a rainbow does not make up for the annihilation of mankind

Ark on Mount Ararat By Simon de Male

The other night Kid2 wanted to read the story of Noah’s Ark. We have an older children’s copy probably first published sometime in the 70s. It was my husbands when he was a child, and as great flood stories are common in many cultures, I figured why not.

I did my best to read in a non-judgmental tone. Paraphrasing here, as book is back on the bookshelf and really, we all know the story, if you need a refresher, you can find it in the Bible, Genesis 5:32-10:1.

Noah and his wife live together with their children, and one day God tells Noah to build an ark. So Noah goes about building an ark, and collects two of each kind of animal for the ark.

So far, so good. Although Kid2 notes “thats a lot of animals.” Yes, yes it is.

Then God gets angry and sends a lot of rain and floods the world and kills everyone — except Noah and his family.

Kid2’s eyes got big. “That God is mean.”

I can’t say I disagree, after all “That God” just finished drowning (almost) all the the inhabitants of the earth simply because “they angered him.”

So Kid2 and I brainstormed better ways of dealing with people who anger you, then we worked our way to the end of the book.

God shows Noah a rainbow and promises not to kill all the humans again.

Kid2 does not think a rainbow makes up for mass drowning, and wanted to be assured it was “just a story.”

Yes, Kid2, it is just a story.


SOS: Lecture 4: Devachan

This is one of a series of posts discussing Rudolf Steiner’s Founding a Science of the Spirit: Fourteen Lectures Given in Stuttgart Between 22 August and 4 September 1906. Visit the tag Science of Spirit for all posts on this topic. 

This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for your support of Kindism.org.

In skimming through my past posts I’ve realized I haven’t touched on this since April, this is unsurprising, Steiner is not a quick read, and once again I’ve bogged down in the esoteric miasma of Steiner’s work. I fought my way though the purgatory state of Kamaloka so now I’ve arrived at the higher world. Right. What does Devachan hold for me?

The concentrated remnants of my astral body, and my previous astral bodies, which combine to create a newer richer astral body/a new element in man. Yeah, I’m going to need to re-read that a few times before I can fully wrap my head around this.

Devachan seems to be the transitional state between death and reincarnation. The diligent note takers cite three stages:

  1. The human corrects previous shortcomings, and gathers the fruits from his former lives as he prepares for his next incarnation
  2. “Life pulsates through reality, as through rivers and streams” … I’ve got nothing on that… the human uses this force to animate the fruit he gathered in step 1?
  3. The human objectively views his previous life’s passions, and incorporate particular qualities into the soul that will inhabit the body formed/fruit gathered in step 1

As I read it, Devachan is our chance to work through and understand our previous life experience, as people work toward a new incarnation. Interesting. It sounds like the Circle of Life for the Soul.

Additional Reading

Straightforward & Honest

When I clicked on When A Mother Decides To Stop Cancer Treatment And Face Death I was not prepared for the onslaught of feels I was overcome with. It was another vaguely interesting article on my Facebook feed, and then a few paragraphs in I was hit with all the feels.

“We’ve always been straightforward and honest,” Lum said during an extensive interview in June. The kids “get the facts and the truth and it’s not ‘Mommy has a tummy ache.’ No, ‘Mommy has cancer.’ “

Straightforward and honest are not words I would ever use to describe Christian Science.

Using Christian Science logic, acknowledging that “mommy has cancer” would only empower mortal mind, and make the “issue” harder to overcome. Actually, you’d never get that far, because cancer would be a diagnosis, which would require going to a doctor (see all the other posts on this topic).

Christian Science wouldn’t even say “mommy has a tummy ache.” “Mommy” would be “resting” or “working with the books” or something even more vague. “Mommy” would be working to overcome something – including fear of the unknown and worst-case scenarios. In Christian Science, “Mommy” is expected to overcome or it is failure on her part.

Our society does a poor job handling the issue of death, and Christian Science adds horrible layers of shame and secrecy. I was reminded of Lucia Greenhouse’s book fathermothergod, which

touches on some of the elephants in the Christian Scientists living room: secrecy surrounding illness, the idea that Christian Science must be protected (from what, I’m still not sure), the tremendously large abstract concepts that young children are expected to understand and demonstrate. Mortal mind, error, protective work….

Reading about Greenhouse’s mother’s health challenges difficult, as was the family drama that played out around it. The line between respecting decisions — even when you disagree with them — and stepping in to intervene is a very fine. Regardless what you choose to do, you will be criticized by someone for your actions.

We are trying to be straightforward and honest with our children about medical issues, but it is difficult. When the eldest child asks “why can’t [still in CS family member] join us at the beach or keep up with us on a [moderate] hike?” we walk the fine line of respecting the family member’s choice and being honest with the child. They’re “not feeling well” (which is true), or they’re “not as young as they used to be” (also true).

My fellow former-CS and I have watched family members secretly succumb to illnesses, only seeking medical care and sharing diagnosis days before their deaths. We have watched them struggle with “situations” that, if they had been diagnosed or treated by modern medicine, could have been resolved, or mitigated. We have offered support as they refused to seek diagnosis, much less treatment. While this is their choice, and it is within their rights to do, the results are often horrible and frustrating.

For the Christian Scientists reading this (if there are any), please be honest with yourself, if a healing isn’t forthcoming, seek medical treatment. Please don’t isolate yourselves in your darkened bedrooms with your  periodicals and books. Please be honest with yourselves and your children, they want to know, they want to help.

SOS: Lecture 3: Life of the Soul in Kamaloka

This is one of a series of posts discussing Rudolf Steiner’s Founding a Science of the Spirit: Fourteen Lectures Given in Stuttgart Between 22 August and 4 September 1906. Visit the tag Science of Spirit for all posts on this topic. 

This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for your support of Kindism.org.

I had to brush a thick layer of dust off Founding a Science of the Spirit before starting this post, and skim my previous posts so I’d have some clue what I was getting back into. It has been a little while since I’ve delved into the esoteric world of Steiner and you really have to be in the right headspace to manage it. I’m trying, I’m not sure I’m there yet.

Good news/bad news: these lectures appear to be building on what we’ve read/talked about before. So far, they seem to give a very quick refresher of the previous lecture’s highlights before jumping into the topic at hand. In Lecture 3: Life of the Soul in Kamaloka, Steiner delves into the states of death and sleep and the various states of the seven members of the what comprises a man club.

Steiner first turns, briefly, to sleep (the younger brother of death), and the states of the astral and ego bodies, which “raise themselves out of the physical body” — apparently this is why we loose consciousness during sleep. Steiner then poses the question: “what does the loosened astral body do at night?” At night, the astral body “renovates the physical body” and renews the forces that have been used during the day.

The remaining portion of the lecture (and indeed, the bulk of it) is devoted to death, and what Steiner believes happens when a person dies. The etheric body leaves, followed closely by the astral body and ego. The person remembers all that has happened — apparently this can also happen if death seems imminent. Steiner refers to this as the “loosening of the etheric body” and considers it to be quite dangerous, this loosening can also happen via hypnotism, or if a person is in enormous danger. Try to avoid it.

Apparently when a person dies the etheric body eventually dissolves into the ether, and the physical body has deteriorated (I assume?), so what remains are the astral body and the ego. At this point Steiner lumps the astral body and ego together and simply calls them “the soul” —  and the soul, now separated from body, is working out it’s desires for sensation/sensory input in a state called Kamaloka… I googled this term, apparently it is Steiner’s equivalent of purgatory.

As Steiner puts it (or as the people taking notes on his lecture put it):

The soul is not tortured from the outside, but has to suffer the torment of the desires it still has but cannot satisfy.

The soul lives its life backwards, day by day seeing where it can learn from the past experiences. Reliving earthly joy, but  offering no satisfaction from it. The soul also experiences the suffering it causes to others. Apparently we must wean ourselves gradually from the physical wishes and desires so the soul can be free of the earth and ascend to Devachan (googled again, the heavenly world).

It seems the less materialistic and more enlightened the soul is, the less it suffers in Kamaloka. Apparently people stay in Kamaloka for 1/3 their previous life, and then their astral bodies dissolves. Once it is fully dissolved, a person can be reincarnated. Steiner is quick to point out there are exceptions to all this, of course, and everyone’s experience varies. No kidding.

The death/purgatory theme is not unique to Steiner, nor is death/purgatory/higher world, but he does put his own embellishments on it. The style of the note takers/translators made me loop back a few times to try and catch the details (I probably failed at that). Over all I was left with an unworldly sci-fi feeling with the various bodies departing in their own ways. I’m not sure I’m going to sleep too well tonight, I don’t know how I feel about  my astral and ego bodies running loose.

Additional reading

Come as you are, as you were, as you wanted to be

This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for your support of Kindism.org.

On nice weekends my husband and I take the kids and walk around downtown visiting local shops, getting ice-cream, and generally enjoying getting out of the house. The children love to visit bookstores (they’re more likely to get a new book than a new toy), and we’re quite fortunate, our town has two.

The other weekend while perusing the bookstores my husband slipped Come as You Are: The Surprising New Science that Will Transform Your Sex Life into the pile with the explanation of “It looks like something you might find interesting.” I rolled my eyes a bit, the bright pink cover was slightly off-putting, but he generally has good taste in books so it came home with us and was added to the pile of books on my nightstand, next to my partially ready Steiner and Dennett.

A few days went by, and curiosity got the better of me (and Steiner got a bit esoteric and Dennett got dense), so I climbed over my mental barrier (it has sex in the title!) and decided to give it a try. Three, maybe four, days later, I was done and I felt like a huge weight had been lifted.

This is probably one of the best books I’ve read all year, and if you’ve been following along on the blog, I’ve been doing a fair bit of reading. Using the example of a garden and a sleep hedgehog (as well as some other fabulous anlogies), Emily Nagoski guides the reader through anatomy, biology, physiology, chemistry, etc. in a way that is accessible to the average person.

I think it helped that I didn’t take it too seriously, it is about sex after all, and I happen to feel sex should be fun (and consensual and enjoyable), and reading about it should be fun too. I found it to be unintentionally hilarious, overly-obvious at times, and all-around enjoyable, your results may vary.

After I finished it, I handed it to my husband to read, he asked what I’d learned from it:

me: I learned we all have different gardens, some are arid and grow aloe vera, others need more water and grow tomatoes! Different gardens need different care, and I get to decide what I want to plant. Also, don’t upset sleepy hedgehogs.

him: But you don’t water your garden, that’s why I spent a lot of money to put it on a drip system, so you don’t kill all the plants.

me: Exactly.

I really like the garden analogy, quite a few years ago, my garden was choked with weeds: weeds from the media, weeds from “morality” (thanks Christian Science and deep south “morals”), weeds from awkward/traumatizing medical moments (thanks again CS!) I’m still in the process of uprooting weeds, and I’m sure some will attempt to grow back, but I’m going to be mindful and patient with myself, and remember that garden’s just don’t grow overnight, and sometimes gophers come eat them, or there’s a nasty frost.

I wish this book had been available sooner, like 10+ years ago, before I got engaged (or even earlier), but I don’t think I would’ve been as open to reading it during my Principia years (sex is distracting and unnecessary!), and giving it to my high-school aged self would not have ended well either (southern morality, sex is icky!).

My perspective has changed (sex -in the proper context- is fun!), and in the years since leaving Prin (and Christian Science) I started pulling these figurative weeds a few years back (I’ll spare you the details), but it would’ve been helpful to have this books a reference point for the process. Yes, I am being vague, this blog is not about sex, it’s about other things! So yes, if you want to read a fun, nonjudgmental book about sex, based on science and biology (yay science!) I highly recommend  Come as You Are

Weeds in the Garden (thanks Christian Science!)

Pretending to be Furiously Happy

A few years ago I found myself sitting at the airport about to catch a flight that I didn’t really want to be on, going somewhere I didn’t really want to go, to undertake tasks that I’d rather have avoided.

My father had passed away only a few months before, and I was flying across the country to help my mother sort out his things, make some order in the house, and come to terms with his passing. My mother and I have a mostly cordial relationship as long as we stick to topics like the weather, add religion, politics, child raising to the mix and it becomes strained rather quickly.

My mother is still an active Christian Scientist, she has political opinions that I disagree with, and I’m raising her grandchildren. These topics are pretty much unavoidable.

I sat in the airport terminal dreading the flight, my mind filled with thoughts I’d rather leave unaddressed. I’m not totally sure how I ended up deciding to buy Jenny Lawson‘s book, Let’s Pretend This Never Happened, but it seemed like a good idea at the time.

I heard about Jenny Lawson aka “The Bloggess” from Wil Wheaton‘s twitter feed, and the #depressionlies hashtag. Eventually I got curious and went and read a few posts, which then turned into a few years worth of older posts.

My impulse purchase of her book before my four-hour flight was serendipitous. It helped me put things in perspective, it was funny, relatable (a little too relatable in places), and I laughed, cried and nodded along. It was exactly what I needed to read before heading home to face my mother.

Jenny’s new book has come out, Furiously Happy — I picked up a copy of Furiously Happy two or three days after it came out. While I found it enjoyable, I didn’t find it as relatable as Let’s Pretend this Never Happened. I don’t know why, I enjoyed it, but I found I far prefer Let’s Pretend. I digress. She recently shared the promotional video for it. I’m not sure if it is the stress, lack of decent sleep, smoke in the air from the fires, or a combination of all of those things, but the video brought me to tears. People shared why they are “broken” and why they are “furiously happy” and it is so relatable…

I struggle with the concept of “broken” although I relate all too well to several of the inscriptions on the placards. I was raised as God’s perfect child, with no room for error, or mistakes, certainly not broken. To open myself up like that, to be vulnerable, to be who I want to be, to allow myself to drop my defenses, to be alright with failure, I’m not totally sure where I’m going with this.

I don’t feel broken right now, I have in the past, I did after I had my first child. I felt like a failure during my first winter at Principia. I felt used after I split from my abusive boyfriend who apologized for ruining me. For a while I did feel ruined, then I felt angry, and then empowered, as well as confused.

Right now, I’m feeling overwhelmed. I have a several very successful projects going on, and while magical thinking says everything will all work out, I know it takes a lot of hard work for that to happen, and some things are simply out of my control. I’m not going to “let go and let God” — I don’t think God has anything to do with it. I will instead trust that events will continue to fold with serendipity and that the sun will continue to rise each morning (even if it is heavily obscured by fog, clouds and hopefully rain).

SOS: Lecture 2: The Three Worlds

This is one of a series of posts discussing Rudolf Steiner’s Founding a Science of the Spirit: Fourteen Lectures Given in Stuttgart Between 22 August and 4 September 1906. Visit the tag Science of Spirit for all posts on this topic. 

This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for your support of Kindism.org.

I hope everyone has recovered from the Note about Notes and fully wrapped their head around that ball of madness that I summed up  as “a collection of metaphorical, occult lecture notes that talk about practical occultism, Buddi, and glowing auras.” This post is moving on to Lecture 2: The Three Worlds, and trust me, Steiner does not fail to disappoint (in making you feel like you want to smash your head into the desk, watch out for your computer).

Steiner starts with an objection that I find pithy at best:

What use to us is this knowledge you say you have of higher worlds if we cannot look into these worlds for ourselves?

I love to learn about other worlds (higher and otherwise), and very much enjoy documentaries about space and foreign lands, of the three worlds Steiner is speaking of, only one of them can easily explored by the uninitiated:

  1. The physical world, the scene of human life
  2. The astral world or the world of the soul
  3. The devachanic world or world of the spirit (I had to pause and look up devachanic, I think I am left more confused than not)

Steiner (or, more accurately the note takers) does not delve into the physical world, noting “everyone is familiar with it and the physical laws which obtain there” so we will go directly to the astral world.

Things are different in the astral world:

  • people will at first be bewildered
  • things appear reversed/mirror image, e.g. reading numbers backwards
  • people can see their passions and desires
  • time moves backwards, effect then cause — this is how prophecy is possible
  • thoughts and feelings are a reality
  • speaking truths creates life-promoting elements, lies/hostile forces destroy/kill
  • world of colors
  • this realm sets a foundation for morality

Highlights from the astral world that stood out me:

In the long run no mere preaching of morality will be effective, but a knowledge of truth gives morality a sound basis. To preach morality is like preaching to a stove about its duty to provide warmth and heat, while not giving it any coat. If we want a firm foundation for morality, we must occupy the soul with fuel in the form of knowledge and truth.

I like the imagery of preaching to a stove. People are the same way, unless you provide them the skills and tools they need to complete a task, how can they be expected to succeed?

If we speak the truth about our neighbor, we are creating a thought which the seer can recognize by its color and form, and it will be a thought which gives strength to our neighbor. … Every spoken truth creates a life-promoting element; every lie, an element hostile to life. Anyone who knows this will take much greater care to speak the truth and avoid lies than if he is merely preached at and told he must be nice and truthful. (emphasis mine)

This reminds me of Paul’s whatevers in Phillippians 4:8, but is slightly more fatalistic (bad thoughts damage the astral body). The “every lie, an element hostile to life” reminds me a bit of Ms. Eddy’s “malicious animal magnetism” although the focus is more on minding one’ s own thought than being harmed by the thoughts of others. I’m unsure if Steiner is going to elaborate on this — if anyone knows more on this, please leave a comment or email me — I’m rather curious about this aspect of it. Is it a universal idea among thinkers and philosophers in the mid-1800s?

Above the astral world is the devachan world, which comes with it’s own special features:

  • it is the world of spirit and musical sounds
  • heavenly bodies can be heard, harmony of the cosmos, everything lives in music
  • astral world remains fully present — hear  devachan, see astral, but changed
  • see in the negative “through photographic plate”
  • see in complimentary colors — red instead of green, yellow instead of blue

The Devachan realm has several regions

  • First region: see archetypes of the physical world that has no life, minerals, humans, plants and animals in very basic lifeless form (?)
  • Second region: life force of plants and animals can be seen clearly, no minerals — “ocean”
  • Third region, “atmosphere” feelings, emotions, pleasure and pain where ever they are active in the physical. Everything that has a life forms the “ocean” all emotion is in the atmosphere.
  • Fourth section: transcends everything that might still have existed if there was no mankind (HUH?!)
  • Askasha Chronicle (had to stop and look it up, and again, am more confused than not), the Akasha is a living collection of images, intentions, thoughts and imaginations.

I’m not totally sure I’ve taken anything from the Devachan world other than the need to re-read the section because I don’t totally get it. Steiner (and his note takers) talk about Goethe and Caesar and seances and living images, and it is a bit too surreal for me to wrap my head around at the moment.

The lecture concludes with the disconcerting notion:

Strange as these facts may seen, they are facts none the less.

Right then.

RESOURCES & additional reading FOR THE CURIOUS