Prokofieff’s The Case of Valentin Tomberg: Anthroposophy or Jesuitism?

 

Sergei Prokofieff

From Sergei Prokofieff: The Case of Valentin Tomberg: Anthroposophy or Jesuitism?

 

This is more a notice – even an exclamatory burst! – than an in-depth book review.

For I want to include at this site a brief notice, at least, of Sergei Prokofieff’s The Case of Valentin Tomberg: Anthroposophy or Jesuitism.

Unusually for this website, it is a very negative notice that some may find unduly censorious.

At any rate, herewith my honest, unfiltered feelings regarding Prokofieff’s “tour de-force” to destroy Tomberg’s credibility . . .

Here is a relentless book in black and white.

Relentless, inasmuch as Prokofieff spares no opportunity to condemn Tomberg. It is as though no stone, almost no sentence even, is left unturned for an opportunity to breathlessly paint the mature Tomberg’s Catholic work (or better: project) as black – without the slightest trace of nuance or subtlety.

Rudolf Steiner’s Anthroposophy consistently comes across as whiter than white, Valentin Tomberg’s “Jesuitism” as blacker than black . . .

Admittedly, one occasionally finds slight nods of recognition of the younger Anthroposophist Tomberg, before his astonishing conversion to the Church.

But even these remain sparing (one may almost feel begrudging).

But I defy any reader to find a single sentence containing even a hint of the slightest good in Tomberg the convert.

Truly, a terrible book, I think.

Still, it is not without a certain, limited merit.

For Prokofieff was right – there is a mighty difference between Tomberg’s Catholic works and Anthroposophy. Too few on either side of the fence (whether “pro-Tomberg” or “anti-Tomberg”) are sufficiently alert to this.

And yet this should be evident – shockingly evident, I think – for anyone who reads Tomberg’s first 1944 post-Anthroposophical Catholic work The Art of Good (now reviewed here).

For seemingly out of nowhere, Tomberg dispenses with so much he once held dear. Gone is the idea of a ”spiritual science” that can redeem the world.

In its place, one finds a legal and political thinking that harkens back to Christendom, arguing for things which run completely counter to Anthroposophy. Including things like, Tomberg now tells us:

“The fact of the superiority of the Catholic Church to all other human communities.”

And this only a few brief years after departing from Anthroposophy, to which Tomberg gave so much . . .

Moreover, there is much more in this seminal, shocking 1944 book that shows that Prokofieff could at least see the vast gulf between Tomberg’s Anthroposophy and his Catholicism (or so-called “Jesuitism”).

But even if Prokofiev sees clearly in this respect, there is little justification for the exhaustive monochromatic exposition of black (Tomberg) versus white (Steiner) that breathes through every page of this book.

Still, I actually find something rather touching about Prokofieff’s love and devotion to Rudolf Steiner, that strikes me as almost childlike.

And where there is love and devotion, there is beauty, even if it is naive beauty . . .

I will gnomically add that recently a truly profound novel has appeared in English by Tomberg’s German biographer Michael Frensch that deals, even if very indirectly, with some of the issues here in an infinitely more nuanced way.

It is called The Viridian Sail: Seurat’s Secret and there is an inadequate notice of it here at this site.

Tomberg Videos and More . . .

There is much more about Valentin Tomberg both in an archive of articles at this website and in my three books published by Angelico Press.

Moreover, I have some videos at YouTube. This very brief one (less than two minutes) actually invokes Prokofieff and the issues above:

But this new much longer video—two hours, not two minutes!—is now, I think, the best of my Tomberg videos:

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