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are waldorf and christianity compatible?? - Page 2

post #21 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by The Hidden Life
Anyway, my question for Rhonwyn was about your statement above, about "the guardian angel waiting with the child in heaven before it is born." Would this mean that anthroposophists would believe that the soul (the divine spark, the life force or whatever better term there is, not just the physical functioning of the body) isn't present in a in-utero baby until just before birth? I am curious, because I had a friend once tell me this was her belief and I'm wondering if it came from anthroposophism.

Obviously, as a Catholic, I couldn't agree with this idea, since Christians believe that the immortal soul is bestowed at the moment of conception, not at or just before birth. So this is the kind of thing that has led me to believe that Waldorf schools are not compatible with my religion.LeeAnn
I always feel that there is a need to define a difference between waldorf schools and anthroposophy. From my experience as a student, parent and waldorf school employee, anthroposophy as "doctrine" isn't part of the curriculum. Many teachers are interested in anthroposophy, but the degree of interest varies a lot and you can't assume that every teacher is a devotee.

That said, the anthroposophical point of view is complex. Human beings reincarnate repeatedly. In between lives in the physical world they spend time experiencing various kinds of stuff in the spiritual worlds. As the time approaches for another life on earth, a preparatory process is experienced, which I won't try to describe, mostly because it is a long time since I studied this stuff and I don't want to misrepresent anything.

So basically, for anthroposophists the spirit is eternal and exists prior to conception. When the individual actually links themselves to the new physical body may vary, but I suspect it is usually well before birth and probably before conception: the individual has an interest and a connection with their parents that exists before they actually start to incarnate.

I am not saying that any of this is fact, just trying to lay out the ideas presented by Steiner.

Cheers,
Deborah
post #22 of 44
Thank you for your reply, Deborah. This does indeed sound like what my friend believed as well. She was explaining to me why she didn't think abortion was immoral: because the child's soul could simply pluck itself out of the (aborted) fetal body and choose to enter a new fetal body at a time "when the parents were more ready" to welcome a baby. Obviously, this is quite at odds with what Catholics believe, but it helps to understand where others are coming from.

Thank you again,
LeeAnn
post #23 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by The Hidden Life
Obviously, as a Catholic, I couldn't agree with this idea, since Christians believe that the immortal soul is bestowed at the moment of conception, not at or just before birth. So this is the kind of thing that has led me to believe that Waldorf schools are not compatible with my religion.

I do enjoy many Waldorf "things" though and it is a good tonic to our materialistic and media-saturated society.

LeeAnn
Not all Christians believe that the soul is bestowed at conception.

Also, the Waldorf teacher that told the story about the little souls waiting in heaven with their gaurdian angel is Catholic. I don't think she believes in reincarnation but I know that she believes in gaurdian angels. As to her feelings about abortion, I couldn't say as it was never a topic of discussion. We generally stuck to talking about the children.
post #24 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by KristiMom
Also, Hitler closed down all Waldorf Schools when he was in power because they taught children to think for themselves which was completely against what he wanted.
I had read that Hitler did not close down the Waldorf schools, in fact, they stayed open longer than most other types of schools, because Rudolf Hess, head of the SS, was a Waldorf alum and his children attended them. They closed down because of lack of resources in the Reich.
post #25 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bahesmama
I had read that Hitler did not close down the Waldorf schools, in fact, they stayed open longer than most other types of schools, because Rudolf Hess, head of the SS, was a Waldorf alum and his children attended them. They closed down because of lack of resources in the Reich.

Sorry, Hess wasn't SS Head, but Deputy Furher. I watched the Holocaust PBS show and so, was in mind of Himmler.

Here's why Hess was the "protector of Anthroposophy" in the Reich until 1941:

I. Steiner's racial hierarchy

Steiner's mature system, which he called Anthroposophy, involves a complex scheme of racial evolution borrowed from Blavatskyís Theosophy. According to this scheme, the currently predominant ìroot raceî is the Aryan race, and within the Aryan race the currently predominant ethnic group is the Nordic-Germanic sub-race.

ìThe ancestors of the Atlanteans lived in a region which has disappeared,
the main part of which lay south of contemporary Asia. In theosophical
writings they are called the Lemurians. After they had passed through
various stages of development the greatest part of them declined. These
became stunted men, whose descendants still inhabit certain parts of the
earth today as so-called savage tribes. Only a small part of Lemurian
humanity was capable of further development. From this part the Atlanteans were formed.
Later, something similar again took place. The greatest part of the
Atlantean population declined, and from a small portion are descended the
so-called Aryans who comprise present-day civilized humanity. According to
the nomenclature of the science of the spirit, the Lemurians, Atlanteans and
Aryans are root races of mankind. If one imagines that two such root races
preceded the Lemurians and that two will succeed the Aryans in the future,
one obtains a total of seven. One always arises from another in the manner
just indicated with respect to the Lemurians, Atlanteans, and Aryans. Each
root race has physical and mental characteristics which are quite different
from those of the preceding one. While, for example, the Atlanteans
especially developed memory and everything connected with it, at the present time it is the task of the Aryans to develop the faculty of thought and all that belongs to it.
post #26 of 44
From what I had heard, Waldorf schools at first were allowed to stay open but when it became clear that they were not what the Reich had expected the Waldorf schools were closed.

Also, I thought most of this racial stuff was from when Steiner was younger and that he had changed much of his thinking in these regards in his older years. I'll have to leave this to Deborah though. She is much more versed in the history of Waldorf and Steiner than I am.

Most of the teachers I have talked to seem to be able to see Steiner as a man and a philospher, warts and all. I am sure that it is different from school to school, teacher to teacher.
post #27 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rhonwyn
From what I had heard, Waldorf schools at first were allowed to stay open but when it became clear that they were not what the Reich had expected the Waldorf schools were closed.

Also, I thought most of this racial stuff was from when Steiner was younger and that he had changed much of his thinking in these regards in his older years.
From what I heard, that is spin put out by Steinerists. Also, the passage is said to be his "mature" vision of anthroposophy.

I guess, I find it disappointing that other liberals are unwilling to look at this. It's kinda frightening, actually, as a woman of color.

From all I've read, it's pretty clear the Aryan basis of his thinking, despite his apologists. I love the vision that parents, who are like me, liberal, late 20th century-raised have for the education of their children. I just wish they didn't feel like they had to put this old horse out to pull it and trust in themselves to do it without Steiner. Let's face it, our generation has a vision that is really good and we don't need Anthroposophy to prop us up. You're instincts are right on, don't waste them defending this man.
post #28 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bahesmama
From what I heard, that is spin put out by Steinerists. Also, the passage is said to be his "mature" vision of anthroposophy.

I guess, I find it disappointing that other liberals are unwilling to look at this. It's kinda frightening, actually, as a woman of color.

From all I've read, it's pretty clear the Aryan basis of his thinking, despite his apologists. I love the vision that parents, who are like me, liberal, late 20th century-raised have for the education of their children. I just wish they didn't feel like they had to put this old horse out to pull it and trust in themselves to do it without Steiner. Let's face it, our generation has a vision that is really good and we don't need Anthroposophy to prop us up. You're instincts are right on, don't waste them defending this man.
Well at this point in time, with the limited time I have, I can only go by the children and adults that I have met who were educated in the Waldorf schools. In all cases, they have been very deep thinking individuals who were very accepting of all peoples irregardless of class, race, religion, or whatever qualifiers you wish to put out there. It is the results that I have seen in individuals as well as the results I have seen in my own children that have convinced me that Waldorf is the best for our family. Steiner was a man of his times as were Jefferson and many others. It does not excuse their warts but their warts don't nullify the good that they did.
post #29 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rhonwyn
Steiner was a man of his times as were Jefferson and many others. It does not excuse their warts but their warts don't nullify the good that they did.
Well, what can I say to that? I find it rather chilling. To me the holocaust and the evil caused by Aryanism is perhaps too personal a thing. My ancestors were eliminated in the name of an Aryan Manifest Destiny of this continent. I guess, I don't have the internal space to breeze it aside as easily as some.

I guess, I'm just shocked by your response.
post #30 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rhonwyn
In all cases, they have been very deep thinking individuals who were very accepting of all peoples irregardless of class, race, religion, or whatever qualifiers you wish to put out there.
I must ask also why they can't question Steiner? I question Jefferson. And I wouldn't send my daughter to a school that uncritically taught his curriculum.
post #31 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bahesmama
Well, what can I say to that? I find it rather chilling. To me the holocaust and the evil caused by Aryanism is perhaps too personal a thing. My ancestors were eliminated in the name of an Aryan Manifest Destiny of this continent. I guess, I don't have the internal space to breeze it aside as easily as some.

I guess, I'm just shocked by your response.

Do you not see any good that comes from Jefferson? Yes, he started the Lewis and Clark expedition which set in motion the whole westward expansion that led to the wholesale slaughter of Native American populations. But he is also one of the founding fathers of this country and set in motion the country we are today. He is far from perfect but that does negate the good he did. The same can be said for Steiner.

Very few people are totally good or bad and sometimes the most creative are also the most destructive. I can learn from Steiner and from Jefferson and use what is good and not use what is bad. From my experience, the teachers at our school are not teaching the children that people of color are a lesser race and teachers do not believe that either. Most of them go out of their way to make their lessons inclusive of all peoples. The children reflect Seattle. Many are white but we also have many that are of color.

It is interesting. I got into a very similar discussion about the founder of Kwanzaa and whether or not his actions made Kwanzaa a false holiday.
post #32 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bahesmama
I must ask also why they can't question Steiner? I question Jefferson. And I wouldn't send my daughter to a school that uncritically taught his curriculum.
I haven't talked to one teacher that hasn't acknowledged that Steiner was a man of his times. They do question him and his meanings and they add what they know to be true today because humankind has progressed from those days. We aren't where we should be yet but we are better today than we were 100 years, 75 years or 50 years ago.
post #33 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rhonwyn
Do you not see any good that comes from Jefferson? Yes, he started the Lewis and Clark expedition which set in motion the whole westward expansion that led to the wholesale slaughter of Native American populations. But he is also one of the founding fathers of this country and set in motion the country we are today. He is far from perfect but that does negate the good he did. The same can be said for Steiner.
But was it really good? Couldn't there have been a greater good done? Have you ever read The People's History of the United States by Howard Zinn? He purports that the Founding Father's took the words of freedom in order to further their own interests and to get the larger, poorer public to buy in. I think that there are those who have used his words to skillfully further their own causes in the year hence, but that was not his good or vision. I cannot say, I am happy to be an American at all. I would have rather remained a Nakota (or Sioux in the American parlance). Moderator feel free to reign me in here!
post #34 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bahesmama
But was it really good? Couldn't there have been a greater good done? Have you ever read The People's History of the United States by Howard Zinn? He purports that the Founding Father's took the words of freedom in order to further their own interests and to get the larger, poorer public to buy in. I think that there are those who have used his words to skillfully further their own causes in the year hence, but that was not his good or vision. I cannot say, I am happy to be an American at all. I would have rather remained a Nakota (or Sioux in the American parlance). Moderator feel free to reign me in here!
Bahesmama - I don't have any problem with what you are saying. You are remaining respectful. I think if we were to talk IRL we would find that we agree more than we disagree. I can accept that for you Waldorf doesn't work. It does for us while public school, Catholic schools, etc do not.

I am big believer that many times the things we create are not our own once we release them. People make them grow and often become something we never intended them to be. Kwanzaa may have been started by a terrible man but it has become a meaningful holiday for many. So whatever the founding fathers intended, it isn't necessarily what they got. America is like the people who populate it, it has many wonderful qualities but it also has many warts. I am sure as a Native American you are more familiar with the warts than some of us.
post #35 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rhonwyn
So whatever the founding fathers intended, it isn't necessarily what they got. America is like the people who populate it, it has many wonderful qualities but it also has many warts. I am sure as a Native American you are more familiar with the warts than some of us.
Well, I have often encountered an unwillingness to look truthfully at the past. I have seen many times when the very small requests of Native Americans have gone completely unsatisfied by a very satisfied majority. I realize you are satisfied with your situation and will not consider my very small request to truly question Steiner. The good you have in your school is your own good and that of each member. As such, you have no need to to hang on to Steiner and make it impossible for true-spirited people of color and of conscience to have to share in what you have. It's your choice and I believe you have traded true fellowship for a ghost.

That is all I have to say-- Hechetu ye. I will respond no more.
post #36 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rhonwyn
Not all Christians believe that the soul is bestowed at conception.

Also, the Waldorf teacher that told the story about the little souls waiting in heaven with their gaurdian angel is Catholic. I don't think she believes in reincarnation but I know that she believes in gaurdian angels. As to her feelings about abortion, I couldn't say as it was never a topic of discussion. We generally stuck to talking about the children.
Well, lemme say this, individual Christians (and especially Catholic Christians) do not get to decide doctrine, the teaching authority of the Church does. For Catholics, that is quite clear, we have Tradition and the Pope and the Magisterium, and for Eastern Christians (Orthodox, Copts, etc.) as well, they have Conciliar Councils and Tradition again. All of these state that the soul is bestowed by God at the moment of conception. Whether or not individual Christians choose to accept this teaching of the Church is not the issue.

For Protestants, especially those without a defined source of authority on these matters (bishops or a national conference of authority), then the issue becomes more muddled, but the basic core of orthodox (little "o" here) Christian belief is the same as for the Catholics and Orthodox, the soul is bestowed at conception, there is no possibility that the child's soul could have previously had a time of waiting in heaven and choosing its parents.

The further a particular Christian denomination/church goes from orthodox belief, well, then yes, I suppose you will find greater numbers of persons who will tell you they aren't sure about this doctrine or have some opposing belief.

As for guardian angels, yes, of course, I believe in them too! And thank God for them! Each and every human being is given a guardian angel from the moment of his or her conception to "light and guard, to rule and guide" as the old prayer goes. There is a very lovely new children's book, "Angel in the Waters" by Regina Doman which illustrates this idea of a child in utero, growing and aware, getting ready to be born all the time accompanied by his guardian angel in the womb. Great story, really beautiful for all ages.

Thanks again for the conversation,
LeeAnn
post #37 of 44
I'm wondering, does anyone know of a biblical basis for the concept of the child's soul being "bestowed at conception." In other words, did Christ make a statement on this? Or one of the apostles? Does it come from one of the church fathers, for example St. Augustine? Now you have my curiosity greatly aroused!

Nana
post #38 of 44
Deborah, here is an article which addresses the idea of "ensoulment," which is the term for what we're talking about.

http://www.lifeissues.net/writers/as...gaquinas1.html

I think it's St. Thomas Aquinas (not Augustine) that is more known for writing about ensoulment of the fetal child. Back in the Middle Ages, there was debate about whether ensoulment might occur at the moment of "quickening," that is, the first time a mother could feel the baby move within her body. Their culture obviously didn't have the detailed kind of knowledge of gestation that we do today: that in fact, the embryo/fetus is moving constantly from practically the first hour it has limbs even before the mother can feel the baby's movements.

In the Bible itself, we have the story of the Visitation, when Mary goes to visit her cousin Elizabeth to tell what the angel Gabriel had to say. The two women, Mary newly pregnant, Elizabeth about six months along, greet each other as does Elizabeth's child (St. John the Baptist) still in the womb, "leaping for joy," recognizing the presence of God's Son, Jesus, in the womb of the Virgin Mary.

Now, obviously this is a special, miraculous, happening, but it demonstrates that both the babies in the womb already had an identity, a soul and body specially created for a purpose, as each of us are.

And this would be where Anthroposophy and orthodox Christian belief collide: Christian teaching holds that each of us are created a unique child of God. There is no existence before the moment of conception. There is the verse, "Before you formed me in the womb, you knew me," but that is more a reflection on God's eternal nature, of him being present in all moments of time simultaneoulsy, rather than a theory of man's heavenly existence before conception in the womb.

Then of course for Catholics, there is the dogma of the Immaculate Conception of Mary, the belief that from the moment of her conception, God removed the stain of original sin from Mary in order that she would be a fitting and holy tabernacle, if you will, of the Living Presence of God incarnate. Like Adam and Eve, Mary was created without sin, which is why Catholics call her the "new Eve," but rather than choosing to sin, as Adam and Eve did, Mary chose to do God's will, "Let it be done to me according to thy Word." So because of this belief in the Immaculate Conception, we believe that Mary already had a soul from the moment of her being formed in her mother's womb.

So there is a lot of Tradition in favor of this idea, although over the centuries there has been debate over it, such as with St. Thomas Aquinas. However, even though a person is a saint, that does not make all their ideas infallible.

Sorry if this was more of an answer than what you were wanting. It's a passion of mine, obviously.

May your children have a wonderful and life-affirming education, wherever they learn,
LeeAnn
post #39 of 44
LeeAnn,

Thanks for responding to my request. Now I understand where the doctrine is "coming from" so to speak, which is helpful.

Deborah
post #40 of 44
This really depends on your personal beliefs- for our family, the answer is a definite no. For friends we have who are more free-wheeling, new-age take-what-you-like-and-leave-the-rest Waldorf is fine. They can easliy tune out the stuff they don't like. I have a harder time doing that, and while I don't want a necessarily religious school, I at least want one that doesn't make me uncomfortable, as many anthroposophical teachings as applied in Waldorf teacher training, curriculum and classroom management do.

Funnily enough, when we were looking into Waldorf the schools we looked at basically represented themselves as Christian based, but welcoming all faiths. I'm all for welcoming all faiths, but I quickly discovered we were not talking about the same Christ or the same Christianity as the Waldorf teachers were! And don't get me wrong we're not fundamentalist whackos here!
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