed in its wake. For example, Steiner regarded the French Revolution as rooted in a new consciousness that was essentially good, even if the implementation of the secular French Republic had been problematic in his eyes.
The Catholic Tomberg is very different. The reader of Tomberg’s legal-political theses will readily see that Tomberg criticises the French Revolution in the starkest of terms – as something unambiguously evil.
And instead of reformation and revolution and Anthroposophy, Tomberg now embraced and defended very traditional Catholic structures – structures which are all to do with dogma, hierarchy and obedience to authority.
Again, these were the structures common to all of Christianity before the Reformation – both Catholic in the West and Orthodox in the East. Here is why Tomberg continually affirms both Catholicism and Orthodoxy, even while he continuously critiques Reformation Christianity.
However, it should be noted that Tomberg goes further – where no Orthodox would ever go. He affirms the Counter Reformation Catholicism of the Jesuits, which culminated in the 1870 declaration of Papal Infallibility.
Tomberg’s support of Papal Infallibility is, needless to say, yet another point on which Prokofieff would damn Tomberg for betraying Anthroposophy.
For myself, I find Prokofieff blinkered. However, he does make a case as to why and how Tomberg would state that his Anthroposophical past was ‘totally alien’ to his mature Catholic faith.
I feel that we who have found a ‘great mentor’ in Tomberg do need to listen to what this transformation entailed for him. And I would like to ask you – and everyone else who cares about Tomberg – to listen to what he says which is so far removed from Anthroposophy or the ‘free thinkers’ you champion, X.
Here for example, is what he writes of dogma in Lazarus Come Forth:
Dogma is not a prohibition against thinking and research, but a command and a summons [Italics mine] to orient thought and research towards divine truth. Dogma is like a star in the heaven of eternal Being which shines, ever radiating and inexhaustible, into the world of temporal existence.
Given such thinking, Tomberg can make statements which are extremely difficult for New Agers, Anthroposophists and everyone else who breathes the Protestant spirit. Certainly as a natural ‘White Anglo Saxon Protestant’ myself, I found statements such as the following extremely hard:
The Catholic Church, being catholic or universal, cannot consider itself as a particular church among other particular churches, nor consider its dogmas as religious opinions among other religious opinions or confessions …
This is from page 89 of Meditations on the Tarot – and I recall how my jaw dropped open, when I first registered it. Here was a serious challenge to my liberal New Age assumptions!
And it was a challenge for ever deeper pondering as the years passed. Now shortly after this last quote, Tomberg continues (on the same page) with further comments regarding Hermetic philosophy. But from the context, I think we can infer that what then follows also applies to the statement above regarding Catholicism:
Presumption? It would be, without any doubt, a monstrous presumption if it were a matter of human invention instead of revelation from above.
In fact, if you have a truth revealed from above, if the acceptance of this truth brings miracles of healing, peace and vivification with it, and if, lastly, it explains to you a thousand unexplained things — that are inexplicable without it — can you then consider it as an opinion among other opinions?
Dogmatism? Yes, if one understands by “dogma” the certainty due to revelations of divine worth which prove fruitful and constructive, and due to the confirmation that they receive from reason and experience together. When one has certainty based on the concordance of divine revelation, divine-human operation, and human understanding, how can one act as if one did not have it?
Is it truly necessary “to deny three times before the cock crows” in order to be accepted into the good company of “free spirits” and “non-dogmatics”, and to be chauffeured along with them by the fire of things relating to human creation (Meditations on the Tarot pg 89)?
In re-reading this now X, I am reminded of what you yourself appear to champion.
To be clear, I refer to what I have quoted from you above, regarding ‘free thinkers’.
And I am very concerned that New Agers are not truly free, but rather chauffeured along by ‘free spirits’ and ‘non-dogmatics’. At least, I can say of my own Findhorn past that I denied three times – and much more! – because I allowed myself to be chauffeured along.
Now such people sometimes appear desperate to interpret Tomberg’s call to obedience in a purely spiritualised way. They are desperate, that is, to believe that Valentin Tomberg did not really say submit yourself to a human hierarchy of priests and bishops – but only a spiritual one. But I am afraid that such an interpretation is repeatedly contradicted by what the man himself actually wrote:
The vow of obedience … is the life of cosmic and human hierarchical ordering; it is the meaning and justification of the fact that there are Seraphim, Cherubim, Thrones; Dominions, Virtues, Powers; Principalities, Archangels, Angels; Priests, Knights and Commoners. Obedience is order: it is international law; it is the state; it is the Church [Italics mine].
Tomberg on the Danger of Psychological Inflation and the Need for Humility
But this is not all. Tomberg says far regarding obedience, when he speaks of the need for humility.
This I believe you will readily recognise, X. For knowing that you have studied Tomberg’s thinking, I trust you will immediately recognise his grave concern for the hazards of psychological inflation. Thus, I doubt there is much need to rehearse all this here. The Seventh Letter of Meditations of the Tarot is devoted to this serious danger, which can lead to catastrophe. And Tomberg expresses himself repeatedly about Hermeticists becoming proud and haughty.
It is pellucid that Tomberg relates such haughtiness to lack of obedience, as when he writes:
The Church is based on the three sacred vows—obedience, poverty and chastity—whilst we Hermeticists behave as pontiffs, without the sacraments and the discipline that this entails … We do not want to obey [Italics mine] either religious or scientific discipline. At the same time, it is obedience or discipline which underlies the moral greatness of the Church (Meditations on the Tarot pg 190).
And elsewhere, he says:
Such obedience as is practised in religious orders and the Catholic spiritual knighthood is a form of training —moreover, very effective —of the will, with a view to rivetting the will-to-greatness [Italics mine]. The obedience that the chela has to his guru in India and Tibet follows, in principle, the same aim. This is true also of the absolute obedience that the hassidim have towards their tzadekim in the jewish Hassidic communities, and similarly it is so with the obedience without reserve on the part of the disciples of the startzy (spiritual masters) in orthodox, pre-Bolshevist Russia (Meditations on the Tarot pg 112).
No, we will not rehearse all that Tomberg wrote about psychological inflation. Let us simply note that when Tomberg speaks about ‘absolute obedience’ and ‘obedience without reserve’ that this is all to do with humility: riveting the will-to-greatness in the heart.
Thus, Tomberg called Hermeticists to:
renunciation of the role of representing an esoteric and sacred science different from exoteric and profane science. It is a matter of renouncing the desire to set up ‘chair against chair’, just as with respect to the Church it is a matter of renouncing the desire to erect ‘altar against altar’ (Meditations on the Tarot pg 191).
All of this is relevant to the issue of the New Age. At least, all my years of experience of Findhorn and the New Age testify all-too-amply to the lack of obedience and the lack of humility found within therein.
And no doubt that Tomberg quotes the penitent Eliphas Levi at length, with the same concerns in mind:
Catholics alone have priests because they alone have the altar and the offering, i.e. the whole of religion. To practise high Magic is to compete with the Catholic priesthood; it is to be a dissident priest [Italics mine].
Rome is the great Thebes of the new initiation . . . It has crypts for its catacombs; for talismen, its rosaries and medallions; for a magic chain, its congregations; for magnetic fires, its convents; for centres of attraction, its confessionals; for means of expansion, its pulpits and the addresses of its bishops; it has, lastly, its Pope, the Man-God rendered visible (Meditations on the Tarot pg. 107).
Steiner and Tomberg – a Paradoxical Continuity
But I do not want to dwell on the arrogance of ‘dissident priests’, for the issue of the Salvation of the World seems much more pressing to me.
And here I return to Rudolf Steiner, whom according to Prokofieff, Tomberg betrayed. It is clear why Prokofieff should think so: because Tomberg’s defense of Counter Reformation Catholicism – right up to and including Papal Infallibility – is deeply opposed to Steiner’s Anthroposophy.
And yet Steiner said some very strange things that lend weight to the hypothesis I am advancing here.
That hypothesis is – again – that Tomberg turned to the True Hierarchy of the Church, because he saw the world being destroyed by growing aridity, by false ‘new hierarchies’ and still more.
For Tomberg’s Way of the Heart meant that his heart was ripped open by the course the West was taking and his new, yet deeply traditional ‘Catholic politics’ were born from that very love, which burned in his heart.
Now, however much Rudolf Steiner profoundly disagreed with such ‘Catholic politics’, he was concerned with the very same danger to the West and the world. Contrary to some popular supposition, Steiner was no New Ager, believing that we were all to be shortly rescued by the energies of Aquarius.
Indeed, while he criticised Rome relentlessly, he made a very strange and paradoxical utterance regarding Rome.
In effect, he said that while everyone else was asleep to the danger to the world, there was one force in the world, which was not asleep. That force came from Rome: ‘Rome … alone is awake.’
X, I have written about this paradoxical utterance elsewhere at this website. But I hope you will not mind, if I repeat it here. For it has much to do with why Tomberg turned his back on Anthroposophy – and all other forms of revolt, rebellion, reformation or ‘the desire to erect altar against altar’.
Thus here is what I offered earlier at this website:
Steiner [did] not share the consistently, unambiguously bleak picture of the Reformation, French Revolution and related phenomena that the Catholic convert Valentin Tomberg would now repeatedly emphasise.
Much more to the point: Rudolf Steiner repeatedly criticised Rome. Steiner in fact once expressed a wish that the Church of Rome would have died at the time of Dante, hundreds of years ago …
Nonetheless, I want to point to a strange continuity between Steiner and the Catholic Tomberg, with which no Catholic of Faith can have much difficulty.
Paradoxically, the Catholic of Faith might even applaud Rudolf Steiner on this single point of continuity, at least.
The continuity I have in mind is that which lies between Tomberg’s urgency and Steiner’s similar burning concern with the degeneration of civilisation.
If we listen to Steiner carefully, we will see that not only does he speak in a similar vein, but that Steiner even affirms Rome, for being awake at least, where no-one else is awake.
Let me turn to lectures from 1920 by Steiner … Italics have been added by myself to denote turns of phrase, worthy I think of special reflection.
Now apparent contradictions abound here – and not only about Steiner’s condemnation and yet strange affirmation of Rome. For it might appear that Rudolf Steiner was also critical of the rise of Natural Science. But that is not the case, at all. Rudolf Steiner certainly celebrated this rise.
Nonetheless we see Steiner enjoining his followers to feel in their hearts – painfully in their hearts – certain things which he indicates they are not awake to – although Rome is. Here is Steiner:
“I should be interested to know how many people felt as if stung by a viper when they read a certain sentence [which at the time, Steiner spoke had recently appeared in the German language press].
I should really like to know how many people, when reading this felt stung by a viper! The sentence runs:
‘Religion, which represents a fantastic reflex in the minds of human beings, concerning their relations one to another and to nature, is doomed to natural decay through the victorious growth of the scientific, clear and naturalistic grasp of reality which is bound to develop parallel with the establishment of a planned society.’
This sentence is to be found in an article on the measures taken by Lenin and Trotsky against the Russian Catholic Church …
One knows for a certainty that the number of Lenin’s opponents, who feel as if stung by a viper on reading such a sentence is very small.
I want to emphasise this as not being without significance, because it brings out to what an extent modern humanity passes lightly over things, usually asleep – how it passes over the weightiest facts, facts which are decisive for the life of humankind on this earth …
But the Roman Catholic Church is awake, she alone in fact is awake, and is working systematically against the approaching storm …
Much more of this can be found here, where Steiner develops the idea that civilisation is terribly endangered by modern materialism. Thus I shall only quote a little more from my earlier post:
Steiner clearly characterises Rome’s direction as ‘extremely harmful’.
Yet he also says: “it must be recognised that the Catholic Church has shown great foresight …
The Catholic Church long ago foresaw the [modern] social condition … the Catholic Church took her own measures to make her influences felt in these social conditions …
In face of the rising tide of naturalism [Rome] throws down the gauntlet before all this rising materialism … It demonstrates the only wakeful consciousness within our sleeping civilisation …
Modern civilisation is asleep … Rome is awake … Rome was wide awake and made in advance her necessary preparations [Italics all mine].
Charlotte, you have spoken about the need for the Heart. And here Steiner speaks of the need to feel as though stung by a viper. Here is a cognition of the heart!
For when Steiner speaks of feeling stung like a viper, he necessarily means to have one’s heart open and pierced. For the truly open heart is always pierced …
And clearly Rudolf Steiner’s heart was deeply pierced by the tragedy of the world plunging ever more deeply into materialism. In the words above, he critiques Marxist materialism: the Communist rejection of religious reality.
However, Steiner was also very gravely concerned with Capitalist materialism as well. He warns of an American capitalism triumphing in the world by the 1980s – the very era of Reagan, Thatcher and the massive deregulation of global finance that happened in that era.
Steiner even went so far as to predict the possible persecution of Christians in the Twenty-First century, persecuted by growing materialistic forces. This is to say philosophical materialism denying Christ and commercial materialism denying spiritual and religious development.
All this takes us too far away from the issue at hand. Instead, let me return Charlotte, to what you have invoked: the Salvation of the World. For here is what mattered to both Steiner and the young Tomberg. Like the Roman Catholic Church, they were both ‘working systematically against the approaching storm’.
But it is the same with the later Catholic Tomberg. He never ceased to work ‘systematically against the approaching storm’. For Valentin Tomberg’s heart never closed down – it remained ever open, ever pierced and ever stung – stung with the bite of the Serpent devouring the world.
And as I have struggled over long years to understand Tomberg’s transformation, I have concluded that not only did he agree with Steiner that the Catholic Church alone was awake, but that it was this that led him to work systematically with Rome and not against her.
Thus it was that he was willing to call his entire Anthroposophical past into question.
Now I think that all of this also calls into question very much that you appear to champion, X.
For whereas I once championed many of these things alongside you, I now believe that were Valentin Tomberg with us today, he would recognise your noble intention, X, he would honour your own pierced heart – but he would say that what you advocate cannot be the way forward.
That is, I believe he would say: in that way lies the further erosion and destruction of Christianity.
In that way lies the destruction of the West and disaster for humanity.
However X, I want to say something now that I hope will honour the sincere concerns of your own open, pierced heart in regards to the Church.
On the Horrors and Atrocities Committed by Catholics
For Charlotte, I feel and hear your beating, living heart, throughout your words. For example, when you write:
[See Apologia above]
Now there is a very great deal I might say to this directly, X. But pressed as I am for time, I hope you will not mind, if I respond somewhat indirectly, by repeating what I once said to two people who raised similar issues at this website – people who identified themselves as Mark and reXteryalizer. Speaking to them, I said:
I do not think you are wrong … to feel anguish and compassion for those who have been molested, raped, tortured, slaughtered at the hands of Catholics.
And I guess Mark, this is where your comment comes [indicating] the terrible true story of those who suffered sexual abuse at the hands of clergy. And maybe worse.
No I have no wish deny that in countless, untold ways, people suffer at the hands of Catholics right up to the modern day.
This is the real – truest – point of what you are both saying, it seems to me.
Now reXteryalizer you ask me:
“What is the Lure & thrill and unified UNBROKEN chain of unity and love and respect that the catholic church has bestowed upon the earth..
Are we missing something … ?”
May I be frank with you reXteryalizer and say that I think you may be missing several enormous things at once?
And perhaps yourself as well, Mark [for] in pointing us to the horror of abuse, you would seem to be suggesting that Catholicism loses credibility(?) …
But to answer the question – what do I think is being missed here?
First of all: the immense depth of human evil in general.
For … again without needing to criminalise Ven. Pius XII, we can find countless cases of Catholics individually and collectively commiting atrocities.
We can find the same of course in countless other human arenas.
If we look at the immense horror of Stalinist Russia, we would have to say that untold numbers of those guilty – even if only by doing nothing – were or had been Orthodox Christians.
If we look to the American massacres of the indigenous people, we would find mainly Protestant Christians.
There are people (many New Agers spring to mind here) who say: ‘Ah – you see religion and maybe particularly Christianity is clearly the problem here’.
What such conclusions miss is that vast collectives everywhere have immense blood on their hands. And they need not be religious. I think of Mao’s China; I think of the genocide of the French Revolution …
It seems to me that people who fault religion Catholicism, Islam whatever – are in some kind of denial of what human nature is.
The Enlightenment has bestowed on the West the notion that we human beings are relatively innocent by nature. New Agers in particular tend to lap this up.
As for myself, whenever I see people very angry at the Church, I have two responses.
First: I respect their compassion. Its shows that their hearts are ALIVE.
They are not just numb, desensitised.
Hurrah for hearts that feel in a world that grows cold …
May I interject hear X hurrah for your heart too – which clearly is neither desensitised, nor numb.
For you may feel that in quoting my response to Mark and ‘Rex’, I am misreading you. You may feel that I am attributing to you what I attribute to them.
But I hope you will not feel that I misattribute what is of the essence here: a heart that cares (or is ‘compassion-centred’ as you put it). So while I realise that you, Mark and ‘Rex’ all different people with different concerns, I think the same root is here. And I hope you will not mind if I continue in my response to them.
After offering my first reaction to ‘people very angry at the Church’ – i.e. hurrah for they are not numb! – I continue to elaborate my following response:
Second: I tend to think they are in denial of human fallenness. Without realising it, they may have fallen for Enlightenment thinking.
And there is a nasty non-Enlightenment truth that must be confronted.
It is this: that terrible powers of darkness are at work through human beings. And that it is simply inevitable that all vast collectives will do terrible things, Catholics, Hindus, Capitalists, Communists etc.
Seeking the source for human evil in the Church is naïve.
So this is my first point, as to what you might be missing reXteryalizer.
Similarly Mark if you are suggesting Catholicism loses credibility because of certain evil priests, I would say this is also naïve …
It is indeed undeniable that [the abuse] has been happening. And terrible cover-ups have followed.
That being said, I remained unconvinced that sexual abuse is a particularly Catholic thing. Though this would seem the foregone conclusion in much of the media. But shallow thinking seems operative here.
There are four hundred thousand Catholic priests on this planet. And I know not how many more Catholic religious …
There are not say 600,000 ministers of the United Reform Church or 600,000 Rabbis say …
Statistically, one is far more likely to hear ‘Catholic-Catholic-Catholic-Catholic’ and not hear for example, ‘URC-URC–URC-URC’ or ‘Catholic priest-Catholic priest-Catholic priest’ than ‘Rabbi-Rabbi-Rabbi’ etc.
I have heard word that Catholic abuse outpaces that of Protestants. I have heard opposite reports.
My imagination based on some reading around – not more! – is that probably sexual abuse by the Catholic clergy has been marginally higher than other sectors of our society, say secular, say Protestant, say workers in institutions for the vulnerable.
But it might be there are other sectors with a marginally higher rate than the Catholic clergy. Who can say?
Whatever the truth of the matter, none of it excuses the horror perpetrated by Catholic priests, nor the terrible cover-ups.
I only say that it is unclear to me, whether the terrible tragedy of children being violated is particularly Catholic or not.
Over the course of my forty seven years, numerous people have revealed childhood abuse to me. I was also once in a situation, engaged with the justice department, where I came across harrowing cases. It is a miserably depressingly and terribly common thing. The people I encountered never mentioned Catholic priests.
My point is: it happens everywhere.
Again this fits with what I am saying in general here: human beings are prey to far more evil than the Enlightenment or New Age philosophies would have us believe …
Let me now move into one last piece of territory regarding what might be being missed here.
So far the temptation here is that we are largely focussed in terms of QUANTITIES.
So many people murdered, raped, violated – damaged for life by Catholics …
But it is a temptation. How is it possible for anyone to COUNT things up like this?
What of quantities, statistics like all the starving people fed by Catholics? All the naked clothed by Catholics? All the people treated in Catholic hospitals? All the people counselled and loved by Catholics?
In my years since my conversion, I have been astonished, absolutely astonished by the vast reach – throughout history and throughout the world – of the Church in this way.
But of course “Catholic paedophile” makes better media fodder than “Chilean nun clothes and caresses street children”.
If you are advising people Mark to read about the evil that is at work in the Catholic Church, I wonder if you should consider also texts that give the other side of the picture?
But I said this was a temptation. And maybe I just succumbed to the temptation.
Because we are not going to arrive at a true judgment of the Catholic Church through counting numbers, through amassing statistics – again through quantities.
No we will arrive through something different than modern fetishism for quantification.
And this is where I would say reXteryalizer you are missing the greatest thing of all …
However dark, broken, fallible, downright monstrous any number of Catholics might be …
The Church is not making claims based on its all-too-human representatives.
And it is certainly not making the claim as you put it to of an
“unified UNBROKEN chain of unity and love and respect that the catholic church has bestowed upon the earth.”
What claim is being made?
The claim is being made that through all these dark, broken, fallen, fallible people who belong to the Catholic Church …
A Supernatural Power of the highest order is working to morally elevate us and draw us nearer to God.
Since I converted to the Catholic Church, I see the truth of that claim.
The Sacraments of the Catholic Church are uplifting, strengthening, succouring me day after day in a way that is completely unmistakeable.
I have never murdered or physically molested or raped anyone. But God only knows what I would be doing, without these Sacraments …
Whatever I would be, it would be far, far less moral.
God only knows how much worse the world would be without these 400,000 priests saying the Mass across the world every day.
Feeling these Sacraments working in me – as I do nearly every day – this is what I would say you are missing reXteryalizer …
And it cannot be counted or quantified or reduced to statistics …
The Balance of Justice
Now X, I bring this back to your good self and to ‘[see Apologia above]’ Valentin Tomberg, as you call him.
If Tomberg is a ‘[see Apologia above]’ for you, you cannot help but regard him, I think, as particularly alert and awake. We can agree – can we not? – that Valentin Tomberg was surely very awake to the innumerable evils committed by Catholics across the centuries. And we have already noted above how Tomberg spoke that:
The Middle Ages … was the epoch of obedience and faith — accompanied by every imaginable human abuse.
And there is certainly more in Tomberg’s writing to support the notion that he was alert to ‘every imaginable human abuse’ within the Catholic Church! One might ask then, how it was that the same Valentin Tomberg could write the following words:
Make use of the balance of Justice and judge impartially. When you have done so, you will no doubt say: Never will I throw stones —in thought, or through word or deed — against the Church, since it is she who makes possible, and stimulates and protects, human endeavour for the glory of God (Meditations on the Tarot pg 189).
Might it not be asked how Tomberg can declare this – with all the apparent horror and atrocities on one side of the balance of justice?
The answer, I believe, lies in what resides on the other side of that balance of justice.
For what lies there is a HIDDEN miracle (hidden particularly in the English-speaking world).
In other words: I would say that it is not a matter of Tomberg being blind to one side of the balance of justice. He certainly knew that ‘every imaginable human abuse’ could be found there.
Rather he saw clearly the utter miracle of the Holy Church – which is to say the Church of the Seven Sacraments as it exists in both the Orthodox East and the Catholic West (but which is more invisible in our own Anglophone world – buried as it is by centuries of Reformation prejudice). And thus I turn to that miracle, which since Henry VIII is so hidden from our ‘Anglo-Saxon eyes’.
The Miracle of the Sacraments
Now in personal notes published in his German biography, Tomberg’s inner experience of this Miracle of the Church has been preserved for us. These notes are from Bernhard Martin, a friend of Tomberg, who recorded a conversation where Tomberg had said:
The transformation in the Mass deeply shakes him (erschüttert ihn) [Tomberg] every time in his innermost being.
This is to say, that he was profoundly affected every time he witnessed the consecration on the altar of the Catholic Church. Even in his Anthroposophical writings, he wrote:
‘There is nothing in the physical world more holy – more healing in the deepest sense of that word – than the bread of the Communion Service.’
And in my own far less eloquent, far more clumsy way, this is what I was trying to say above, when I spoke of how much the Sacraments:
are uplifting, strengthening, succouring me, day after day, in a way that is completely unmistakeable … God only knows what I would be doing, without these Sacraments …
Whatever I would be, it would be far, far less moral. God only knows how much worse the world would be without these 400,000 priests saying the Mass across the world every day.
Yes Valentin Tomberg recognised the miraculous power of the Church, because it deeply shook him inside at every Mass he went to.
I confess that I who am far less awake, far less sensitive, than Valentin Tomberg was, do not feel deeply shaken ‘in my innermost being’ every time I go to Mass. However, I do feel so deeply supported and uplifted by this Mass, that it is hard for me to miss even a single day.
And here is the real miracle that has completely re-oriented my life since my New Age years – not Valentin Tomberg. Although it took Valentin Tomberg to open my eyes to that miracle, which Findhorn, the New Age and indeed generations of my Anglo-Saxon forebears’ prejudice had closed.
Seeing, feeling this power of the Sacraments of the Church, I now understand all too clearly why Tomberg – once again – was gravely concerned by:
Hermeticists [who] behave as pontiffs, without the Sacraments and the discipline that this entails
Now this discipline is all to do with submitting to a Priest. For example, there is not simply the Sacrament of the Holy Mass – but the discipline of regular confession.
Thus at least every month, I try to humble my pride-filled ego by kneeling in confession and saying: ‘Bless me Father, for I have sinned.’
And there are no words to adequately describe the interior sensation of receiving Absolution from a Priest – it is an inner cleansing that is indescribably precious.
And it pains me deeply that the Reformation tried to eliminate this miracle of Absolution and bury it in lies.
However, we have said enough of the Protestant Reformation and we need to turn to the attempted ‘Vatican II Reformation’ that Tomberg so strongly critiqued.
Tomberg and the Revolution of the 1960s
For this, I would first set the scene with some of Tomberg’s final thoughts on revolution, written during the late 1960s when he deeply suffered from the revolutionary currents of that age.
As we recently featured in an entry here, Tomberg wrote deep praise in favour of Pope Paul VI and Charles De Gaulle’s response to that 1960’s revolution, where in fact De Gaulle called out the military:
General de Gaulle’s astonishing victory which has saved France (and perhaps Europe) from chaos, is an example of the magic of “standing at one’s post”(German: Stylirenrom).
Would he have wanted to keep his popularity through compliancy and ‘flexibility’ all would have been lost.
The Encyclical Humanae Vitae of the Pope is a similar turning point. Would the Pope have yielded to the so-called ‘Zeitgeist’ then the intellectual and moral masses (German: ‘Strasse’ – see note below) within the Catholic Church would have taken over in just the same way as the Parisian mob in France, if de Gaulle would have wavered.
Thanks be to de Gaulle, thanks be to the Holy Father!
These two have once more brought the Father Principle to effect against the onslaught of the drunken youth and the drunken reformers.’
Around the same time, Tomberg wrote further correspondence to, which further illumines his attitudes to much that was happening in the 1960′s:
‘Peace is in great danger. The nature of this danger is not so much rampant China, the embittered Arabs, the plans of Russia … the aimless war of Vietnam – no … Is not the whirlwind which was caused by [de Gaulle’s pro-Quebec declarations] an unmistakeable sign that the inclination to see and judge clearly is vanishing … A drunken anger has suddenly spread everywhere.
An atmosphere of drunkenness exists … And this is the danger. This atmosphere is what makes Maria [Tomberg’s wife] and myself ill. We are not well health-wise – like with poisoned people.’
But let me turn from this to Tomberg’s last book Lazarus Come Forth, written during the same years. For myself, as a liberal New Ager who admired Findhorn so deeply, the words I quote below were the cruelest of all. For they contain a powerful critique of the Second Vatican Council and with my New Age background, I naturally deeply responded to Vatican II.
I felt: now the Church is opening to the modern world, opening to other religions, opening to the New Age and everything that was dear to my Findhorn self …
Thus I can still vividly remember a late afternoon in 1997, where my heart sank. For I had just bought Tomberg’s final book in the Westminster Cathedral bookshop and I sat down in the open London air to read it. And my heart turned to lead, when I came upon this passage:
“It happened that the “second Pentecostal miracle” hoped for and prayed for by the Holy Father – the proclamation by the World Council of a deepened, elevated and expanded treasure of Church revelation – was replaced by a policy of “keeping in step with the times”.
The Council did not reflect the timeless inspirations of heaven, but rather the earthly needs, complaints, wishes and demands of the age .
It became a sort of religious parliament with a “progressive left”, a “conservative right” and a “moderate center”.
Thus people spoke of a “democratisation” of the Church, now breaking through.
The “world” remarked with satisfaction: the Catholic Church is moving closer to us; yes, just a little while and it will be part of us – the Council exudes a “fresh wind”, the wind of a free and modern spirit! …
A fresh wind did indeed blow from the Council.
It blew up such problems as the abolition of the celibacy of priests suddenly become pressing; the problem of mixed marriages with those of another faith; the problem of acceptability of the “pill” and other methods of contraception; the problem of “demythologisation” of the Holy Scripture and of tradition; the problem of the Mass, in the sense of abolishing Latin as the liturgical and sacred language and the substitution for it of many national languages and many other problems associated with conforming to the spirit of the age …
The “fresh wind” of the council was not the wind of the Pentecost miracle in the Church but a wind blowing out of the “world” into the Church – through a portal which had now been opened.
It was not the effect of the Church on the world, but the effect of the world on the Church.
Against the will and hope of the now deceased Pope John XXIII and of his successor, Paul VI, it happened that the Second Vatican Council became a door which opened to the world, but in such a way that the “world’s wind” blew into the Church.
The Council for which Pope John XXIII prayed did in fact fail; it failed … to guard the “portal” where the way begins which leads to degeneration, to exhaustion, and to death (hades) – the “way of the world”.
This failure to guard the threshold the portal opening up to the “way of the world” … is nothing else and can be nothing else but the way to death … [Italics all mine]”
Could anything be plainer? Tomberg clearly – and very consciously, one may be sure – invokes the word hades – suggesting hell. He clearly believes the post-Vatican II Church has started on ‘the way to death’.
So much might be said, but I will limit myself to one point in the above. This point is the extraordinarily conservative way (as I saw it back then) that Tomberg implicitly critiques mixed marriages.
Mixed marriages?! I was thunderstruck, for in the pre-Vatican II days, a mixed marriage was considered a bad thing indeed. A mixed marriage involved a wedding between a Catholic and a Protestant (to say nothing of a member of another religion!) and it was a last resort, because prior to Vatican II, the expectation was that the non-Catholic should convert.
But Tomberg appears to support this pre-Vatican II notion, implying that the alternative is to succumb to the world and the way to hades …
His applauding Pope Paul VI for using the ‘Father Principle’ to suppress the revolt against the Church’s teaching on contraception only underscores my point.
We are now in a very, very, very different world than Anthroposophy, the New Age, ‘free thinkers’ or Reformation Christianity!
The author of Lazarus Come Forth cannot be seen as other than deeply conservative and traditional.
A few pages later in that same book, he will write:
“The darkening which today is described as “the present crisis of the Catholic Church” can lead to the necessity for the solitary sons of the Church to hurry to the aid of the Holy Father, the most solitary of solitaries, in order to save the Church from the abyss toward which she is moving …”
Dear X, I will now begin to draw to my close.
There is a call “our great mentor” suggests, which is the call to hurry – hurry! – to the aid of the Holy Father.
It is a call that involves obedience to the hierarchy of the Church, of ‘giving one’s self over to priests’ and other things you cannot abide.
At least, this is how I read you when I read your words that I have quoted above, as well as these:
[See Apologia above]
Now again X, I am not so much trying to persuade you that ‘you are wrong’ (although it will be clear what I think) as much as I am saying that you stand in a very, very different place than the mature Catholic Tomberg.
And to someone who has struggled with these issues for years, quoting the pre-Catholic Tomberg in defense of your views will cut no ice.
I beg you: please, do not do this again, whether here at this website or elsewhere. You dis-serve your mentor.
Let me stress that I hear your invocation of the word conscience.
It would appear that it is your conscience, that will not allow you to stand with the mature Catholic Tomberg. And if that is really true, you must follow your conscience.
And I would encourage you to do so – even if it should take you along ‘the way of Prokofieff’.
For let me stress again, that I do hear how much this has to do with your own pierced and compassionate heart.
I can see how your heart hurting for world injustice could lead you to join with the young pre-Catholic Tomberg, whom you have quoted.
But I ask you to see that standing with this pre-Catholic Tomberg means standing apart from the later Catholic Tomberg, who stood so firmly for ‘the earthly and exoteric hierarchy’ as you put it.
There is a choice involved here. Saying yes to some things means saying no to other things.
Tomberg writes that in the Modern Era, the Sacred Pentagram of the Five Wounds of Christ has been betrayed by Reformation and revolution. The de-Christianised (or even anti-Christian) New Age movement is the latest fruit of that trajectory.
Conscience leads people to make different choices. Some will choose a way consonant with the Rosicrucian Protestant impulses of Steiner and the younger Tomberg.
Again I realise that this is because their hearts are pierced, like your heart is pierced dear Charlotte, pierced for the world.
But still I emphasise: we are dealing with a very serious choice here. In regards to that choice, I want to invoke one final element concerned with the de-Christianised or even anti-Christian New Age movement. For as you have said, there exists an:
[See Apologia above]
Yes this group is very large, entrenched and also growing particularly in the Anglophone world (though far less so in the Catholic sphere, where there is a certain protection against it – as I have observed often at this site).
Once more I will refer to something already published at this website, where I offered:
a few lines from a German book by Martin Kriele, who guards Valentin Tomberg’s estate, and who knew him during his life. I hope that Doctor Kriele can forgive my taking these brief lines from his book. It seems to me important.
“Occasionally [Tomberg] spoke of evil in which he saw not only a “lack of being”, but very real powers manifold and chaotic. One should not occupy oneself excessively with it but pay attention to evil in the seductive form of seeming good, its method of adopting something beautiful and half-true which deceives us and leads us unwittingly into evil.
He was concerned with the art of the discernment of spirits which was needed particularly also in matters of politics and political philosophy. In this context, he held Vladimir Soloviev’s writings in high esteem.
If people were afraid of evil occult groups and “conspiracies”, this was not principally unjustified – they did in fact exist – but most of the time, one did not understand how to localize them accurately. Thus the talk of a “Jewish world-conspiracy” had been a fateful lie. But in fact sinister occult forces had worked in Hitler’s and Lenin’s movement …
In “Scottish” Masonry, whose center in London had been destroyed during the war and relocated to New York, he saw a dangerous occult counter current. It would lure man with the promise of humanity – but with the aim of a world without Christ and without death and resurrection …
He described to me the methods of working of the sinister counter-occultism, for example its influence on language, manners of speech, ideological forms of thinking [Italics mine] and the fostering of all sorts of enemy-polarisations.
He took the occultism without Christ which based itself on the Theosophy of Blavatsky and worked out of the Indian-Tibetan region very seriously. It was very influential from the background. It was for example partly instrumental in the spread of Bolshevism, in the benevolent neutrality towards it, in the threatening east-west polarization but also in the “esoteric” youth movement of the “New Age” which began to flourish at the time.
Valentin Tomberg’s life represented a choice as to how to counteract evil in this world.
That choice led him away from the Protestant spirit of Rosicrucian Anthroposophy to the Catholic Church.
But still I think that he concurred with Steiner on this: only Rome was awake to the true danger threatening civilisation.
Now Valentin Tomberg’s choice did not lead him to some wooly, liberal ‘spirit of Vatican II’ Catholicism, which he clearly deplored – but to a vigourous traditional Catholicism that owed very much indeed to St. Ignatius of Loyola and the Jesuit Counter-Reformation.
I will not say that Prokofieff is right. But I will not say that he is wrong, either.
Facing all of this, I, too, was presented with a very serious moral choice.
And after long years of struggling with these issues, my own conscience, my own heart leads me to join the older Catholic Tomberg in saying:
Let us work not in order to overthrow but in order to build. Let us range ourselves amongst the builders of the “great cathedral” of mankind’s spiritual tradition — and let us try to contribute to it. May the Holy Scriptures be holy for us; may the Sacraments be Sacraments for us; may the hierarchy of spiritual authority be the hierarchy of authority for us (Meditations on the Tarot pgs 409-410).
For feeling the pain of the world in my own heart and feeling the utter miracle that is the Catholic Church, I choose to follow the call to hurry, hurry to the Holy Father and to obey …
This is the only place where I can see Salvation for the World.
This is what this website is all about.
And I give thanks every day of my life to Valentin Tomberg, who opened my eyes to that.
Warmly, respectfully and tenderly yours,