‘souls of terror’

Not the usual (ha!) scary anthroposophy this time, but anthroposophy in the form spooky literature. Got an alert about a thriller novel, which has recently been published; Roger, too, mentions it in his news section and has dedicated a page to it. There’s also a website with a presentation of the book as well as the possibility to read the first part of the book for free online. Book blurb (from Amazon):

A brilliant university student is brutally killed in New York as a young boy from an Oregon private school is whisked off to Switzerland. What is the connection and why is it so important to millions of people?
Chris Thompson is ridden with guilt while searching for his son. Is young Michael the key to a deeply spiritual and terrifying mission?
Michael’s attractive Aunt Kate has a penchant for profanity and martial arts . . . and carries a heavy secret from her past.
Dr. Paul Sung is an atheist and authority on the history of the New Age movement. His unfulfilling life in academia is about to change.
Detective Mark Julian needs to solve a string of gruesome New York murders, so why was he sent to Europe?
Karl Heisman and his Group of Forty-Eight are a covert sub-group of a spiritual movement known as Anthroposophy. Does their strange karma include links to Freemasonry and the dawning of a New Age? Are they racist terrorists or is there a method to their madness? And who was Rudolf Steiner?

SOULS OF TERROR is a fast-paced, well-researched international thriller with fascinating characters whose lives become strangely entwined as they unravel a frightening mystery. From Theosophy to Anthroposophy to Freemasonry, the story compels its readers to ponder the thin line between fact and fiction.

On American Amazon, there are even three costumer reviews! I haven’t read the book yet, but am awaiting my copy which is due to arrive today.

[Image from Amazon.]

Edit:

Don’t miss the promotional videos on youtube:

There’s a second one as well.

64 thoughts on “‘souls of terror’

  1. I finished reading this at the weekend. Not my usual sort of reading material, but I found it entertaining. It’s a little bit graphic and gruesome in places but very readable. A great “what if” story. They ought to make a movie out of it!

  2. It does read like a film script. How to enable the audience to identify a larynx though… especially on the ceiling..

  3. Thanks for the quick review, Mark! It’s not my usual reading either, so I probably won’t be able to compare it to any other similar works. (I haven’t even read Dan Brown…) Because of the topic, it will be interesting to read anyway.

  4. A thriller that starts in the opening chapter with someone’s larynx nailed to the ceiling … well, you wonder if the author will be able to keep up that pace :) but yes, he does. The plotting of that book is really something – I’m not sure I fully followed it. But he manages to work in a lot of information about anthroposophy in a very entertaining way.
    I agree it would make a great movie.

  5. I’d add that Souls of Terror seems to me better researched than the Da Vinci Code. I should get around to writing an Amazon review.

  6. It would make a great movie. I can already tell, not having read that much of it. (As I wrote, I was going to pick it up this afternoon, and just returned back home with it.)

    I feel sad for the poor kid Mik-eye-ell…!

  7. Yeah, he definitely did the research. Probably felt like more than one lifetime’s worth, and if the anthros are right, maybe it WAS more than one lifetime :)

  8. I am wondering if perhaps the critics might be interested in a discussion about what happens when complex ideas/arguments are extrapolated beyond their original purpose? While it is obvious that we are all responsible for our own actions, what responsibilities do we have for being clear about the content and purpose of our ideas and, ultimately, which actions may (or may not) be taken as a result of our ideas?

    These questions make me think about President Obama’s recent speech and, in my view, are a central question for any community seeking to “shed light” on a topic. One of your own—Peter Staudenmaier—has already had to confront this in another venue when his “ecofascism” idea was taken up by anti-environmentalists. In his attempt to (presumably) strengthen ecological worldviews his ideas were misappropriated to bolster an opposing viewpoint. While it is clear that there was a fundamental misreading of his work, my view is that the provocative term “ecofascism” increased the possibility that a superficial and self-indulgent reading would occur. People often lift things out of context to suit their own purposes and the temptation to collapse varieties of environmentalists into one alarming category obviously proved to be too great for the opposition.

    Given the strong feelings that exist between anthroposophists and their critics, though, I am just hoping someone might consider the real-world effects of charged language or ambiguous conclusions. Is it enough for Roger Rawlings to say “it would clearly be wrong to form opinions about Anthroposophy on the basis of a thriller” when he also says “the portrait the author paints of maniacal zealots is chilling and persuasive, and I certainly agree that there is a strain of zealotry among Anthroposophists”? Or, my favorite back-handed compliment: “certainly most anthroposophists are not homicidal.” (Diana)

    I know that the immediate response is likely to be that anthroposophists should put their own house in order. I don’t entirely disagree but given that the various anthroposophical practical activities are decentralized it is theoretically possible for a group avoiding the anthroposophical “sins” you all cite to be smeared and slandered by people who don’t understand this as well as you all. Please consider the fact there there will be people who would like to imagine anthroposophy as Opus Dei is presented the Da Vinci Code and that a few google searches will pull up information that, to a conspiracy thinker, will seem to affirm all of his or her beliefs.

    Maybe we all can unite around the “anti-rationality” of conspiracy theorizing??!

    I don’t presume to tell the critics what your stance on this issue should be but I do seriously hope someone might take up the issue as this conversation amplifies beyond the circle of people who were formerly associated with anthroposophic endeavors.

  9. ‘Is it enough for Roger Rawlings to say “it would clearly be wrong to form opinions about Anthroposophy on the basis of a thriller” when he also says “the portrait the author paints of maniacal zealots is chilling and persuasive, and I certainly agree that there is a strain of zealotry among Anthroposophists”?’

    Yes, of course it’s enough to say that (though I assume that to people who are inclined towards misunderstanding others as well as having a blurred conception about the boundary between reality and fiction may find this quite mystifying).

    Because the book is fictional. It’s a novel. It’s a common trait of fiction to resemble life in some respects, because that’s part of what makes fiction worthwhile and meaningful.

    And it’s not actually very strange to me that anthroposophy has inspired a piece of fictional writing. But fiction as a genre accords a lot of liberty to the author; that’s the point.

    I haven’t read the Da Vinci Code either, but from what I understand, it’s a piece of fiction. I’m not sure why that would even be a problem in the first place?

    Peter S, on the other hand, is not writing fiction. I’m not sure what you’re suggesting — that he oughtn’t have written what he thought was right because some other people would misappropriate it? (I’m sorry, I don’t know anything about the anti-environmentalism stuff.)

    I often write things that could be misappropriated in all sorts of ways and by people whose views I couldn’t possibly support. The minute you write anything at all, you run the risk of having your views misappropriated, distorted, et c. It would be quite boring to have to bother about all of that, wouldn’t it?

    ‘I know that the immediate response is likely to be that anthroposophists should put their own house in order.’

    Perhaps. But that’s certainly not dependent on what some critics (or anthroposophists) think about a novel.

    ‘Or, my favorite back-handed compliment: “certainly most anthroposophists are not homicidal.” (Diana)’

    I don’t think that’s a compliment. I think it’s an ironic understatement. Hardly anybody thinks most anthroposophists are homicidal; I was going to write *nobody*, but there may be some nut somewhere thinking the craziest things. She’s just stating the bloody obvious.

  10. DID SUNE MURDER PETER STAUDENMAIER AT CORNELL?

    (I just posted this on WC. Frank is Frank Thomas Smith, publisher of SCR = Southern Cross Review)

    Fuckin’ A, Frank!!! Have I got a book for you to review in SCR! The Waldorf Critics now have their very own true mystery novel published!

    Souls of Terror: A New Age Thriller
    By Anthony P. Norse

    Frank, I kid you not, it’s a classic boilerplate melodramatic detective murder mystery written by an author whose real agenda is de-programming people from cults. (He’s no Dennis Lehane, if you catch my drift.) But what he lacks in literary aptitude, he more than makes up for in showing Anthroposophists the errors of their racist ways. So maybe there’s hope for you being de-programmed from anthroposophy by reading this book.

    So, of course the book has to open immediately with a murder. But where does the murder take place??? Ithaca, New York. Home of Cornell University, Big Red, where the indefatigable Peter Staudenmaier forged, lied and bullied his way to a PhD in history. Are you listening, Sune???

    Because the murder victim was a Cornell graduate student who was studying the history of occultism in Europe who was addicted to research. Aha, so maybe YOU are the murderer, Sune! (You definitely had the motive to murder the real Peter Staudenmaier, but as to the means and opportunity, well, we’ll leave that for the police to discover. I wonder if they will find their way to Stockholm, Sweden? )

    Anyway, Frank, not only is the Pied Piper murdered in his bathroom at Cornell, but the fiendish anthroposophist murderer has also cut out his larynx which he then nails to the ceiling and cuts off his ear lobe which he shoves up Peter’s ass!!!

    [NOTE: Now Frank as an anthroposophist clearly understands the symbolism of these grisly actions, but for those uninitiated, there are two levels of symbolism here with the larynx: [1] the sexual [2] the asexual. The author chooses the asexual, merely noting the inner vs. outer symbolism of life and after death according to Steiner — that the inner larynx after death transforms into an external organ while the external ear lobe turns inward. (I will provide the sexual interpretation level, as I contemplate the porno version of this book.)]

    Here’s the mystery quote you need to put up on SCR.

    When the Ithaca police detective is briefed on the murder, he asks:
    “So what the hell is his larynx doing up on the ceiling and why is his ear up his ass?”

    But wait Frank, there’s more! Now look at the author’s page of Acknowledgments here on page 4 of this 39 page PDF.
    http://www.soulsofterrorbook.com/souls%20of%20terror%20excerpt.pdf

    He gives deep appreciation to several people including Margaret Sachs, Diana Winters, Dan Dugan, Debra Snell and . . . drum roll please . . . Peter Staudenmaier (for explaining the inexplicable to him). He also thanks several anthroposophists who chose to remain anonymous. But hey, why didn’t he mention Roger Rawlings here? He links to Roger’s website.

    All right Frank, take up the challenge. Maybe you can organize some of your SCR authors to write up their own mystery novel about the Critics. Hell, Tarjei has already written reams of better stuff. (Oh, I’ll do the porno parts, I mean, the sections dealing with mutual fructification. I defer the self-fructification sections to your better expertise, Frank!)

    Tom

  11. “While it is obvious that we are all responsible for our own actions, what responsibilities do we have for being clear about the content and purpose of our ideas and, ultimately, which actions may (or may not) be taken as a result of our ideas?”

    Sounds like you got the point of the book!

  12. “Please consider the fact there there will be people who would like to imagine anthroposophy as Opus Dei is presented the Da Vinci Code and that a few google searches will pull up information that, to a conspiracy thinker, will seem to affirm all of his or her beliefs.”

    Just to clarify, were you unhappy with the way Opus Dei is portrayed in The Da Vince Code?

    “I do seriously hope someone might take up the issue as this conversation amplifies beyond the circle of people who were formerly associated with anthroposophic endeavors.”

    You sound like you think it’s a bad thing for the conversation to amplify beyond its present bounds.

  13. @Hollywood Tomfortas: I haven’t read the book but when I saw that it was a murder in New York I immediately thought “Cornell is in New York!” If this is all I know of the book it is already a bit too transparent and opportunistic for my taste and risks running dangerously close to the kinds of real-world implications that I (and Roger Rawlings for that matter) have already alluded to.

    @Alicia: Certainly Peter should have written that article if he felt it was the truth. However, he has claimed it was a polemical piece and so it does have a particular kind of tone. It seems to me that his intended audience were environmental activists who needed to know about the existence of modern-day “blood and soil” proponents. IMO he framed his provocative claims in such a way that the various types of activism (well known to those on the inside of the movement) were left implicit. By leaving out some kind of rubric from which an outsider could identify different strains of activism, outsiders were left free to assume that *most* environmental activists were of this facist sort if they were so inclined. It is a misreading but one that should not have been entirely unanticipated.

    @Diana 3:43 pm: Since this is a critics site I didn’t want to belabor the parallels too much but I am pleased to see that you caught on. Steiner did a crap job of anticipating the various ways that his ideas could be used and he wasn’t particularly diligent about differentiating his take on volkisch themes from contemporaries who spun those volkisch themes in a different way. Today we are much more attuned to the idea that meanings are created both in the production and in the reception of content. So, modern writers don’t have the luxury of deluding themselves with ever thinking “it is YOU that has misunderstood, my work speaks for itself.” We find ourselves having to take more immediate responsibility for others’ interpretations of claims that we have made and I don’t think that is a bad thing at all.

    @Diana 3:52: I don’t have an opinion about Opus Dei either way because I don’t know much about them. I shared the experience most people had upon reading the book: “freaky religious cult having something do with the masons who may secretly rule the world —aaaaahhh!!!!???” I googled their organization and found that as a result of the book they spent considerable effort on a FAQ. I wasn’t too interested in pursuing the matter further but if anyone wants to try to convince me that they are a freaky religious cult that secretly rules the world, I’ll read what you have to say and consider it. As for your other quote, I think it is inevitable that the conversation will amplify beyond present bounds so it doesn’t really matter what I think. I do, however, hope that my original point will be considered by those people who were thanked in the book’s acknowledgements and who have written in support of the book. Its my opinion that someone should make a clear statement about where fact ends and fiction begins and why zealot anthroposophists (as Roger Rawlings says) might actually be less likely to commit acts of violence than other zealots. I’ll just lay it out on the line here and say that I am appealing to your common sense of decency and the fact that you yourselves have made a very valid point that ideas have real world consequences for which the bearers hold some kind of responsibility in how they are used and put into action. Its not enough to say “most anthroposophists are not homicidal” when you actually think that most of them are dimwitted idealists and that (even as critics) you have experienced how their projects contain goodness and beauty alongside the flaws. I guess what I am saying is that its one thing to offer constructive criticism or to try to help others avoid a bad experience you had. Its something entirely different to pursue such (noble) goals while having no consensus on what statements or insinuations might be beyond the pale.

  14. “We find ourselves having to take more immediate responsibility for others’ interpretations of claims that we have made and I don’t think that is a bad thing at all.”

    Most fiction writers I think would tell you they could care less how others interpret their “claims.”

    “Its my opinion that someone should make a clear statement about where fact ends and fiction begins”

    I’m guessing you have a view here, as to where “fact ends and fiction begins.” Are you waiting for an invitation to share it?

    “I’ll just lay it out on the line here and say that I am appealing to your common sense of decency

    Huh? Have I done something indecent?

    “and the fact that you yourselves have made a very valid point that ideas have real world consequences for which the bearers hold some kind of responsibility in how they are used and put into action. Its not enough to say “most anthroposophists are not homicidal” when you actually think that most of them are dimwitted idealists and that (even as critics) you have experienced how their projects contain goodness and beauty alongside the flaws.”

    I’m gathering that since you seem to think you know just what I think of anthroposophists, that you’ve read quite a bit of what I’ve had to say about them elsewhere over the years, and base your apparent fuller understanding of my views on something more than the fact that I am acknowledged in this book. (I read earlier drafts and gave predominantly stylistic, writerly advice.) I don’t know what else I can say about that … I don’t think most people would try to figure out what I think about anthroposophists from the small fact that I’m acknowledged in an anthroposophy-related work of fiction, and if anyone *did* think something so silly, I’m not sure what I could do to change their view. Would you like the author to have stuffed lengthy transcripts from various online discussion forums into the printed book, perhaps?

    Otherwise what is your point? I gave my views of the book and they stand. If you feel there’s something else I should be doing in the name of “common decency,” please advise.

  15. Perhaps I could go revise my amazon review of the book to reflect my view that most anthroposophists are dim-witted idealists.

    On second thought, the book itself portrays anthroposophists as heavily weighted toward dimwitted idealists (as opposed to homicidal maniacs).

  16. Hi, Diana. I’ve read larger parts of the book now. I’m not sure that we will be able to find much common ground in order to justify a further conversation. (I say this pragmatically, not as any kind of dismissal of your views.) There is just too much of a gap between how I see these issues and how you do. As the main characters were unraveling the mystery, I suspect that you saw truth in passages that caused me to laugh out loud.

    MarkH is entirely right—it is a great “what if” story, but not for its pushing-the-envelope quality. For me, its a good “what if” story because the author had to put various claims and perspectives into narrative form in order to create the fictional events. To me, the mystery story contains a succinct expression of the prevailing Waldorf Critics/anti-anthroposophical perspective. Is this a fair characterization? If so, the fictionalized world of underground violent zealots and their hidden infiltration of Waldorf schools and a Waldorf family is a reasonable extension of the critics’ worldview. I couldn’t possibly expect you to qualify much more of the book than perhaps the fact that “most anthroposophists are not homicidal” and that there is no proof of a secret subset of violent zealots because to do so would erode the crux of the critics’ arguments. It would undermine this idea that, upon further reading on the internet, a reasonable person will be able to see how eerily close this fiction is to fact. As the author says, “the truth is out there”!

    I am still hoping that someone might take up this issue of what real-world effects the criticism may have if what was once grounded in specific peoples’ experience somehow takes on a life of its own. For example, Roger Rawlings is a critic but also relates that his actual day-to-day experiences as a child in school were pleasant and warm. Dan Dugan said he would have been cold-hearted not to have been moved somehow by the beauty of the winter spiral. Others relate having been very committed Waldorf parents before a major break happened. In other words even the strongest criticism exists alongside knowledge that most of the people they are criticizing are not dangerous or powerful in the sense that someone who has not experienced what they have experienced might think them to be. I wonder if there is any way for the critics to still stay true to their perspective and also be clear about the limits to which their perspective can be taken?

  17. Sheridan wrote
    If so, the fictionalized world of underground violent zealots and their hidden infiltration of Waldorf schools and a Waldorf family is a reasonable extension of the critics’ worldview.

    Exactly! That why Tarjei Straume, our Norwegian Uncle Taz, plays so well off the critics’ worldview by conjuring up his own melodramatic stories of Waldorf children being abducted from schools and being tortured in the Goetheanum basement, etc. The difference is that Tony Norse takes it all so god-awful serious, which makes his book so unintentionally funny to actual Anthroposophists (only those with a sense of humor, of course!); whereas Tarjei directly satirizes the pretentious, maudlin and melodramatic projections of the critics, who also take themselves so god awful serious.

    And indeed, I hope Tarjei takes Tony Norse’s fantasias and blends them with his own because it really fills out and adds a new dimension to the torture that’s been going on for decades in tat basement.

  18. “The difference is that Tony Norse takes it all so god-awful serious, which makes his book so unintentionally funny to actual Anthroposophists”

    I am not an anthroposophist but thanks for validating the humor I found in the book! Word to fiction authors everywhere: the content of dissertations generally does not make for good reparte!

    Tom, care to offer a run-down of which real life personalities inspired the characters in the novel? I didn’t want to do it for fear of offending anyone unnecessarily.

  19. Well, I’ve skipped my way all the way through it, but the most obvious is the kick-off murder victim, Greg Matheson as Peter Staudenmaier. In fact, Greg is so obviously Peter Staudenmaier that I take it as Tony’s real acknowledgment and dedication of the book to Peter.

    Whereas other characters are more hidden and shifted, Greg Matheson as a character has this huge flashing neon sign over him screaming: Peter Staudenmaier. For example, the name David Dunigan is clearly a nod to Dan Dugan and his technician’s vocation, but otherwise there is great distace between Dan and David.

    Now what is fascinating about the way Peter/Greg is murdered and mutilated is the evocation of true “blood lust” which the Jews do not “own” for themselves — perhaps I should call it “occult blood-lust,” because it reminds me of Steiner’s lectures on the Mexican Mysteries and the human sacrifice made by the Aztecs.

    You must also consider that Tony Norse does not seem to be an ex-Anthro or disgruntled Waldorf parent, but rather he is on a rescue mission to rescue people from cults. And his presentation of the Satanic-Ahrimanic ritual blood sacrifice is evocative of Fundy Christians. Now I’m not sure if he’s a Fundy Christian type, but he’s definitely a Fundy Critics’ type.

  20. I will comment on your post at greater length later, short on time, but for now:

    This is a major misunderstanding lies:

    “Roger Rawlings is a critic but also relates that his actual day-to-day experiences as a child in school were pleasant and warm. Dan Dugan said he would have been cold-hearted not to have been moved somehow by the beauty of the winter spiral. Others relate having been very committed Waldorf parents before a major break happened. In other words even the strongest criticism exists alongside knowledge that most of the people they are criticizing are not dangerous or powerful”

    You apparently see those things as contradictory. I will not be able to help with this confusion. I’m also one of those critics who loved the “winter spiral” (why not call it Advent?) and was once a very committed Waldorf parent and a serious student of anthroposophy. To you, this means I must be wrong to assert that anthroposophy is dangerous or powerful. You are mistaken that this is contradictory. I am sorry, I know it seems very difficult to understand but it really is the way the world sometimes works.

  21. One other quick point: One’s assumptions about an author’s intentions, author’s background etc., are as likely to be wrong as right in these discussions, yet very quickly people’s assumptions are accepted as fact by others. Just a thought.
    (speaking of finding unintentional humor …) One person will say, “Oh the author must be x y z” and someone immediately replies, “Oh yes exactly!” happily confirming and reinforcing each other’s mistakes. Carry on.

  22. Agreed. The novel very much has the characteristics of someone who passionately seeks to expose and root out cults. Cultic behavior seems to be his main focus rather than anthroposophy per se. That is why he is unaware how humorous his laser focus on certain features of anthroposophy or waldorf schools will be for some people.

    “To a man with a hammer, everything is a nail.”

  23. >The novel very much has the characteristics of someone who passionately seeks to expose and root out cults.

    Ya think LOL.

  24. Hi, Diana. I have to run too but I think there is some misunderstanding with your first post. I don’t think it is contradictory for someone to like something, change their mind and then be very critical of it later. In fact, its natural and expected. My point is that contained within most every critic’s perspective (that I know of) is some kind of real-life experience. You *know* for example that anthroposophists don’t walk around like zombies waiting to be awaken by the christ impulse or some such nonsense that could be created in the imagination of someone who has never been there or done that. You remember friendships that you had. You may still keep in touch with people who you might otherwise describe as decent and loving. You may think they are deluded but because of your real-world experience something prevents you from demonizing them or unequivocally attributing the nasty qualities of the dogmatics to the entire group. Actually, critics also understand that because of the decentralized nature of everything and the different levels of commitment that categorization is difficult. So, *compliment alert* critics do make an effort not to imply that every single anthroposophist or person involved in an anthroposophist activity is bad. My point is that as the conversation amplifies beyond this group, others are likely to not have the same experience. They might, for example, have had such a bad experience with a violent brain-washing cult that they are willing to jump to conclusions that the critics cannot. In multiple posts I have suggested that a conversation about how ideas can take on lives of their own should be considered.

    I referred to it as the winter spiral because it was what the charter school-affiliated group called it if I remember correctly. Dan didn’t go to a private school event.

    “One other quick point: One’s assumptions about an author’s intentions, author’s background etc., are as likely to be wrong as right in these discussions”

    Agreed. I guess that is why the field of literary criticism exists? To put some rules around what could otherwise be crazy conjecture? Tomfortas and I were having a little bit of fun, but I’d be happy to stop it if you like.

  25. “You *know* for example that anthroposophists don’t walk around like zombies waiting to be awaken by the christ impulse”

    I don’t know that, actually I know a number of anthroposophists who do pretty much walk around like zombies waiting to be awoken by something, and who spoke frequently of “the Christ impulse” (I am not exaggerating; I mean they spoke of it during faculty meetings, for instance.)

  26. “I don’t think it is contradictory for someone to like something, change their mind and then be very critical of it later.”

    No, you haven’t got what I said. It is possible *at the same time* to think that the winter spiral is lovely and that anthroposophy is dangerous. That is in fact just what I think.

  27. I think probably the biggest difference we would have in approaching this book is that you are pretty certain there is no real danger coming from anthroposophy. I think there is. You seem to feel that I need a scolding to understand that I should not laud this book in any way because someone might conclude from reading it that anthroposophy might be dangerous. However, that is in fact what I think. I don’t personally think the threat is so much from a small cabal with a murderous plot, but I definitely think if anthroposophists came to any kind of political power it could be a dangerous situation. A substantial minority of them are racist and antisemitic. A small but vocal and completely psychotic contingent of anthroposophists denies the Holocaust, for example. And there are certain doctrines that are so very bizarre that there is plenty of room for an unstable, sadistic, or mentally ill person to act them out in dangerous ways. Steiner’s notion that some children are possessed by demons, for instance, or that some children are not in fact human. (He said demons sometimes hop aboard human embryos.) This is an extremely dangerous belief, and it is very frightening to imagine someone who is a little “off” deciding to act on the implications of this.

    The way the teacher in the book views poor little Mike is very familiar to me from my knowledge of Waldorf teachers, and very true to life (you know that Waldorf teachers *are in fact* looking for the reincarnated Steiner among their students -the truth, not an exaggeration) – until she completely snaps out, of course, and that’s the exaggerated part. It makes a point. I suspect you get the point. If you’re expecting apologies for it they aren’t coming from me. But keep trying.

    If there was anything in the book I wasn’t happy with it, it’s what I thought was an unnecessary jab at lesbians.

  28. I wrote: “Idon’t know that, actually I know a number of anthroposophists who do pretty much walk around like zombies waiting to be awoken by something,”

    And if you don’t believe me I suggest you check youtube.

  29. Ok. Perhaps I should break that example down even further. Although you may hold the opinion that anthroposophists “pretty much walk around like zombies” and they also have “spoken frequently” about the christ impluse, you do not *literally* think that anthroposophists are the walking undead because you have actually sat in rooms with them, held hands with them, breathed the same air as them, and witnessed them eating fruits and vegetables. And, although you may hold out the possibility that the people you saw are actually a type of zombie you didn’t know about (and that biodynamic vegetables can serve the same purpose as human flesh for these zombies), you are less likely to profess such an idea than someone who has never come within 20 miles of an anthroposophist or an anthroposophist activity. I make this assertion based on the fact that your lived experience is most likely to point in the direction of “alive human beings, faults included” than some fantasy created by pulling together data on the internet.

    My point here, (please take a compliment!!!), is that your experience prevents you from unfairly attributing bad qualities or bad motives to all anthropops, all the time, everywhere. There is a line even the most vehement critic will not cross because of the human experiences you have had. Therefore, I would like to set out this issue as something to consider because there may come a time (with this book or not) when it is not reasonable to assume that the people partaking in your criticisms will not have such a common reference point.

  30. What? You’ve lost me. Did something I say make you think maybe I did think anthroposophists were actual zombies? Or are you saying people who read the book will decide anthroposophists are actually zombies?

    “There is a line even the most vehement critic will not cross because of the human experiences you have had.”

    Talk about back-handed compliments. I’m glad you think there are lines I or other critics will not cross.

    Reality check here: the book is FICTION. I don’t think that’s going to confuse too many readers.

  31. Diana @8:00 pm: Ok. Again, entirely possible. No head pops, here.

    “you are pretty certain there is no real danger coming from anthroposophy. I think there is.”
    I can certainly think about ways in which anthroposophy could be dangerous. I don’t have any problems with someone who thinks that. Anthroposophy has some *big ideas* and we’d all be complete idiots ignorant of our own history not to recognize that ideas can have consequences, intended or not. To me it matters how responsibly the danger is described, what specific actions should be taken as a result of the possibility for danger, what actions or statements are unacceptable, what this danger looks like relative to other dangers, and how imminent this danger actually is. A bunch of ambiguous conclusions and insinuations without the aforementioned is very, very scary to me. As I mentioned already, the book spins out a fictionalized consequence of the worldview which, on this board, we all agree is a fantasy. I want to know what the real world consequence of this worldview should look like because, to me anyway, it seems to just be hanging out there ripe for the picking.

    “Waldorf teachers *are in fact* looking for the reincarnated Steiner among their students”

    How can I replicate your research on this settled matter of fact? I’ve asked a few people and they laugh in my face and offer me some organic tea. How did you get such good data?

  32. “bunch of ambiguous conclusions and insinuations without the aforementioned is very, very scary to me.”

    I’m sorry you’re frightened by a thriller novel. Scarier than the actual dangers I mentioned above? I don’t think you have your priorities straight then, or perhaps you’re not really clear on what you’re afraid of.

    “As I mentioned already, the book spins out a fictionalized consequence of the worldview which, on this board, we all agree is a fantasy.”

    We do? I thought I just got through explaining that I actually do think anthroposophy can be dangerous. Fiction is, well, fiction, and *exactly* the scenario this author spun out might not be the one I’m personally most worried about, but then again I’m not the author.

    “I want to know what the real world consequence of this worldview should look like because, to me anyway, it seems to just be hanging out there ripe for the picking.”

    I want to know what the real world consequences of *anthroposophy* are. Seems a more pressing social concern to me than this guy’s thriller novel.

    “Waldorf teachers *are in fact* looking for the reincarnated Steiner among their students”

    “How can I replicate your research on this settled matter of fact? I’ve asked a few people and they laugh in my face and offer me some organic tea. How did you get such good data?”

    I’m quite accustomed to anthroposophists laughing off my concerns, and I tend not to take their claims at face value.

    You seem to be evoking people “laughing” over this book in a rather protesting-too-much way. Somehow I’m not sure all this laughing is the pleasant, friendly kind.

  33. “I want to know what the real world consequence of this worldview should look like because, to me anyway, it seems to just be hanging out there ripe for the picking”

    Again I’m sorry this concerns you, it seems to me to be basically what authors do, is leave ideas out there ripe for the picking.

  34. “we all agree is a fantasy”
    I am referring to the actual existence of a secret violent sect of anthroposohists. We do all agree that there is evidence of no such thing, right?!?

    “I’m quite accustomed to anthroposophists laughing off my concerns, and I tend not to take their claims at face value.”

    So the scientific method you are recommending is 1) ask but 2) if the answer is “no” that is ok because you can always refuse to take their claims at face value and proceed on in your belief without a means to either prove or disprove it? And, others should take your word on it? I thought the only kind of science that exists is one that can produce replicable data from the real world. Sounds like you’ve got some kind of faith-based science I have never heard of. ;)

    “Somehow I’m not sure all this laughing is the pleasant, friendly kind.”

    Actually, I am more terrified than I was before but in a completely different way. At first I was shocked that there existed a book that took the complex criticisms of this community and fictionalized them in a way that might cause the uninitiated (meaning those who haven’t slogged through it all) to think that Waldorf schools were unquestionably sites of cult indoctrination for a violent secret sect. Given that I had never seen a waldorf critic/anti-anthroposophist actually come out and say this I felt that some kind of disclaimer/contextualization was in order. Statements of : “most anthropops are not homicidal” and “the portrait the author paints of maniacal zealots is chilling and persuasive” combined with “there certainly is a strain of zealotry in anthroposophy” did nothing to help define the line between truth and fiction for the uninitiated. Then in a triumph of circular reasoning readers are invited to discover the “truth out there” by seeking out the font from which this knowledge all sprung. Am I the only one to notice that it would be extremely difficult for someone with such a “roadmap” to look at the voluminous amounts of material on those sites and come up with an equally plausible alternative? This isn’t just about who is right or wrong about this detail or that detail but about how when you put it all together…what does it all mean? What are you suppose to do??

    So what is scary to me now is the idea that some critics might be entirely ok with whatever happens from “leading the horse to water” in this way because we actually are talking about something dangerous. It might not be exactly dangerous in the way the book depicts, but it is not far off. The ease with which volatile ideas and connections could just be left out there hanging…without a responsible way to orient , ground or direct them…is simply shocking to me. .

  35. ‘I am referring to the actual existence of a secret violent sect of anthroposohists. We do all agree that there is evidence of no such thing, right?!?’

    I for one wouldn’t claim such a violent fringe of anthroposophy exists. As far as the violent plot is concerned, the book is fiction. I’m sorry I haven’t been able to read this thread in its entirety, so I’m not really on top of things right now. But still, I wouldn’t say I know of any anthroposophists who’d be capable or willing to do anything similar to the violent *acts* portrayed in the book.

    ‘Statements of : “most anthropops are not homicidal” and “the portrait the author paints of maniacal zealots is chilling and persuasive” combined with “there certainly is a strain of zealotry in anthroposophy” did nothing to help define the line between truth and fiction for the uninitiated.’

    But it’s a fictional book. I don’ think we should assume people are stupid, and can’t recognize a novel for what it is. The plot could be fictional — but still the zealotry could be inspired by real encounters with real anthroposophists. Just to mention one example. ALL authors get their ideas from somewhere. They get them from experiences and people and philosophies, et c.

    To return almost to the beginning of the thread.

    ‘@Alicia: Certainly Peter should have written that article if he felt it was the truth. However, he has claimed it was a polemical piece and so it does have a particular kind of tone. It seems to me that his intended audience were environmental activists who needed to know about the existence of modern-day “blood and soil” proponents.’

    I can’t say; it seems you are speculating about his intentions, and I just don’t know what they were and I certainly didn’t draw these conclusions you did. I thought his intentions were to debate certain strands within the environment movement.

    ‘IMO he framed his provocative claims in such a way that the various types of activism (well known to those on the inside of the movement) were left implicit. By leaving out some kind of rubric from which an outsider could identify different strains of activism, outsiders were left free to assume that *most* environmental activists were of this facist sort if they were so inclined.’

    Only if the reader is either stupid or uninformed. But you cannot always account for all the possible readings such readers may make. The article was about a specific topic — I don’t see why the author would bring up all kinds of irrelevant stuff just to ‘rule it out’.

  36. It may be a good idea to remember not only that the plot of this book is fictional, but also that this small group of violent extremists have their biggest beef with *other* anthroposophists.

    (It’s difficult to talk about all the details without spoiling the plot for people who haven’t read the book yet.)

  37. About Ecofascism, McSheridan complained:

    “By leaving out some kind of rubric from which an outsider could identify different strains of activism, outsiders were left free to assume that *most* environmental activists were of this facist sort if they were so inclined.”

    Alicia:

    “Only if the reader is either stupid or uninformed.”

    Or hasn’t read Ecofascism. Pulling Ecofascism off my book shelf … 4th paragraph from the end … “The experience of the ‘green wing’of German fascism is a sobering reminder of the political volatility of ecology. It certainly does not indicate any inherent or inevitable connection between ecological issues and right-wing politics; alongside the reactionary tradition surveyed here, there has always been an equally vital heritage of left-libertarian ecology, in Germany as elsewhere.’

    (Sounds like an elementary “rubric” to me, though it is such an obvious point it seems more or less an afterthought in the text.)

    “But you cannot always account for all the possible readings such readers may make. The article was about a specific topic — I don’t see why the author would bring up all kinds of irrelevant stuff just to ‘rule it out’.”

    The likely audience for Ecofascism is readers who *are* informed about these movements because they are *part* of these movements. The author is talking to his activist peers, who really don’t normally need a “rubric” to understand that there are numerous factions within their own movement. If an “outsider” wants to understand these various threads, the “outsider” will have to make some effort. It isn’t the author’s responsibility to anticipate every possible uninformed and ignorant misunderstanding a reader might make about a text if the reader can’t be bothered to correct their own ignorance.

    Note also the topic is not really “fascist ecological activists” but “green/ecological fascists.” No attempt is made to sort out strands of environmental activists; anyone with *any* familiarity with the movement knows there are multiple strands, and it’s the existence of this possibly fascist-leaning one that is news, not the multiple other strands. The warning to ecologists is by way of pointing out that *there is a green strand of fascism*, not that there are strands of ecologists who aren’t fascists, as that point is obvious.

  38. Our anthroapologist is shocked, shocked, that anyone might think anthroposophists are dangerous.

    “I am referring to the actual existence of a secret violent sect of anthroposohists. We do all agree that there is evidence of no such thing, right?!?”

    The book is a work of FICTION. It is not a journalistic expose. It does not posit a real-life “secret violent sect of anthroposophists.” It asks the reader to *imagine* what could happen if certain of Steiner’s strange doctrines were taken literally and if a certain (very real historically) segment of anthroposophists were to gain the power or simply work up the nerve to act on certain ideas.

    “So the scientific method you are recommending is 1) ask but 2) if the answer is “no” that is ok because you can always refuse to take their claims at face value and proceed on in your belief without a means to either prove or disprove it?

    “I did not recommend a method of proving a claim. I found your comment that you‘ve asked anthroposophists about it and they laugh, to be naive. We’re dealing with a group that doesn’t have a good track record for honest dealings with outsiders.”

    “Actually, I am more terrified than I was before but in a completely different way. At first I was shocked that there existed a book that took the complex criticisms of this community and fictionalized them in a way that might cause the uninitiated (meaning those who haven’t slogged through it all) to think that Waldorf schools were unquestionably sites of cult indoctrination for a violent secret sect. Given that I had never seen a waldorf critic/anti-anthroposophist actually come out and say this I felt that some kind of disclaimer/contextualization was in order. ”

    This is a wee bit overwrought, isn’t it? Please try to keep in mind this is a work of fiction. Your demands are a little confusing. The last part above, your feeling that “some kind of disclaimer/contextualization is in order” – from who, exactly? The author on his web site? Here, on this blog, from Alicia? From others who have commented on it here, from me because I’m acknowledged in it, hence must have read it before it was published? Some statement from critics as a group? (which doesn’t exist, as you probably know). Critics don’t agree on many things and certainly aren’t going to have one reaction or opinion about this book. A demand that somebody “contextualize” a work of fiction for you is a little naive.

    “Statements of: “most anthropops are not homicidal” and “the portrait the author paints of maniacal zealots is chilling and persuasive” combined with “there certainly is a strain of zealotry in anthroposophy” did nothing to help define the line between truth and fiction for the uninitiated.”

    I don’t know if I can help you there. Perhaps you will have to define for yourself where “the line between truth and fiction” lies, and when you figure it out, let us know.

    ” in a triumph of circular reasoning readers are invited to discover the “truth out there” by seeking out the font from which this knowledge all sprung. Am I the only one to notice that it would be extremely difficult for someone with such a “roadmap” to look at the voluminous amounts of material on those sites and come up with an equally plausible alternative? ”

    I’m starting to find this highly entertaining. Really. Are you interested in following your own thought process to its logical conclusion? Hm, are you the only one to notice it would be extremely difficult to read this book, look at the material on the Web and elsewhere about this particular cult, and come up with … what? Well whatever shall the poor reader conclude. Hey … maybe they’d be RIGHT to conclude there is a problem here? Oh wait, I was supposed to calm you down, not get you even more shocked.

    “This isn’t just about who is right or wrong about this detail or that detail but about how when you put it all together…what does it all mean? What are you suppose to do??”

    What does it all mean? You’re apparently worried the reader will be led astray so maybe you’d better tell us then what it all means. The poor reader can’t be left uncertain as to what it all means, certainly. That is just so … shocking.

    What are you supposed to do? I don’t know, what do you usually do after you finish reading a novel? Sit around getting really worried over which parts of it might be true … if it might actually tell you something about people or the world?

    “So what is scary to me now is the idea that some critics might be entirely ok with whatever happens from “leading the horse to water” in this way because we actually are talking about something dangerous.”

    Are you finally figuring out that some of us DO think anthroposophy is something dangerous? Oh … I have said that several times already.

    “It might not be exactly dangerous in the way the book depicts, but it is not far off. ”

    Exactly.

    “The ease with which volatile ideas and connections could just be left out there hanging…without a responsible way to orient , ground or direct them…is simply shocking to me. ”

    Exactly. That’s exactly my reaction to reading Rudolf Steiner.

    Please, somebody quick clarify which parts are truth and which parts are fiction!

  39. https://zooey.wordpress.com/2011/01/20/anthroposophy-in-the-form-of-a-thriller/#comment-6524 , January 21, 2011 8:12 pm

    Diana: “[that anthroposophy might be dangerous] …that is in fact what I think. … I definitely think if anthroposophists came to any kind of political power it could be a dangerous situation. ”

    I agree, Diana.

    It is a good review you have written!
    http://www.amazon.com/gp/cdp/member-reviews/A2Z5UEXWGTO8CV/ref=cm_cr_dp_auth_rev?ie=UTF8&sort_by=MostRecentReview

    Also to point out: RR comments at http://sites.google.com/site/waldorfwatch/souls-of-terror

  40. ‘The book is a work of FICTION. It is not a journalistic expose. It does not posit a real-life “secret violent sect of anthroposophists.” It asks the reader to *imagine* what could happen if certain of Steiner’s strange doctrines were taken literally and if a certain (very real historically) segment of anthroposophists were to gain the power or simply work up the nerve to act on certain ideas.’

    I’m beginning to think there’s a some kind of problem sorting fact from fiction here. I wonder if this problem has anything to do with reading (or listening to) too much anthroposophy material. The fact and fiction divide is, uh, somewhat blurred in *that* context.

    ‘“This isn’t just about who is right or wrong about this detail or that detail but about how when you put it all together…what does it all mean? What are you suppose to do??”

    What does it all mean? You’re apparently worried the reader will be led astray so maybe you’d better tell us then what it all means. The poor reader can’t be left uncertain as to what it all means, certainly. That is just so … shocking.’

    Interestingly, one of the ideas of fiction is to lead the reader astray in a certain way. Or it wouldn’t be compelling *fiction*.

    ‘What are you supposed to do? I don’t know, what do you usually do after you finish reading a novel? Sit around getting really worried over which parts of it might be true … if it might actually tell you something about people or the world?’

    I guess some people shouldn’t read novels. It’s too complicated figuring it all out. But I wonder, is it really safe to read Steiner? ;-)

    ‘That’s exactly my reaction to reading Rudolf Steiner.

    Please, somebody quick clarify which parts are truth and which parts are fiction!’

    Indeed!!

  41. Speaking of fiction, I’m now reading Ishiguro’s novel Never Let Me Go. It was mentioned earlier here on the blog by some readers (Diana and Alfa, I think, and perhaps Thetis?).

    Again, an approach such as this:

    ‘Please, somebody quick clarify which parts are truth and which parts are fiction!’ (summed up by Diana)

    would be utterly pointless. As it is in most works of fiction. This despite the fact that characters and occurances and milieus borrow from reality.

  42. As with ‘The Da Vinci Code’ this book is clearly an exaggerated scenario unlikely to inspire violence towards anthroposophists any more than Dan Brown provoked attacks on members of Opus Dei. I’m sure no one would want anyone to be physically assaulted as a consequence of someone reading this novel, nor can anyone issue a fatwa against the author. Otherwise anthroposophy as a movement will just have to grin and bear this quietly, or risk attracting the sort of publicity most small publishers can only dream of.

    The Catholic Church has very real issues to worry about. But here’s a very long rebuttal to that famous heightened fictional representation of Opus Dei, it may be the one Sheridan_mc found: http://www.opusdei.org/art.php?w=32&p=7017

    As an aside – I’m struck by their comment that ‘The Da Vinci Code popularizes the idea that the fourth century Roman emperor Constantine invented the doctrine of the divinity of Christ for political reasons. The historical evidence, however, clearly shows that the New Testament and the very earliest Christian writings manifest Christian belief in the divinity of Christ.’

    It’s worth noting that the language and tone of this piece is familiar.

    But far from putting everyone off there are indications that people were cueing up to join Opus Dei by the time the film came out, so anthroposophists may have other problems if the writer of ‘Souls of Terror’ sells even a tenth of Dan Brown’s 80 million copies. Or the film rights.

  43. >As with ‘The Da Vinci Code’ this book is clearly an exaggerated scenario unlikely to inspire violence towards anthroposophists any more than Dan Brown provoked attacks on members of Opus Dei.

    Or any more than, say, Ishiguro’s book inspired violence toward elite English boarding schools. The comparison is apt. Obviously the book has got a point to make about these schools and the criticisms of them are pretty well known. Yet I doubt a single reader of that book concluded that they actually – well, I’ll try not to add a plot spoiler here.

    Here’s how I see it in all these cases – Da Vinci Code, Souls of Terror, Never Let Me Go:

    Basis in fact – spins off into lurid fantasy – story obviously exaggerated unless you’re an idiot – makes a point about certain probably real dangers. Great entertainment and (again unless you’re an idiot) hard to miss that the author aims to call attention to sinister elements in the history of the cult at the heart of the story.

  44. ‘But far from putting everyone off there are indications that people were [queueing] up to join Opus Dei by the time the film came out, so anthroposophists may have other problems if the writer of ‘Souls of Terror’ sells even a tenth of Dan Brown’s 80 million copies. Or the film rights.’

    They may attract a few more nuts!

    ‘As with ‘The Da Vinci Code’ this book is clearly an exaggerated scenario unlikely to inspire violence towards anthroposophists any more than Dan Brown provoked attacks on members of Opus Dei. I’m sure no one would want anyone to be physically assaulted as a consequence of someone reading this novel, nor can anyone issue a fatwa against the author.’

    Indeed. Besides, violence incited by fiction is plain silly. It shouldn’t happen. Ever. It goes without saying. It’s fiction. I take fiction seriously, and I think one should; but one should never take fiction as fact and act upon these misguided beliefs. Again, it goes without saying.

    ‘Here’s how I see it in all these cases – Da Vinci Code, Souls of Terror, Never Let Me Go:

    Basis in fact – spins off into lurid fantasy – story obviously exaggerated unless you’re an idiot – makes a point about certain probably real dangers. Great entertainment and (again unless you’re an idiot) hard to miss that the author aims to call attention to sinister elements in the history of the cult at the heart of the story.’

    Well put.

  45. Diana, a lot earlier,

    ‘If there was anything in the book I wasn’t happy with it, it’s what I thought was an unnecessary jab at lesbians.’

    This was, in fact, something I didn’t quite understand in the book, I didn’t get what motivated this part of it. I think that it would have been more powerful — and possibly more realistic — if the seduction had been ‘spiritual’ rather than sexual. So many parents — in particular, perhaps, mothers — are seduced by the wonderful promises of waldorf education. Waldorf teachers certainly don’t need to appeal to or entice sexual desires to get people where they want them.

  46. Well, it’s a thriller … spiritual seductions aren’t nearly so interesting … you gotta hold the reader’s attention. I think that was the intention. I regret calling it a “jab” at lesbians. That was overstated as I’m sure the writer did not intend a jab at lesbians, just an interesting plot twist, though I think it may play on stereotypes. I think affairs are pretty rampant in Waldorf and there must be more than a few lesbian affairs, as the majority of teachers are women and the majority of super-hyper involved parents in Waldorf are women. It was hard to see how anyone was gonna find the sex scene enticing, though, with all the woollen underwear :)

    “Waldorf teachers certainly don’t need to appeal to or entice sexual desires to get people where they want them.”

    Good point. OTOH, I’ve heard quite a few stories where the school/teacher came between two parents. For the purposes of fiction, sexualizing that is a reasonable plot device and probably true to life in some cases.

    But I think you’re right, more often Waldorf Mama is led away from her family, metaphorically, by a vision of ecstatic homemaking rather than the lure of a sexual adventure. At that stage of life I know I was looking to find total fulfillment in knitting and making homemade bread and fussing with my fluffy curtains. I think if anything more mothers are seduced by the “grandma’s cottage” atmosphere of the kindergarten and are living out their fantasy that they’re a small child again themselves, they’re picturing *themselves* in the homey setting with Grandma taking cookies out of the oven … They’re probably not so often fantasizing sexually about the Waldorf kindergarten teacher :) yikes.

  47. ‘Well, it’s a thriller … spiritual seductions aren’t nearly so interesting …’

    I have odd tastes!!

    Well, I’m not sure I saw it as a jab or as anything serious, it’s more that… it didn’t make sense to me. If anything, it wasn’t a jab at lesbians, it was a jab at the temporary brain-dead-ness of waldorf mothers ;-) That she readily went along with it all.

    ‘But I think you’re right, more often Waldorf Mama is led away from her family, metaphorically, by a vision of ecstatic homemaking rather than the lure of a sexual adventure. At that stage of life I know I was looking to find total fulfillment in knitting and making homemade bread and fussing with my fluffy curtains. I think if anything more mothers are seduced by the “grandma’s cottage” atmosphere of the kindergarten and are living out their fantasy that they’re a small child again themselves, they’re picturing *themselves* in the homey setting with Grandma taking cookies out of the oven … ‘

    That’s very seductive. The idea of the perfect childhood, et c.

    I do think, and know, that this lifestyle seduction doesn’t *only* drive the mother away from the family metaphorically — it actually splits families up, in the more extreme cases. Even without a sexual element present.

    Or perhaps it’s more like the increasingly extreme ideas of the waldorf mother — like the mother in the book — drives the rest of the family away (ie, the father and the older children if there are any). Because nobody who doesn’t believe in it can stand living life like that.

  48. I mean, yeah, I see it’s there to spice it up, sort of. To balance all the murders, too, perhaps. But I kept waiting for an explanation as to why a sexual seducation was necessary. I thought there was a reason, and was thinking it’ll be revealed in time. Much like there’s a reason for the removal of the victims’ larynxes (though, obviously, that particular reason was apparent immediately if you knew what Steiner taught about larynxes).

  49. >That’s very seductive. The idea of the perfect childhood,

    I want to say the idea of the perfect childhood may be more seductive than sex. But (see thread on critics), maybe it’s more like, they’re intertwined.

  50. Like Steiner’s vision on life on Atlantis. Well, the more I think about it, the more sense it makes. I mean the metaphorical sex, not Steiner’s Atlantis.

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