Welcome to the Michaelmas issue of New View. In the southern hemisphere spring beckons, whilst here in the north things turn more inward and leaves dream of being blown on the winds and reuniting with the land for the winter sojourn. A time more suited to reflection. And there is surely much to reflect upon.
How to organise one’s inner thoughts for all that calls for attention and understanding? Rudolf Steiner gave an indication of how to approach this by offering an exercise for the beginning of each day; to decide what was essential and what was not essential to engage with, today. Of course that immediately calls into question one’s discrimination, deciding what one should become active in and what to leave alone for now, perhaps for another occasion. And isn’t decision making a mystery? One moment I am wrestling with something that calls for resolution and then, suddenly, I have decided on a course of action. The decision has arrived. How did that happen? Steiner once said that decision making was the highest form of initiation. Now that is something to ponder on! Not coming to a decision, being in limbo, being concerned not to make the wrong decision is a trial we are all constantly faced with. For all the lack of outer activity we may, nonetheless, be active, deeply so, in our inner life, turning things over, looking for insight, guidance, inspiration. Then again we may be just stuck and events blow us hither and thither. Yet sailors know how to work with the winds, to set a course and sail through even the worst of storms. There is courage in that, for the outcome is never certain. We live with uncertainty but can still set our course and go forward. I am like a leaf, blown by the winds, but unlike the leaf I can be active within the winds, the winds of time. And that is a motif of Michaelmas, to be active, both inwardly and outwardly and find courage for the uncertainty. What resource is available when we are uncertain? What part of us remains steadfast? That is why, in part, this time of Michaelmas is important; to become aware that there is a connection to a source that can help. Steiner was in no doubt that the Michaelmas Festival was one that must gain more prominence in the future (it is little known or celebrated) because it carries this quality of courage for adversity out of which deeds can come. And it is deeds that shape events and the world around us; and the intentions in these deeds is everything, for good or ill. So it comes down to qualities, in each of us.
Which brings me gently to a strong contribution that appears in the pages of this issue of New View. There is a section of humanity that is often forgotten, overlooked; those in our midst who, for whatever reason, have fallen foul of the law and become incarcerated in prison. What happens when one is removed from society, for years, sometimes for life? The front cover is a piece of art made by a prisoner in the USA, a country where, per capita, more men, especially, are in prison than anywhere else in the world. Let me pick up on this as we pass through the contributions for this issue of the magazine: Bringing Light to the World: Our Deepest Human Vocation by Jeremy Naydler looks at the spiritual ramifications of 5G that is rolling over most of us before we even understand it. This is complemented with The Light of the World by Owen Barfield who died in 1997 but left a fine and helpful legacy of work that may only be better understood and appreciated as time unfolds. Frances Hutchinson then offers insights into human community with Finance and the Social Order.
A Grimm’s folk tale is then visited by Maarten Ekama in Mother Holle, a Cautionary Tale? where he ponders on inner attitudes and the consequences of them. And inner attitudes play such a part in the work of an initiative springing from members of the Anthroposophical Society in America with Finding Freedom in Prison: Anthroposophical Prison Outreach in the USA by Kathy Serafin. This work with prisoners across America is both humbling and inspiring and deserving of much support. We meet men who have found another way whilst imprisoned with the help of Anthroposophy – through the deeds of people – and some of them share their experiences and art in letters poems and paintings. One of those who pioneered this work wrote a booklet that is made available to prisoners, based on Steiner’s six subsidiary exercises and the text of this booklet, Self Development in the Penitentiary by Fred Janney, is shared with New View readers.
A Question of Identity by Richard Bunzl looks at the issues of gender, especially in the light of anthroposophy. The Gesture of the Human Form by Charles Kovacs (1907-2001) adds another perspective to this issue.
NNA – news around the world compiled by Christian von Arnim looks again at the issues surrounding Steiner schools in England.
A glimpse into how ideas affect the world we live in is offered by Neoliberalism and the Emergence of a Threefold Social Order by Richard Cooper from Switzerland. Then a moments pause to consider a haiku, that poetic Japanese form, from Paula Dunley, illustrated by Zephir Delamore from New Zealand, before “Unite Behind the Science”? Greta Thunberg, Extinction Rebellion and Technocracy by Terry Boardman. All this is rounded off with a selection of thought provoking book reviews.
We still need to fund raise, year on year to keep going and my thanks to those readers who recognise this and have made our continuance possible. One day we may have a large enough circulation never to have to seek funding again!
Wishing you, the reader, well, wherever you are,