anthroposophists often denounce materialism. Materialists, they claim, are ignorant about the spiritual. Materialists are naturalists. Materialists only care about the physical, unlike anthroposophists who care about the spiritual. Anthroposophists believe that non-anthroposophists raise their children to become materialists, robbing childhood of mysteries and children of spiritual development. However, getting acquainted with the anthroposophical milieu, one soon realizes that for being the saviours of spiritual values, anthroposophists are surprisingly stuck in the material. Too an astounding degree, they hook their spirituality on to both material objects and to concepts and ideas that directly influence material life.
The spiritual seems to have its main importance in its material manifestations. Spirituality is attached to objects outside of the self more than to inner reality, to a state of mind or to the psychological capacities of the human being. The waldorf child is schooled in the practical, while the intellectual is neglected; knitting enhances spirituality, poetry does not. Doing is emphasized over thinking. This may not be the original intent of waldorf education, but it is, nevertheless, the actual practice.
Children’s thinking life is less important than the physical world which surrounds them. A good parent makes sure the child owns the right (expensive) wooden toys. It’s wholly material. The reasons for devoting thought to children’s toys become irrelevant: instead there’s consumption. The material is, somehow, supposed to ensure spiritual development — and no further thought is given to how this is to be achieved through the crass buying of physical goods. The fact that a waldorf doll is not, in itself, much different from a Barbie doll remains unconsidered and unexplained. As long as the spiritual guide-book — Finding Your Way Around Paradise — has been adhered to, the parent can rest contentedly and avoid conscious and independent thinking.
Clearly, if one hinges the spiritual on the colours of the walls, then the rest of the world — the non-anthroposophical world — seems utterly bereft of spirituality. The exploration of the natural world and the intellectual grappling with ideas seem like activities devoid of spiritual consideration. But what makes the natural world less spiritually meaningful than a make-believe world populated with gnomes, fairies and angels? What makes practical activities, like knitting, more spiritual than thinking or being intellectually creative? What about this supposed spirituality, attached to the material more than anything else? Wherefrom do some anthroposophists derive their sense of spiritual superiority? From active thinking or from consumption of anthroposophically approved food-stuffs?