Argo Books, Norwich, VT – 1978
Feringer notes
Last edited: 12-98


PROBLEM AND PREFACE: This essay raises the question and offers a solution to the most significant problem of our day – how to change without violent conflict.  His argument proceeds as follows:

a.We cannot survive without borders (boundaries). Reasoning, in general, is based on our ability to make distinctions, defining and characterizing, all of which means drawing boundaries; boundaries create inclusion and exclusion.  There are many types of  boundaries, political, between disciplines of knowledge, between peoples (friends/enemies,  social class, cultures, all types of groups, marriages, gender, social roles, wealth, law and outlaw).  Some of these are spacial such as between nations and residential neighborhoods, some of timespans, such as between generations and some separating groups of people..

b.It may be said that the major activity in the world is in the act of changing these borders.  THE GREAT PARADOX OF HUMAN EXPERIENCE is that we must have borders to realize our human potential. We do not progress unless there is stability, but change inherently creates instability. How, then can change be brought about with the least amount of disruption?

Up to now it has been an iron law of human behavior that change of borders never occurs except by war.  Not only shooting war, but also less violent, equally oppressive actions. For instance, war between the sexes, between academic disciplines, or between social classes.

c.But while this may have been an “iron law” in the past, is it to continue to be human nature?  If so, we are now doomed to extinction because technology, mostly the “bomb,” precludes the possibility of continued life?  A barrier to war is communication, and herein, ERH asserts,  lies the solution to our problem.

d.Work-service is proposed as the primary method by which we can learn to communicate with others and begin to understand them. We can only understand when we work and pray together, is the assumption.  Work service is the first step in a process to creating new boundaries in our thinking.

Introduction and Chapter 1

1.The chapter begins with an axiom, a request for a commitment, as compared to mere description of the world, a commitment to act. Science is the dominant language and method for solving all problems today, but it fails to teach us to change.

“Therefore they (scientists) know all about everything, and they know it very exactly.  But they know nothing about the direction which we men have to choose…that is, to know nothing about anything important.” (p.xvii)

2.  Religions are characterized by their type of sacrifice, as religion meansthe willingness to sacrifice;  “…the only religion which would be appropriate for all of mankind would require that we sacrifice a part of ourselves.” (p.xvi)

3.Our human destiny is a superior problem to that addressed by natural science, which describes (objects) only.  The first chapter proposes to find “The Tone” of our age.”

4.”What,”  ERH asks, “are the barriers to peaceful borders between peoples?”  War can no longer be the main method for change, there is no future for the human race if this condition persists.  What are to be the alternatives?  By inference, he seeks peace in the sense that progress can only be made during peace.  There is yet another paradox to seeking peace; it is that real wars seem to be our only method for distinguishing between serious issues and play.

Chapter 2. A World Without War?

ERH quotes William James, 1910:

Fie upon such a cattle yard of a planet if war is to disappear without an equivalent.  Men would sink to the level of tame cows and dogs. (p.5)

No progress without peace, no progress with war, would seem to be solved by defining the notion of war, as well as defining the changing of borders without war.  May we quote the cynic about love, “If it weren’t for the consequences, it would be a parlor game.” (p.6)   The Crucifixion of Jesus symbolizes sacrifice as a requirement to change borders.  It is crucial to make a distinction between war and peace, between seriousness and play.  War is just as essential as peace, but there must be an alternation between them

We must be aware of the fact that borders between peoples  (between religions, men, sexes, or generations), are serious only if they are final, if they can be changed only at the risk of life.  Otherwise it is a game.  Nothing is truly serious that can be changed in the course of a phone call, like an invitation to a party. (p.6)

5.A world that cannot change borders would be hateful. “What is missing is a powerful and enheartening means of changing borders without war.” (p.9)

6.Borders can also be in “time.”  There must be cooperation between generations, otherwise methods for the creation of peace may not be remembered.

7.The theme of unity, in this instance of time, is mentioned in this context.  “The true man reaches across the times from the dawn of creation to the furthest future.” (p.11)  [RF – I assume he means the term “true” to mean the man capable of regeneration]  failing to make the proper distinction  between war and peace, between serious change and games, is to insure that there will always be a shooting war. ERH cites Hitler, and the “thousand year Reich” as an example that would insure its very fall in the short term.

8.The beginning of true planetary peace will seem an insignificant event at the time; Teilhard de Chardin note:  “No one recognized the first Roman as such.” (p.13)  He points out, for instance, that the initiation of universal postal rates was a great revolution in thinking because it articulated a consciousness that the hithertofore described “world,” which implied endless space, was now recognized as a “planet” with limited space. This meant a recognition that the world had to be seen for what it was, a place where there had to be peace or the countries would tear each other apart by war.  Usually such a revolution is not recognized as such in the beginning.

9.In the context of erasing borders, he cites a number of examples to illustrate the principle that social time and social space can be eliminated, to our benefit in terms of creating peace.  Here he makes the distinction between “world,” which represents “other,” and “planet,” which connotes a community.  Social time and space elimination is represented by universal postal rates (same cost across town as across the country, illustrating the importance of cheap communication within a community to keep it together).  Also important is a basic wage, (same price for one hour as for a day). (p.17-19)

10.He admits the need for borders (limits).

They reveal all of the causes for which men have risked their lives.  National borders are not as contemptible as we like to make them nowadays. (p.19)

And in the words of Goethe.

We mortals feel the greatest reverence for things revealed to us so far, and all things revealed hitherto have led to the construction of borders.  Therefore, at this moment I want to warn myself against presenting borders only negatively.  No, they are venerable insofar as they allow us to hand on things entrusted to us.  You can revive your heritage only because borders exist.  (p.19)

Here also we draw a parallel to the term “problem.”  The problem sets the limits, the borders, indicating (in context) what is significant and what is not, what is to be included and excluded!

11.He goes on to say, paradoxically, that while we must strive to move borders, at the same time we must strive to eliminate them; but such elimination must be cooperative (both sides must agree). THEN MANKIND MUST BECOME ONE!

12.Finally, he points out a distinction between a noun and an adjective, regarding the breaking down of a border.  When a border is eliminated or changed the noun representing each side becomes a adjective, which describes only one aspect of the new unity.  Thus, to be Jewish is to speak of both origins and membership in the larger human community; to be a Jew means to belong to a distinctive group or association.  ERH is Jewish, but not a Jew.  He cites the example of Europeans: German and French are adjectives, while Frenchman/German are nouns. (p.23)

Chapter 3, Planet – World – Earth

1.The title, PLANET, WORLD, EARTH infers the necessity to make some distinctions about our concept of our concrete environment.  ERH suggests that these reflect attitudes essential to correct in modern times.  The discussion IS TO POINT OUT THAT, GIVEN MODERN TRANSPORTATION, RADIO AND THE LIKE, WE MUST UNDERSTAND THAT WE NOW LIVE ON A PLANET, WHICH MEANS THE GLOBE IS OUR NEIGHBORHOOD.

2.The implication is fundamental; what goes on in any part of the planet will effect people everywhere in one way or another. The terms “world” and “earth” suggest a we and they attitude.  We = our culture, nation, neighborhood, which we love and defend; and they = those we hate and fight.  No longer can we afford such an attitude because of our ability to destroy life on earth.  (pp. 24-28)

3.The number of examples ERH gives reflect the interaction between, and interdependence of, countries for trade, the flow of ideas, etc.  He also cites a number of persons who considered Europe a single culture in 1918, and who were willing to sacrifice themselves for the whole.  Albert Ballin and Walter Rathenau knew Germany at that time was wrong and that it must lose the WWI. (p.30,31)  He cites also Stauffenburg, who believed in the “old, Holy Germany” (p.32), and the fine, honorable things it stood for.   ERH cites that again in WW II von Moltke noted that Germany must lose the war because the paganism of Hitler  was no longer at attitude to create peace. (p.33)  (RF – I presume one could cite here also the metaphor of Abraham having been an instrument of freeing the Jews, but was not allowed into the Promised Land. – a reminder that a member of a movement may not personally reap the rewards.)  von Moltke was executed by Hitler.

4.These men, Stauffenburg, Ballin, von Moltke, Bonhoffer, and others, by naming the meaning of their time, allowed a future to be entered.  They all sacrificed themselves and therefore, and accordingly deserve a  right to be listened to. ERH also pointed out an important principle in citing von Moltke’s case, that he created a situation whereby the German people could be believed after the end of the war (WW II), by admitting guilt before defeat.

They (these German martyrs) are the legitimate embodiment of their time.  For out of mere  occurrences they made “events” for which they are personally responsible and for which they have suffered.  Thus the time is set right, because their voices will determine its meaning. (p.34)

[RF – It is perhaps useful to pause for a moment and speak to the reader who may not be familiar with other essays of Rosenstock-Huessy. One must be mindful of the fact that original thinkers who have a world view, as does Rosenstock-Huessy, are difficult to comprehend at times when one is not in possession of the broader context in which certain statements assume.  For example, in making the point (4) above, in speaking of the importance of naming the times, of the need to sacrifice, of giving meaning to events when they are so named, he writes:

World and soul join one another, that is they must join in order to provide meaning.  For the world is meaningless.  The world would just be uncreated chaos were it not for those who stood up with their lives to provide meaning: every time anew it would become an uncreated chaos in which speech decayed and every border became insurmountable.  Chaos does not precede God’s creation.  No, chaos occurs when we little devils abolish God’s word.  (p.35)

I take this to mean, naming eliminates chaos; to name is risky; naming gives meaning; not to give meaning to problems renders them insurmountable, sooner or later causing cultural degeneration.  Insurmountable borders robs us of the opportunity for peace and, chaos follows eventually. Naming categorizes, limits, creates boundaries.  The term “borders” means boundaries.]

5.However, boundaries are a two edged sword. They not only help identify problems, in another way they are barriers to communication.  Abolishing borders can therefore also mean speaking to one another, “…as though we had no secrets from one another.” (p.35)  At this point ERH goes in another direction, examining  the meaning of speech. In sum, the chapter seems to provide examples as to how people in recent times in Europe have understood that we are now a global village, a planet.  All of this clears the ground for a united Europe.

Chapter 4  Nipped in the Bud

1.Summarizing his three points so far in the book:

a)The meanings of war and peace have been jumbled.  War means changing borders, and is serious business; border changing is the source of “…the carrier of life.” The obvious paradox is that to survive we must define and name, creating borders (boundaries).  But also to survive we must grow, which is to say change.  And to change means changing definitions, taboos, alliances,  boundaries.  There are many types of boundaries and heretofore changing boundaries has been accomplished by war. But,  since shooting war is no longer possible, how are we to maintain  change in the future?

b)Home and the world, once friend and enemy, can no longer be so easily distinguished, because we are forced together; we must see ourselves as a single planet, and the planet is now really “home.”

c)Obviously borders are other than geographical; they divide labor and management, Jew from Moslem, Aborigine from cosmopolitan, rich from poor, idealist from realist, etc.

2.The notion of work service began roughly in 1910 (p.39), and since has appeared in many western countries, Germany, Switzerland, U.S. (The Friends Service Committee and Unitarian Universal Service Committee for instance).

a)Work service must be serious and a full time commitment for a specified time (1 or 2 years), and run parallel to a military camp.

b)The weakness of those past attempts were that they were summer, part-time efforts and run by pacifists.

Conditions of serious work service:

3.Such work service must erase rank, i.e. eliminate barriers of class so that there is equality and competence arising unfettered. (p.41,42)

a)It must be serious, and therefore last long enough to allow contemplation, suffering, or  sacrifice.

b)Work groups cannot represent one class only. This criterion is crucial. ERH cites the bunching together of unemployed whereby, their misery was increased by meeting only with their own kind.  ALL DIFFERENT GROUPS IN SOCIETY MUST BE MIXED TOGETHER SO THAT THEY LEARN TO COMMUNICATE, TO UNDERSTAND  EACH OTHER, AND TO RESPECT EACH OTHER’S PROBLEMS.  (p.43)    Unemployed and employed are enemies because one poses as competition to the other.

…industrialization must take two things into account: (1) Unemployed people must “belong” and be able to make friends in spite of the fact that they are out of work. (2) Employed people have to stick their noses beyond the borders of their jobs, physicians as well as lathe operators, ministers as well as alpine farmers.  (p.46)

In general ERH describes these early efforts at work-service, their mistakes, the misunderstanding about them, the world forces that opposed them (Hitler and Pearl Harbor, Capitol and Labor).  But he also says that these brave attempts produced many good ideas, and that they must be  re-invented and tried again to fit the times; “…a cause may become legitimate only when it has once failed…….Misuse (ala Hitler taking over the youth camps) never disproves the proper use.” (pp.48,49)

Chapter 5,  It Can’t Go Slowly Enough

1.ERH’s point here is that charity from rich to poor creates enemies. (pp.50,51).  “We are not helping the underdeveloped countries when we give them part of our wealth….Goods only benefit the right people.” (p.52)

2.He then begins to define service or charity, making the point that change can  come only when the hearts of men are moved and this operates on a very different time span than transfer of technology.  Thus, to provide pure wells, bathrooms, and the like to “developing” countries is of less importance than working with them and teaching them to help themselves. This is consistent with the notion that “Rome was not built in a day.”  ERH cites as example that today the technology of war allows fighting to last for a relatively short time, but the actual anger or hatred goes on for generations.  He also cites his own experience; from 1941 to 1944 few people thought of him as a German, but by 1945, even his friends thought of him as “…that awful German.”  So long did it take their hearts to comprehend the meaning of Nazism.  Technology and human time spans are basically different.

3.The essential notion of time and timing here is that we live in  multiple time spans, each of which must be recognized and balanced.

Every event contains the extremes of lightning flashes and snails.  And for that reason we are burdened by both as if they were one.  Assimilating facts only, contributes to bringing about the end of the world. ….Peoples are not flashes of lightening;. they are snails. (p.55)

They must respond to both the demands of the day, and those of the century.

4.How to recognize the demands of the day?  ERH cites the example of saving a baby from a burning building or saving the building;  “..developing countries are like the baby.”  He goes on to make the distinction between the stages of developing countries, politically, economically, socially, as compared to our own industrial societies.

5.The concept “economy” to ERH means that there are three basic elements evolved over long periods of time. After the hunter and gatherer came, 1) the peasant who tilled the land and who was given the gift of agriculture from the monk who taught him, 2) the craftsman who could build the cathedrals, taught by the engineer, and 3) the technologist/inventer who was taught by the natural scientist.  Each lives according to a different time span; the farmer is slowest, technological change the fastest.  Modern society lives in all three at once,which is its strength and the source of its adaptability and creativity.  All three are necessary side-by-side:

Thus if the expanses of the continents of our planet are to be cultivated now as the Creator of the soil and its treasures demands, then industry, craft and peasantry must pool their gifts: the reliable dedication of the free peasants who need not be overseen, the reliable craftsman of a team, and the coherence of the antipodes brought about by enterprises spanning the globe. (p.61)

Finally, he points out, finally that psychologically many of us tend to retain the values of the peasant, being tied to one country, or one neighborhood, or culture.  The future person cannot be tied only to the past, but also to the future.  He cites airline pilots and stewardesses who can only fly 72 hours per month, have no home because they are always on the move, and who become exhausted because of lacking a place to call “home.”  This, he suggests, is the metaphor for the new planetary man, who must respect all three time-zones of life, and know that the future will make unique demands upon us.  If we are to recognize these, our planetary service, which involves working with all three types of peoples, must respect their time-tables.

Chapter 6, the Planetary Household

1.Appropriate change is the universal necessity for a vital community. There is a Latin word, hostis, which connotes both enemy and guest.  The daughter becomes a mother, the son a father, the obstreperous student a teacher of obstreperous students.  In these examples, change did not occur, one simply repeated one’s experience. To solve this problem one needs to understand, not only different demands in different roles, but also the transition from one to the other.  If the change doesn’t create peace, the old behaviors perpetuate war between the roles.

What is important instead is the ability to change at the right time from apprentice into master, patient into doctor, or subject into ruler.  We must be able to call forth from within us the variation; teacher, or maybe policeman, or welder, or juryman, at the right hour.  (pp.64,65)

2.The great decision we have at any moment is to respond to being called to take-on some new role.  And that role may be the opposite to what we have done before.

3.To find peace, we must create inner time.  Inner time is the opposite from clock time, it is the time to reflect, to create a new time by seeing how we must change.  ERH tells the story of the young man who chose to be shot rather than enter the SS.  “A man who accepts death in order not to commit evil deeds helps us to do the things which must be done to replace war, lest we lose our creative breath.”  (p.68)

4.Development means decay. Things left by themselves “develop,” then die out.  “The mere world will become a planet only when worldly development is stopped and replaced by loving participa­tion.” (p.60)   What ERH means here is that things cannot be left by themselves to just “develop.”  For example, to give money to “developing countries” will never work.  One must, instead, participate with the country receiving the aid, working along with them to teach the spirit of regeneration, to create mutual understanding, to teach them that they are not alone and that we are brothers and sisters.


5.Such teaching will take at least two generations, indicating fruitful achievement only in the third generation.  (p.71)   With reference to the young man who resisted the SS, he writes:

A truthful, courageous, and believing declaration like the letter from the farmer’s young son should give us the courage to realize that three generations truly belong together.  I am the mediating generation and I am extricating him from death by burdening you, the reader, with him.  One generation can indeed listen to another.  I am transposing the dying boy into you, and he will endure through you. (p.71)

Chapter 7, The Peace of the Pirates

1.The world needs a new type of pirate; one who asserts himself in the absence of formal authorities.   He points out that, although the notion of a pirate is generally negative, the action can have positive consequences, especially when the laws of the land are corrupted. (p.74)  What are the acts of piracy in this context?

2.Acts are morally different from one another.  A new piracy might be rescuing shipwrecked persons, freeing slaves, protecting women, preserving valuable documents, paying ransoms, feeding the hungry, or extinguishing flames at the danger of one’s own life.   ERH points out that the pirate normally operated in free, unregulated space, on water, land, and air that had not been claimed by some country.  Nowadays, there is little or no unregulated space.

3.The relevance of the pirate to creating “inner time” is that creating a future requires free space and free time.  So the question is, how is that time to be created?  And his answer would seem to be, nowadays, by acts of piracy, by stealing what other people believe is theirs.

Once the policemen impose the same borders as the geographers, the child of God within us will suffocate.  The double pressures of the law and of knowledge will overwhelm our consciences and make us believe that no one can fly, write, love, hate, or serve except on the legitimate paths of the railroad, the airlines, the ski-lifts, the various academic scholarships, the state exams, the draft, the street signs, the IQ tests, and birthcontrol. (pp.75,76)

4.As I understand his text, one of his points is that any religious creed is potentially dangerous to its “so called” believer, or it is nothing. The distorted thing about our situation today is that almost nobody who is earning his daily bread with the Christian creed (i.e. clerics) realizes that the credo may be deadly dangerous.  Only laymen believe that, or people like Bonhoeffer, who take off their frocks.  If the creed is not considered dangerous, divine worship is emasculated.  The creed is either high voltage or empty straw.

And for this reason, planetary service must be placed under the pirates flag because piracy is the last bit of freedom from regulation.  Since the pirate need not start wars because no state can be blamed for his actions, he is capable of creating a kind of peace. The pirates peace.   (p.77)

5.Pirate’s peace means that the pirate does not call or name himself, contrasting with  warring nations, which create their own myths by speaking to themselves as to who they are.  ERH describes peace as the act of allowing someone else to call you by your name, and they allowing you to do the same.  Friends greeting others call each other by name, the sign of a peaceful relationship.  But, as so many nations are greedy today, ignoring the environment and other elements necessary for survival, they be circumvented.

…the messengers of the planet will have to grab the globe away from the raving nations.  Wanting to determine its own fate empties a nation.  Lacking the justice which accords each its own place, a nation becomes, in the words of Augustine, a band of robbers. `If the states themselves are becoming similar to pirates, I will have to seek shelter with the pirates myself in order to show my readers the way to the source of health.’  (p.81)

6.The first step is to act.  One does not need to know, or cannot really know, how something will come out.  One must simply , “…relax and accept the fact that eventually the things will take hold which I helped to start. One doesn’t need to know more.” (p.88)  ERH cites a number of Peace Corps workers who validated this idea: to listen and ponder, to act, then to wait and see what grows.

And most importantly, one’s patience must reject the time-clock of a scientific world.  The establishment expects to go by the appointment book.

The coming generations will have to master two completely different types of times….The so-called time of the technological age is robbing us of our own real time…beat back the raging time of technology with the time of healthy hearts. “One doesn’t need to know more” represents the time of our hearts. ….Men love to act for themselves, and with spontaneity; and as I have sometimes observed, have come at length cheerfully and voluntarily into measures, which they would have opposed, if they had imagined they were to be driven into them” (pp.90,91)

[RF – Is not this last phrase a fundamental dictum for all teaching and learning, and for the basis of planetary service as well?]

Chapter 8,   David Scott Palmer

1.This chapter seems to be devoted to establishing the importance of identity for persons taking action.  Pirates?  This is important because it is not groups per se that take action, but action is taken through the courage of individuals within that group.

There is always a great temptation to hide within a group, to set  aside the personal danger of taking a stand, of “sticking one’s neck out.”  But ERH is asserting that there must be leadership, a personal owning up to ideas and commitment to action, otherwise nothing gets done.

One can step into the light of history only by bearing one’s first and last name.  Bearing your name stops one from just belonging to a class or social stratum and disappearing into it.  That’s when a person rises above his social class costume; that’s when his face shows above his clothing……The spirit of peace and the peace of the spirit require that we think, act and decide by overcoming our race, class and our self-interest. (p.94)

2.He goes on to suggest that, “…we would rather put up with a bad reputation than sink to the level of types, concepts, and numbers with which one does not speak.” (p.94)

Indeed, the great criticism of politicians these days is that they will not own up to a political view on their own.  As it is, they agree with everyone.

[RF – However, the planetary servant must have the courage to speak out and must therefore be willing to risk the danger  of having and acting on beliefs.  A danger which cannot be avoided, he might have said, if one is to evolve with a soul.]

3.Life in planetary service must be involvement with individuals.  “Life in service has to be life in service of a name, or the service remains lifeless.” (p.95)  Social science that attempts to deal only in abstractions remains ineffective.   An important step in establishing EFFECTIVENESS IS TO GET TO KNOW PEOPLE PERSONALLY! “That is why I named the chapter David Scott Palmer.” (p.96)

Chapter 9, A Pirate’s Esperanto

1.In all of this, what is revealed to me is the primary social effect of large massive populations who do not know each other, where there are ghettos established between social classes and various groups within them, e.g. academics and business, Spanish and black (gangs), red-necks and Unitarians, etc. The separation of these people, the fact that they do not speak to each other, INCREASES CRIME BECAUSE PEOPLE WHO DO NOT SPEAK, DO NOT TAKE CARE OF ONE ANOTHER.  Thus, modern society tends to have the large crime rates in the cities, including white collar crime.

2.What ERH is interested in here is what he calls the new language that is necessary to establish between strangers, who make peace between themselves. The language must speak to the calendar of celebrations.  Because every technological advance expands space and shortens time needed for adapting,  it destroys a familiar living group.  “This human group must be replaced explicitly.” (p.98)

3.Destruction of a familiar living group!  If technology destroys living groups, how can new ones be established?  THIS IS A CRUCIAL QUESTION FOR THE PIRATE! ERH puts this question in the context of increasing space as a result of technology.

The answer is that to re-create groups one must be patient, one must get to know all persons with whom one works.  ONE MUST COUNTER THE TECHNOLOGICAL SPEEDING UP OF TIME, BY INSISTING ON SLOWING DOWN ONE’S OWN TIME.  We constantly under estimate the time needed to solve social problems. (p.100)

4.What time schedules must we understand?

a.The speechless stage of the pre-human world living in the present, “…laughing, crying, hunger and love, sleeping and being awake alternate their reign over us.” p. 102  These are “urges” propelling us through life,  the twilight dawn (of consciousness).  (p.102)

b.Second is war,  where we are brought together to a focus on a specific goal, a purpose, to conquer an enemy, be it an invader, or reduce famine or crime.  Here, time is explicit, and all impatient urges must be set aside in the interest of achieving the goal.  One works on long-range assignments, and the steps to take are to be clarified; during war one does not speak to the enemy, there is no “…time in common.”

c.Peace is concluded when a common time is established.  This occurs when one shares common sorrows and joys. When such common time does not exist, either there is the twilight of the present, or war! (p.103)

Time without a calendar of the soul’s sorrows and joys shared in common, is an abstract time, is time artificially reduced to measuring external things, like police, labs, walls, borders…office hours, the working day, terms of service…..One generation after the other has to be won over explicitly and induced to conclude peace.(p.104)

5.Peace rests on people being leveled, seeing each other as equals.  Then common goals and joys become more important than war! p. 104

[RF – I believe this is an example of why so many people have trouble understanding ERH as George Morgan describes so eloquently in his book SPEECH AND SOCIETY.  Issues such as,  war and peace, love and hate, science and feeling have different meanings in different situations.  When he writes about these issues in different contexts his explanations, his applications and interpretations are shaded to fit those circumstances.  Time, for instance, has many dimensions,  but these can only be understood in specific circumstances.  The definition of time must therefore be understood as the sum of these uses.]

Peace joins together “distemporaries,” war divides, peace (contrasted with an armistice) requires trust and usually requires several (at least 3) generations to establish. (in the mean time an armistice may prevail). War requires only a single generation to explode.

Technology, and by inference commerce, according to ERH, allows a condition between war and peace. These forces, he asserts, are therefore in control.

6.Peace breaks out only when people “come to themselves.”   This is to say, when people care less for their reputation, appearance, rank, honor or rights.  Actually we can only come to ourselves if we don’t care whether the world considers us legitimate or illegitimate, decent or indecent, noble or plebeian.  (p.106)

7.Rights are won, not given, and our age claims to offer many rights by law.  These need to be protected, as  “…NO ONE WILL GIVE THEM BACK.” if they are lost. (p.108)

8.Time and timing are crucial to establishing peace.  We must take time to allow knowledge of each other. This alludes to the time of war (everything needs to be done fast and on time),  like the time of the craftsman, who has much time.  TO ESTABLISH PEACE, THESE TWO TIMES MUST BE WELDED TOGETHER BY THE PIRATE, SO THAT HE CAN USE BOTH.

9.Pirate service must be civilian, so that there can be freedom to be creative  freedom for an individual.  The Peace Corp’s secret of success was that its members were laymen.  Cardinal Roncalli, later Pope XXIII, are example of prelates who ranked laymen above themselves because lay-people tend to be free to be creative, unbound by politics, or economics, or long-range plans.    “Isn’t it remarkable that in our age the extraordinary things can only be done by lay-men?” (p.110)

The professional, the technician, plans everything beforehand, based on what he knows, on what is known; he creates “things in space.” Things in space die.  The layman surprises us; he takes time, then may abandon it through overcoming his fear of death. (p.110)

The technological world anticipates all functions by planning and every expert is pre-determined and pre-programmed.  He must accomplish something, something which has been known beforehand.  With this he enters the world of space, space makes him visible.  Since what is visible about us is prone to death, the spaces in which the experts act are not only dead, but deadening.  Only pure time is free of death, and a man can take part in it only by forgetting space and overcoming fear of death. (p.110)

[RF – Another interesting paradox in life.  In order to create something lasting and of worth one must forget a fear of death.  The aphorism is,  “We gain life by being willing to die?”  Clearly president Bush was not willing to take time to pave the road toward peace in the middle east situation in 1991.  He took the fast track, so to speak.  He made war rather than waiting for sanctions to work.]

10.Planners and administrators are important, but only one step in a link.  As with William James, one must be able to look at an old phenomenon afresh, as if seeing it for the first time.  That is not what the planner does, but what the pirate must learn to do.

11.To be a proper pirate, one must not work only for one’s self interest or even only for that of his country.  ERH cites Theodore Roosevelt and Kaiser William II, as examples  of both sides of this question.  The new pirate must work for peace for mankind, not just for one’s self. (p.112)   And “…doing the proper thing ranks above officiality.” (p.113)

12.One must learn to listen to the moment, to know how to make the distinction between following rules and breaking them, by doing the unpredictable.

13.Service on the planet must achieve a celebration for peace, a holiday whereby all, normally distemporaries, will work closely together.  “This is what the service on the planet must achieve.” (p.115)

14.A pirates of peace must be anointed, recognized beforehand by a group, as one committed and willing to take what may come, like a bride or groom entering a marriage:  “…all will know themselves anointed by the prophesy that the world is waiting for them in order to become a planet.” (p.115)

15.Peace cannot be force upon us, “The soul has to enter peace explicitly and voluntarily.” (p.116)  When victories are won, a new language is born. (p.117)



Lectures 1-4
Feringer notes
Last edited: 12-98


Lecture 1

1.What is a profession? What does it mean?  In terms of: 1) what kind of a code of knowledge should be generalized throughout the world, 2) how our society threatens professional standards and undermines them, and 3) how we should  respond to those threats. (p.3)

2.Obviously, a profession represents expert knowledge in some field needed by society such as dentistry or law or teaching,  but it also must be underpinned by a code of ethics that goes beyond the technical aspects of that knowledge.

Ethics are essential because they form the bedrock upon which public trust is built. At all costs, trust must be maintained.  SO THE FIRST PRINCIPLE IS THAT THE PROFESSION MUST BE RECOGNIZED (TRUSTED) BY SOCIETY.  Usually this means backing by law.

3.There are three sets of relationships to be understood; 1) between the professional and his profession, 2) between the professional and his clients, and 3) between the professional and the law (authorities). (p.1-5)

The same applies to teaching, between 1) teacher and parents, 2) teacher and students, and 3) teacher and school board. AND, AS IN ALL RELATIONSHIPS, THESE CLASH AT TIMES.

4.There is a “body politic” that must exist first before all professions; ERH’s reminds us that “the whole exists before the parts.”  The professional must be “called” and must be recognized by the society, which means someone else must bestow a name, a title one the professional. NONE OF THIS CAN BE SELF-APPOINTED, as  “…the recognition that the political and social names in a society are given, and not self-made….Somebody else has to make sure that you are a dentist in their eyes.”  (pp.10,11)

5.All of this comes down to three things, 1)a brotherhood of the people who do the same service,  2)  people who are in need of that service, and 3) authoritative recognition by community leaders that the service is being satisfactorily performed.

6.Law should never be enacted unless it is valid for the next generation. Any idea that should live longer than a single life-time must be institutionalized!

Just as liquid water has two other states, ice and gas, so professions live in three time-spans: 1) the immediate (e.g. the dentist services a tooth ache), 2)  the life-time of the professional as he relates to his profession, and 3) the service to humanity, which is recognized by law to apply to the next generation. THERE IS NO COMMON DENOMINATOR BETWEEN THESE THREE TIMES; THEY ARE SEPARATE ELEMENTS OF A UNITY THAT INVESTS EVERY PROFESSION.

7.This tripartite is expressed in three languages, the language of law, of the profession between professionals, and finally, the language of everyday activity, between professional and client.

The professional man then is also a layman a member of the “public,” and a legislator who looks toward eternity.  In each of these roles we represent three time-spans, 1) the immediate or present, 2) our own lifetime, and 3) eternity.

8.Finally, these time-spans represent a hierarchy of values, 1) eternity is most important (like dying for one’s country), 2) second is one’s life-time, and 3) and last is the present (the tooth-ache, so to speak).

Lecture 2

1.As “public,” man is passive, unseen and unrecognized as an individual. Man, in his strength, has a title – engineer, doctor, dentist etc. (p.1)

a.Professional standards are universal, not bent by local mores.

b.Professional also means that one is changing the aspect of the technical or specialized knowledge.

c.Professionals are (or should be) “infected” with a spirit of the calling.

2.IN AMERICA THE PROFESSIONAL IS IMPOVERISHED! , because he is seen either as an individual or as a member of the “public,” but never in brotherhood with his professional colleagues. (p.4)

3.IT IS CRUCIAL TO DISTINGUISH BETWEEN THE “SELF”  (as your flesh and blood individuality) and one’s spiritual use of the term “I,” as a professional.  The professional, professing the opinion “I,” is speaking within the learning, tradition, and research of the professional community.

4.One must understand the sequence in education.  The sequence of learning is to receive knowledge, then to re-learn it in terms of his/her own experience.  To re-learn, is to re-search.  These are separate and necessary stages in learning.  To research comes after the initial learning. To re-search adds new“meaning” to the learning.

ERH asserts that, today, we tend to assume the child can learn everything immediately, and thus “…our poor American child has no future, because all its imagination is destroyed when he/she is told `You can do everything now…”  (p.8)

The notion here is that, at the university, the professor is engaged in a new level of teaching in which “research” meant that the meaning of knowledge could be changed and created anew. (p.11)

5.Thus, the “high” in higher education recognizes this change in approach to learning. The professor has been recognized as having the authority to say “I” in the spiritual sense.

ERH cites the old man who got up in a meeting, having lived in the community for over 70 years, to pronounce the historical sense of values in the community.  His “authority” was derived from his experience in the community and was recognized as such by the group at the meeting. (p.11) At that moment his “self” changed from a “we” into an “I” – a great mystery of transition.

Transition, authority, and experience are the social variables determine the destiny of the community through history. These are factors of social time.  By contrast, the objects of natural scientific investigation measure time very differently,  their focus being oriented toward spacial elements, i.e. the clock rather than phases or stages of a process.  (p.12)

6.The “self,” in the sense described above, represents spatial considerations, as do all concrete entities. Personally experienced events such as  hunger, intoxication, and nervousness are expressions of the “self.”  However, when individuals act in the name of a profession, such as an M.D. writing a prescription, his  “I” represents “authority” conferred by a group, just as a scientist pronouncing a new discovery. In these cases the social role represents a wider arc of time.

7.The Christian tradition has waged war against stagnation by way of attempting to balance between change and tradition.  The Greek mentality was to see no change; life went in cycles of repeated experience, of forgetting what is to be learned through experience that should be acted upon to bring about change.

8.Change occurs by considering what idea is to be applied at the right time.

9.The churches in American are filled with cowards.  “They have no social status, they have no courage, they have no convictions, and they do what’s pleasing.” (p.15)   His evidence is that no church “consecrates” divorces, and any church will marry the same person four times.  His second criticism of the churches is their numerous “squabbles,” and tendency toward fragmentation into sects. This, ERH asserts, is confusing and damaging to the lay persons attempting to follow “the true faith.”

10.Regarding the issue of what ERH calls “corollaries,” or in other writing, “paradox,” he points out the constant decision between change and tradition.  This is revealed in the different roles (and dress) of men and women.  Women change dress each day, mens’ stay the same.  The reminding of this phenomenon represents a continuity from generation to generation that will “save the world.”

Lecture 3

1.ERH begins this lecture with a discussion of the fragmentation between divisions of labor in the work force. HIS POINT IS THAT ALL PARTS OF THE `WHOLE’ ARE INTERDEPENDENT. EACH PART COMPLIMENTS THE OTHER.

a.Today, capital and labor are separated; unions fight CEO’s.

b.Historically, the peasant, the artisan, and the leader (designer) had to work together to build a cathedral.

c.Today, it is the same; production depends upon the unity of unskilled labor,craftsmen (on the machines), and  leaders who design, but the fragmentation causes undue disruption of this process.

2.ERH draws the conclusion that a flow of trained personnel is required for the chain of continuity to be maintained from generation to generation.  It follows also that one needs to maintain a loyalty to a division of labor, to a profession, if a society is to properly produce the goods and services the next generation needs.

3.The Irish, French Canadians, and Italians were dedicated to the church because it offered them more than religion; it offered them a place in the world by way of teaching them to be loyal to a work, or to a plot of soil. (3 virtues: “stick-to-it-ness to place, to purpose, and to group).  (p.11)

4.As a continuation of this point, ERH asserts that “…nobody is more superstitious than modern man, after he has gone to high school.  Because he believes in the latest fad.  He forgets everything that has existed before.”  (p. 12)

5.Today, more than ever before, a revival of professions depends upon an apprentice system, as in medicine. One role of  interns is to re-establish craft.

ERH defines a law of LIFE:  “…ALL GREAT REFORMS START AT THE TOP AND GO DOWN TO THE BOTTOM.  In complete contradiction to the gospel of the common man, nothing ever happens down below that hasn’t happened first at the top.” (p.17)

6.Today we are threatened, not only by soil erosion, but by SOUL erosion; it is a matter of caring for the community.  “What we do to our neighbor and to the land, we do to ourselves.” (p.21)

It is a decision from one’s soul that calls us individually to be loyal to our work, to seek perfection (pride in one’s work), and to work with others in a team spirit.  (p.23)

Lecture 4

1.ERH is making the point of continuity and education (and by indirection toward the professions), by quoting the Bible.

ALONG THE WAY HE MAKES THE POINT THAT ONE CAN’T PROVE ANYTHING BY QUOTING THE BIBLE BECAUSE EVERYTHING HAS ALREADY BEEN PROVEN BY QUOTATIONS. (And the devil quotes as well – shades of the fundamentalists!   BUT HE DOES ASSERT THAT ONE CAN PROVE POINTS BY QUOTING THE BIBLE AS A WHOLE, by which he means looking at the larger context of quotations, what precedes and succeeds any particular quotation.

a.His first quote is at the last of the Old Testament, where he states that a parent cannot concern him/herself only with his own generation; he must mind the future for his children, and the professions as well,  and it is the role of the “elder” in society to see to this. (p.2)

b.The “elder” is beyond egotism, beyond the “I.”  The elder is wise, as “..the fruit of living in human society is not muscles, but wisdom.  (p.5)

c.The elder would point out that every institution is good at times, and at other times bad, AND WE MUST BE ALLOWED TO SAY THESE THINGS.  We must be allowed to be bored, disciplined, to suffer, “…to say it’s terrible.” (the education)  Education is never all happiness.  In other words, we must always invest part of our lives in the future if we wish for an improvement in community life.

2.There is a time to take  orders, to listen (to commands), and ultimately to prophesy and to give commands (i.e. the 12 tones).  ERH points out that each group in society may have its elders, and that the two groups that seem to have become deprived of elders are women and industrial workers.  (p.9)

3.ERH enumerates other problems with professions. 1) They tend to look narrowly on creativity. (e.g. the story of the pharmacist who invented the lotion, unaccepted by the doctor, but which worked. 2) They must recognize that others participate in different roles that effect their profession, e.g. the parent who administers at home. In the practice of professions one must see the whole, including these different roles, and the roles must be respected by the professional.  Finally, 3) while we need rules that must be taught, we must also teach that there are exceptions to those rules, depending upon circumstances.  And it is always our burden, as professionals, to decide when and where to make these  exceptions.

What Future the Professions – 1969 – Review

The central issue here might be called the problem of how thought is circulated and its vitality maintained.  The underlying assumption is that any idea that is to live longer than one human life must be institutionalized.  What then  are the problems of institutionalization that maintain the power of thought to change us?  The topic of “professional” is used to apply, by inference, to the practice and teaching of all services needed by the community requiring professional knowledge from doctor, lawyer, or teacher to plumber, or carpenter. The author points out the disastrous consequences when any of the stages of professional practice become either corrupted or omitted, such as when the relationships between the professional and his colleagues, or his clients and the law, break down.



On Freedom, Growth and Self-Knowledge
(Transcribed from an LP recording)
Feringer notes
Last edited: 12-98

1.     Shame protects the integrity of groups, marriages, clubs, friendships, etc.  If these groupings are to contribute to our lives, they must be protected by differentiating their “inside” (uniqueness) from the “outside” (how others see them). Their uniqueness is their most intimate secret.

2.     Shame is only obliquely related to anything to do with sex.  [For instance Shakespeare’s deep emotional feeling toward England.] ERH cites a number of examples of shamelessness, whereby the “inner” was revealed to the outside world unnecessarily or inappropriately, and points out that this destroys one’s inner world.

3.     Shame opposes science, in that science tends to be dedicated to turning “inner” to “outer” in this sense. Thus, “social science” tends to destroy what is intimately “social” in society.

4.     The power to “unify” to create a new union, of friends or business associates, or to join a church, etc. is identified by our speech.  When we speak, we characterize ourselves as either for or against, or as inside  or separate from a group or cause.

He who says, “We are within, and this has to stay without,” begins to live meaningfully. (p.7)

This language comes from the heart and describes a new inner creation as a visible being.  We impart life, or we can kill spiritual life when we mistake “inside” for “outside.”.  To speak in second person to another  (i.e. you and me) is to unify: to speak in third person, i.e. him or her, is to kill.

5.     What is accomplished by such unions is the time and protection to grow. We are protected (accepted) by the group, because the beginning of growth must always be in secret.

What we gain by shame, then, is space, too, an inner space which we can use to discuss, to converse freely… It remains in the bosom of the family.  So we gain time, and we gain space for irresponsible, playful, preliminary talk…But we now know that the essential problem for man is: when is he willing to be recognized by others for what he wants to stand?  (p.13,14)

Then we must judge when to make a commitment. This commitment effects our character, and when taken in sum represent what we have become, spiritually,  at some point in time.  To live fully one  must remain capable of being transformed throughout life, defying prediction.  We can never know ahead of time when transformation will happen.  This not knowing is important self-knowledge.

6.     The old Greek admonition, Know yourself, was not meant to mean, “Be predictable.” Rather it meant, be humble.  Self-knowledge in this sense is creative, because it assumes that we must remain strong enough to end a relationship, if and when that becomes necessary for our continued growth.

7.     To change the world around us we must create new unions, new corporations, new associations that can support a new way of doing things.

8.     Shame is about having secrets.  It is about our “inner sanctum” which powers freedom to change,  assuming others, do not know certain things about us ( those things that must change). When others know too much about us we become imprisoned by that power they have over us. Knowledge of others is paradoxical in this sense.  To learn about the meaning of our experience we need to reveal our  thoughts on significant issues to others.  But we always do this at a risk, so we had better to select our friends with care for this reason.  Knowledge other have about us is both a path and a barrier to understanding reality.  To some extend, we become what other allow us to become.  Our friends forgive  our ignorance, judging us subjectively,  and our enemies judge us objectively.

9.     Shame and timing go together. The least important type of knowledge about us can be known can be known at any time; the most important type of knowledge, one can only know at the right time.  ERH’s example is Jesus, who declined to be called Messiah in public until his last hour.  He forbade his disciples to say it.


11.   The great problem, then, is to know when to speak or act at the right time. This is the meaning of the message of Jesus. It is the unique message of Christianity, AND THIS KNOWLEDGE, WHEN TO SPEAK AND ACT, CANNOT BE KNOWN BEFORE THE MOMENT IS AT HAND!  (p.29)

12.   REVELATIONS AND VEILS:  To know at the last moment means to remove the “last veil.” Shamelessness is to tear away all veils, to recognize no veils, to not understand that certain things cannot and must not be known until the right time. (pp.29,30)  Shamelessness is to know something out of the context of time  But this does not necessarily mean consciousness of its  significance.

THUS, WHILE THE FACTS OF LIFE TEND TO RULE OUR LIVES, WE DO HAVE POWER AND THE BASIS OF THAT POWER IS PRECISELY TO DECIDE THE RIGHT MOMENT TO DO THINGS. p. 1-31  We must eat, sleep, love, go to work, breathe, etc.  But we can decide when, which makes all the difference in our lives.

And now comes something most people never consider: Great truth also must be forgotten again, because it is so true that timing allows us to know great truth, that obviously later on, it isn’t wise to remember it, when we are back again in the slime and in the — mud of everyday living.  (p.31) …importance decreases when availability increases. (p.34)

13.   To rise above certain personal problems,  such as jealousy, to put them in their place is important knowledge of course, but this sense of how to hold such generalizations in our memory and apply them at the right time is only known through art, specifically poetry, such as in Shakespeare’s Othello.

“Poetry therefore is protecting you against the shamelessness of your own soul, because although the whole issue is there, right before you, it is in the disguise of another man’s or another women’s life….We will have to walk in frankness, thanks to poetry, but not in nakedness.”   (p.36)


ERH describes shame as a crucial link to personal growth.  While we may acquire knowledge in the abstract, we can know its meaning, as related to our lives,  only at the right time.  Shame is the veil by which we protect our inner life until its meaning can be revealed to ourselves and others.  And while there are many forces that must control our everyday behavior, our freedom is in determining the right moment to reveal those inner thoughts.  This essay is a succinct and complete statement of one of his brilliant insights on human nature.



Lectures 1-26
Feringer notes
Last edited: 12-98


Lecture 1

1.The principal purpose of philosophy is to go against the trend by creating a new system of organized thought.

2.Greek philosophy arose because their culture was faced with specific needs for knowledge.  Our job here is to understand those needs and become able to apply that type of thinking to our own lives.  This is to say,  to not take the ideas of the Greeks of that day as truth eternal, but to adapt those ideas to our own lives.  As with all historical knowledge, it must first be understood in terms of the context in which it arose, as the first step in applying it to new situations.  All knowledge is historical, in the sense that it was created before the present moment,  and all knowledge (abstractions) is incomplete in the sense that, in the process of application, one must complete the concept by considering the unique elements of the present situation.

To ignore this admonition is to become enslaved by old ideas, blinded by failure to examine the assumptions upon which the principles  were based. The following are the bedrock assumptions of the classical Greeks: 1) Mind and body are separate entities that can be considered in isolation. 2) Homosexuality is an essential ingredient for creativity.  3) Women are inferior to men, both intellectually and socially.  4) Other races are inferior to Greeks. 5)  The laws of nature apply to social life.  All five of  these assumptions destroy society because they represent a gross distortion of reality.

Our tendency is to believe that the way we think is “natural” and  logical. The term “natural” we define as logical and descriptive of the natural environment, with the exception of social life.  In other words, “Greek thinking,” as  ERH defines it, recognized only laws of the natural environment, and his hypothesis is that social life is essentially different from sticks-and-stones and therefore demands different principles to understand it.   What we must do to understand social experience is the major topic of this entire series of lectures.     ALL OUR MODERN SCIENCE AND PHILOSOPHY IS BASED ON GREEK THINKING. These two streams of thought serve different gods; science studies facts of nature, and philosophy attempts to understand – it is an exercise in “wonderment.”

3.Philosophy also determines how to define types of reality.  For instance, science, by categorizing, shows us the parts of complex phenomena such as the many types of plants, minerals, people, etc.  These distinctions are essential to all understanding, allowing us to  identify what we see and what we will be blind to, what we believe to be right and wrong, good or bad.  EACH PHILOSOPHY IS A SEPARATE “SYSTEM,” EACH OF WHICH HAS A UNITY AND PROVIDES A VISION OF A DIFFERENT REALITY.  Obviously one needs to comprehend these predispositions to thinking of different people if one is to understand their experience and respond to it appropriately.

4.Three senses of wonder would allow one to  see the world freshly each day, and this type of wonder is the first step in removing distortions of reality we carry around in our mind.   1) Wonder about things outside you (i.e. in the world). 2) Wonder about God, or the creative force of the universe. 3) Wonder about the nature of humankind. Philosophy helps create these senses of wonder.

5.Society, and therefore ourselves as individuals, cannot continue to exist without paying attention to natural things, to God, and to society, and such attention defines cultures, what they value and reject.

6.Greek Philosophy has 4 historic periods: 1) Pre-history, 800-600 BC, Homer’s era, (The first Olympic games  were held in 776 B.C.).  2) The Classical period, 600- 50 A.D. (This included the work of  Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle).  3) 50-529 A.D., (The period when Greek philosophy  competes with Christianity.)  And finally, 4) 529-877 A.D. (Greek philosophy  hides within Christianity.)  Each of these periods describes a different situation and therefore different interpretations of Western reality during these times.

7.Our modern view of Greek philosophy is  distorted because it was rediscovered in modern times by Western culture, in a reverse order, of the historical sequence. Aristotle was rediscovered around 1230 AD. by St. Thomas Aquinas, Plato was  rediscovered in 1450 A.D., and the pre-Socratic era rediscovered in 1840.  Understanding of “The Enlightenment” was distorted  because these historical  “foreign spirits”  were only understood in a limited version. When ideas are taken out of context and sequence it is not possible to see how changes evolved.  The original spirit of the Greek philosophers was changed by successive events of cause and effect, and this reality was, for the most part,  not perceived by 19th and 20th century thinkers.

Greek philosophy had already been changed by Christianity by 1230 A.D. Originally the Greeks 1) assumed men superior to women, 2) assumed the necessity for slavery, 3) assumed homosexuality was a necessary motivator for creativity, and 4) assumed human nature could not change.  Christianity never assumed any of these four postulates. But the scientific thinking of the Greeks had been absorbed into Christianity.

8.The churches today are therefore Greek in orientation;  Catholics are Aristotelian (Thomistic), and Protestants teach Plato.  Neither teach Christ.  Today Christianity has decided how to interpret both Greek and Jewish tradition, as of the enlightenment.  ERH claims this has led to Bolshevism and Nazism in the sense that these ideas are Platonic, following the Republic.  The U.S. today is dominated by Greek thought.  This means the iron laws of nature will be utilized for prediction and control of social events as well.

9.Christianity is not for everyone because it makes life more complicated. It questions old ideas, offers new ones and requires a pragmatic attitude (i.e. knowledge is given meaning by application and analysis of results).

Lecture 2

1.To philosophize, means  being able to think for one’s self!.  Now the strange story of Greek philosophy is,  “..that every thought that the human mind can think up about the universe, about man, and about the directions of man’s life in the universe, or the treatment of man by the universe has been thought before.”  (p.1)

2.Paradoxically,  the act of trying to be original,  renders one to be un-original!  (p.3)  This sounds strange, but to seek truth requires one to respect truth, which is to follow what has been done.  But if one is a Platonist (respecting ideas over experience), one cannot be truly original.  To find truth, one must test ideas with experience, i.e. be a scientist. In the process one finds new truths by testing existing theories, or finding old theories to be false. “Truth demands from us submission, obedience to truth.”  (p.3)

3.One creates a future only by obedience and service.  One cannot be self-seeking and find the truth or build a future. Science must be respected, as must art, literature, and even ethics and religion.  To serve is to know what a command is. To serve philosophy is to serve a sense of wonder about what the universe is. We need both philosophy and prophesy because we need to ask, “What is the world like and what shall we do about it? ”  (p.5)

4.This voice that pushes us to respond to commands is the voice of God, from an invisible part of us.  What is behind you, you cannot see; but you do see what is before you?  (p.7)

The Greeks emphasize what has come before us, to “make everything visible.”  The Jews neglect the eye. The inner eye, idealism, is a Greek concept, but to exemplify God by trying to see him is pagan.  The Jews say, “Listen to God’s commands,” rather.


As example would be to assume the future of America lies in manifest destiny (possession of territory), or, by respect for humanity.  One is visible, the other hidden.  TO SEE THINGS IS NOT TO KNOW WHAT TO DO ABOUT THEM!    Each represents only half the truth. (p.8)

Philosophy can never deal with things that cannot be seen. (p.9)

5.           If you read the Bible right, you must be grateful that in one great case, you know all the consequences when people do not obey orders from the invisible.  And in Greek tradition, you can see what happens when people neglect reason, neglect the search for nature, and causes, and science, because the Greek philosophers have founded all the sciences we enjoy today. (p.9)

Greek thinking, philosophical thinking, represents the powers of seeing.  Jewish thinking represents the powers of responding to commands (the invisible).

6.The 1900’s represent the height of Greek influence in Europe.

7.The chief reason philosophy cannot be the sole nourishment for the mind is that it comes too late. It can only occur “after” an event has become manifest or corporeal in the world.  To act at the right time requires an intuitive sense, which is to say a sense of listening to an inner voice, or to a command.

8.Christianity is a coalition of Israelic, and of Greek philosophy; Of prophesy (listening to commands) and of trying to see the world, of ethics (religion) and of science.

Here ERH breaks into an engaging analogy between the power of polarity and the increasingly higher forms of life, especially creative life.  Inanimate life has no polarity, it is just there; algae has divided cells; mammals have female and male.  Now, when it comes to the spirit, “…the embrace, the mutual polarization is even more needed.” (pp.13,14)  We need, not just love, but also enmity, i.e. one must love the enemy if one is to respond and see all of reality.

9.The notion of combining opposites is the condition of seeing more of the universe, of reality.  To marry (truly), to belong to groups, to combine opposing religions is to see more reality, to transcend beyond the individual to the greater, more inclusive form of which the individual is only a part.

This is, of course, a paradox, that the individual reflects the whole, and the whole includes the part; neither can exist without the other.  Subject and object cannot be separated in understanding reality.  The scientist is the subject, and he/she must be objective about his work.  But he cannot be true to his work unless he loves it, and to love is to be subjective and creative.  Thus, the scientist can never explain his passion for science by using his method.  One deals with the outside (Greek thought), the other with inside (Jewish thought). It is a puzzlement, a paradox!

Any intellectual act has two sides to it, faith and reason! Religion and science – one must believe (have faith) that one knows enough to act when necessary; otherwise, knowledge without action is impotent. Truth must eventually be actualized.  This does not mean that all knowledge per se must be acted on, but that which is acted upon must be related to the effect of that action on the welfare of the community.

10.The acquisition of the truth is philosophy,  but that truth must permeate the individuals’ being if it is to have power. To permeate means one is impelled to act on it, and to act on it requires faith. FAITH AND ACQUISITION MUST NEVER BE SEPARATED IF KNOWLEDGE IS TO BE POWERFUL.

To begin action requires faith, because one doesn’t know how that action will come out.  Thus, “…faith and knowledge pertain to the same content.”  (p.22)

11.Friendship, love, loyalty, hate, and other emotions are acts of faith.  Faith is based on passion,  knowledge upon reason.

12.Ancient Greek philosophy was based on an integration of reason and religion, upon knowing and believing, upon receiving a command and acting upon it, upon seeing and believing.  Contrast this with today, where we have philosophy only and no felt need to believe.  Contrarily, religion today is based upon believing and even acting, but without questioning and interpreting the consequences.

Lecture. 3

1.All second-hand life, such as book knowledge and knowledge acquired from others, is not real life.  It is painless; there are no commitments to be made, only the work required to acquire it.  TO ACQUIRE TRUTH AND UNDERSTANDING IS DIFFICULT!

a.Youth, metaphorically, can be defined partially as absorption of information before judgment is acquired. The act of acquisition is more or less mechanical, often automatic, not requiring analysis except perhaps with abstractions like learning mathematical formulas.

b.The act of acculturation, of growth occurs when one needs to apply the knowledge. Then one begins to participate in real life.  Acculturation takes courage, but its result is understanding.

c.As one becomes more understanding of life, as one comprehends real meaning, knowledge becomes more organized as it becomes associated with your own life experience.  (p.1)

2.Knowledge at inception may have no meaning for us until we need it; it doesn’t speak to us, and we can best store it in memory for future use. Only when we need it and apply it,  only when we use it to engage in problems of our personal experience, do we then understand.  When we apply knowledge and analyze its consequences, when we philosophize we are really living; only then are we awake, so to speak.  Many people go through life half-awake at best!

Each sunrise, each repeating experience, like getting up in the morning, is different, effecting us differently depending upon our readiness for it; and no two people see the same experience as the same. (p.3)  THIS STATEMENT IS RELEVANT TO THE CREATION OF MEANING AT EACH MOMENT OF APPLICATION,  AND IS CRUCIAL TO UNDERSTAND. THE MEANING OF FACTS IS CONSTANTLY CHANGING. It varies with different approaches to life.

3.Man is a riddle, and his life full of mystery. The process of acquisition and understanding is mysterious.  ERH points out that Lucretius, in the beginning of his work, THE NATURE OF THE UNIVERSE, recognized his need for all the help he could get.  He begins by invoking the muses:

“…yours is the partnership I seek in striving to compose these linesOn the Nature of the Universe for my noble Memmius.  For him, great goddess, you have willed outstanding excellence in every field and everlasting fame.  For his sake, therefore, endow my verse with lasting charm.” (p.3)

We hope for answers to three questions:  1) about the world, 2) whether our teachers will care enough to speak the truth to us, and 3) whether they have something of value to say to us.   In short, to be creative, to think and learn for ourselves, is difficult, and we need all the help we can get!  Lucretius recognizes this, and is asking the mysterious powers of the universe to be his partner.

His creative act  begins with an invocation, which is to accomplish 3 things, 1) insight into what he is going to treat, 2) understanding for his intended audience, and 3) authorization for himself to treat it (i.e. for original work, the spirit that enables one to write it).

4.All of this is necessary because our own thought and actions under our control represent only a small portion of the forces that determine the outcomes.  When we marry, when we speak out in a forum, when we create a hypothesis and test the elements of its success, these acts begin as a mystery to us.  One would say then that “SUCCESS LIES IN THE HANDS OF THE GODS,”  only partially under  our control.

To act, to learn, to understand anything of basic value is always difficult, and we should recognize this, be humble before the forces that overwhelm us.

You must understand, gentlemen, that with all your cleverness and all your conceit as modern men, for the great actions of your life, like marriage, you totally are in the hands of the gods.  (p.7)

To act, to risk, to suffer the pain of original thought is to have faith!  Lucretius, Schopenhauer, and Nietzsche all were atheists, but they invoked THE SPIRIT OF THEIR FATHER.  Original thought, by definition, is a turning away from all teachers, accepting risk,  and taking responsibility for one’s actions.

5.The Muses in antiquity were the powers by which one participated in the divine mind. One prayed to have muses “participate” with them to engender their creative thought. We cannot be alone in the world, we depend upon others passing things on to us.  It is the same way in a higher plane, invoking the Muses to participate with us.

Thus, prayer is essential to knowing the world.

6.We can  understand only if we are open to experience and have that experience.

You can talk about love, but before you have fallen in love, you don’t know what all the talk really is…

I must not go astray.  I must stick, to speak, to what I really can test every day by my palette, and by my skin, and by my hands.  That’s all I really know.  All the rest is dangerous abstraction.  (p.13)

This is but another expression of the notion that we live in two worlds, one of concrete nature, and the other  the world of ideas.  Each must be understood as part of the larger whole that is reality.

7.It is important also to see that these ideas, idealism and materialism, philosophy and religion, are not opposites, but a matter of emphasis in time.  To begin to see reality, one must begin the command to action, then have the experience, then describe what happened, then analyze (be scientific, and reasonable as to what is to be generalized from it). The first is faith, the second sensual, the third linguistic, the fourth scientific.

8.In real life there can be no absolutes; because we are mortal, everything to us is relative. (p.14)   This is why we need friends.  One is never defined by him/herself alone.  Someone else must be willing to speak for you, or in your behalf, in order for you to be believed.  Our own persona is thus relative to and dependent upon others, the community, a friend, a husband or wife, one’s working group.

9.In making an invocation, one is admitting they are in constant fear and trembling, as Kierkegaard put it.  ” `Tell me O Muse,’ – It is a prayer.  It is an imperative, and then when the Muse tells, I must obey.”  Thus, the writer tells under whose orders he is operating in order to do this.

10.The truth can be, and often is, dangerous.  Commands may be very unpleasant to carry out, but if they are important imperatives they must be.

The truth is admitted to any country only to that extent as people are willing to suffer for it… (p.21)

11.Dedication:  We must also tell readers by what right we must be listened to. What is our source of authority?  God (the Muses), or the world (of knowledge)?

a.Theology deals with the power that makes men speak.

b.Philosophy deals with the things about which we want to speak.

c.Sociology creates the environment within which we speak.

All of these factors are incorporated within the invocation.  “Anyone who speaks believes in God, believes in the world, and believes in society.”  (p.23)  Regarding society, one goes insane when there is no listener. The universal truth of the unity of humankind is that all these three things are always with us, whether we know it or not.

Lecture. 4

1.In the beginning ERH seems to  continuously to put philosophy in context, contrasting it with other things.   First, he points out that as we age our mood changes; Homer wrote the Iliad as a young man, and the Odyssey as an old man.  The first is about war, and the last about peace.

He points out that Homer, who was a poet and not a philosopher, created a foundation for Greek Philosophy lasting until the end of the classical period (St. Augustine, 376 AD).  Finally, he differentiates poetry from philosophy.  Poetry can deal with anything, because it is “just singing.”  Philosophy, by contrast, is about systems of thought, and therefore must define subjects specifically.  (pp.3 to 6)

2.Poetry is “first impression,” philosophy is “second impression” (analysis).  Philosophy (second impression) is very difficult and painful (in terms of intellectual effort) to come by.  To remain a poet one remains naive.  To arrive at philosophy is to arrive at old age, metaphorically speaking.  Figuratively speaking, childhood is poetic, maturity is reflectively philosophical.

Lecture. 5

1.The early Greeks and Jews lived very difficult lives because they had to struggle to evolve the ideas behind philosophy and prophesy. “You wouldn’t like to be a Greek and you wouldn’t like to be a Jew in antiquity. The burden was too heavy.” (p.1)   But our lives are better because we now can learn to live between the two extremes.  The early Greeks and Jews sacrificed in order to work through their ideas. Sacrifice is essential for all progress.

You can all reach your destiny.  You can be blessed.  You can be a saint. You can be a hero.  You can be a mother.  You can be a good man.  But you can’t be happy.  The pursuit of happiness is a chimera. (p.1)

Happiness is a by-product; you can’t aim for it. You can look at the wrapping of the sandwich. “I am interested in the sandwich. You are interested in the wrapping.”  (p.2)  Happiness always has a price, and the price is paid by people who sacrifice for those who find happiness.  All heros and martyrs have a life of tragedy, but those acts help others.

2.Life is not here for enjoyment, life is here to be lived, and it is serious business. All of this speaks to the notion that in youth we look for happiness, while in older age we look for the serious business of living, of becoming philosophical.

3.One needs both philosophy and prophesy because these are integrally related by time, two parts of a sequence.  Because philosophy is analysis, it comes after events.  But what is to motivate us to enter events?  What is to get us to go into the “cold water” of the unknown?  Obviously this must be by command, by the prophesy of what will happen if we don’t. (p.3)

4.Experiment is not first impression, it is set up, and is second impression.  But we cannot live by second impressions alone! We must act before we know all about what we need to do, and thus our expectation, the command we might follow, must carry us into action.

5.Speech allows us to see the relationships between all parts of our experience, between things, between relationships, and even in our inner life, between our emotions and our soul.  The animal, by nature, lives in fragmented pieces of life.  BUT LANGUAGE ALLOWS US TO NAME AND SPEAK ABOUT THESE RELATIONSHIPS, TO VERIFY THOSE IMPRESSIONS WITH OTHERS, AND TO FIND UNITY IN ALL THIS.

Adolph Portmann, a Swiss biologist (c.a. 1956?) wrote about this difference between animals and humans, that humans are formed in a major way by speech, by being told what to believe.  We can thus teach people to burn other people (witches, for instance), or persecute others ala McCarthyism; in short, we are unavoidable products of the powers of speech.  Portmann described animal passion in intercourse, and contrasted this with human needs for love, compassion, sacrifice, the cultivation of noble feelings all interconnected.  One act of animal passion cannot be looked at without injecting these other elements of our experience that are pure creations of speech.  Animals are accepted as rapists, humans are considered subhuman who do the same!

6.ERH goes on to point out that, while we are rooted in nature, our future (logos) depends upon society.  That there are two points of view, 1) that we can remain “natural,” which he believes would condemn us to remaining animals, OR, 2) we must strive to be supernatural, that is, we must try to become civilized.  To become civilized we must take the influence of our speech seriously. (p.9)

7.He continues on this theme of the necessity for language as a basis for society. Logos is created by the authority that makes us speak and tell the truth. (Several pages later he calls this “duty” to the community, to create a future for the community, inferring that as individuals we are nothing if we do not do our duty.)

Ethos is our behavior toward our neighbor. Phusis, the contacts with the elements of reality that do not speak, those not related to us through human speech.

The usual division today is a dualism, ethos (society) and phusis (nature).  But in this country today, ERH asserts, we have omitted logos.  Following the dualism, one addresses what natural laws dictate; we must eat and we must have friends (friendly relations).  “BUT WHAT ABOUT THE TRUTH (that must guide us?),” ERH asks?

He mentions Dale Carnegie,  pointing out that to win friends and influence people is not enough.   To reduce the realm of our experience to nature and society does not ask the question,  “What is important for me to do?  Shall I go against society, or my human nature?”  He tells the story of Dorothy Thompson who saved the life of a European who had a different point of view, and who thought she was foolish for having done such a heroic act.  He knew he would not have done the same for her, and she knew it too, but she acted humanely, helping him regardless.  It became an example for others.

8.The whole world is run by sacrifice.

…if you cannot see your parents go down on their knees, or being contrite, or being overwhelmed by authority that is greater than their purely physical existence, you will always misunderstand life.  (p.14)

To sacrifice, to do one’s duty, to create a future comes before everything, but also at times one’s duty may be to oneself.  (Especially if one believes the community is wrong – to survive individually for the purpose of trying to change the community can be one’s basic duty.)

The child is born and developed primarily under the power of logos, of understanding that his/her parents are contrite, are unsure of themselves before the overwhelming powers of the world.  To be so overwhelmed is why we must pray, pray for the courage to make a considered decision, pray that we see reality itself, pray that we will be up to doing our duty, sacrificing ourselves instead of pleasuring at the country club. (p.15)

9.To say something that hasn’t been said before in the process of uniting a group requires metaphor, a metaphor that those who speak disparate languages can understand.  Metaphor likens something new to something that is known.  [RF – From here to the rest of the chapter, his exploration on “naming” seems incomplete. I admonish to reader to go back to the text.]

Lecture. 6

1.Remember, philosophy deals with “second impressions;” it is the product of analysis which comes after “first impression” experience.

2.ERH then makes a distinction between Homer and Plato (as representatives of philosophy). Myth, he explains, means personal witness (intended truth that hasn’t been verified by others).  It is partial truth, therefore, until given “second impressions” by others.  Myth is a perfectly honorable term without which one couldn’t live, because we often cannot wait to act on second impressions. It is the difference in science between anecdotal accounts and the average of many stories. First impressions are always unsystematic

3.Another distinction between Homer and Plato, between poetry and philosophy, is that poetry deals with small things, with individual things.  Philosophy classifies; it deals with types.  It is the difference between the particular and the general. In classification one cannot address individuals, one can only deal with abstractions, with ideas of generalizations!

Lecture. 7

1.Humanism means that truth is respected, even listened to by our enemies.

All chivalry, all international law, all behavior of truth between modern lobbies, farmer’s union, Republican Party, bankers’ interest, are still based on the humanistic creed that there will be a limit to their mutual slander and the pursuit of their interest. (p.1)

It (humanism) has something to do with admiration, a virtue, a central virtue for everyday living. In the end it means teaching  children ethics, whom to admire, what qualities to admire, and fairness.

2.A FIRST PRINCIPLE OF HUMANISM.  All powers to love (admire) are limited.  There must be a limit to love or hate; we cannot have an unlimited ability in any direction, because this unbalances our judgment.  To love God, ourselves, others, things, or ideas in an unlimited way is to become unbalanced. Just as all items in an organization’s budget are limited, all of the parts of operations are necessary, and one cannot be valued above others, except of course for a special case; but on average they must be balanced.

Believe it or not, friendship is limited.  We only have time to be a friend to so many people, “…you can’t make friends with everybody. There isn’t time.” We  have only so much energy, and must therefore economize and balance our powers, just as we do when achieving or solving a problem.  Just as no tool in the carpenter’s tool box is more important than others, and just as the carpenter doesn’t have time to become expert in everything.

3.A SECOND PRINCIPLE OF HUMANISM.  It forces the expansion of the circle of our admiration. THERE IS A PROBLEM HERE! How does one make a decision?  If our country goes to war, and we know the enemy’s side has a point, what are we to do?  This decision therefore cannot be made on the basis of logic, of our reasoning. IN THIS SITUATION, TO ACT HUMANELY IS NOT ROOTED IN LOGIC.

4.A THIRD PRINCIPLE:  For example, the rich man treats the beggar nicely because he knows that he himself could be in that position some day.

5.TO TEACH AND LEARN, one must either love the subject or the teacher (and students?). The pivotal term here is LOVE. Love is not based on logic.  Any teaching that is to stick, MUST focus love on one of those two, the subject or the students.  “If the subject matter is boring, then the teacher tries to make it interesting and is loved by the students for this effort.”  (p.8)

6.One must always be both specific and general.  Philosophy, in the process of generalizing, strips all particulars, such as specific names as compared with names of “classes” of things. Poetry insists on naming the specifics.  TO DO BOTH IS TO BE HUMANISTIC.

7.HUMANISM is the cult of friendship, with the friend  valued over all else.  ERH points out that in France after the revolution there were two religions, the Catholic church and the cult of friendship.  In other words, the humanist values friendship at least as much as, if not more than, above wonder at the universe, its creator, and all its mysteries. (p.11)

8.We all need cults, of course, these minor gods may be our goals (such as completing a book), ideas, money, or some other idol. These keep us going, and we value these loves or we fall ill. [RF – by extension I believe he implies, that such “need” comes with the territory of feeling creative, and in some control of our lives.]

9.           In all real societies, there are no synonyms.  You cannot call the president of the United States “great chief.” He is the president of the United States…If you don’t call him the president you turn him into a tyrant….All original speech is metaphorical. (p.12)

This statement is completely consistent with the previous point (several chapters back) that second impressions (philosophy) speak in terms of categories, and first impressions, (speech relating directly to experience), speaks in specifics.  To call God a “supreme being” would put him in the same category as the head of the Freemasons, as a class of “types.” A real society is one in which people speak to and about each other, not as classes.  To classify is to kill off the individual personality and make someone into “one of many.” The use of metaphors in poetry is an attempt to return to the specific, the uniqueness of an individual.

Homer’s Achilles was not just “another human being,” he was a lion among men.

Philosophers cannot create obedience and loyalty, which are essential to the first orders of life, essential for friendship and community building.  This is because their “forte” is generalization.

10.We know who we are by whom we address. To say “father” or “mother” means one is a son or daughter; to say “brother” or “sister,” one is a sibling; to address “Mr. Smith” or others, we increase our status.  Prayer is the formal addressing of the power over us,  “…a desperate attempt, prayer,…to sing yourself into your proper place in the cosmic order.”  It elevates us in status as the children of God.   (pp.18-19)

11.Real prayer is specific, and it cannot be printed because it must be said at a specific occasion; at another occasion it has a different meaning. THE GREATEST THINGS IN LIFE ARE THE MOST FRAIL – A LIFE, A STATEMENT MADE AT THE RIGHT TIME (WHICH HAS THE MAXIMUM INFLUENCE), A PRAYER.  LANGUAGE (SPOKEN HONESTLY, SENSITIVELY,  AND AT THE RIGHT TIME) CANNOT BE BOUGHT OR PUT IN A SAFE. There is no opportunity to recapture those moments, to repeat them.

Wars are not ended unless each side prays for peace.  Otherwise, war is still in some hearts and it goes on, waiting for an opportunity to rise to the surface.

Life goes on by specific statements, not generalizations, this is why the Greeks were conquered, first by Alexander, then by the Romans; at those times they were still fighting among themselves, victims of thinking in terms of generalizations, of not speaking about specifics.  Peace, any type of peace, cannot be made by philosophers or by poets, but only by those who pray for peace.

12.The first one third of the phases of Greek Philosophy, roughly from Thales to Socrates, was to speak only in generalizations, only 2nd person (he, she, it), to eliminate first impressions. Socrates said there were some good things in unique events – that is where life is lived. Parmenides was at the height of this period. Descartes (1596-1650) did the same.  He was Greek in this thinking!  He sought generalizations without specific experience first!

13.The genius of Thales of Miletus was that he conceived the idea of the common denominator, that is to say, classes of things.  To classify is the essence of philosophy.

Lecture. 8

1.ERH begins by making a distinction between “public” and “people” The former an assembly of individuals with no common spirit which would unite them.  Their characteristics would be interest only  in the present, in entertainment or immediate gratification. The latter consider themselves a community; their  characteristics would include, a common spirit, interest in maintaining a community and in building a future.

2.Homer wrote to a “public,” for their entertainment. (p.13)   When one goes “public,” one has entertainment.  When there exists only public, one has tyranny, or the foundation for tyranny, because a “public”, as disparate individuals, has very little power to resist. (p.13)  By definition, a “people” have enough power to resist.  Whenever we philosophize, we gather people we do not live with from day to day.

3.ERH points out also that the purpose of poetry is to relieve the everyday tensions by way of stories, (even though those stories have mostly metaphorical wisdom).  Poetry also is for the purpose of inspiring. But art does not solve problems, win wars or begin movements.

4.The great problem of philosophy is to ennoble.  With our leisure time we can attain entertainment, but we also need to spend time creating a future, and that is what philosophy will help do.  But it must be supplemented by other activities, right action, in addition to our monetary work.

5.Paradox – atheists and gods:  We live with and must create paradoxes.  Humankind is not mathematical, we must try to find balance and unity among contradictions in life.  For instance: 1) We must leave our family, eschew them when we are mature, when we marry.  We must protect the integrity of the two unities (our own new families and the home of our parents).  We must, in other words, attempt to remain part of both. 2) We must be atheists, invoke the gods, and speak from the authority of our teachers.  All authorities act in the role of a god by virtue of the truth they proclaim. Each god competes with the other, but we must find unity and balance between them, or we cannot make life’s decisions with fruitfulness – imbalance would tear us apart just like an unbalanced flywheel.

Examples:  Lucretius is an atheist, an Epicurean worshiping the material world.  Yet he invokes the gods (Muses) and speaks  through the authority of his teacher, Memmius. Nietzsche likewise pronounced “God is dead,” then went mad and (crossed himself – so much was he instilled with Christianity).  Gods represent the source of strength and creativity within us, whatever we believe a source of power might be, i.e. materialism, money, knowledge etc. Public pronouncements are not necessarily the indicators of our “gods”, until they are backed up by actions!

Further examples:  Our different social roles are often contradictory.  To be a father, son, friend, husband, community member all may demand  different (contradictory) behavior.  The secret of balance must be in the specifics of  the situation.  That is, each action must be the right action at the right time.  One time we may need to emphasize our fatherhood, sacrificing other roles at that moment, and so on.

In another context, there is a time to philosophize, a time to be a poet or listen to poetry, a time to act.  In short, we must balance these contradictory purposes, acting (overall) in a balanced way. Scientific inquiry would be another example; there is a time when science should be limited. The atom bomb, and gene splicing would be examples of perhaps not doing something just because it can be done!

6.           …philosophy is the perpetual sense of wonder to distribute in us our power to find new truth, our power to get along with our fellow man, and our power to dominate dead matter.  And to distinguish what is dead matter, what in you and me, for example, is just routine, is a question for our changing concept of nature, our changing concept of theology, and our changing concept of ethics, or of mores, or morality of the social sciences.  (p.21)

7.Thales is the driving power of Greek philosophy because he showed the world the tremendous power of generalizations.  Generalization, in turn, allows different civilizations to find common ground. It thus has a civilizing effect.  The effect of Thales was, for instance, to eliminate the severity and much of the sacrifice of the many local cults in Greece. (p.22)

8.Thales, Anaximander and Anaximenes tried to establish three ideas about the universe: 1) We must generalize to find common qualities of things so that the cultures can communicate about the universe (i.e. all matter is one).  2) Thatthe source of matter has no limits, and therefore cannot be called by a specific name; it must have a general name. And  3) We exist in a living universe (natural and social), as compared to one which is purely physical (i.e. dead).  The universe experienced by man is created by his consciousness of it!  IF THE UNIVERSE IS NOT TREATED AS ALIVE (AS IT IS NOT BY THE AVERAGE PERSON) THEN ONE FEELS FREE TO KILL OR TO POLLUTE  IT.  LIVE THINGS SPOIL, DEGENERATE,  AND DIE.  WHEN WE TRY TO MAKE FOOD THAT WILL NOT SPOIL, FOR INSTANCE, WE DETRACT FROM ITS NUTRITIOUS VALUE.

Lecture. 9

1.We live by making decisions, about what is important, about what is alive, about what must be acted upon, etc

2.Russian Communism was ultimately seen as impotent because it saw the universe as dead consisting only of dead matter. [RF- I believe he means by this that human beings in this state follow iron rules of nature. I have spoken to any number of scientists in the U.S. who believe the same.]  America has made the opposite mistake, that every country is as alive as every other country.  The former and latter are both untrue; the universe is alive  and all countries have a different level of aliveness (vitality – a different ability to regenerate themselves at any given point in their history).

3.One must attempt to see reality as best he/she can.  During ones lifetime one must try to make one original statement (be creative), as did Thales, Anaximander, Anaximenes, or Heraclitus.  Their bit of  originality was not great,   but that enough for them to have lived for 2500 years in the history books.

4.Religion means sacrifice, to practice it truly is demanding, to live such a life is not easy. For Greek philosophy to have become established, for Christianity to have become established, for any religion to have become established was brought about by great effort, sacrifice, bloodshed. Quite something!

Bloodshed in itself is not wicked.  There is good and bad bloodshed.  To spill blood in an effort to throw off tyranny is good,  freedom is always bought by blood.

5.Parmenides is more original than Plato or Aristotle in that he pronounced the radical aim of philosophy is to “…penetrate against his own local times and his own temporal limitations.”   (p.10)

The implication of this is fundamental,  it is a turning inward, to live in the mind only. In the mind anything is possible, it is a dream world where one is completely in control.  ERH asserts that Parmenides was the first to create a community based on homosexuality, a community that could engage in sex without consequences, without worrying about social taboos, etc.

…Greek philosophy is an attempt to get outside first impressions, and that always means to get outside the city.  And that always means to try to do without the community and its austere rules of chastity, and of probity, and of honesty….and so you can have various ways of escaping.  (p.11)

So the “life of the mind,” taken to extremes, can be a way of escape from community demands, but extremes always destroy the community. Robinson Crusoe was a story about such escape.  To escape for a limited period of time may be beneficial in the short term or in one instance, but as a permanent act it would destroy society!  It means as well that one is selfish, that one would not sacrifice for the community.

6.Parmenides represents the beginning of IDEALISTIC philosophy.  It creates, as the true reality, that which lasts (for the life-time of man on earth), the reality of essences of things, the idea behind the material reality. It would be like viewing the world from on high, like an eagle, lacking all detail of the unique. This is the tendency of “The Ivory Tower,” attempting to gain a foothold in the everlasting, the eternal truth.  ERH likens any isolation, college, sickness, 40 days and 40 nights in the wilderness, for instance, as necessary but not to be mistaken for the norms of everyday living.

7.ERH contrasts “first impressions” with the establishment of truth.  First impressions describe “the way of opinion,” they are raw facts or data, yet unfiltered by either your own experience or that of others, subjective, personal, unique. But this personal experience may bear little relationship to the experience of others.  Language and community must be based on common agreement, a very different order of information. Therefore, another name for what we call “truth” becomes a political issue, established by common agreement. Common agreement, however does not tell us anything about the social effect of acting on information. “Truth” as a term describing social experience must be differentiated from the truth of natural science. The meaning between the two is very different. Social truth must be tested in terms of its effect, damaging or efficacious, to the community. This is why three generations are required to establish, “the way of truth.” In Biblical terms, this is the meaning of the phrase, father, son and Holy Spirit, representing three generations to establish social truth. The way of first impressions describes personal life, the way of social meaning becomes the basis for communication and a path to a future of social peace. Parmenides was trying to escape the transience of opinion and that was why he is acclaimed as a great original thinker.

8.The genius of Heraclitus (succeeding Parmenides by a century) was that he said we must find truth, not just in terms of second impressions, but also within the realm of first impressions.  This, ERH claims, is the essence of the Christian contribution, that truth must be all-inclusive of experience. (p.20)

This notion of Heraclitus went against the opinion of the day, and no doubt would go against scientific and Humanistic opinion today.  It would go against the scientist/philosopher who worships “second impressions”, and against traditional Christian religious opinion today, which, in reality, represents the same scientific philosophy. It also opposes the sensualists (first impressionists).  Truth must include felt experience, as well as generalizations. HERACLITUS WAS THUS AGAINST BOTH THE EPICUREANS (FIRST IMPRESSIONISTS), AND THE RELIGIONS, thus he suffered. and …..

…anybody who is willing to be the underdog, who is willing to suffer, can know the truth. (p.21)

9.ERH claims the worst destroyers of community are the “luke warm”, those who go along with the powerful, but will not stand up to them when necessary.  The luke war represent the majority of any population.

[RF – Now for the first time I understand the difference between philosophy, as defined here, and Christianity as he defines it, although it would seem that by this definition Christianity has become corrupted into reflecting second impressions only.  Jesus, according to ERH, symbolized the merging of first and second impressions by his honoring the law, on the one hand, and breaking it on the other.  That is, he (Jesus) realized that rules were essential to community, but by themselves they were always incomplete, oriented toward past experience, not considering the new.  In breaking the law he reflected  the necessary path to seeking the truth, his suffering on the cross symbolized the sacrifice necessary  to correcting the law and therefore helping the community survive. ]

10.The remainder of the chapter presents readings of translations from Parmenides.

Lecture 10

1.The purpose of this chapter is to show the “idiocy” of the view that “second impressions” are of  superior importance to actual experience, as if they could be separated. .  Another way of stating this, ERH implies is to say that “observers” are superior to “participants” in social events.

2.The fundamental notion of the Parmenidean theory of criticism is – looking at any event only after the fact. Parmenides failed to see the difference between natural and social events.

“The general plebiscite in this country among the college students is that the critic is cleverer than the poet…The critic is paid for passing silly judgments.  Costs him nothing. Absolutely nothing.”  (p.5)

Parmenedean philosophy, “nature first,” means dead things first.  It is like saying that “the laws of nature are more true than the laws of men.” If this were true, ERH asserts, then no country would ever exist because no laws of man, or country, or improved community occurs without sacrifice and often bloodshed!. (p.6)  One might observe that modern psychology seems to follow this trend, as it seeks the “laws of nature” to find out how man behaves,  omitting, it would seem, the notion of how man should change according to what would be right socially.  For instance; greed is natural, selflessness is an effort away from this tendency, and must to taught if we are to create peace.

3.Nature doesn’t contradict you, nature, as with animals, doesn’t know progress, doesn’t know the human spirit, doesn’t know self-denying ordinances. Nature isn’t ascetic, it cannot renounce any claim.  Marcus Aurelius followed nature and destroyed the Roman Empire by putting his own son in as his successor, as  Claudius did before him. Vital decisions, i.e. those related to regeneration of human community, are not natural.  (p.11)

4.Parmenides is followed in time by Sophistry, by people who attempt to cheat you by way of isolating situations from the stream of history; all of which is then followed by tyranny; the price paid for cheating.  Our mass media, and most, if not al,l institutions lean in this direction  today. They tend to be self-serving rather than working for the benefit of society.

5.Sophists were the original community consultants.  In  the beginning it was an honorable profession, later evolving into corruption.

6.Those who ask questions are always “outsiders,” and those who claim to answer are insiders; these are basically two different societies.  Those who are willing to test for answers can be said to be  “within,” included as part of a group.

Questions can be derived only from answers; many questions (most) either cannot be answered,  or are nonsense, which in either case they should not be asked. Does God exist? has no answer. One can ask a question to establish a fact.

As long as you try to answer every question of a child, you are their  slave, but not their educator.  Because there are wrong questions and right questions.  Certain questions can be asked, and certain cannot be asked.  I am not against asking questions,…  (p.19)

Parmenides originated raising questions about things, and the Sophists asked many questions. The next step in the evolution of philosophy was to determine what questions were worth asking.

7.Socrates represents the beginning of this third period.  He says, THE LAW CANNOT BE QUESTIONED. Especially, one cannot ask, “When can I disobey the law?”  The questioner has no right to ask this if they may profit from the answer. One can ask it, if one asks in behalf of others! (p.20)  Heraclitus anticipated Plato on this issue.  Socrates proved his point by being willing to die for it.  The law of the community must be obeyed unless to question it will not profit the asker.

8.In sum, questioning in the abstract is, at best, a waste of time, and at worst, can be destructive to community. Many, many questions are asked for which there is no single or clear answer; the result is endless speculation.  Questioning can only be beneficial in a specific situation where a specific problem is presented.  In this case the outsider, the consultant, the “observer” who has no direct stake in the consequences of any decision (answer) is always secondary in importance to those who are “insiders,” those who do live with consequences!

In sum, certain questions can be asked in a given situation, and otherscannot, otherwise decadence will occur, just as the child is allowed, even taught that he/she has a right to question anything and so asks endlessly.  There are certain questions he must not be allowed to ask!

9.The point of the Socratic method is to question the questioner, ask, “Who is asking and why?”  Those who are insiders, who are members of an institution, have a right to ask and criticize their own institution, but outsiders who do not live under those rules have no understanding of the consequences.    A CRUCIAL QUESTION TO THE QUESTIONER IS ALWAYS, “WHO IS ASKING?”

10.In Greek history, Parmenides represented opening analysis to outsiders; all things could be discussed, he said. Heraclitus previously had maintained that the laws of the city had to be obeyed.  But unlimited questioning, just as unquestioned laws, represented an unbalance.  Socrates represented the bringing of these two in balance, of limiting the rights of each, where BOTH THE LAWS OF THE CITY AND THE QUESTIONER CAN BE QUESTIONED.

Socratic philosophy meant that man must both question the city, and be patriotic.

Lecture 11

1.One may need several philosophies to get through life, one for each different mood.

2.A nation is “…a unit of man plus a spiritual center that contributes to mankind.” (p.2)  America is a nation because of the Declaration of Independence. A nation also needs a church to nourish the spirit of the people, who in turn nourish the government.  Governments do not nourish people, it’s the other way around.

3.Philosophy, because it attempts to seek truth and these truths may offend persons of certain values or beliefs, may not be acceptable to some cultures.  HOWEVER, because it seeks the truth, it becomes a common ground by which one nation can speak to another nation. Philosophy goes against trends; that is its purpose.  Philosophy contributes a standard of truth to all parochial dialogue.

4.Textbooks should be filled with a history of the people who suffered during some crisis, e.g. a revolution, or the McCarthy era, then students would know the purpose of a revolution and the price paid for reform.

5.Common sense is “the trend” in thinking today, but it is by definition from the past.  Philosophy is against common sense because it represents a new way of looking at things. Every great advance in thinking has its origin in a new way of looking at the world. Old and new represent one of the many paradoxes of experience. We need both.

6.The price of change is always pain, – in the extreme. This may mean war and bloodshed. All new things must pay this price for existence!

7.For a democracy to exist, there must always be a separation of church and state, because theologies are always monistic, and all people would not be given freedom if it were otherwise.  In Russia the head of the state is also head of the party (communism is a religion by any definition). This always leads to tyranny.

Lecture. 12

1.Nationhood:  a nation is a group of people who can live together with a common spirit, a common philosophy, so to speak.  A mass of land with people on it is not by definition a nation; it is a miscellaneous conglomeration where anarchy may break out at any time unless tightly controlled by force.

2.To have a nation, there must be a cohering philosophy. Today in the US such a philosophy is represented by the university.  Its function is to criticize the elements of everyday life.  TO SO CRITICIZE, ONE MUST HAVE SOME CONCEPTION OF WHAT THINGS IDEALLY SHOULD BE LIKE.

…before you know how society should look, how can you know what to do about juvenile delinquency?…I mean, don’t you see that juvenile delinquency’s importance can only be stated after you know what’s important?  (p.3)

3.Philosophy is the first step in preparation for action, and the taking of action is crucial to the meaning of our pronouncements. Part of our burden is to sense when action should be taken, otherwise opportunities are missed, and it becomes too late. Desired change cannot occur until another propitious moment comes. Much more suffering occurs in the interim.

4.It is often the martyrs who speak up first about what is wrong.  ERH cites Billy Mitchell, who said after the first world war that the job wasn’t finished; he was court-martialed for this speech.  At times we need more martyrs.

5.THE GOLDEN MEAN: We have no idea what this is unless we know the extremes. Stevenson and Eisenhower were political examples in the 50’s. Democracy is maintained when there is a balance of power.  When politics, philosophy, and law are singularly controlled, then civilization collapses. THE GOLDEN MEAN results from tremendous suffering on each side.  The golden mean results when someone “sticks out his/her neck.” It does not mean the middle road all the time, but rather, a balance of actions over time.  There is justifiably a time to take extreme actions occasionally.

Thought cannot be bought with money, it only occurs when independent thinkers compete and interchange ideas.

6.Independent thinkers are expensive; it would be more economical to have only one around, but then the issues of life cannot be measured by the criteria of the marketplace.  Competing individuals, competing universities, competing cities all represent vitality, but are expensive in commercial terms.

Small is beautiful; to many people doing the same thing diminishes the importance of the individual.  The principle is that the presence of masses always diminishes the importance of the individual.  In Greece, the great philosophers came from small towns.  Bigness is a principle of commerce, but not of vitality,  just as one wife is more precious than a hundred.  “That’s why  businessmen are all Moslem, they would like to have any number of wives.” (p.12)   For “practical” things numbers may seem good, but for precious things, it is the opposite.  A true friend is better than 100 chums.

In another context, vitality, creativity, original thinking comes from the ability to be astonished!  But this means as well that one must choose to be astonished over only a few things, one at a time with time to think about them. The general tendency today is indifference toward many experiences, we seem to be astonished over insignificant events however, and be astonished every day, but only momentarily. .

These notions about vitality, of creative thinkers (people who can think for themselves), cannot be educated by mass production, by commercial principles.  This means yes/no testing,  identical curricula for 1000 students, standardized testing, only teaching for  memorization, does not promote independent thinking.

7.The principles for governance, for economics, and for vitalization of people, must differ. As an example, for economics, economy of scale is important because monopolies decrease cost; for government, interest in protecting the country’s economics of scale should be  less important than vitality, ideas, defense, etc.  For the individual and original thinking, smallness is the incubator.

8.Modern times, roughly since 1900, are modern because some basic relationships have changed. Before 1900 AD, the economy followed from the larger, more pervasive institutions of church and state.  Today it is just the opposite, as the economy is the major international concern in every country, and philosophy and government must follow.  We do not have a one-world church or state, but we do have a one-world economic order.  Oil is an obvious example.

“…we have to try to find a language of philosophy, of criticism, of freedom…which stands up under the impact of our economy..” (p.18)

[RF – the inference being that today economics has undue influence on all other crucial elements of the country such as justice and freedom. Another example would be that, it makes no difference what country controls the Suez or Panama Canals because they must be geared to a world economic order.]

9.In past times philosophy, theology and government stood for unity.  No longer is this so; it is economics. ERH also reminds us that this is another example of the dominance of the economic order over concerns for the health of the living part of nature.

…`nature’ is what you see out of the window when you look out of your family livingroom. That which is not your immediate self you call `nature,’ which is separate from you, which you can only see with the help of your family through their eyes, through their education, and through the faith they have implanted in you… You live without philosophy, but with the World Bank. The Greeks couldn’t live without philosophy, because the philosophy gives them direction.  (p.19)

Nature, to the Greeks, was something to be looked at, to find something to do with.  Today the world has been “economized,” and there is no more “outside.”  To look at nature in terms of “the outside” is to think in the Greek mode. It breaks up our experience,  separates the “inside” from the “outside.”

This point of view is the same with all parochial thinkers, who see the world only in the form of “them and us.”  “Us” is inside, “them” are outside, outsidemy church, outside my profession, outside my culture, social class, trade, family etc.

10.The opposite point of view is to see the world as one, a creature of God our creator. We are then part of the world of the stars, of the forests and animals, of other cultures, all as God’s creations.

11.Today, the economy seems so big that we feel little power to influence it, either by theology or philosophy, or by government. WE FEEL POWERLESS, AS ROLLO MAY ASSERTED:

Cassandra:  Apollo was the seer who set me this work…

Chorus:  Were you already ecstatic in the skills of God?

Cassandra: Yes; even then I read my city’s destinies.

–from Agamemnon, by Aeschylus

The old myths and symbols by which we oriented ourselves are gone, anxiety is rampant; we cling to each other and try to persuade ourselves that what we feel of love; we do not will because we are afraid that if we choose one thing or one person we’ll lose the other, and we are too insecure to take the chance.

The bottom then drops out of the conjunctive emotions and processes–of which love and will are the two foremost examples.  The individual is forced to turn inward; he becomes obsessed with the new form of the problem of identity, namely, Even-if-I-know-who-I am, I-have no-significance.  I am unable to influence others.  The next step is apathy. And the step following that is violence.  For no human being can stand the perpetually numbing experience of his own powerlessness.

–from LOVE AND WILL, Rollo May,pp.13,14 New Delta edition, 1989

12.Our grammar indicates how we see the world.  First and second person, you and me, are alive, we respond to each other and recognize each other’s integrity as an individual human.  To call something “it” means that it is outside us, something for us to be objective about, to possibly conquer, something to “use”.  “Its” have to be investigated by you and me, and examined, because they have no self-consciousness. ( p.25)  Native Americans on reservations are treated as “its” for example.

13.There is clearly a paradox here.  Unity is a necessity in life, because when we see objects or peoples as separated, as fragmented from ourselves or from each other, they become alien to each other.  Our wisdom, in other words, stems from the ability to see constantly larger “unities” in the world.  For instance, our economies are effected by many factors, including demand, attitude toward the environment, our need to consume, our technology, etc. To see these factors as separate blinds us from seeing the disastrous economic effects in the long run. The same is true for all problems, well almost all.

Unity can also tyrannize.  A sustained diet of centralized social control always leads to oppression, because there are no alternatives to submission. How then are we to see or rather to understand the unified concept of “the universe?”  Paradoxically we need a balance between separateness and unity.

14.Of course, we must have both, for at one moment we must decide to see others, or other things outside us subjectively, as equals, as having as much right to exist as do we ourselves.  This would be an ethical attitude. In another moment, we will need to see something or someone outside us objectively, as a scientist might see them. .  Each moment forces this type of decision upon us.  Each point is represented by either religion (seeing ourselves as children of God, and therefore seeing God within other life) or science, as seeing all the world outside us as “objects.”

To always see the world from one point of view or the other turns us into monsters, leading us astray.  For instance, to believe in ideas (i.e. God within everything) is tantamount to acting irrespective of the evidence before us.  But to look only at evidence from a self-serving point of view sets us at war with the everything outside us. (pp.28,29) In essence ERH says that at times we should feel ourselves “above” those outside us, and at times we should feel “below” those outside us.  Love is a good example of the latter he asserts.  We feel inferior to that which we love, and willing to sacrifice for it.  It would be true at times of our country, of our race, or of our friends.

Lecture. 13

1.Insular thinkers, people who come from politically stable communities, do not philosophize. Only when one is in a small country and is forced to reconcile (communicate and relate) with the rest of the world does one need to evolve general concepts.

2.ERH goes on to point out that the Greek philosophers immigrated all around the Mediterranean – Italy, southern France, north Africa, Egypt, Asia Minor.  Athens produced very few philosophers; those who came from the smaller cities and travelled, were the ones who philosophized.

3.These philosophers were trying to find their place as new colonies; they respected the opinions of others and tried to incorporate those opinions with their own.

4.Plato had all of these cities, their ideas and spirit, represented in his academy. (p.12)  These men evolved universal ideas, which gave Greeks a common spirit, a common platform for thinking about the universe, a method of unifying the universe.  They were first, men of action, “…bold pioneers in action.  And they were the wonders of the age.” (p.13);  They were pioneers, and they sought methods for action in the world.

5.Plato attempted to put  all of these different philosophies into relationship. ERH asserted, that Plato was the supreme thinker of the time, attempting to synthesize all previous thought.

6.Democritus put forth the corpuscular theory of light, Pythagoras the wave theory. The former thought the world could be explained in terms of atoms, the latter in terms of numbers. ERH speaks of the universe being made up of people.  The decision as to how to look at the universe IS, OR WAS, A LIFE AND DEATH MATTER TO THE GREEK THINKERS.

…the question: what is the small community and the large universe, me? and how do the two fit together:  how much have I to be loyal to the laws of my community: do I have to go to war for my country: do I have to become a citizen of the world?–all this has been thought out here–very carefully, and much better than you think it out. (p.19)

To repeat once again, the genius of the Greek thinkers was that their thoughts were basically original issues that we still must deal with today. What is a species? for instance was the same problem that Aristotle dealt with.

7.Greek thought, however, dealing as it did with secondary impressions (objectively, that is), was not enough.  One can know things objectively, but this isn’t  wisdom.  Objectivity leads to exploitation, but not to new insights.  To find new insights, one must love and be willing to sacrifice.

8.Original thought  comes only through being dissatisfied.  One cannot seek to be content, or to set out to love some specific thing.  Pleasure, contentment, happiness can only be by-products of commitment and love.

9.One must understand facts of life; that it takes the efforts of many to create successes. Many run in a race, but there can be only one that comes in first.  That person would have found no invention without the contributions of all the others.  Plato would have had no ideas to integrate if there hadn’t been 100 other philosophers who contributed original work, work that we have never attached their names to.

The point of all this is that the primary ingredient to a fruitful life is to understand that we can never control fame and fortune for ourselves, but our sense of satisfaction must be within us. The primary criterion for anyone’s success is that he/she kept trying, that he acted on what he knew, that he persisted, and to do this takes love of the subject.  If it is success that one always seeks, one is very likely to either give up, or go insane.

10.More differences in meaning between “first”  and “second” impressions:

A.First impressions, personal experience,  is uniqueness, which, in turn means the basis upon which love, dedicate ourselves or our community and country; indeed the only basis upon which we claim any individuality.  It is the basis for our idiomatic language (english, egyptian, german, etc.) as contrasted with the universal languages of art, music, and mathematics.  To live, individually, means we are not a number, but have a unique name.  Names of our city, country, individuals, songs all represent the notion of our sensual world.

B.Second impressions, are products of thought which thinks in terms of generalizations, of universals, of classes of things.  Numbers indicating quantities are not alive.  The weight of our bodies is not alive, but is part of us that is. Second impressions define the dead things in life which last longer than one lifetime.  Theories, numbers, musical notes, etc. which have no uniqueness.  The note “C” in the musical scale is always the same in every song.   Parmenides attempts to destroy idiomatic language.  Pythagoras attempts to replace idiomatic language with numbers.

In contrast to all of this, Heraclitus believed that, to know reality we must include the meaning of both first and second impressions,  thus utilizing all languages which have been developed for each of these phenomena.  The world of emotion is described by art, including idiomatic language.  The concrete world is described by number.  Both utilize logic.

11.Our universe is made up of two entities at this time, human society and nature and this lays out the need for two sciences to describe the nature of each.  The ultimate creator, God is a power which cannot disappear.  Pages twenty seven and eight of this lecture go on to describe details of these relationships.

Lecture 14

1.Socrates lived in 470-399 BC, Plato in 428-348 BC, Aristotle in 384-322 BC.  Plato spent his professional life developing Socrates’ ideas, and in the process founded his Academy.  Aristotle was a student of the Academy for 20 years.  Plato was a founder, Aristotle a classicist (that is, born into an established method).

2.The evolution of the Greek ideas was that in expanding (generalizing) the learning of the different gods, the Greek thought became more universal. Alexander’s conquests replaced those of Egypt, Babylonia, and Syria; replacing their parochial thinking with the common Greek (more universal) thought.  Rome carried on that tendency after they conquered the Greeks.

3.Socrates was executed because he disobeyed the laws of Athens.  Plato founded the Academy, to the effect of being allowed to conduct free thought (beyond that of the Athenian gods).  ERH likened the Athenian Council to McCarthyism.  BUT MOST IMPORTANTLY, HE POINTS OUT THAT THEY WERE BOTH RIGHT.  SOCRATES WAS RIGHT IN INSISTING ON MORE FREE THOUGHT, AND THE COUNCIL WAS RIGHT IN INSISTING THAT THEIR LAWS BE OBEYED.  PROGRESS COMES WHEN THE LOGIC OF THE THINKING CAN ACCOMMODATE PREVIOUSLY DISUNIFIED IDEAS INTO A LARGER, MORE INCLUSIVE CONCEPT.  Such is the way of progress, and to found a new idea, as in this case of Athens, the law had to be changed. Socrates paid for that change.

Socrates was a tragic character; concepts of “second impressions” came into collision with concepts of “first impressions.” (p.7)  The difference is between abstraction and concrete reality, the world of the mind and of “things.”

4.ERH  enlarges on the foundations of progress and unified relationships.  It was not that Marxism was wrong per se, he asserts, but that the Russians claimed it was the ultimate doctrine.  Lack of change means death to the culture.  This is why the new idea of generalization was so progressive for the Greeks.  Every age, he claimed, in order to maintain vitality needs a new genius to expand its thinking. It needs original thought, like a Freud, or a Marx, or Einstein.  The act of jogging peoples’ thinking is the crucial act, equally or more important than the substance of their ideas!. (p.9)

And therefore there are three miracles in the world, gentlemen.  The logical miracle, they are great minds, in seeming contradiction in every generation renewing the life of our race.  The ethical miracle, that although at first they sound impossible and madmen, we finally bow and make room for the current which they create, for the stream of life which they impart.  And third, that the universe looks different when we bow ethically to the logical power of these spirits.  (p.9)

His reference to madmen here is directly related to Socrates as an example of why he was put to death for moral corruption of the youth.

You will find it again and again that without this careful division of the logical, and the ethical, and the physical, you have no philosophy.  Today man in modern society has no philosophy, because he treats genius also as physical, and God also as a fact.  God is not a fact,…It’s a power that makes you say something new.  That’s something quite different. (p.10).

Pythagoras discovered the power of numbers.

5.Our great problem today is to understand the limitations of the thinking of our age so that we may change and progress.  We tend to have ears and not hear, or eyes and not see the logic of our age by which our thinking has been invested, and therefore limited.

6.The succession of Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle demonstrates the notion that three generations are necessary to establish an idea. All three were necessary.  One alone could not have established Greek thought.  Just as John the Baptist (who prophesied the coming of Jesus), Jesus himself, and the establishment of the church, beginning with the Apostles, were all three necessary to establish commonly accepted Christian ethics.

Also, the four cardinal virtues of man – courage, justice, prudence, and temperance – and the three mystical virtues of regeneration (God) – hope, faith, and love, are examples of  the notion of Pythagoras, that numbers have importance, and mean more than how the scientist uses them to quantify. (p.14)  All of these examples indicate the three divisions of labor needed to establish an idea; they also indicate how complex the interactions must be. It is not easy to establish a positive movement, as contrasted with how easy it is to create disastrous consequences.

The complexity of the idea of virtues is indicated by the fact that there is aspecific sequence of events  as well as a specific division of labor. Thus the three represent a unity in which neither one nor another has meaning outside the context of the others.

7.It is very strange, ERH asserts, that in order for one person to be the same (person), he/she must change at different stages in his life. It is very strange, but true.

In order to be the same, because an element of your sameness is that you are, for example, vital.  Now you can’t be vital if (you) only do for 20 years long the same thing.  (p.20)

8.It is clearly difficult to remain vital, to see when and how one should change one’s views, to understand that this represents an example of human power – of the art of living.  Great writings, re-read, have a freshness because of our change in perspective over the years; we understand them in a different light.  Therefore, great works must be re-read.  IT IS THE SAME WITH PEOPLE.  AT EACH STAGE IN THEIR LIVES THEY MUST BE SEEN IN A DIFFERENT LIGHT.

9.Socrates’ contribution was to blend second and first impressions, abstract thought with the consequences of using that thought in the community.  Art for the sake of art, experience for the sake of having experience, anything for its own sake leads to disaster, madness, social sickness, etc.

Plato, writing a Utopia (which means “no place”), means that theory must be put into practice if it is to have meaning.

Lecture. 15

1.Greek thought, for the first time in human history, fragmented reality (experience).  Tribes tell its members, 24 hours a day, what to do, what is right with regard to the spirit, what and how to say things, what is expected from them (in prayers, songs, and ceremonies, etc.).  By contrast, Greek thought began to separate logic, physical events, and ethics.  “Homeric man is a new invention. The `Greek mind’ is something that hasn’t existed before.” (p.1)

This was quite revolutionary. The unity of pre-Homer was the community and the gods that supported it; they were all one.  By contrast, there became many gods, e.g. commerce, the physical world,  the church. Today, for example, the god from Sunday School didn’t need to carry forward into the god of business, beginning Monday morning.

2.Unity in the universe means that we do not have to think, as all is known and understood and agreed- upon.  THE MOMENT THESE ELEMENTS BECOME SEPARATED, one must think, one needs a philosophy to bring some unity back to experience.

3.God is the power that makes you do something you didn’t think you could do.  (p.4)

4.Another distinction between Greek thinking (philosophy) and …”life”. It is simply that “the universe” as a physical entity is dead, and therefore it cannot die.  Greek philosophy, emphasizing “universal truths” as it does, makes no distinction between living and dead things.  Life, by contrast, you and I, the human spirit, can die – and we fear death and do not wish to die.  Greeks did not fear death! Modern psychology does not begin with a fear of death.

They (modern psychologists) dismiss it.  They investigate your retina reactions, and they investigate your muscle….But the general experience of humanity is that we must die…What you call the “soul”, is the power to anticipate your death.  The soul is the power in man who, for the very first days of a child being spoken to anticipates the death of the child.  The soul is not born at birth, but the soul comes into you as anticipation of your death.  That’s what we call the soul.  (p.7)

Another aspect of the greatness of Socrates is that he showed us how to die.  Jesus, on the other hand, showed us that we should live fruitfully. [RF, didn’t Socrates show this also?  ERH tells us that there is no relation between the two, because Socrates was unafraid to die, Jesus agonized on the Cross.  The meaning of Jesus’ death was in the fact of death itself.  The meaning of Socrates’ death was the cause of the city, its law.]

5.Here is the paradox (dichotomy) man always faces when he philosophizes. He is a member of the city, but thinks beyond it (these two roles are in conflict). He looks for the laws of the universe while being temporarily under the laws of the city.  [RF – interesting parallel here with the anti-abortionists today who break the laws of the city “for a higher law.”]

6.Plato, speaking of governing the “Republic,” wants the government workers to take a vow of poverty.  MONKS MAKE THREE VOWS, HE REMINDS US; OBEDIENCE, CHASTITY, AND POVERTY. Obedience comes from the Jews, Chastity comes from India, but Poverty comes from the Greeks, from Plato.  ERH asserts the question remains open, “is it better to be governed by poor or by the rich?  Lincoln was one example of the former, but for the most part we are governed by the rich.

7.In Plato’s idea of governance,  the leader, the physician, or any other worker must find happiness in serving his clients; he should not find happiness for himself per se.  The notion behind this dictum is that, to serve others (to do God’s works), one must tell and follow the truth, and ERH asserts strongly that no one likes the truth.  Thus, there is always hostility toward persons who tell the truth.  (p.20).

The word “happiness” in the Declaration of Independence meant, in 1776,salvation to the founding fathers; ERH asserts that the word happiness was used because it was secular, representing the lowest common denominator of  the word salvation.  Thus, to say  “…in pursuit of salvation…” would not be gross.  If one tells the truth in order to serve his clients, then he is helping regenerate the other person(s) and the community, but that will not have that he will be without hostility in the course of his work.

Jesus on the cross, by having sacrificed himself was saying to the people, “Forget happiness and you will be saved.” (p.22)  The same with Socrates three and one half centuries before. One must do right and not consider the consequences for himself.

Lecture. 16

1.The beginning of life describes the fact that our first experience in the world is social, not of nature.  By the time we can look out the window we have been nurtured by laws of the family and community, and have been given language by which to describe nature.  Thus, we see nature from the standpoint of the social situation.


2.ERH points out that, of course, man is a natural evolution of nature, but on the other hand, nature in part is the product of the community, of the seeking of “truth,” of our ability to communicate, to agree on what is real to us.

The meaning of truth, beauty, and goodness is that truth refers to nature (the non-speaking world of what is observed),  goodness refers to (the goal of) the community (mankind), and beauty is common to both.  THIS IS PLATO’S NOTION, THAT BEAUTY CAN BE COMMON TO BOTH NATURE AND POLITICS. THIS IS THE TRINITY OF THE HUMANISTS, PARALLEL TO THE TRINITY OF CHRISTIAN DOGMA.

3.Christianity, on the other hand,  has the trinity that means the continuation of human society, of mankind, through unifying the generations.  The father, son, and holy spirit is the sequence of events – to reconcile the age (teachings) of the father with the age of the son (his reality that is different), through the holy spirit.

No true Christian believes in an unmitigated beauty of nature and of man.  In society there is ugliness (greed, violence, malice, etc.)  Thus, mankind is both good and bad, beautiful and ugly.  “When you see a picture in which Jesus is beautiful, you know it’s by a Greek (thinking) painter…most people today are Greeks.” (p.6)

4.THE EXISTENCE OF THE INDIVIDUAL is caused by language, without which there is no consciousness of ourselves. Therefore, society is not a product of nature, per se, but rather a product of communication, of language. KNOWLEDGE IS DETERMINED BY VOTE OF THE PEOPLE, THE PRODUCT OF AGREEMENT HANDED DOWN FROM OUR FATHERS OR GENERATED IN OUR OWN TIME.

I have no consciousness, You have no consciousness.  But we have consciousness…What’s the truth?  That which I also have to believe…Nobody has (a mind of ones’s own).  I certainly have not. That’s why I have a very good mind, because I have never the illusion that it is my mind. (p.3)

He likens truth and the holy spirit to the light in a light bulb.  You and I may have light, but the power source comes from elsewhere.

5.The universe, to the Greeks, is purely space-driven; it is timeless, eternal, and the “idea” lies out of time. There is no death to the Greeks. Death is ugly, it concerns us individually, we don’t wish to die, and we fear it.

In Christianity by contrast, we must recognize death, recognize that we are corruptible, that we care about things, that some things are beautiful and some are not.  Christianity is steeped in time, and also recognizes space.  Of course the scientist recognizes time, but it is a very different type of time than that of human consciousness, it is a timeless time, with no beginning and no end.

6.With Greek philosophy, truth is like money in the bank, it can stay with you once you have it. It is a release from the fear that nothing is permanent.

THE NOTION OF IDEALISM, is that through thought and numbers we can describe the universe and gain a mental picture of it, and through our imagination, we can describe a picture of good, and both are beautiful and everlasting.  In this concept, thought and nature stabilizes the world.  It is an idealism, and is therefore beautiful.  But these remain SPACIAL ideas, i.e. inside and outside. Truth is found outside, and good is found inside; beauty combines both, and the inside is equal to the outside.

7.Finally, ERH points out that the average person cannot be an idealist in any meaningful sense of the term, because he does not have time to know both the heart and the universe. He/she can only know one, and (normally) the twains never meet. One must be an unusual person to achieve true idealism.  (p.8)

8.Utopia means nowhere.  Utopian belief is that some place is perfect, no greed, hunger, avarice and most of all, peace. This is a product of the mind, just as are truth, goodness, and beauty. These are difficult to experience in real life with any permanence; they are mental products, but not reality. Utopia was originally a Platonic creation.

By contrast, in Christian thought, eschatology is an expectation of something; it is time-bound, considering the beginning and the end.  Eschatology is therefore the opposite of utopia.  ERH asserts that today most Catholics are Platonists, as heaven is a physical concept of a utopia, a place “out there,” an ideal. It is a place in space, but beyond the space of the physicists.

9.*A BASIC DISTINCTION BETWEEN GREEK AND CHRISTIAN THOUGHT. TRUTH, BEAUTY, AND GOODNESS ARE ABSTRACTIONS WITHOUT A VOICE AND EARS OF THEIR OWN. THEY CANNOT SPEAK TO YOU, NOR YOU TO THEM.  IT IS JUST THE OPPOSITE WITH FATHER, SON, AND HOLY SPIRIT.  TO THE IDEALIST, THE UNIVERSE IS SPEECHLESS.  Ideals cannot comfort you, nor advise or criticize you.  An ideal is of your own making, you can neither commune with it, nor it with you.  You therefore cannot commune with nature.  You can only contemplate it.

Now with Christianity, your father and son can speak and listen to prophesy, command, chastise, and comfort confront you.

10.*The important fact of prayer is not the content, but the invocation.  Whom does the speaker address?  In more immediate contexts, the speaker acts in the role of father, and the listener as son.  Obviously the roles reverse during the conversation.

11.*To speak and tell the truth to others, to converse, means that one believes in the holy spirit; the holy spirit is the common understanding about truth (knowledge) that is the basis for communication. (p.21)

Lecture. 17

1.*We cannot trust our personal view of the world until we have verified it with others, especially those who are more alive than ourselves, the wise, the artist, a pretty girl or handsome boy; in this process we join others to agree about what is reality, then feel more secure.  This act quite literally “creates” our reality and allows us to “…join up with life.”

In the process, we have an understanding of our culture, because language becomes connected with acts and thereby gives them meaning.  This we call culture, or the “holy spirit.”

2.Every hour we are conscious we try to join up with people who are more alive than we are; it confirms or creates our sense of reality.  Those whom we wrong, i.e. attempt to manipulate, we don’t love, we treat them as “things.”

3.Science, dealing with objects, things outside us, can understand what they mean. By their writing and speaking, we can understand scientists’ descriptions because they deal with dead things (things that can’t speak back).  But with people, we don’t know what the words mean unless we experience their behavior.  What, for instance, does good mean? It can mean many things, especially in different cultures. (p.4)

4.We must judge people as being either good or bad.  But our responses to the acts of others are always emotional.  “Physical facts can be expressed in the form of indicatives.  But all ethical facts can only be expressed in emotional form of `yes’ or `no’,…in the sense of let us do this, or let us avoid it. (p.4) One must remember ethics are always more important than things not alive.

5.The moment we judge others, we put them outside our circle of associations, outside our personal “unity.”  Thus, we do not judge friends, or family, or loved ones unless we are through with that association.  Ethical rules cannot be generalized into absolutes without creating injustices. There are times, for instance, when lying to a loved one may save their sanity. In the same sense, law always requires interpretation in the light of particulars. Paradoxically ethical and legal and other types of rules must be seen as both absolute and changeable.

ERH cites an example of this point. Once while in the army he found one of his officers asleep on guard duty, a boy of 18 years. Instead of ruining his life by a court-marshal, he slapped him in front of others, which was punishment enough. The young soldier was immature, still little more than a child, he should not have his life ruined. Ethical statements aren’t always good, or bad.  It depends upon the situation. As described below, exceptions to law are acceptable when validated by, and in the presence of others.

6.The relationship between ethics and law is a movement from ethics toward“physis.”  Law is outside nature. The evolution is from act – to precedent – to law – to natural law.

By the concept of the law, ethics are always transformed into physis.  Law is experienced act, respected as precedent, transformed into rule and regulation,..and finally applied to the world outside as always having this implication,  (p.11)

[RF – All of this seems to be related to the act of judgment (freedom to make interpretation). The idea is that, when we are under law or ethical prescription we have less freedom to make judgment.  To interpret the situation in context, one makes two judgments: 1) When it is questionable whether it is  covered by law, one can assume freedom to make an ethical judgment. 2) When there is clearly a rule, but application of the rule would create devastating consequences beyond reason, then one asks the consent of others in judgment.

This is what ERH did with the young officer, therefore not having to submit him to court-marshal.  If this action is committed before others who approve of the action, then justice is judged to have been achieved, and peace returns to the community. ERH exercised the freedom to so act, and saved the man’s future.  Jesus commonly did this, as in his response to the adulteress.

There is another qualification to this type of judgment I feel impelled to mention at this point because I see it so often the case, what I consider a malfunction of justice. That is, the conflict of interest situation. It is to me a foreboding thought that, in the U.S. today, conflict of interest seems to be ignored by these in public service and with the public alike.]

The rule or law that is absolute (perhaps one of the very few) is that if one is to exercise the freedom to so interpret a situation,  then one must first have listened to the experience from the past —

…if you cannot hear the voices that contradict your move, that warn you against it,..If you are just in a frenzy, you must expect the full fury of the law, and of wisdom, and of precedent coming upon you, because you have acted, you see, without listening…The word precedes the act. And the act precedes the law.  (p.12)

The words of the past, the words of wisdom, the words of experiences, the words of suffering, the words of love and sympathy a man must listen to….You must listen to the law.  But you can also create for this friend, you see, a refuge from the law.  (p.13)

One must both respect the law, but also solve an immediate problem if a just alterative to the law is available.  Basically there must be justice, and one must know when to act within the law, or alternatively when to break it.  THIS IS WHY SOCIAL LIFE IS SO FULL OF PARADOX.  The situation determines what the “good” action or “good” response would be, and sometimes it would be one way and sometimes another.  IT IS THESE DECISIONS THAT WE ARE CALLED ON TO MAKE FROM HOUR TO HOUR (if we are alive that is, or if we are to develop a soul).

IN CONCLUSION, OUR CONSCIENCES MUST BE INFORMED AND SYMPATHETIC IN THE PROCESS OF BRINGING ABOUT JUSTICE, if we are to be creative in our acts. The act of judging should be humbling, and one must quiet critics by reminding them that at any moment they themselves may be the subject of judgment (and how would they like to be judged?).

7.The word Bible means, “Book of Books,” which means that all other knowledge takes its meaning from this, which means the measure of all things is in society. [RF – The humanists say, that the measure of all things is “man”; but they seem to think this means one man, or if it is also plural, they dichotomize it into man/community.  ERH enlarges this concept.  The center of science lies in a measurement of space, and the center of human society lies mainly in both time and space. But “inside,” or non-spacial measure, since it is not concrete, must lie in time.

Ethics has always to do with timing…. These are the real problems in life…Ethics is the problem of timing.  Physics is the problem of spacing.  ..what makes you an expert on a thing, where to put things…But when to say things, and when to be silent, shows that you are a human being….If you have only physis and logos, then all knowledge is good.  If you have any ethical situation,..then knowledge has to be timed. (p.20,21)

In other words, one cannot know beforehand how one will act in a hypothetical situation, one must await the moment.

8.ERH goes on to show that to rule a state (and by intimation one’s self), one must know ethics, that is, what to do next, what would be both ethical and just.  This cannot be determined by law-absolute,  as has been asserted by fundamentalists.

He further points out that the ideal Platonic state, as in the philosopher king of the REPUBLIC, has generalized all situations and leaves no freedom to correct possible injustices.  Plato’s Republic therefore rejects the issue of paradox.

[RF – The implication of all of this is profound; ethics is knowing when to reveal knowledge and when to keep it secret.  For effectiveness, for justice, one must have the right amount of knowledge at the right time.  Otherwise, since we cannot know everything, we cannot understand the meaning of anything out of context.  And ethics deals with meaning, or it is nothing!]

9.All great art begins with the knowledge (anticipation?) of the outcome.  What is interesting is how it all evolved, and why, not who was guilty.  This is why ERH believes mystery stories are uninteresting; he isn’t interested in who did it, but why it was done and how it might have been prevented.

Lecture. 18

1.Our dilemma is not only to be a good American, but also to be a good “individual.”  Thus, our ultimate goal is not America, per se, but our (and its) humanity.  We make judgments on each side of this question, knowingly or unknowingly.  To do this we need philosophy.  The problem, then, is not only to attempt to philosophize well, but to insure that we do not build our philosophy on some passing prejudice, or upon some other’s thoughts, without having thought them through and taken responsibility for upholding them ourselves. (p.2)

2..Ethics is related to what you DO, as contrasted with what you say.  If you are a hypocrite your words don’t match your action.  And with ethics, “the word,” what we say, must be re-thought in relation to the consequences of our actions. What we do and say we are doing, may not turn out the way we anticipated.  Then, our ideas must be revised accordingly.  One changes beliefs in the light of experience. Then one must begin anew. (p.4)

3.Logos, the viewing of the universe, comes to us in two different ways.  Exterior things, the stars and stones, come to us through our senses.  But with people the first route by which the universe comes to us is language, from our parents. We are provided for, we are spoken to, and so we learn to understand part of the universe by being told what to anticipate.

4.The speaker and the listener must always trust each other, otherwise there can be no communication in any real sense, because one will not believe the other, and vice versa.  The weak aspect of Greek philosophy, its failure, is that it assumes language is natural.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  Cratylus, Plato’s dialogue on language,  treats it as a tool, as a natural formation of man.

5.Philosophy does not deal with groups, with being “inside” or part of a group, it deals with concepts.  To be a member of a group you must love it, accept it.  Even if one is critical of it, it must be for the purpose of improving it, of not allowing it to die.

6.Defining People:  Unlike “things,” people cannot be defined completely, unless one has stereotyped them (declared them dead in terms of vital, changing human beings.  People who utter empty phrases (who congratulate everyone else’s efforts automatically, and whose remarks we therefore dismiss as unthinking) would be an example of persons rightfully “defined” as spiritually dead.  BEWARE OF AUTOMATIC PHRASES.

This notion is fundamental:  To make an absolute judgment of another means one has ceased to allow them the freedom to change. In this case, one never anticipate that they will act differently. To never change is to never learn. Such a state of mind  virtually destroys all possibilities for meaningful relationships!

…the more a person is alive, the more it is impossible and harmful for you to try to define him. You cannot elect a president of the United States for everything he has done before.  You must expect from him that he will do something that you couldn’t do.  (p.10)

So please, the greatest heresy in all your minds, gentlemen, is that it is meritorious to begin a speech by saying, “I shall define my terms.”  On no important thing can you do anything but speak English.  And English is much richer than the definitions which you can give any term.  You just look up the dictionary; every word is a poetical word, and it has 10,000 shades of meaning. And it is your business to use the word so that the other person gets all the shades of meaning which you wish to stress.  It’s no business of yours to define it beforehand; that’s making the speech trite. (pp.10,11)

7.The difference between natural science and social science methodologies:

…the road of nature is through the senses to the concept. The road of the community is through reciprocity to agreement….Speech is mutual before it is definable. (p.12).

We deal with nature by way of concepts because “natural objects” can’t talk back. Addressing people makes all the difference and requires different rules for interpretation of meaning.

Thus, the road to knowing the “universe” has two parts, one through mutual agreement and the other  through concepts.

8.Speech is not natural, it is political  We develop only when we are spoken to, only when we are named, only when we have an “inner life”, only when we have speech.  We can only obtain a more complete concept of reality with both the natural (outer) view and the (inner) contemplative view, not of the eye, but of the heart (spirit).  (p.14)

9.Only with both (outer and inner, physis and politics) can we obtain the power to change, to grow, and this can only occur through community. Otherwise the family of man would have obliterated itself eons ago.  TO GROW WE MUST THEREFORE RISE ABOVE NATURE AND BECOME “SUPER-NATURAL” – THE CARRIER OF ENTHUSIASM, OF DIVINITY. P.18/18

10.In Greek philosophy the mind is in charge and the heart follows, and courage follows.  No Christian believes this. (p.23)

Plato organized the city with the mind (logic) the highest, the heart in the middle, and the passions below,   and therefore the state must organize the same way as our human “endowment.” And, ERH claims, our Constitution is “Platonized” in this pattern.  “The secular society of today is still thought of very much in the Platonic pattern.” (p.24)

11.All of this Platonizing leads to a natural or physical (physis) view of humanity, i.e. “millions of objects,” whereby, if one has ethos (is led by the heart), one has community.

Lecture – 19

1.There is a crucial distinction between the terms NATURE (that which occurs regardless of man’s intervention) and society (that which is created by humans).  These two realities are contradictory. Nature is merciless (we are killed in earth quakes, hurricanes, war, and disease, unrelated to our worth), but society which accredits even the worst criminal with rights.

Nature and society are thus opposites, and connected by the human mind.  LOGOS is the attempt of the mind to find the same meaning and the same truth and the same revelation and the same wisdom in both the stars and the human heart. (p.1)

Nature treats everything in the universe as “things,” all tyrants like Hitler treat people as things, as does anyone who believes people to be “natural.”

Business people who exploit the environment, destroy animal habitats, and treat workers as commodities, assume society follows the laws of “nature,” as contrasted with laws of ethics.  ERH points out that early in this country’s history, farmers were allowed to “squeeze the soil dry,” then move on to another plot to do the same. The two opposites, nature and ethos, if unified by the concept of logos would not allow this.  Europe, for instance, has the same percentage of forest as it had in 1100. (p.4)  [RF – By contrast, the US is eliminating theirs, there is now less than 10% of the old-growth left since the last 200 yrs.)

2.With “ethos” man is understood to be the steward (mouthpiece), of all other animals, and with no right to exploit or destroy them.

Our ethical problem is that since man must live off the land and forests, there is a constant need to reconcile the needs of the two.

Logos…is the apportionment, the apportioning of ethics, and ethos, and physis to reality.  (p.5)

3.NAMES — In the world of ethos, names move people, they “…create tremendous emotions and tremendous actions.” The name Hitler evokes emotions, The Battle of the Bulge in WWII evokes emotions, calling you a liar evokes emotions. The names professor and student describes social roles, and with them emotions.

In society we “experience” how others treat us.  We experience nature, of course, but with a very different attitude.  “Natural things” in the universe we give names to, but these things cannot respond to us; we therefore divide up the natural world into different classes of things, constantly fragmenting its parts.

The law of society is to find unity, solidarity, peace – otherwise we have war, degeneration, revolution and anarchy. When any part of our experience in reality addresses us, we cross over from experiencing nature to experiencing ethos.

4.In nature incest is natural, as most animals practice it.  In human society, incest is taboo because it weakens the genetic strains.

5.FAITH:  one aspect of faith is to believe in what we know.  ERH points out that many people know things that they don’t believe.  To “know something” implies that it must be acted upon in one way or another.  To know someone is unfaithful means we must not trust them.  To know we destroy the environment means we must act to rectify it.

6.SPACE AND TIME:  Space, we experience as a whole, then subdivide it.  Time, we experience in fragments, but that experience can be given meaning only when those fragments are unified into courtships, marriages, communities, and nations – cycles of unified phases of  social processes.

The unity of time and the division of space is the achievement of the logos, arbitrating between the space of physis and the time of society. (p.15)

We must make room for a nation, create peace from the beginning to the end. People “grant” each other the right to live among themselves.

7.ERH credits Plato’s SYMPOSIUM as his greatest work, in the sense that it demonstrates or reflects an ideal, that man is a micropolis (not a macrocosm) of a community, and a community is a macropolis of men.  Also, the Symposium represents “heaven,” an ideal community. Nature is based on selfhood, on impenetrability, on resistance, on gravity, on no escape.  Society is based on interpenetration, on mutual understanding, on reciprocity, and on inheritance.

Lucretius, Epicurius, Democritus and others saw the world (society) in terms of physis, in terms of nature.  Heraclitus, Socrates, and Plato struggled to restore a balance to our view of reality.

8.The philosopher can teach (if he rules himself), but cannot rule (other than himself).  This is because he knows the “truth,” and would tyrannize the population – they would have no freedom.  Others must then rule who can lead, and listen and bring about concordance. Leaders, by definition, must possess the skill to bring unity (concordance).

It is the same with the church.  The church must never rule, for the same reason that the philosopher cannot; he teaches, criticizes, instructs, corrects, prophesies, but never rules.  Remember the inquisition!  THIS IS WHY THERE MUST BE A SEPARATION OF CHURCH AND STATE. “This Plato did not know.” (p.20)

9.A living soul must be greater than its mind. its love of reality (meaning truth) must dominate, rather than cleverness!

10.Back to the SYMPOSIUM: The college should be analogous to heaven, there must be trust, logos, admiration, tolerance of other opinions. “…two, three people can meet in the mind.  That is neither logos, nor ethos, nor physis.  That’s Heaven.” ERH claims that the seed of Plato’s thought lies in the SYMPOSIUM, and not elsewhere.  In the seventh letter, “I have never written down what I really mean to be the kernel of my philosophy,” (except in the Symposium). (pp.27,28)

Lecture 20

1.One of the most fundamental problems in philosophy is that of UNIVERSALS, and this is the primary problem raised by Greeks, namely Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle.  In this time there was recognized no universities, only “schools” (representing single points of view).

Plato’s ACADEMY was not the first university, it was a school (reflecting his ideas only).  The idea of a university (multiple schools) was a Christian idea. (In antiquity, you had to break with one school to attend another.)

2.ERH is interested in how several people form a unity of ideas, which in turn represents a yet more powerful idea.  He cites, for instance how Hayden/Mozart/Beethoven form a “miraculous unity” – just as does Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle.

3.As a digression, ERH asserts that there is never an infinite number of possibilities of ideas  (citing Hindemith on atonal music, which he wrote because other possibilities of harmony, rhythm, etc. had been developed).  THERE ARE ONLY FINITE POSSIBILITIES, THEN  VARIATION IN REPETITION.

What he is driving at is that in philosophy one cannot be original, one can only patch together different (established) thoughts. “Greek mentality is a complete story of the human mind.”  (p.5)


4.Socrates’ contribution was to make doubters aware of what they doubt, as well as where, and in what context, that doubting should lead to!  This is a positive contribution to thought, as contrasted with doubting or curiosity for its own sake. (p.7)  Curiosity, doubting, questioning must serve the purpose of regenerating the community (or it isn’t worthwhile).  Significant questions, unanswered endanger the city.  “Socrates asks for the better.” to improve the city.

5.*Plato asks for the best, “What is the ideal?”  Aristotle asks, “How do we measure where we are,  against the ideal?” (p.8)

ERH points out that our “democracy” in this country is only an emphasis. At times we need a dictatorship (as in war).  So the unity of Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle is, “What will make the community better – what will make it best – and what is the nature of the existing order?”

6.Logos is “creative conversation.” It forms a unity of thought. ERH asserts that thought DOES NOT precede speech, it is the other way around.  All clear, organized thought is in the form of words.  Thought is our dialogue with ourselves.  Speech is a response to an event.

He describes thought as built on three pillars – first experience and response, then description (narrative) of experience, then analysis.  Logic belongs to the last part.  Thus, LOGOS represents the unity of these three parts.

7.In Aristotelian rhetoric we gain the audience by application of “the whole man,” by the process of logos, by including all three parts of understanding.  Logic is mere repetition of a formula, as with a syllogism. (p.11)  Today, ERH asserts, logic has replaced logos.  “Any boy in high school can use logic.”  The creative part of speech, the convincing of another, requires creative effort.  ERH cites the attempts to logically prove the existence of God, which cannot be done. In the same way, he suggests, we cannot prove our patriotism logically.

8.ERH cites another example of logos, with the old syllogism of Socrates being, mortal. Obviously part of him is dead (and thus mortal), but also another part has lived for 2500 years.  So logic has a limited truth,  not the whole truth – and this perhaps best describes the difference between the notion of man’s whole experience and only a part of that experience.

Another aspect of the unity of logos, between Socrates, Plato and Aristotle is related to skepticism.  The steps of the method are raising the skeptical question, the question of standards for judgment, judgment about the meaning of a specific event.

ERH calls this “…my trinity, my human trinity.” (p.14) One is a “criticist,” one an “idealist,” and finally the “realist.”  THIS IS THE TYPE OF FUNDAMENTAL IDEA THAT ENHANCES OUR ABILITY TO DESCRIBE OUR EXPERIENCE, AND THUS, TO SERVE EACH OTHER.  NO ANIMAL CAN DO THIS.

9.The ideas of Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle need to be understood as coming from separate persons, and not from only one.  The reason is that in our lives there are times to take these separate roles – as contrasted with a different meaning if all ideas were rolled into a single set.

10.NOW TO THE ISSUE OF CATEGORIES AS RELATED TO CREATIVE THOUGHT!  Categories are an important issue because they describe a class of unique objects.  One cannot understand the singular unless there is some notion of the “context”, or plural.  Categories represent generalizations, but all events in real life are singular or particular (unique).

But what is a generalization, a common denominator?  Universals can only be discerned AFTER THE FACT, they are the sum of common properties of many events.  It is the mind’s arbitrary classification.  BUT THERE ARE TWO OTHER TYPES OF UNIVERSALS.  The “ideal” is one that precedesthe fact.  That is, one cannot identify a particular unless one already has a category, such as animal.  To have a standard as a criterion (type of generalization), it must precede the time of specific judgment.

a.With sophists, the universal, the category occurs as a result of summarizing common properties; thus the act occurs “post rem,” after the fact.  The plural follows the singular.

b.With idealists, the universal comes before the event, one enters an experience with a preconceived notion of categories, thus it is called “ante rem.” Ideals exist before the event.  All naming is therefore Platonic in form. The plural precedes the singular.

c.The third form of universal occurs during the event in which both plural and singular are considered at the same time. This is Aristotelian; the universal occurs “in rem,” during the process, or experience.  Plural and singular follow each other closely.

11.All of this is important because to utilize the full power of speech and thought, one must realize all forms of categories, or universals. Our tendency is to think only in one form,  as Platonic, as Sophistic, or as Aristotelian. To think creatively, to identify a unique experience, to categorize it appropriately so that truth may be achieved, one must be prepared to employ all three.  FOR LIVING EVENTS, THAT IS, HUMAN EVENTS, ONE MUST EMPLOY LOGOS. (p.24,25)  (This type of logic is analogous to the mathematics of algebra, where one is attempting to find an unknown, beginning with one or two knowns. One must determine what is arbitrary and what is necessary for creative thinking.

When we speak, we reveal how we see the event, and thus we reveal ourselves to others.  If we are sophists, we do not commit to any category as a necessity, and therefore shield ourselves from others.  ONLY IN A COMMUNITY WHERE PEOPLE SPEAK WITH EACH OTHER, WILLING TO REVEAL THEMSELVES, CAN WE HOPE TO HAVE A CIVILIZED WORLD.  SOPHISTRY, POST REM, IS ONLY FOR DEAD THINGS.

Lecture 21

1.The first four-six pages of this chapter is a castigation of our teaching methods in American colleges and an exploration of his teaching philosophy. He begins with the problem statement, skips around until one gets a sense of the structure of the argument. For example, in this lecture, “…Philosophy is an attempt to see wholes…” is difficult to fathom. (p.3)

ERH warns us, If a book is worth reading, read it again and again. Read a body of work on the subject to get a picture of the whole (of a man’s work). Only books that are difficult are worth reading,

The story of the human race, is the transmission of acquired faculties. That is, to transmit faculties that did not exist in the cave man, but in the process of the ages have entered the race, the bloodstream.  (p.7)

Faculties (ways of thinking and acting) that have allowed for social evolution, must be continued.

2.The contribution of Greek Philosophy was to think either materialist, realist, or idealist. But we know now that each of these ways of looking at experience is limited and our thinking today must include all three. We must learn when and how to apply each in the process of evaluating our experience through life. Our goal in thinking is to outgrow our physical development and counterbalance it with a growth of wisdom in aging.

ERH goes on a bit about learning. Real learning is when we are taught and convinced to do voluntarily what needs to be done, rather than believing the purpose of schooling is to pass required assignments.  (p.11) He sets out to convince the reader that the PROBLEMS WE FACE IN ATTEMPTING TO UNDERSTAND OUR EXPERIENCE ARE THE BEGINNING OF ORGANIZED THOUGHT. Finding Truth about the meaning of experience can only be arrived at by employing  the method of “logos.”

History is educational because it tells us the problems past cultures had in their experience, how they thought and solved them, and the consequences of those applications. Students need to learn this process because they must re-interpret past knowledge in the course of living.

3.The teacher and student, the old and experienced and the “empty” (youth) need to come together. In the Phaedon, sometimes Socrates and Plato see that “immortality” derives from the empty and the old, the student and teacher coming together and passing on truth. “We have to die very real.  Then we may come to life again…” (p.13)  That is, the method for rising above the fact of our physical death is through passing on the spirit of our thinking to the next generation in the faith that they will carry it on. Socrates died physically 2500 years ago, but his spirit lives on in us today.


That’s why Thomas Aquinas is not a religious founder, but just a theologian.  Theology is much poorer than religion….The only unique thing in the Platonic dialogue is the personages of Plato and Socrates..these are the only unique figures in the whole story.”  (p.15)

5.The chances of wisdom occurring are greater when people get old, and possibly even physically infirm. Then they have left ambition behind, and are more likely to be interested in truth and ethics.

ERH recalls here the necessary roles of  the three  ages of, youth, old age and “elder” (the prophet), each having a crucial role to play in the socializing of the community.

Lecture – 22

1.”…the Greek philosopher himself presents the problem of physis (nature), ethos (social life), and logos (wisdom), a co-mingling of the three into a vitality for their culture. It welded three generations together.  But it had limitations, as well.

2.Knowledge (his case in point mathematics) is only “real” during the process of being created. Teachers (one might say in his context “mere” teachers) pass on only old knowledge.  To truly teach, one must get students to both “create” new knowledge, and re-create old knowledge in the process of putting it to use.  IN OTHER WORDS, ORGANIZE THE COURSE AROUND PROBLEM-SOLVING OF SIGNIFICANT PROBLEMS FROM LIFE.

3.There is confusion between schooling (regurgitating of information), and creative learning, the act of learning how to learn (to create knowledge).  Examinations were unknown in antiquity, and the notion of “finals” is stultifying because it implies something is “finished,”  In antiquity, formal schooling was for adults, usually above the age of 25 years because it was considered serious business dealing with the survival of the community.

4.In Platonic dialogue, the only “real” dialogue is THE SYMPOSIUM.  But Greek science stagnated because the Greeks never followed up an idea, they only discussed possibilities.

Christianity created the first university out of academies, (which were single-minded; if one thought differently, such as Aristotle from Plato, he had to leave to found his own academy.)

5.Dartmouth, ERH claimed, was “…no worse than any other college…” The Christian idea, that one could “love their enemy,” that opposites could learn to live together in peace, allowed for progress.  The Greeks never learned to re-create old ideas, nor to live together in peace with those who held other ideas than those of a master.

Lecture – 23

1.The prime advance of the Christian era was that it asserted the possibility of progress, of change, TO HAVE CHANGE, ONE MUST HAVE REFERENCE POINTS. Reference points are crucial to understanding Christianity. Reference points are before and after indicators of change; indicators that something makes a difference.  We are burdened to understand our own time, to understand the context for our ideas and actions,  to understand what is different and what will make a difference.

2.Mankind is always in danger of moving in a circle. [RF – Reminds me of Harvard management professor Chris Argyri’s theory of circular thinking – when we don’t learn from our experience, we keep running in circles.] “Progress is possible when we cut this Gordian knot.” (p.2)  Once again ERH demonstrates the connection between Christianity and action, i.e. acquisition of knowledge is preparation for action, the action that will prevent us from going in circles. Mohammed forbade his followers to change, to progress beyond his word.

3.The difference between Greek Philosophy and the Christian era is our relation to the future, a dedication to progress, which the Greeks didn’t believe in. They believed in cycles, endlessly recurring cycles.

Humanism and Christianity are irreconcilable. The humanist believes in an automatic future, while the  Christian believes the future must be created. The Humanist can memorize, store information, but is not admonished to act on his information. The Christian has a moral obligation to act, and when necessary, sacrifice, to help his community,  to create a future that will continue to revitalize itself.

4.Nature (animal instincts) is second rate as contrasted with humanizng social life. Nature is automatic, predictable; social life must be created, or society will die.  Today, man acting as a natural being is the scourge of the earth, over-populating, over polluting and destroying everything in his path. “Man is absolutely lost if he is not satisfied to create communities.” (p.9) This is the logic behind the dire prediction ERH makes at the beginning of this essay, that we have been born in the midst of a dying culture. The prediction is not intended to be gloom and doom, however, but rather to call us to action, to insure it does not become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Nature is general, but human society requires uniqueness as the price for survival through change. To assume the “nature” of which we are born is unchangeable, reduces us to the state of animals. (p.10)  Greece came to an end because it couldn’t make this distinction.


5.The word “creatura” (creature) derives from creation, and is appropriately applied  to humans to mean they are capable of being constantly re-created.  It should be clear as well that if we are to progress, we need milestones, reference points to identify either progress or retrogression. Knowledge of time, in terms of sequences of  stages become concrete indicators of any progress. This is because, in a science of society time cannot be exactly predicted, but we can learn the etiology of social processes for measurement.

6.Social Time:  Christianity means to evolve,  to create a new future.  The Greeks had two types of time, two tenses; mythical time  (when founders created things), and present time, or “the time of the law,” as ERH calls it .  All times are ordinary except mythical time. The Greek conception of time makes no allowance for creativity in the present or future. In other words, of changing one’s present state (of ordinariness) to one of creativity, to one of founding a new future.

The essence of the problem with the Greek disconnection between the mythical past and “present” (or one’s “own” time) is just that, disconnection, time is not unified What does this mean?  It means one cannot connect past, present, and future, and therefore harness the power of cause and effect through the generations. Significant progress takes at least three generations to establish.

The CHRISTIANS, on the other hand, made this connection, and this is why the Bible begins with a naked human couple, Adam and Eve, not with Prometheus or Heracles or any of the other mythical figures.  Time as a unity connects different parts of our reality, and thus opens the door for our better understanding of our experience from day to day.  That is, seeking these connections between past, present, and future, and how human intervention can be effective.  THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN SOCIAL TIME AND “NATURAL TIME” is that, in the natural world things happen to animals, in the human social world, we must attempt to shape the course of society.

But the Bible is an attempt to make the people of the past ordinary and the present-day people extraordinary, because it had to correct the Greek mind…The Greek mind says, “The people in the beginning were heroic. And we are ordinary.  We are reasonable.  We therefore can understand rationally what we’re doing,”…And we can report these miraculous beings at the beginning.

But the Christian revelation says that because man tries to behave as an ordinary man, he misses out about the future.  And if he is not extraordinary man, he cannot create the future.  (p.19)

ERH asserts several pages later that the problem with the Greeks, the source of failure of their civilization, is that they had not the faith in their own creative ability.

Logos is the power to explain how the clock runs down, and the power to wind it up again.  For the Greeks, however, and for you, logos is only logic. (p.22)

Logos is wisdom, not logic, ERH reminds us.

7.ERH goes on to explain how the various sacraments have their origins in transmitting basic processes of living that emphasize the extraordinary things mankind has accomplished, and how we are similarly burdened to do the same every day if we are to survive (create a future).   His example is in the Communion ceremony with real bread and wine, which has aged and is awaiting its use to remind us of this.

If you cannot realize this you will always be superstitious with regard to Holy Communion.  (p.20)

[RF – I assume he is saying this is an example of going through the procedures of a ceremony without understanding its original meaning.]

8.ERH asserts strongly that whatever we utter in speech we must be willing to be accountable for; only then can we feel part of a truly human community, and only then can we preserve our ability to communicate.

Ultimately then, we seem to fail to solve the problems of our day for the same reason as the Greeks. This makes most of Western societies, including most of all the Christians Greek thinkers.

Lecture 24

1.The Greeks believing in truth, goodness and beauty, means, to simply know truth is to act rightly. The Cypriot Zeno introduced the notion in 300 BC, that the “heart” ruled above the “head”, i.e. emotions ruled over logic.  This led to the Benedictine movement in the Catholic church whereby knowledge andwisdom was bought at the expense of asceticism, with vows of chastity, obedience, and poverty.  All of this was a mixture of Greek and Buddhist/Hindu cultures, which later became manifest in Christianity.

2.What is the difference between the Greek gods and a living God?  The living God cannot be characterized by “graven images,” i.e. cast in stone.  How, then, can we know of God’s existence? Through mankind.  The living God fights death.  Fruitfulness (“by your fruits you shall be known”) means the regeneration of life, of a community.

To regenerate, one must be creative.  Fruitfulness follows from present action. Thus, Greek thinking began to break down in 300 B.C. with Alexander’s interaction with Buddhists and Hindus, and again after Christ, to the fall of the Roman empire.

3.The real difference between the coward and the courageous man is that the coward runs away in the moment of danger, and the courageous man fears what may happen after the danger,  after having withstood the dangerous situation.  Jesus’ last words on the cross were, “My lord, why have you forsaken me.”

The courageous man then doubts his truth from time to time, but he does not run away from it.

4.In the classroom we do not live, but only prepare to live.

5.Acts 18, 17  is Paul’s address to Athens, in which he tried to reach the academics.The problem of the secular (logic-dominated mind) is that it learns too late!  (p.15)

6.You cannot judge by the facts only. They lead nowhere, because facts always lie in the past.  One must know one’s destiny, i.e. THE PROBLEM is always one’s destination, the goal. This, in turn, determines what action to take in the present. (p.16)

7.ON TEACHINGand on creating the future. The prophet, the “sower” of ideas, the true teacher, is condemned to never know what will come of the harvest – never to know who heeds his word, or if it was heard at all.

Today we have too much stimulation and too little philosophy (too little time to be astonished by the world), too little religion (time to plan and anticipate and work toward one’s future).

The secret of the Christian message is the criss-cross between Greek and Judaic beliefs. The teacher is always bound to disappointment if he/she desires to be “recognized” while sowing the seeds of ideas, recognized for our personal wisdom as a teacher of  ideas – but this can never be.  Only later, when ideas are tested, can one know fruitfulness.  THIS PATIENCE TAKES AN EXTRAORDINARY EFFORT.

The future cannot be reached by people who want to live an ordinary life, because they omit that their own ways of life have created extraordinary time…to be a creatura means to be that we are unfinished at this moment, and we still have to expect the outcome of  our own creation, tomorrow. (p.20)

The great figures in history have been “creatura.”

8.THE MEANING OF ORIGINAL SIN is that, having inherited something that was original out of the past, we are no longer burdened to think of it ourselves.  This is why we are all born into original sin.  IN RESPONSE, WE MUST THEN BECOME CREATIVE OURSELVES, TO RISE ABOVE THIS SIN.

Paul tried to reconcile the Greeks and Jews and be respected for it.  And of course he failed in this attempt, demonstrating a lack of faith in Christianity at that moment.

9.ERH asserts that the difference between the Greeks and Christianity is that, the Greeks created an ideal, and Jesus created a vitality in us to create.  THE DIFFERENCE IS ENORMOUS.  Instead of invoking an ideal, as the Greeks do, one invokes instead an example of a life lived creatively. Paul was attempting to logically connect Greek and Jewish philosophy, thus falling into the failed logic of the Greeks.

In a like way, we can (or should) celebrate the acts of genius throughout history, much, much more than the ideals of “systems” they set down. The reasoning is that these systems are always limited and faulty.  This is why the principles must be reborn each generation by us – that is to say, interpreted differently in the light of new experience.  THIS IS THE CHRISTIAN POSITION OF EVALUATING HISTORY.

The conflict between philosophy and Christianity is that philosophy always comes too late, i.e.  analysis after the facts, and the meaning of all facts must be constantly revitalized by us for what new meaning they might have.

Lecture – 25

1.DISTINCTION BETWEEN PHYSICAL AND SPIRITUAL: To grow, to change, to think anew, these are fundamental goals necessary, for survival. ERH names this as a “first cause” of personal growth.  In science the past determines the future, cause leads to effect, etc., which would mean that if we are conceived as “natural,” we are totally determined by certain things.  While this is true physiologically, it can never be true spiritually, otherwise we would never be able to be original thinkers.

To love, to propose, to commit an act of charity, to speak out our thoughts against odds, are all acts of being a “first cause” ourselves.

2.Greeks conceived of two dimensions of time, mythical and present, whereall first causes derived from mythical times. (p.1) To think this way is to condemn one’s self to being always a follower, dross in the community.

3.We are admonished by ERH to reverse the Greek time concept, and view the past as “ordinary time” and the present as existing in “mythical time,” where first causes can occur.  We all tend to live within today’s myths!

4.Physis, ethos, logos can be characterized in terms of relationships. These are 1) to see one’s self as having a commander (being “overlorded”) which equals logos; 2) as being the commander which equals physis, or 3) as having comrades of equal rank which equals ethos.  Each of these are basic experiences in life, where we play out different roles; “That’s the experience of everybody.”  (pp.2,3)

5.Of these, only physis can be described by numbers, (p.4) and people experience becomes a constant loss of power from generation to generation, by reducing logos to physis.

To speak of ideas only is to be sterile.

The difference between nature and truth is the difference between being in charge – i.e. giving orders,  and being conscious-struck (listening to a higher command).

6.What is the meaning of the Trinity?  The Christians were trying to counter the Greek value of treating logos and physis (nature) as the same; that is, thinking only logically (for instance, it is logical and natural to be self-serving).  Mind (if  seen as the same as logos) is mechanical, logical only.  Logos is to understand that we must be commanded by some higher powers (rather than our own self-interest). By 300 BC the Greek spirit of logic had led to decadence.

7.Pneuma, the spirit, the logos, the “Holy Spirit”:

“The doctrine of the Holy Spirit is an attempt to link up the Greek Odyssey, the Greek migration, the Greek exodus from normal humanity into philosophy.  This attempt to look at the mind as a mechanism, and to treat it as something that is under law, and whose results can be pre-calculated…The pneuma is an attempt to restore the balance… (p.12)

And in the ancient world, from Paul to St. Augustine, is the attempt by the Christians to bring the Greek philosophers back under the domination of the spirit, to reconnect humanity and philosophy.

8.In many places ERH asserts that in the physical world life precedes death, but in the spiritual world, death precedes life. THIS IS A PROFOUND DISTINCTION, because it means that we must live our lives by bringing spiritual life into our physical life, otherwise we cannot maintain community.

Truth dies when it is not acted on, when it is made into “mere ideas.” We thus validate truth by acting on it, or in the case of truth from the past, we must regenerate it, bring it back to life.

9.To live the life of the philosopher, one believes that one can rule the world with one’s thought. The Trinity was an attempt to indicate how this is a failed view, given the fallibility of mankind.  Thus – just as ERH viewed man as multiform and not to be understood except in all his basic roles as individual, friend, and lover, team member and community member – in a like way God cannot be understood except as having three forms of Himself (the ultimate creator and lord of the universe), as being within the Father, who then passes this spirit on in the possession of  the Son or Daughter. “That’s the minimum, in order to understand the authority which He has over me.”

The Trinity is a very chaste attempt to place you in the middle of the process between logos, and physis, and ethos.  It has nothing to do with denomination.  It has nothing to do with the pope in Rome.  It has something to do with truth…Because you have to believe in the Trinity, you must be a Christian. (p.19)

[RF – See #7 Lecture 9 for a detailed explanation of supporting logic for this quotation.]

The Trinity is a counter to Greek philosophy, which believes that mankind evolved from dead things and now has the power of life and death over the rest of nature, that everything is less alive than he.  “He is perfectly willing to admit that he can be deduced from the `less’ life.”  (p.19)

10.We are most alive at our greatest moments of creativity, of courage, of commitment. We cannot be the yardstick of our own truth, it must be tested over three generations of the Holy Spirit from the past, of the father, and taken up and practiced also by the son.  Then social truth can be ascertained. And this is why we must believe in the Trinity if we wish to find ourselves and find truth (social truth).

Ministers of the church today no longer understand, because they have neither studied Greek, nor Latin, nor Hebrew, nor philosophy…They are slaves of the fashionable philosophy of our day today, these poor, so-called ministers of the word… (p.20)

Belief in the Trinity is the only remedy against our own mind’s haughtiness and arrogance.  There is a constant exchange between different authorities, whereby each of us is on the middle rung of a ladder, and therefore there is a higher authority than ourselves, just as we are lords of things and animals below us.  The message of the Trinity is that Greek thinking must come under the authority of the spirit.

11.Greek philosophy tried to make man the master of his own destiny.  It failed.  At best we are only partly masters of our destiny.  We can manipulate nature and our society, but such manipulations are always self-serving, when they are not guided by a power beyond ourselves. [RF – which is most of the time with most people?]

…the doctrine of the Holy Spirit, is not a religious doctrine, and a religious experience, but the necessity of expressing the Greek experience in terms that were no longer Greek, but that led the Greeks back into the general experience of the whole human race, that the loss of spirit, the loss of logos, by mere logic, instrumentalism, mechanism, cleverness, had to be rebuilt, or replaced, had to be remedied by making man again able to be inspired by a power higher than he himself. (p.24)

Lecture – 26

1.The fundamental necessity for education is to know “what is necessary in life,” in other words, “What is reality?”  ERH reminds us that all life is finite, that it leads to death, and that our basic drive is to extend life as much as possible.  To do this we must learn what should be kept for each generation, and what must die, what must end. (p.1)

2.One assumption about reality is that life, especially human life, evolved out of dead things (chemicals), and that at this point in our evolution we are on top, ruling the world.

ERH’s logic is that each day we do many humdrum things, and are therefore not creative most of the time.  Only at certain times are we inspired, and this is a higher state of our being.  Part of one’s life is representative of much more than the average state of being, overlaid with a large part rather ordinary, functioning at a lower level. So a crucial question is which line of thought 1) looking above ourselves, when we are creative, when we are divine, and 2) which part is just natural?

And the mind itself is neither natural nor divine, but is in this transitional stage from life to death, and from death to life, and we know at no one moment whether we are stupid or wise…(p.3)

3.Our natural tendency (of the mind) is to be natural, is to take the path of least resistance, to take the easy road, to give ourselves the benefit of doubt, to glorify our intentions.  BUT IS ALL THAT CONDUCIVE TO TRUTH AND CREATIVITY?  Part of the mind is “natural” or follows those tendencies naturally, but it is certainly not the creative part, or the divine part.

Being objective in the way we look at the world takes no more than ordinary talent. This is hardly the source of a creative hypothesis, however. The creative hypothesis is based on asking several questions, namely, “Are my previous assumptions about the world correct?” “What explains my lack of understanding of this problem?” “Is there some other dimension of reality to be considered, and if so what would it be?” “How can I go about exploring this?”  It is these types of questions that establish new thinking and progress. These questions are interesting and keep us spiritually alive.  SO THE PROBLEM IS TODAY, HOW DO WE INDUCE ENTHUSIASM, INSPIRATION?

4.Truth is that which is valid whether we like it or not, whether we benefit from it or not, and finally, truth occurs when one is willing to present it, “…even if he has to go to the cross.”  (p.6)

We will survive (come spiritually alive) by seeking and accepting truth, not by pursuing self-interest.

5.Our problem is to distinguish which part of our mind is alive and original, and which part is merely repeating what has been done or said before. Truth is engendered by “aliveness,” and self-interest leads to death, always. Death and life are intertwined always in our minds.

…where you are in love, where you are courageous, where you are inspired, you begin something.  And in other ways of life, you learn, and you repeat…Every one of us is half genius, half inspired, and half routine.  (p.9)

6.We are born, not with a soul, but with the potential of developing a soul. We rise to a higher level of life when we give back to the community what we have received from it. This is how a person beginning with a raw animal nature develops into a living spirit.  IN OTHER WORDS, THE COMMUNITY CREATES US, AND IF THE COMMUNITY IS TO SURVIVE INTO THE FUTURE, WE MUST BE WILLING TO GIVE BACK TO IT SOME OF WHAT WE HAVE RECEIVED FROM IT. This becomes essential because the community needs regeneration to live, just as plants and animals must adapt to changing environmental conditions. The regeneration of society requires fertilization by way of our increasing knowledge of reality.

The importance in any country is that little group that swings the balance which is not swayed by self interest. (p.11)

The assumption in our Constitution is that this small group exists!

7.ORGANIZED CHURCHES TODAY, are so steeped in the Bible that they see its platitudes as “natural” and therefore mechanical, therefore they are pagan. (p.12)

ERH likens this process to “inspiration” and “expiration,” to creativity and to repetition of concepts.  In life we require a balance between the two.  Like a balance between day and night, between activity and rest or meditation, between creativity and mechanics, between carnation and incarnation, between sowing and harvesting. “Our mind lies fallow during the night of our consciousness.”

8.The central issue in teaching is to inspire, to fire students with the meaning of the subject so that they will think about it “on their own time.”  THIS IS THE  MOST DIFFICULT THING TO DO.  Can we so inspire students?  Can we so embody the “idea” of the subject so that students will be inspired to turn it into action?

For one thing, one must make students understand that they must constantly balance between repetition and creativity. Order is not all that exists, there is spirit also (which expands our understanding of order). In other words, genius creates order, but what creates genius?  Both are needed. One is driven by logic, the other spirit. One is a first cause, the other the consequence of a first cause.  Each of us must house both attitudes It is not the systems of the Greek philosophers which will be everlasting, but the spirit of the philosophers themselves!  (p.21)

9.TO REGENERATE THE GREEK SPIRIT: In ancient times the poet fought the mechanization of the logician.  Today the poets have stopped being poets ‑ therefore the philosophers must cease to be rationalists only.

“And therefore we need a meta-logic or pneumatology which balances the mechanics and the embodiment processes which permeates your and my strange being…  (p.23)



Lecture Transcript from a conference in 1942, location not specified. From the library of Lise van der Molen, Winsum Gr. Netherlands.
Feringer notes
Last edited: 12-98


1. The social sciences deal with phenomena fundamentally different from the subjects of the natural sciences, and therefore require a different method.

2. Today there is no recognized method for the social sciences. There is only a natural science of society, with the inference that those parts of society amenable to the methods of natural science might be properly treated – but other parts of social experience would not be amenable to this method.

Natural science obtains data from controlled laboratory conditions, or from field observations (as with astronomy and climatology), striving for generalizations to either prove or disprove the hypotheses being tested.  If the methods for both natural and social events are to be the same, there should not be two names.  Why then do we have two names?

3. A philosophy for both ethics and for natural science, are two elements of modern thought.  The question of method is all-important.  While man can observe objects of nature from the outside, he cannot apply this method to society with any validity,  for obvious reasons.  Nor is society transcendent, as are the `idea’ and `God.’ (p.2) The social scientist cannot claim a universal truth; this is because there are believers and nonbelievers. [RF – Here ERH infers, and I would agree, that all knowledge, including both natural and social science,  is established by vote. There can be universal agreement about truth only in natural science.]  Thus, when any individual attempts to impose a universal (social) truth,  he/she must be labelled a dogmatist, or theologian of a particular denomination.

4. Other differentiations can be made between “natural” and “social” phenomena. For instance, God does not speak in human language, and nature does not speak at all. However, “…social facts are accompanied (described and evaluated) by the words of those who are producing these facts.” (p.2)  “A family is not a fact like a mountain because the members of the family call themselves the Rosenstock-Huessys,  or the Joneses.  The father called father, the child his son and so forth.” Likewise, a sociologist describing a nation in decay includes the speeches of its members as evidence. Obviously speech lies at the center of all social events.

5. All individuals belong to some group that is either praised or damned by other individuals or groups.

6. All social facts have one quality in common, that they have been NAMED.  This notion is inherent in the concept, “society.”  Society is a collaboration of individuals, who talk and are named, e.g. child, slave, private, woman, Jew, Christian. Any social event is described in a spirit of self-consciousness by all parties. “Words and ideologies, then, are one inescapable element of every subject matter of the social sciences.” (p.2). Neither societies, nor individuals, by definition, could exist without self-consciousness. SELF-CONSCIOUSNESS IS A KEY DISTINCTION BETWEEN SOCIAL AND NATURAL SCIENCE.

7. What can the philosopher offer to enlighten the sociologist in a situation where every word and name has at least a twofold meaning, one relating to his own scientific work, and another among the members of his/her society? ERH suggests that inherent in scientific language is logic, the art of reasoning, and the art of  dialectics (argument).  The philosopher of social science, on the other hand,  introduces grammar (the structuring of speech), to  which must be added,  the question of  who is speaking and who is listening. Thus, to the situation of natural science, where there is a subject and object, one needs to add (for a social science) a responder. His example is as follows:

the crowd says: we go, – the cop says, you go, – the reporter says they go.  Any social act then can be described in at least 3 ways, i.e. in terms of the actor, the antagonist (receiver of the action) and the observer. Gammer is therefore necessary, “…because neither dialectics nor logic admit the law of the plurality of objective and subjective world-languages.” (p.3)

To mention only one of these three ways, e.g. “he goes”,  would omit the other two parties, reducing a social act to an act of natural science, (to only the act of the observer). This would mean giving up his claim to being a scientist (his own humanness).  “The grammatical interaction between the `I’, the `you’ and the `he’ is by no means arbitrary.”

8. A proper method of social science must be centered on grammar, because “he who acts represents the seat of self-consciousness.” (p.4)  Natural science  represents only one third of the total social position that makes up social life.  The scientist, the “he” speaker, is also an “I” and a “you” speaker, and as such can never escape living in all three places.  This is why social science requires a different method than that of natural science. The grammatical element of society places people in their respective roles in any given event.

9.         Social sciences must therefore admit (embrace, consider, utilize) apparent nonscientific language (that of the doer and the receiver of action), because these are crucial elements of a social event. (p.5)   The dialectician asks, “How many opinions can be tolerated about the same values?”  The logician asks, “How many facts can be explained by the same reason?” The grammarian asks, “How many faiths are necessary for preserving the many functions of a society?”

[RF – Is this the essence of a unique social science method, which is to say, the science of how to preserve and regenerate society? Obviously such a method requires some amalgamation of different points of view, one that engenders peace.]

l0.        Social method is a problem of living, that is,  not according to a single attitude about reality such as that of the scientist, or of the theologian, or of the artist, but by combining all of them. A particular `Value’, in the singular,  singles out only one dimension of mankind’s experience.

A rotation of the different horizons of consciousness, from the prejudiced to the scientific and back again is the condition under which the social scientist is allowed to function. Without this rotation between knowing and forgetting again, he would destroy the society of which his sciences are telling from origin and destiny. (p.5)

11.        Going from theory to practice is a very different process in natural science  as compared to social science.  In natural science the theory is kept in mind as a guide constantly.  In social science one must forget the rule in order to practice. ONE CAN LOVE EITHER THE RULE OR THE INDIVIDUAL, BUT ONE CANNOT LOVE BOTH AT ONCE.

Yet the ethnicist who thinks that he can love whilst he is conscious of applying the general rule by his action is not loving.  The simple fact that he believes to apply the rule perverts his action from an act of love into an act of duty. ….He who knows the rule and is rich of knowledge has more trouble to love than the child because he must have forgotten the general rule again before he can really love again.”… Consciousness of the abstract meaning of the act transforms its concrete character and value. (p.7)

12.       ERH asks, “What is the nature of love?”  It is a spontaneous act that is discovered, not presupposed as with duty.  “He who does not discover that he loves with surprise and even  with a kind of panic does not love at all.  It is, then, right to pretend that ignorance and unconsciousness must precede this surprise and this discovery.” (p.7)  Love is rooted in the subconscious of the lover’s personality!

The major distinction here is between love rooted in the subconscious and love of an ideal (for instance the good, true, and beautiful), which is love of concept rather than of an individual.  Love of truth, beauty, and goodnesscannot be equated with faith, love and hope related to social affairs.

13.       Basically, ERH’s entire argument rests on the observation that humans function in an alternating state of both consciousness and unconsciousness.  Love, faith, and hope work only in a state of unconsciousness, spontaneousness, and creatively.  Creativity usually, if not always, stems from the same root, unconsciousness.

14.       In sum, the major difference between social and natural science lies in the fact that natural science calls for two levels of consciousness, 1) the object being research, and 2) the rational consciousness of the scientist which is omnipotent over the object,. manipulating, watching over, changing adjusting the method. ON THE OTHER HAND,  the social scientist needs three levels of consciousness. In addition to the two of the natural scientist, he needs to be spontaneously conscious, this is to say, his attitude should be one of rediscovery, to know when to forget (possible errors of past judgments). One who omits this attitude is in danger of never discovering possible erroneous assumptions from the past.

The following are the final three paragraphs of the essay which seemed difficult to condense:

In the process of man versus nature man is allowed to be like God, omniscient, conscious, ubiquitous, not sleeping, not forgetting, watching and mindful for ever.  In the process of man versus society man is not allowed to be the same at all the time.  Society’s transformations, its vital processes depend on a perpetual change of consciousness and a variety of self-consciousness.  The sociologist himself must point the way to this rotation and law of transformation by heeding the phases preceding and following his own action as much as the phase conceded to him.

In the relation between Society and the Social Sciences, the Scientist is responsible for more than his science.  He is responsible for a second thing too, namely the word, `and’ in the phrase Society and the Social Sciences.  A method of the Social Sciences is not a method of economics, or history, or law only, it is the method of how sciences can become and remain aware of their functions in society which are expressed in the unconscious word `and’.

This, then, is the philosophy of the Social Sciences that they recognize an attitude of the scientist transcending his rational pride and uniting him, in the third level, to all men who have acquired the knowledge when to know and when to forget, when to love and when to legislate, when to trust and when to investigate, when to teach and when to educate, when to rest peacefully in the autumnal starlight of generalities and when to burn ardently from the fire of sudden spring-fever.  The syllogism of logic gives man the power over nature.  The seasons of grammar make man a member of society.  [RF – Here ERH refers back to the previous paragraphs where he discusses the different roles of the “I” and “you” and “he.”] The social sciences are discovering the potentialities of man and the conditions for their realization.  Their philosophy teaches that and how the discovery of these potentialities must not interfere with their realization.  For there is a time for every purpose and for every work.  (p.9)

Appendix – The Philosophy of Academic Science from 1600 to Present Day

1.         ERH’s assertion is that there are basically 3 sciences, natural, theological, and social; and that each represents a different dimension of experience, requiring a different method for analysis.

2. Further, the former two, natural and theological, were never intended to deal with society.  In the following, he makes the case as to why these are inadequate for social analysis.  The purpose of these methods is to describe nature and God (the ultimate creative force of the universe).

3. Theological science (scholasticism) begins with a belief in a few facts and observations; the life and death of Jesus, Resurrection and miracles, “…from which a tremendous science of deductive truth is derived. The METHOD assumes belief in these facts and searches for the meaning that harmonizes with them.” (p.10)

4.  The dialects and rhetorics taught the doctors of the middle ages how to dispute and how to hold different                 opinions on the same facts. “The shortcomings of this method in facing new facts are obvious. But it had great merits too.” (p.10)  He goes on to point out that the Greek philosophers who held different points of view never raised the same problems. Each philosophical school dealt with different problems and different facts (with matter, or ideas, or the nature of beauty, or of pleasure).  Scholasticism was fruitful because it attempted to find all possible truths about the same facts and thus, an epistemology could be created.  THIS IS WHY ERH CONTENDS THAT SCHOLASTICISM IS WITH US TODAY, AS ITS PRINCIPLES OF DIALECTICS AND LOGIC ARE THE BASIS FOR MODERN DISCUSSIONS OF VALUES,  (of Kant, Heidegger or Nicolai Harrmann). (p.10)

5. ERH believes this was a fundamental contribution to our thinking. “Something timeless and eternal is at our disposal through the work of the medieval science.” (p.10)  He goes on to point out that, in the argument about two sides of an issue, a hierarchy of values comes out of the disputation, on both sides, “…in which the lower values are made into elements of the bigger solution.”  This statement infers the basic nature of the problem statement (at least a dialectical problem). This is to say, if two proposed solutions of a social science problem whereby each by itself seems logical, but paradoxical, then the truth is to be found in a higher principle that combines both positions, rendering each, part of a larger whole.


“A” observes two processes in Europe, X and W, and formulates a common rule or system explaining both.  “B,” in Africa, observes Z and V. “C” reports from Mexico three more observations, O,P, and R.  Z,V,O,P and R contradict the rule derived from X and W in Europe.  Research man “D” proposes an experiment which we may call T.  D tells the truth, by testing the European, African and American observations.  How is he going to do it?  He must add, to the empirical observations already made, some more which are not empirical.  The experimental observation transcends the empirical because in it as many elements of the observed facts as possible are taken up separately. The crucial test of the experiments adds, to a series of causal observations, one or more observations of a different nature because they are produced, on principle, in a vacuum……What then is the essence of the experimental method?  Its essential feature is the addition of observation. The principle of the natural sciences is to increase the mass of observed facts. (p.11)

ERH goes on to the conclusion:

Scholastic evaluation increases artificially the number of possible opinions on a limited set of facts.  Naturalists increase artificially the number of observed facts to be interpreted by a limited number of theories. All natural or cosmological philosophy, after Descartes, is willing to doubt all observations and rely exclusively on the self-evidence of logic.  ….In the philosophy of values and the social sciences our relation to facts and theory is precisely reversed.  In a theory of values we have innumerable interpretations, but keep down the number of facts.  In a science of nature we expand the numbers of facts, but keep down the numbers of interpreting theories.

7. Social science is then built on a foundation of both theological and natural science methods “….with the most efficient dialectics and the most symbolic logic have done their work.” (p.12)   He goes on to point out that philosophy has changed its direction twice already in modern times (scholasticism and symbolic logic as described above), and now needs a new turn, one that deals with contradictions.  “It will never allow for one language only…On the other hand it will check the meaningless atomization of the scattered score of sciences around men which revel in disorganized statistics and footnotes on footnotes to facts.” (p.12)

Finally, ERH asserts that the grammatical method  is essential to a science of society, because there are many cultures with different values, and the basic question is “How can they learn to live together in peace so that they can progress?”  The different values may be contradictory, and therefore ERH adds “…a theory of Minima and Maxima of Contradictions.” (p.12)

[RF – These statements are somewhat enigmatic, and the explanation vis a vis the grammatical method is incomplete in this essay, but its necessity is more fully explained in other essays, for which this one is complementary.]



Chas. Scribner’s Sons, 1946
Feringer notes
Last edited: 7-00



[RF – The notes that follow are from a monumental essay on how humankind is transformed from a squalling, helpless animal at birth into what we like to call reaching toward “human potential.”  Our education tends to leave us with the notion that to be human is a genetic process fired by a family which cares for us into adulthood at which point one makes one’s own way.  This is only partly true, of course.  Our genes provide us with a potential which in itself cannot transform us from animal to human.  This transformation requires a spiritual infusion into our psyche.  This spirit is a gift from past cultures who have successfully engaged the necessities of  living and passed on the mysteries of a divine  chemistry that unifies the physical and spiritual into human potential.

You, dear reader, most probably are  unfamiliar with the author, E. Rosenstock-Huessy, whose name is not a common household term, but his credentials should command your respect. He was dubbed by a internationally known historian, Page Smith, as “…one of a handful of original thinkers that any single century might produce.”  He was a personal friend and admired by such figures as the poet,  W.H. Auden; the Jewish philosopher,  Martin Buber;  author Lewis Mumford; philosopher, Alfred North Whitehead;  and by many others who praised his work. In addition to this essay, Rosenstock-Huessy has written other books on religion, one with a Catholic priest (Joseph Wittigs).  He emigrated from Germany to the U.S. in 1933 when Hitler came into power; he lectured at Harvard University for three years in six different departments, then accepted a chair in  social philosophy at Dartmouth College.

You will find his ideas challenging, requiring careful study. But  persistence will be more than rewarded.  I have met and had long discussions with a number of persons whose lives have been changed significantly by the power of his thought – my own included.   What you have before you are the notes from my own intensive study of this book.

While you read you should keep in mind a few guidelines. Part of  Rosenstock-Huessy’s unorthodoxy is that he always begins by grounding his subjects in common experience with his listeners. Thus, the first few pages portray the present state of our culture in America.  A cynical picture to be sure, but the point is to raise the question, “How do we cure these social diseases and regenerate our community?”  Religion is the ultimate power we need to meet these problems and change our approach to solving them.  To truly change is how we grow, and to change requires monumental perseverance, discipline and most of all, sacrifice.  Considerable inner strength is necessary to bring about such change.    In The Christian Future the reality we experience is at one with the life of the community. Our community is presently  declining from the social diseases of War, Revolution, Anarchy and Degeneration. War reflects the inability of people to agree on borders. Revolution is the attempt to break with the present and enter into a future for which few seem prepared to accept.  Anarchy occurs when different groups in the community fail to communicate or respect each other. – Everyone is shouting and no one is listening. Finally, Degeneration is the failure of the present generation to inspire  youth, so, they are left with the job of having to reinvent society.  The result of all of this among the community is frustration, anxiety, a feeling of a lack of control over our lives, and, finally, violence. Momentous words these, but when one makes a dispassionate observation of our society today, one could hardly disagree.

All religious ideas must arise from human experience. When children are murdering other children and a powerful faction in society says, “The safest society is the one in which everyone carries a gun;” it is difficult to be over dramatic in describing the human condition today.  One needn’t  stretch one’s thinking to describe the present as approaching a living hell.  We often fail to understand that the divine state of life is a community voluntarily at peace with itself.  This would be heaven!   Thus, the mythical religious concepts of angels and brimstone are to be translated into our living experience.

Rosenstock-Huessy declared that our source of knowledge must arise from the direct evidence of history. All of our personal experience reveals that we live in one universe.  It follows that there is one common human nature; all cultures the world over are “human” because they evolved language and the experiential basis for language is the same because all languages can be translated back and forth.  This, in turn, means that however differently people express their experience, the basis of that experience is the same: forces that cause war and bring about peace, as well as the forces that cause degeneration and regeneration.  The concept of bringing about unity in life is fundamental as well.  For forces that separate people destroy; forces that bring them together engender movement toward development into greater human potential.  Evidence for our knowledge as to how to regenerate our communities comes from the historical record, not from the a  spell-binder who tries to sell ideas of painless conversion toward redemption (progress).  This evidence is manifest in the sum of the historical record of the great prophets, such as, Laotze, Buddha, Abraham, Jesus and others. All serious religions,  Rosenstock-Huessy maintains,  state social peace as their goal. Each contributed  ideas essential toward achieving such a goal. We must understand that a universal religion would unify the contributions of these prophets and thereby reduce or eliminate contentious barriers between them.

Humans are defined as that animal with the potential to become half god.  “Man created in God’s image,” so to speak.  But to be a god is to be capable of creativity, so we ask, “In what way can we create in a universe seemingly already created for us?”  The answer must be that the one thing we can create, aside from original thought,  is community.  Community has never been given to us; this is our purpose in the universe and with never a guarantee of  a happy ending.

Finally, the author makes the point that the power to do all of this, to gain some control over our lives, to change into our next stage of spiritual evolution, requires the utmost power because, to do all of this carries a very high price.  No free lunches!  One must discipline, and work and most of all, be willing to personally sacrifice for, to fail in destroying the barriers between us is to tear society apart.  To live is to participate in this great adventure in making  life worth living.  Some challenge!  – Richard Feringer – Bellingham, April, 2000]

1.         In this day and age no one seems to care about significant issues; lethargy pervades, or perhaps a complete inability to understand experience, and people seem incapable of even conversing clearly with others about it.  If this is the case, what can the future, not only of our lives but the future of our community possibly be?

2.         Coffee house palaver emphasizes commerce (consumption), how to save money at the mall), or the latest advance in technology.  Talk about how to prevent the despoiling of the environment or reduce the hatred and violence is rare. No doubt some of this feeling is caused by the intractibility of social problems.  An apparent “healthy economy” seems to breed greater temptation to escape unpleasant facts.

The Great Society, this speechless giant of the future, does not speak English neither does it speak Russian. (p.5)

3.         Two world wars in a period of thirty years should have served as a wake-up call to our methods of social analysis, but society seems to plod on, only slightly aware that something might be amiss.  There is inevitable conflict between society’s future: its penchant to follow expedient courses of action on the one hand, and the church (supposedly an ethical guiding hand for social decision-making),  on the other.  Modern thinking results in fragmentation of all elements of social life, continuing social divisions between rich/poor, Arab/Jew, city/rural, Serb/Croat/Muslim, commerce/environment, etc.

Problems taken individually are simplified for manageability, but this very process is a delusion because, issues torn from the larger fabric in which they were imbedded inevitably misrepresents them.  Another insidious habit is to neutralize the power of our language.  When the ethic of commerce pervades our values everything is presented (sold) on the basis of appearance and expediency: the future is sacrificed for a painless present.  As a matter of fact everything becomes isolated from meaningful elements of social understanding, rich from poor, Arab from Jew, city from rural life, commerce from moral judgment, war from peace.

4.         So community remains divided, our words no longer give us hope!

But a hell which functions so well as the world wars do will not let us climb out unless we can find new words, new names of faith, unheard tones of hope by which to appeal to each other. the old names are shopworn. A spirit of Pentecost has become our immediate political necessity since we must say more to each other than “war of survival….To survive  is one thing for each individual, and quite another for all of us together….It becomes crucial to go beyond stereotype because the new shores of a common and more extensive survival can only be reached on the wings of new names and, in turn, these new names must be spoken  in such a setting that their speaker strikes us as trustworthy and free and not fettered by partisan interest. (p.6)

John Dewey counselled us similarly in 1940 “The old words are no longer believed.”  Politicians, commercial advertisers, legislators are no longer believed, except perhaps by themselves, because their words of promise remain unfulfilled.  Democracy, war to end wars, justice, discount merchandise (like pills from the drug companies which promise cures for everything from better sex to growing hair on bald heads, yes and even to end our depression),  clean up the mess in city hall, better government on the cheap, and even in the universities “knowledge is power,” (but the listeners remain powerless), are a few examples that the reader hears every day.

5.         However, John Dewey simply confused the issue further:

“…the consumption of words and the creation of compelling names.  He, with all the other idealists, takes his notion of speech from the commercial aspect of social communication.”  (p.8)

Famous heros such as Abraham Lincoln, George Washington, Franklin Roosevelt, Anwar Sadot sacrificed themselves in their acts that unified their words with their actions. “The word into flesh,” so to speak. These are examples of those who received, what ERH calls The Holy Spirit.

Such a unifying of words with personal action and sacrifice resurrects dead words to life.  To this end ERH claims he dedicated his life. Social progress has always been by Christians.  But the power to back up our ideals with actions often requires sacrifice, at times the ultimate sacrifice. Originally Christian beliefs put forth this revolutionary notion of empowerment, that truth won in past generations must be fought for in each succeeding generation.  This seems to be forgotten today.

For Christianity is the embodiment of one single truth through the ages:  that death precedes birth, and birth is the fruit of death, and that the soul is precisely this power of transforming an end into a beginning by obeying a new name.  Without soul, the times remain out of joint. (p.10)

Obviously ERH refers to spiritual life in statements like these. Only unification of a common spirit will create a future. The remainder of the text lays out the details of how history tells us how a regenerating spirit holds the power to revitalize communities.

Part II – INTERIM AMERICA: 1890 TO 1940

1.         Today “Suburb” is another name for  “ghetto” that fails to possess the power of vital, regenerating communities.  These modern “monocultures” are characterized by one race, one income group and one cultural background.  Atrue community is however, representative of all levels of humankind, rich/poor, all races, religions, and ages (old, and young). A monoculture pure and  simple that avoids pain and conflict by isolating itself from all of the problems endemic to the city center that houses all representatives of mankind.  Suburb means spiritual inbreeding.

No Romeo or Juliet can come to life in a suburb because Montagues and Capulets do not wage their Homeric battles there, and no Miranda is courted on an island after a tempest; love’s labor is lost.  Children are not born in suburbs but in maternity wards – yet how can a man respond to emergencies of war or peace with the full depth of heroism if he has not quaked in the presence of shattering travail, when woman wages her corresponding fight against death?(p.12)

Sick people are isolated, education is isolated, preaching is isolated.  The suburb is prudent, kind and barren, sterile, polite, with luke warm passions, utterly boring. THERE IS OUTER PEACE, BUT TOO LITTLE INNER PEACE.  One goes to the psychiatrist or marriage counselor because life is incomplete.  It is not a place where strong, spiritually healthy human beings can incubate or maintain themselves.

2,         In short, life is seen so dangerous because the times are out-of-joint, our understanding of experience is incomplete so our actions are misplaced.  A safe haven has been created in these ghettos that is artificial.   When we fail to communicate significantly to our fellows, we become desperately lonely.

Divisions between people cannot be overcome in piecemeal steps; rather they are overcome by the same infinite effort by which one must throw a rope across a stream before a bridge can be built.  No vital society can be built from a monoculture. We grow by having to solve the horrendous problems created when different peoples struggle and sacrifice to live together in peace.

Divisions among  peoples means  diminished, if not obliteration of communication. This reduces disparate elements of society to war with each other, law degenerates into the law of the jungle from which no peace can evolve.  There can never be a war to end wars!

3.         The essence of an industrial world is the specialization of labor and the utilization of people as mere “functions” in the office or factory.  Capitol sees humans only as “labor,”  or simply tools of production oriented toward ever-pressing  demands for greater efficiency. In the interest of efficiency we become more impatient.  Insidiously, this factory mentality invades other parts of the normal life-processes, disruptive of other critical relations. How long does it take to create a friendship, or carry out a courtship, or learn to become a master tradesman or artist?   No stopwatch applies here.

The pervasive ethic of the factory has made us masters of production and applied to education the commodity is defined as mere acquisition of information.  But in the process of learning to create goods and services beyond all imagination begun two hundred years ago, we have depressed our ability at reproduction (regenerating change).  In the mean time, unattended social problems are growing and in this environment violence is not far behind.

Change challenges to us to find constructive ways of overcoming the sterile divorce of labor and leisure, and of mastering the sequence of changes which industrial society makes inevitable in every individual life. (p.20)                

4.         The residential neighborhood and the office remain in isolation from each other. [RF – Public relations directors tell us that technology has made it possible to communicate as we never have before, however, cell phones and pagers reaching us in automobiles, busses, on mountain tops, at concerts, have more often than not accellerated disruption and reduced even more the fading vestiges of personal privacy.  Corporations now expect employees and customers (ala telemarketers) to be available at their beck-and-call at all hours of the day and night.]

It could be said that we communicate more, but the nature of these communications is either for commerce, or is superficial, like calling to have a member of the family pick up groceries.  Yet we find it difficult to express our true feelings face-to-face.  [RF – Marriages have now resulted from interactions over the internet.  How can one imagine that e-mail will do the trick if one has difficulty speaking about serious matters face-to-face.]

5.         The dichotomy between factory and residence tears us apart because, in the factory language is a tool of production. But in the home and on the street, names of people, or of loyalty to groups is crucial. The former setting is impersonal, the latter absolutely personal or it is nothing.

Neither the factory nor the residence are complete enough in themselves to fulfill our lives. We need production, but human nature is not mono-nature. We are also friends, husbands and wives, daughters and sons,  or members of different groups.  We are all of those things, we are “multiform.” We crave, the ability and freedom to change, to shift from one of these roles to another as need be.

6.         In the normal day-to-day functioning for survival inevitably become caught up in the demands of production, of parenting and maintaining a home, but in carrying out these activities efficiency seems to become, working on “automatic pilot.” Repetition living, however necessary for part of our lives,  amounts to non-life as a steady diet.  We crave to come more alive, which is to say, to change education, politics, production, all institutions for that matter,  toward better standards.  Today, in what is called “an interim age,” most of our institutions are on the verge of disfunction to the point of near anarchy. We strive to gain more control of our lives, “following our bliss,” as Joseph Campbell put it.  So the great question then is, “how do we begin?”

7.         To become more empowered requires an inner power (“soul”).  ERH’s metaphor for the environment in which this happens is a “time out,” “The Soul On The Highway.” The highway is the time between the office and the home, figuratively speaking,  wherein one can ponder the condition of one’s being out of the cauldron of the work station and a distraction at home.

One must hunt for similar souls to gain reinforcement. One must admit the chaos of our living environment, then one must begin to take action, getting out of the emotionally neutral role of “observer only.”   One then seeks out others of a like mind with whom to coalesce, drawing additional strength in action.

8.         Renewal must also take place beside other generations which harbor the same spirit.  Governments tend to follow the lowest common denominator of public will.  Taking action may, perhaps always,  take the form of the new and unconventional. (RF – Save-the-streams is one such movement.  ERH writes of others in his book PLANETARY SERVICE, in which he admonishes groups to become “social pirates”, meaning, not awaiting the glacial pace of government to begin new projects.]

These actions have the multiplying effect of firing other spirits in the community giving them hope.  Begin movements, then, is the byword.

The New Nature of Sin p.29

9.         Today, the condition of feeling powerless has reduced us to non-commitment, to impotency. The individual in this state can no longer  sin.  At least the gumption to sin shows some vitality!

Sin is the contradiction between  words by me and my own acts. Whenever  the acts are not mine and my speech is verbiage without effect, sin is impossible…He belongs to a professional group, block, and lobby.  They sin for him.  And at home, he and his wife fall victim to all the drives in the community. (pp. 30,31)

Sins and crimes are quite different.  Crime is a breaking of the law.  Long before an act becomes a crime by law, it is a gross sin.

10.       However,  it is difficult to resist these “pressure group sins,” vitality in a community can only take place by the gathering of vital souls forming new types of groups, new fellowships.  In this process people begin to free each other.  BUT BUCKING TRENDS IS SEEMINGLY IMPOSSIBLE. [RF – Billions and billions of dollars are invested in excessive consumption.  The idealist promises of “capitalism” and  “democracy” and “free trade”  are to be seen as idol fantasy because the truth is, any ideal, practiced in excess becomes monstrous. We no longer have government by the people, but by wealthy lobbies.  Free trade benefits only large corporations,  while  impoverishing many.  Extreme capitalism poisons the soil of everything it touches by treating all things, animal, mineral and vegetable, as commodities. In the mean time, it destroys the regenerating forces of nature: genetically altered foods have sterile seeds that kill the animals that eat them, our health is decreased by poisons that increase food production,  the drug industries produce so called cures that alleviate symptoms in the short-run but depress our immune systems, requiring more drug consumption in a never-ending downward spiral, all in the name of overall health.]

11.       THE FUTURE IS CREATED by a break from the past.  Neither the idealist, who rotely follows some principle, nor the “practical man,” who extrapolates from past ideas, comprehends the notion of regeneration. The dominant thinking of this “scientific attitude” results in endless repetition: mechanical behavior is never vital.

The community mores, however innovative at first, have a life cycle of growth and decline. Innovations inexorably become forgotten, corrupted or obsolete.

The future is created by continuous and contentious battles. [RF – For instance, Blacks have begun to emancipate themselves by decades of marches, sit-ins, boycotts, and court battles, yet opposition continues.  During the first part of the century private armies hired by factories cut down workers trying to unionize. In time the union movement prevailed,  yet today strong forces the world over still take great effort to destroy them.  The rape of the environment has been the deadly side-effect of the industrial revolution: over harvesting of timber and other crops, factories dumping toxic wastes in the air and waterways, the wanton use of insecticides, herbicides, over-fertilization of fields by farmers poison our environment. This carnage is obvious today, but corporations large and small cry, “cleaning up is too expensive and will destroy the economy!”]

Social crisis portending the end of life on the planet, or the end of freedom and justice,  is always in a race against the time when critical corrections must be made in attitudes. Always, this comes down to opposing armies fighting to the death.

Isn’t it strange?  Is war an accident? Are battlefields parts of our geography exactly as much as the Stock Exchange in Wall street or the Pasadena Golf Course?….Indeed, war seems an accident in our system of thought.  Battlefields are not part of “environment” of our educational vision.  Our systems of thought do not ask and do not answer the question:  Why is war indispensable?….Unless peace is employed to create the future, wars are indispensable. (p.33)

12.       This truth seems to have been lost, that peace must be exploited in the interest of creating a future, lest war is endless. For the last hundred years or more we have been blindly stuck on producing goods and services far beyond our needs, and today we seem to lack the will to end this excess. AT PRESENT THEREFORE, WE HAVE NO FUTURE ON THIS EARTH BECAUSE EVERY CULTURE ON  EARTH EMBRACES  ADDICTION TO THE COMMERCIAL MODEL.

13,       Each subject in school curricula is encapsulated, teaching us to mirror this by living peace-meal lives. The innumerable barriers dividing races, values, and social class causes us to lose our ability to communicate effectively about significant issues. We are left with small-talk about non-controversial issues, but no vital community can be sustained by small-talk, or by empty words.

14.       Excessive valuing of a mindset favoring commerce and pragmatism in all phases of daily life have sickened society and there seems to be no antidote on the  horizon. It is even virtually impossible for a determined family to isolate their children from these forces because of media technology.  Individual power is lost to institutions. Children are therefore left with little moral guidance because their mentors every conceivable point of view, and therefore no one. Developing minds are left with the ethic of commerce because that is the influence that comes into every home.

15.       What is to be the guidance we need for inner strength to reverse these forces?  Religion, ERH suggests is a kind of  psychological trick in the sense that we need some type of standard outside ourself. Beyond the creation of the universe, God seen as a supernatural father who judges watches over us has, over the years been the interpretation of this view. But the words of formal religion have become hollow, unconvincing. The notion that we live in order to enter paradise, that right will always win and evil punished is ununderstandable because there is nothing in our experience to confirm this.  In consequence no thinking person can accept these views. There seems to be no powerful force to counter self-serving behavior.

The psychiatrists couch, or drugs, or constant excitement has become our substitute for a void of spirit.  Another substitute has been, by honest people, a dropping out from both government and community.  No “involvement.”  Presently war and violence seem unavoidable, so one seeks refuge by a total refusal to become committed to sacrifice for anything. Indeed, the Biblical admonition, “Go forth and conquer the earth,” has become a justification for violence.

16.       One of the principle mistakes of social scientists in the past one hundred years has been to mistake religious principles of love and forgiveness and feelings of obligation as natural traits of humans.  This same naivete is the call of humanists, (basically, people are good, rational beings).

ERH asserts that model human behavior, as presented by philosopher John Dewey, and by Confucius is: scientific, democratic, depersonalizing, cooperative, functional, preparing one to be a cog-in-a-machine. (see p. 44)  This is modern pragmatism, and classic chinese philosophy as well.  THERE IS NO ROOM HERE FOR PASSION, OR  RENEWAL (BECAUSE A MACHINE CANNOT CHANGE ITSELF),  OR FOR RE-INVENTION OF HUMAN NATURE AND LANGUAGE.

17.       There can be no doubt that humankind, left to their natural tendencies, remain animal-like.  Only some type of superhuman power can jog one into higher levels of development.  WHAT IS THAT POWER AND HOW DO WE OBTAIN IT?

Often great truth is hated and crucified…Free men must shift their allegiance from solidarity and functioning “inside,” (one’s thoughts) to rebellion, to reverence, to sacrifice, according to the evils which have to be resisted most urgently. (p.48)

No humanist doubts the notion of an inherent “goodness of humankind.” They believe, with Dewey and Confucius, that mankind is a natural animal, complete and unchangeable as to its nature. To the humanist, evil, greed, avarice, war need not exist if only we would clean up our logic.

The Christian put forth a different view: humankind must be created and therefore peace will come only when they are willing to pay the price for creating it. Recreating humankind is never easy, or cheap; but that is our purpose on this earth if we will commit to it. To fulfill this command is to “live” spiritually.  Very few people born on this earth move very far along this road. Their animal nature of survival of the fittest is maintained largely in tact, but this animal tendency, when not abated prophesies the end of history.

18.               …revolution proves that not everybody thinks he is inside (the community) and that others who are inside are in peril of being cast out.  This refutes the tenets of Deweyism, of one scientific, all inclusive, cooperative, impersonal, painless order, an order in which nothing vital has to be settled by force; …(p.51)

It the Christian belief that mankind is unfinished and  it is up to us to become, “beyond natural,” so that natural man may be transformed.  Pragmatism may “inform” people, but it has no power to transform them.

19        One force in the move to transformation resides in real leadership. True leaders along with other qualities, move people toward seeing reality as clearly as possible.  Each generation must re-invent standards of civility, i.e. disregarding the lessons from history tends believers toward “natural” tendencies, the laws of the jungle.  Heroes by definition represent the right leadership at the right time.  Roosevelt led us out of the depression of the thirties against enormous odds.

20.       The trouble with the methodology of natural science is that it can only show us the concrete appearance of social events, leading us to speculate as to the spirit underlying those actions.

Science since Darwin abandoned (social) unity; John Dewey abandoned suffering as our basis of understanding the (social) world.  Compare the words of Oscar Wilde: “Suffering is really a revelation.  One discerns things one never discerned before.”  For the reason of unity, we had made all our history since Christ one common enterprise for all men who were converted to this Oneness.  And for the reason of revelation through suffering, we had built up a hierarchy of values according to the degree a man had suffered, we listen to what he had to reveal. (p.56)

Contrarily, to humanists, willingness to suffer is not venerated.

21.       Summing up dominant values of 20th Century man:

a.     The two-fold capacity of modern man: 1) never get excited, pained or violent.  2) we can know everything by logic, and to be civilized is to shun violence at all costs.

At the same time he can be an objective observer of world events such as strife, greed, struggle and blind passions, with no need for involvement.

b.     Simply by producing goods and services, and in seeking a ghettoed neighborhood for peace and protection, he fortifies himself in his “…inoffensive, pragmatic, Confucius style of living and smiling and working and whispering and pitying the follies of others.” (p.57)

To this man the future always comes as a surprise (as contrasted with an attempt to shape it and not relenting until he has).  To the Christian man, the future must be fought for:

How else can it be as the future is the fruit of passionate, dogmatic, devoted, eloquent living?”…He who wishes to be a  little bit less surprised by the world’s fits and tantrums, a bit less unprepared for the next crisis, may now be willing to ask the simple question:  How is Future created?  When does mere living become less important than the coming to life?…And not before you begin to fear for Life’s return, will you meet the original question of  Christianity.   (p.57)

Mere living is the day-to-day physical survival of life.  “Coming to life,” is the act of becoming creative and acting on some part in redefining society.

Part Two: When Time is Out Of Joint (p.61)

“The most significant characteristic of modern civilization

is the sacrifice of the future for the present, and all the power

of science has been prostituted to this purpose.”

William James (1842-1910)

1.                 Christianity is the founder and trustee of the future, the very process of finding and securing it, and without the Christian spirit there is no real future for man. (p.61)

[RF – ERH says in other essays that Christianity existed long before Jesus’ time. By this I take him to mean that any human communities that survived practiced certain patterns of thought and action.  What Jesus did was articulate those truths, that unity and peace could be achieved if man could change and renew himself.  This is why he placed Christianity at the center of history.]

The meaning of Jesus as the center of history is that man had been split into such a variety of specimens that the unity of the species was imperilled, and consequently the lowliest stratum of mannot Caesar Augustus but the child in the manger – had to be made the foundation of a universal unity. (p.73)

When old ways no longer succeed and war, anarchy, degeneration and revolution describe conditions, new ways must be found to re-vitalize a social order.  Those new ways are described by novelty, and surprise.

…”saving” Christianity is unnecessary, undesirable, impossible, because it is anti-Christian.  Christianity says that he who tries to save his soul shall lose it.  Our supreme need is not to save what we smugly presume to have, but to revive what we have almost lost.  The real question is:  Do we have a future?  Then, we would have to be Christians. (p.61)

At the center of the creed is death and resurrection, sloughing off and renewal everyday, – over and over and over again.

2.         Cyclical thinking is the real core of the pagan mind.  The formula echoes in Babylonian, Hindu, Buddhist, Platonic, and stoic teachings. Aristotle speaks of the rotation of government, as do the culture cycles of Vico and Spengler, Mexican myths and Germanic “twilight of the gods.”  In modern times, the penchant of the social scientist (often calling himself humanist) to see humankind as a natural animal and thereby, his characteristics as well are boorishly predictable. In mythical literature, and often in modern novels, the mimic is the inescapable prediction or curse.

3.         All myths divide peoples, time begins with the god which created the tribe (the Haida Raven, Osiris, Odin etc.) and endless wars were fought to the death between these different groups. No tribe was a brother to another unless the first was an extension. Heaven and earth, celestial gods (the mythical heros), and each tribe had iron-clad boundaries.

4.         The essence of Christian doctrine is that there is one, unified, world. Heaven and earth, man and woman, brother and brother, “…namely, that man can progress from fragmentariness to completeness only by surviving the death of his old Adam, his old allegiances and beginning new ones.” (p.66)   Jesus shed his nationality and proved that an end could be turned into a new beginning.  Death and resurrection, and thereby “…death could be made fertile,”  if we anticipate it. Death is survived by successors, having been invested with, say, the spirit of justice, carrying that spirit in one way or another, and thus the next generation is transformed.

5.         Heaven is created on earth by humankind beginning to live, here, today, by acting on Christian principles. Heaven is not  something reached personally, after one’s death. [RF – ERH suggests that is the religion fit for six-year-olds.] Creating heaven on earth is what is meant by the end determining the beginning. Our goal determines what we must become, beginning now.

Men create future when they are more than doubtful about the stability of society as it is, and feel that the end of the world is ever imminent.  By freely anticipating the death of some part of their minds, ideal, old allegiances, they conquer the compulsory total death which hunts pagans down like nemesis. (p.69)

6.         Faith is the demand that one completely surrenders to “…something outside the existing order of things.” Faith that one can achieve the impossible is the only power new, progressive movements have, like present day movements protecting the environment, reestablishing honest government, reforming our system of justice, etc.

7.         The notion that the future is merely an extension of the past may work for natural science, but is backward for social science, according to Christian views. Natural science possesses no guidance for society. “Better bombs may be called progress, but real progress is in not using them.”  Thus,  a viable future for society must be anticipated and sacrificed for by a society unified in spirit. The Holy Spirit.

8.         ERH differentiates between cycles and progress.  Cycles occur both from our own creations (inside us) as well as outside us in nature.  Progress is the result of our own efforts. (pp.78, 79)   “the cycle is an external myth at which we stare, and progress an act of our own creative faith.” (p.79)

For progress there must be a definite commitment, publically stated.

As long as people have not said so, they may sleep, eat, work together and yet not be married at all.  They have not cut out the possibilities of doing otherwise.” (p.79)

Until we have admitted the existence of some problem, like pollution, crime, the gap between rich and poor etc,  we cannot begin to correct an infectious condition.  We have fallen to great depths and must climb out.  Today we usually suspend standards of ethics in public and private life, the ethic of greed prevails more than ever today.  To continue the “old ways,” the conditions which brought on these social disasters, is to get into a groove, to be on “automatic pilot” so to speak, repeating failed courses of actions.  To unify is to get common agreement, first as to the ills of the community, then rise above them by agreeing on some experiments that might cure these diseases. Thus, cycles are automatic and socially degenerative –  progress is calculated and efficacious. OUR NATURAL TENDENCIES ARE TO RELAX AND STAY INTO THE OLD WAYS.  IT TAKES GREAT EFFORT TO CHANGE.  THUS, vigilance must be constant; somewhat on a knife edge, a balance between anticipating the “end of our world,” and maintaining some source of will and energy to innovate.

9.         To ignore, to drop out of society is to once again create barriers between ourselves and the flow of life around us.  Vacation is a temporary dropping out.  As a time for reflection, this is necessary,  but temporary it must be, lest the future is destroyed by constant leisure.

Thus, our lives, if we are aware, cannot be either linear or spiral (as reminiscent of failed theories of history); they must be “crucial.”  One can never drop out from society really, because our existence is inexorably tied to our communities.  Our food, safety, friends, work, all aspects of living are bound to others.

Science and the Christian Era:  (p.84)

1.         In our modern era science has replaced magic and fantasy, but social change is always resisted. Scientific tendencies always favor the past. Darwin, Freud or Einstein fought bitter, stubborn opposition to their new work. Innovators revise their questions in the light of new evidence. Paracelsus, one of the great innovators in medicine said: “The truth begets hatred.”

Mere data today is turning the world into a “tower of Babel.”  Truth unifies, but since it is always incomplete it remains, pseudo-truth, dividing peoples. All fields which strive to progress depend upon other fields of study, and upon acceptance by society. Upon the rise of modern science, society had to accept a new philosophy, i.e. the exploration of nature must be unified by a common set of principles.  Until the public accepted this, they would not accept or support new scientific work.

2.         The notion that revelation of new insights, which always creates new questions and new orientation, calls for subsequent change, is a basic tenet of Christianity as well as modern science.

3.         Progress occurs when our old ways of thinking are seen to no longer solve our problems, and new ways of thinking must be found.  Revelation means a new way to see the world.  Linear thinking keeps applying the old ways, asserting that failures are caused by insufficient data.

Linear thinking causes one to be trapped in a “vicious circle,” it is never capable of seeing an end to the old ways and the beginning of something new: it cannot comprehend the end of an era and beginning of a new era.

Iron-clad (unchangeable) rules therefore enslave us.  The laws of natural science address the question,  “what is nature?”  Its method assumes a universal logic of suppositions (philosophy) which assumes a unified set of methods to describe natural phenomena.  This philosophy assumes that humankind are one hundred per cent children of nature and therefore totally ruled by natural laws, i.e. the nature of man will never change.  Following this logic leads one to conclude that social history is a mere succession of inevitable events.  Just as with the animals of the forest,  a single pattern of living eternalized.

4.         When one assumes that humankind can learn from its experience and change into something different, (i.e. socially evolve) then one calls for a science of society that is different from that of nature. Thus, there must be a difference between “progress” and the “vicious circle.”

Progress is impossible in a society which has lost orientation. (p.89)

ERH goes on to point out that the pagan view of science (i.e. making endless distinctions and isolating events in the interest of defining them) creates the “vicious circle” way of thinking. And reminds us that a science of society must be driven by an orientation of mankind that allows for true social progress (i.e. integrating isolated events), as against mere repetition.  The basic difference is the distinction between static isolation of events and dynamic interaction between them.

The Intermittence of Faith (p.89)

1.         Is Christianity bankrupt today? Yes, and it must start over once again.  This notion once again demonstrates the meaning of death and resurrection.  The same is true in our individual lives. Christianity has been bankrupt many times in its history, at the times of St. Augustine, Thomas Aquinas, Luther, and now today for instance.  The very vitality of Christianity is its mandate to change, be think anew, to redefine itself. THIS IS THE PATH TO RENEWAL, AS LONG AS SOMEONE STILL BELIEVES AND ACTS ON THE FUNDAMENTALS.

Chapt. IV – The Creed of the Living God

How God Is Known – Adults and the Creed – The divinity of Christ – Let us Make Man

1.         God (the power that makes us speak the truth – and act on it at the right time), is constantly killed in our hearts and must rise again.  In secular language, we must keep trying as long as we have living breath.  We experience God when we live the act of changing our lives and moving ahead.

2.         In tribal life, God was the power that kept the tribe together.  That was defined as the spirit of its ancestors.  The ancestors never die, in their words, they “went to the happy hunting ground.” Death is denied.

3.         Pagan  “sky empires” such as Egyptian, Mayan, Incan, etc., believed that God was in the heavens, the cosmic order as revealed in the cycles of the stars.  The stars are eternal, therefore,  God never dies and the laws of the universe are written in stone (hieroglyphs), as guides for man. Death is ignored.

Jews believed that God was the power (in his people) to endure the passing of concrete things and await for him (the Messiah) to come in the future.  Death was neither denied or ignored, but endured.  Death was a negative.

With the coming of Jesus, death was included as a part of life and the key to humankind’s renewal.  By renewal (through the notion of death and resurrection), God’s spirit was victorious over men’s physical presence and  rational minds.

4.         In the previous religions God was a concept, an abstract power.  With Jesus, God was not an object, or a concept. He resided in humans. “He is the power which makes us speak.” (.94)  THE NOTION OF DEATH AND RESURRECTION THEREFORE MEANS THAT HUMANKIND IS CAPABLE OF CONQUERING DEATH.  God then can only be revealed at the time we speak and act on significant truth.  This occurs only at specific times in our lives.  The divine, therefore:

…is known as an event, never as an essence or a thing.  And it can happen to us only in the midst of living, after death in some form – bereavement, nervous breakdown, loss of hope – has come upon us….We have no other authority for our faith in God but the living soul of man…(pp. 94,95)

Thus, we know we have this power of renewal because we can actually live it.  God, according to this interpretation is not the soul of the world, that abstraction cannot know how individuals feel, or struggle to obtain its powers.“The prime mover knows nothing of you or me.” (p.95)

5.         Thomas Aquinas harmonized Aristotle with the Christian tradition, i.e. We experience God because logically something had to create the universe, so both Catholics and Humanists accepted this conception of God, as an abstract concept.

Such natural reason is really immature reason, like the philosophizing of a child prodigy who thinks before he has lived.  A child has to think in external, physical terms about God or science or royalty, for example, because he has not yet lived long enough to identify himself through sympathy, with the more mature phases of human experience.  (p.97)

People think the world into existence by logic, (something had to create the universe),  but one can only experience religion when forced to confront difficult personal problems which overwhelm. [RF – This brings to mind one of ERH’s aphorisms, “90 % of traditional organized Christianity teaches a religion fit only for a six year-old.”] It would seen the God of ERH has the power to transform us, but not the God of the Humanists!]

6.         In life we are driven by many gods – property, power (some control over our lives), sex, greed, art, science,  many social causes.  We pass from one need to another endlessly, they are all of this world, they are multiple, and we are stretched between them back and forth. But, in the end none are permanently satisfying. At different stages in our lives one is dropped and another takes priority.  What is really necessary?  Our wish is for some modicum of stability and meaning in our lives, and these higher needs call for some unity and understanding.

That which sustains us in the material world does not sustain us in the inner, spiritual world where arises our deepest sense of meaning.   The evaluation of our present and past can only begin meaningfully from a vision of a future.  Where we wish to go and what we wish to become and how we intend to get “there,” are the only true basis for social evaluation.  These questions tell us what to keep from the past and what is no longer relevant – toward the future.  If we have no anticipation, we have no basis to evaluate our lives. [RF – Aristotle’s aphorism, “the unexamined life isn’t worth living,”  must be turned around, “the unlived life isn’t worth examining” In which case we don’t have a future!]

Adults and the Creed p.98

1.         The Athanasian Creed:

a.     God created everything in heaven and earth – thus, the universe is one (no separate heaven and earth).

b.     Humankind has the liberty to die (in old ways), and rise again – a metaphor for our potential to change, to recreate our nature, to advance from natural animal to half natural animal and half god. We know we have the divine power to be creative because many people know they think original thoughts.

c.     God gave us the potential to receive the Holy Spirit from our fellow humans, “…which enables us to commune with posterity and start fellowship here and now.”  (p.98)

Modern Christian theologians are reluctant to accept the notion of a “creed” – forgetting that this explains the flow of life (regeneration) for all humans. (RF – Unitarians and many Congregationalists, especially, proudly claim to follow no creed.)

The Christian Dogma is not an intellectual formula but a record and promise of life.  It does not propose ideas for our minds to master; it tells actual events which can master and transform us as they did the first Christians.  It is not a mere topic of thought but a presupposition of sanity.  It is the Christian “a priori,”  (p.98)

2.         The Creed foretells of events that will be experienced when a culture is vital.  The Gospels represent one model of this notion: i.e. The same truth must be told in different ways to different cultures, depending on what their level of understanding might be. Facts and formulas inform, stories, on the other hand, hold the power to transform. The Gospels are the same message told to different groups: Matthew tried to prove it to the Jews,  Mark, Luke spoke to the future generations, and John spoke to the Jews when the Torah was no longer enshrined in the Temple, (i.e. the budding Christians) and he had to convince them that “the word had to become flesh.”

In a like way, myths are the first step in telling a truth to children in a language they can understand.  This is appropriate as long as the more sublime truths are understood by adults.

So legends like Santa Claus are not lies when told to children that they may understand the workings of the Spirit among us – as long as the legend waits to be told again, in appropriate terms, to the adolescent, the man, the father, the community leader. (p.99)

3.         ERH points out how, by Luther’s time, the Church had become so worldly that Luther threw the authority of both church and state over to the people.  His cry was, “everyman his own priest” and asked the Bible be translated from Latin to the vernacular.  In response, both Catholic and Protestant addressed mainly the education of children, largely ignoring the adult population.  And to this day, the child’s version of the Bible is what it told whereby no intelligent adult would take Christianity seriously.

4.                 A good parent or teacher has to discard much mental lumber and reshape his perspective under the stress of having to select what is vitally important for the new generation in his care.  (p.101)

The phrase, “the living God” means that, the event of transformation means rebirth, re-creation, the ability to change our nature, a step from mere animal toward “super-natural” animal. The question of “why” for a creative or heroic act is childish, the questions of “what” and “when” are crucial to our lives.

5.         The cradle of progress can hold only one person – one who is a model for many to follow.  In the material world it is the opposite, a bridge is built by many – in the spirit world the power is carried by an event, a martyr, a hero, a courageous leader “inspires” others.  Otherwise, one merely follows orders, which requires no commitment.

Such leaders set standards, inspire, are to be exemplified – they are not simply “a” person, like all others, but “the” person one follows.  Jesus is the Christian’s model, and thus is called “divine. “A negative (scientific – humanistic?) interpretation would be that, since we have the standard, we no longer need the specific event as a reminder.  The scientific notion ignores the power required for transformation.  It explains why science cannot comprehend the notion of creativity by application of its method.  It is because Jesus created the spirit of the creed and lived by it, that it is given to the community, it allows community members to become creative – that he is called “divine.”

6.         Another dimension of the Trinity appears here (pp.108-112)  whereby the father is guarantor of trust, the son is guarantor of liberty and the Holy Spirit the guarantor of creativity.  And all men are admonished (commanded) to accept and protect these acts as the model for humankind.

The Economy of Salvation  (p.113)

1.         ERH asserts that for the last two millennia the common person and clergy as well, believe that God, after creating the universe has done nothing since.  They, in other words, do not understand that humanity must be recreated constantly as it evolves further from the natural animal state.

2.         He further asserts that, after one thousand years the “church” has become corrupt, void of Christian purposes.  Christianity has been corrupt; in the tenth and fifteenth, and now the twentieth centuries.  In the past it was reborn, will it be once again?  It never promised to eliminate sin, or death, but rather to overcome them. (p.114)

3.         Salvation means the advance of the singular against the plural, and this, we know has happened through Christian history; toward one God, one World, one Humanity.

The Three Epochs

These three epochs are: – in the first millennia the church was established representation of one God over the many false gods. In the second, the rise of science and subsequent realization that there was one world and a single method to describe it.  The goal during the third millennium must be to establish that humankind is singular.

We have yet to establish Man, the great singular of humanity, in one household over the plurality of races, classes and age groups.  This will be the center of struggle in the future, and already we have seen the outbreak of youth movements and Townsendites, class war and race war. (p.115)

4.         The three parts of the Creed exemplified the truth, that Christianity was being practiced  in history  as reflected in the achievements in the first two millennia: redemption in the 1st, scientific discovery of the world in the 2nd,  and stated goal for the 3rd.

5.         The core of the Christian doctrine is the spiritual regeneration (succession) of all people, not heredity.  Success breeds a spirit of imitation.  Failure and attempt to renew requires the members to maintain the spirit of renewal, to continue to be creative and grow.  This represents the vitality of Christianity.

Another aspect of the genius of Jesus is his quality of indirect leadership.  He chose not to lead by demonstrating genius, and thereby rule by sword, or tongue, but rather to create a church that would teach a world full of genius’ who were empowered to reincarnate the spirit.

True spiritual succession does more than perpetuate.  It spreads and deepens.(p.118)

Instilling the Holy Spirit in man is the secret of his ability to be innovative and disciplined in order to quell the earthly tendencies. Temptations of the flesh overwhelm us.

Our penchant to over eat and drink, our greed, our willingness to give in to expediency, our inability to overcome bigotry, faltering courage, lust and perhaps most of all laziness:  all these and other demons in our psyche are barriers to growth. To diminish these traits of a purely physical existence requires developing enormous inner strength at times when sacrifice is demanded of us. Sacrifice is often required in the process of community building and avoid acting simply out of habit.

Our life is haunted  by boredom and neurosis; it is disintegrated by mechanized  society, and by the mechanizing science which makes man a mere derivation of antecedent causes.  (p.121)

The pinch comes especially from seductive cures, when spellbinders promise easy, painless antidotes for social problems.  Gnostics averred that, since truth was around anyway, one had only to know it to solve problems. And the modern day Humanists are well known for thinking about things (endless discussion), while being slow to take up action. Gnostics taught that revelation was unnecessary, Humanists taught that sacrifice was unnecessary.  BOTH PLAY THE SAME TRICK, I.E. REGENERATION OF SPIRIT CAN BE CHEAP AND PAINLESS.

Even man’s lusts and fears have become respectable today because they testify to his vitality.  `Vital, dynamic, powerful, stirring, stimulating, exciting, thrilling, terrific,’ are the medals which modern man bestows.  They are really insults.  To call a speaker stimulating, for instance, is a triumph of Pontius Pilate among us.  It seems the truth no longer matters. (p.121)

ERH points out that, today we have many crusaders and reformers, but their effect is lessened by application to insignificant causes.

6.         Of course  people cannot be “goody – goody” all the time.  We are, after all, unavoidably animal in our nature.  The problem is to develop, as much as possible, the spiritual possibilities in our nature.  And, of course the major instrument by which this occurs is through an honest use of speech (our words authoritated by our action).

Throughout this chapter ERH offers the detail of this insight. The reader is admonished, always, to refer to the sources of these notes, i.e. THE CHRISTIAN FUTURE.

Christianity Incognito (p.115)

1.         Here is a crucial aspect of Christianity: to recognize that we would never be more than half divine (capable of creativity). [lRF – This means, our ability for a complex language means we can think new and complex thoughts far, far beyond animals.  To think original thoughts means we are capable of creativity, which is God-like (divine). Humans then can be defined to be the animal that is capable of becoming half god. One might add that, the acquisition of this enormous power is neutral, the notion of good and evil is how we use that power.]  To be a total Christian would have to mean, to be another Jesus.  To be totally pagan makes us animal-devils.  We will always have these two elements within us, the natural animal that is capable of creating.

2.         Denominational strife is, or should be, unnecessary because all serious religions have the same goal, merely different attitudes toward achieving it.  ERH believes, and I take his point, that Christianity amalgamates the core of all other serious religions, creating one universal religion. Extreme believers in any denomination either renders them boorish, or hypocritical, or dangerous – zealots (such as those bombing abortion clinics in the name of God), for instance.  To be totally secular makes one into a hedonist, directionless, self serving.  Both extremes are the enemies of community.

3.         Membership in a church is not necessary for one to call him/her self a Christian (now especially, because organized churches have lost sight of its goals). One becomes Christian when one demonstrates the existence of the Holy Spirit within them in their everyday activities.

The Death and Resurrection of the Word (p.128)

1.         We must find new names to describe the same regenerating process.

A great Swiss Jesuit writer has even gone as far as to declare, `The word  `God’ is so spent that we do not intend to haggle with Nietzsche on its behalf.’  That would be nameless Christianity indeed.” (p.128


2.         Secular language is either universal and abstract, like mathematics, or concrete and particular. Two times two equals four is for all persons and universal.  “England, my England,” is particular and concrete.  But the Christian notion of the “word,” connected to action is not a concrete representation of a creed per se, its universality unites bonds between persons.  This is yet another manifestation of the notion that we must be both secular and divine in our spirit and actions.

3.         Make the word into the flesh and blood of action.

4.         The death and resurrection of the word also must describe communication between generations.  The “word,” in time becomes flat, loosing its power. Old ways no longer solve the problems and new solutions must be fashioned and named.  Today justice, liberty, equality, are at risk and must be reestablished.  The new means, and new terms must be forged to achieve the same goals from the past.  Loss of orientation from the past generation, and from a dreamed of future isolates and kills the spirit of a people. People tend to lose their power and integrity in due course. Spiritual death, therefore is very real.  For over one hundred years China was dispirited.  For five hundred years the regenerating spirit of Egypt has been moribund. The same may be said for many other once vital cultures.  ERH’s description of America at the beginning of this essay predicts our descent at this time.  The question remains as to when or whether this spirit can be regenerated.

Transition to Chapt. VI

1.         We must learn from our failures of the past: what to discontinue and what to carry forward: such as: [RF – my own reflections extrapolating from text examples to the present.]

a.     When children are left with inadequate direction they are faced with re-inventing society, in which case they always begin with the culture of the jungle. Child crimes, teen pregnancy, runaways, etc. are rampant in the U.S. today.

b.     When we are left with a dominant scientific (secular) basis for thought, that judgement is always toward venerating physical comfort: commerce becomes the primary standard for important decision making.  In this case the social glue eventually comes undone: personal judgement becomes more impersonal, trust and commitment recede. This phenomenon overwhelms us today.

Selfishness and greed dominate our thinking; observe, for instance, the influence of lobbies over the votes of politicians; lobbyists are shameless in admitting the buying of votes in elective bodies.  The logic of commerce tell us that clean water, air and soil become too expensive, and what follows is the reasoning that short-term benefit takes precedence over long term,  health, education  and all other social services become too expensive for proper funding.

c.     “Scientific thinking” exacerbates the “consumer oriented society,” because the cures are always derived from logical, tunnel vision – moral guidance is often illogical when the balance between the  physical (present), is favored over the spiritual (future).

d.     Lack of trust, corrupted institutions, blatant misrepresentation of actions and events by those in power, end in feelings of extreme frustration and cynicism among the public,  which evolves into the rise of extreme groups advocating hate and violence.  [RF – In modern times these conditions have evolved  into fascism: Italy in 1922, Germany in 1933, and in Yougoslavia in 1995)]

In sum, all of these conditions commonly prevail today whereby no other than the destruction of any future for our communities is imaginable.

Before we may be sure that our Creation of Future is more than an academic discussion, the common things near home must regain their splendor.  And when do old things regain their lustre? When do facts become interesting? When words recover their meaning?  When they again appear as things to come, as acts to be done, as names to be invoked; when everything, so to speak, has ceased to exist because we feel that our own infinite insistence alone can give it a new lease on life. (p.137)

Chapt. VI  (p.138)


1.         Organizations can be called to life by a viable plan, but the real life of the organization may best lie in the passion (aliveness) of the planners.  It is a truism that order opposes creativity. “The sloughing off of old stages and the insistence on new ones distinguishes life from mechanism.” (p.139)  Living things are constantly adapting to the environment, or they die.  [RF – just as a tree must adapt to periods of wet and dry, and as Buddha taught us, one must turn inward to meditation to escape an overpowering chaotic world in order to maintain sanity, at times.  Following blind habit seems difficult to change.

2.         The family is the most alive organization we have.

3.         Any “alive” organization must be vulnerable to suffering, pain and frailty because it is willing to sacrifice and change.

To live means to be vulnerable and he who must remain vulnerable at any moment cannot expect to be secure and happy in the ordinary sense. (p.139)

4.         Hope to regain the past always fails.  Charity (love) that is faint saps will and commitment.  Faith, that risking change will renew life, is essential and this is a constant gamble of course.

a.     In the fifth century A.D. Constantinople began to challenge Rome as the center of the Christian church.  The Greek Christian church attempted to take advantage of the military attacks on Rome, believing it was vulnerable. Their “hope” to transfer the center of the church to Constantinople failed, thereby splitting the easter and western centers of the church.

b.     In 794 AD there was a possibility for reconciliation, but Rome hated and feared the eastern church and bypassed the  opportunity through a lack of Charity in a mood of spite. A lack of love eroded the spirit to reunify.

Summary:  The past cannot be restored in entirety and should not be, because that would also mean restoring the failures as well as successes. [RF – Modern examples would be the hatred between Serbs and Croats,  in America between “pro-choice” and “pro-life” groups, and generally between extreme hate groups of different creeds.]

We should be thankful for some of our failures because the agony and desperation can cause some essential, beneficial side effects.  Our problems force our souls to new life.

5.         Secular thinking can pervade clergy just as much as it can the lay-person.  Its characteristics are dwelling on materialistic, here-and-now thinking, i.e. upon economics avoidance of pain in the present at all costs.)

6.         Contrarily, human progress (peace) is always bought with sacrifice in the name of a lasting unity between peoples.  In our daily living we find the world largely chaotic, fragmented and at war with itself.  The cure is to find or create order from the chaos.  But not a rigid, unchangeable order.

7.         Science has achieved for us a unity in nature.  All scientists agree that a unified method and purpose for science is in place for natural science. The same unity must occur for a science of society that will bring about peace.

In social life there remains many barriers to peace: race, culture, gender, age, ideologies, bureaucracies within corporations and governments, etc. The criterion for a successful science of society is therefore an eradication of these barriers. (See the MULTIFORMITY OF MAN for an expansion of this idea) – (pp.160-163)

8.         Religious (spiritual) unity must precede one’s commitment before secular problems can be solved. When secular problems become our gods, such as economic considerations, this always leads to slavery or war. (In the jungle, the dominant male animal always enslaves the others.)

9.         The social  difference between the scientific mind and the religious mind, as related to human community, is that science looks for causes (i.e. breeding and genetics) and religion looks for effects (in terms of spiritual achievement). For instance, the meaning of a child lies in the future, in what it becomes, not in how it was bred.  With science, the beginning determines the end.  With Christianity, the end determines the beginning (what we do each day to achieve that end).

Chapt. VII (p.165)

1.         We become free (capable) to create a community when we understand the elements of time and space in our experience. To grow we require reference points in the process of measuring progress and for this, only time and space offer a possibility.  The scientist assumes the existence of a unified space, and time is assumed to be a given, with no beginning or end. Indeed, with scientific orientation we experience space as a unified whole, – what we witness in nature is given, and differentiations are products of our thought, such as taxonomies and the dividing of our experience into departments of study in academe.

Socially we also experience not one but two elements of space: the concrete world, on the one hand,  and our thought about it on the other.  Time is divided as well: experienced in three elements, past, present and future.  Generally, in social experience the time of the physicist is of limited value because our life-rhythms are imprecise and of different meanings as compared with the time in nature.  Thus, quantitative measure in social experience should give in to sequence of stages for reference points.

2.         In a sense, time and space are the fundamental elements of experience. The new-born child can quite naturally function without thinking of all of this.  But because, as we grow and become more conscious of the world around us the monumental amounts of stimuli amount to much chaos.   All sorts of things happen of which we have little comprehension. Survival rests on our ability to bring some order to these events.  While natural science has done well for us in bringing order to our perceptions of natural phenomena, ERH strongly asserts, these methods are inadequate to the much more complex social phenomena.

Part of the genius of ERH is his concept of how time and space must be viewed differently between these two types of events (natural and social).  The more we become conscious of these distinctions and their meaning, the more capable we become of exerting some order and control over our social environment.  At any moment. For instance, we are torn in two directions: 1) thinking about the two experiential fronts of past and future and 2) the two worlds of concrete events and thought.  When one imagines two perpendicular intersecting lines, one representing time and the other space, one can imagine that the present is represented at the intersection. One must choose at any moment, consciously or unconsciously, which direction (front of experience) is best to pay attention to.  Action takes place only in the present. THESE ELEMENTS OF TIME AND SPACE REPRESENT THE MOST IRREDUCIBLY FUNDAMENTAL QUALITIES OF OUR EXPERIENCE.

The Cross of Reality (p.166)

1.         This “Cross” as described by ERH bears no direct reference to the Christian cross.  It is, however a symbol of the whole conscious experience of human beings every hour of the day. It is nothing less than a diagram of our contact with reality! An abridged graphic representation of decisions we make every waking hour. To be conscious of the nature of decisions we are called to make reduces the level of chaos around us.  Given any situation commonly confronting us, we are faced with several choices that are often not easy to make: one may respond according to remembered past experience, or  judge in favor of creating a future situation whereby our immediate gratification should be postponed. It may be best to respond guided by intuition, to immediately intervene, or conversely to turn introspective, pausing to  reflect  before acting.

Reality itself – not the abstract reality of physics, but the full bodied reality of human life -is cruciform.  Our existence is a perpetual suffering and wrestling with conflicting forces, paradoxes, contradiction within and without.  By them we are stretched and torn in opposite directions, but through them comes renewal. (p.166)

[RF – A footnote in the text offers a citation referring to Origen and Augustine in their commentaries on Ephesians, “In the philosophical object of knowledge the figure of the cross is engraved like an indelible watermark.”]

2.         We are, of course, familiar with the physical concept of space, but it has long been recognized that the inner space of our thought is another world we inhabit. We imagine, we introspect, our emotions well up despite any attempt at rational control.  And the rules governing these two habitations of our consciousness (inside and outside) are very different.  Outer space functions according to the rules of nature, not under our own control.  Our thought is infinitely more controllable: a world of decisions.

Time, is much more a creature of our imagination. Time is divided, ignored, slowed down, speeded up, all depending upon our psychological states and convenience. Time offers crucial reference points against which our journey through life, but of a different form than that of the physicist. There is a before-and-after major events: before World War II, marriage, children, major crisis in our lives, etc. . Time is fleeting, as the duration of a kiss from a lover, it slows down when we are pained.  Or one can take time-out from life when one enters the world of a novel, film or concert or play.  Both time and space are the source of the reference points we so desperately need to maintain memory and order in events, and one might add, our sanity.

3.         We refer to past events and may relive them in our memories, or suffer in an unhappy present anticipating the fruits of that sacrifice.  We face these four fronts of inner and outer space, and past and future at every conscious moment.

No social progress, whether in the family, or at war can occur without such reflection.  A successful proposal of marriage, or a commitment to a cause can be an agonizing decision that changes our lives.  This is why we can suffer during indecision when making crucial choices. In these ways the “Cross,” depicting social time and space as differentiated from the time and space of the natural scientist, can serve as a powerful symbol of  the flow of life.

Our own civilization, dominated for several centuries by natural science and its applications, suffers most of all from obsession with the outward front.  The essence of man’s attitude on this front is objectivity: whatever we treat as something merely to classify, experiment with, describe, control, is thereby externalized, treated as if it had no solidarity with us, estranged from our living system. (p.170)

This is but one quarter of our existence, and to mistake it for the whole, as many people tend to do, reduces man to a mouse running in a maze.

4.         The scientific psychologist believes that our thinking is motivated by a prior cause.  In fact, it is the opposite.  Our fears are predicated on anticipation.  Our willingness to sacrifice, the same.

The Cross of Reality shows us that the scientific attitude is only one out of four equally valid contacts with reality, and that it depends upon the existence of the others for its own meaning. …Man does not think because he “is.”  We think because change is ahead. …We dread change; therefore we think.  (p.170)

5.         That man is free to find himself in many times and spaces unifies all of history because we can go a long way to understanding and relating to those who lived in the past, and why they took certain actions, as well as learning its consequences. The fact that the same problems for survival arise in every generation means that we should understand the fullest extent of our nature through the study of history. The Peloponnesian Wars were an economic revolt against the domination of Athens, which, failing to share power with other city-states lost much of its power. European nations colonizing America lost much of their power for the same reason. In modern times we are entering a period of enormous demand for resources: competition between nations intensifies  pressures between nations. Oil, copper, cheap labor, educated minds, and numerous other  goods and services are at issue.  Unless these barriers to peace are diminished our fate is eternal war which will eventually do us in.

Too late change means endless wars.  Today, trade reform is essential yet cynicism and despair stifle our will.  Those who read history should learn that only a very few are capable of sparking reform. The “hippie” students marching against the U.S. – Vietnam war evolved into the removal of a president. That this reflected a failed logic of the government is now admitted.

The present intellectual lack of understanding and communication between science and religion grossly distorts the thinking of many.  The “Cross” shows us that, rather than separate or opposing, these means of consciousness are complimentary and essential parts of human need.  Science defines nature, religion guides social decisions relating to creating a community at peace with itself.  Science, contrary to the beliefs of many scientists is an inappropriate guide for our decisions for social action.

Buddha (p.176)

1.         Four religious leaders created a consciousness of rhythms of our thought, thereby keeping us a bit more sane and free to respond to events.

Buddha lived in a time, not unlike our own, of extreme materialism.  This brings on a niagara of stimuli and demands upon us, many gods vie for our attention.  Hinduism advocates many gods, competing -but lacking unity. In such chaos a person becomes psychically overloaded.  Buddha demonstrated a way out of this, which was to renounce the material world, turning inward in meditation.

2.         China, in the time of Laotze was highly organized: too many demands on one’s time to participate in social activities and with too little time out for reflection.  This is another type of tyranny. Laotze’s solution to this enigma was to “drop out” of society, becoming anonymous.  His symbolism for this process was that of a wheel hub, still connected to the spokes (of society), but removed from the centrifigul forces of life. (p.178)

3.         Abraham (p.181) was tyrannized by ancestor worship.  He felt bound to carry out the prescriptions handed down from his father and unfree to oppose them.  One must avenge one’s grandfather’s enemy, for instance.  [RF – Certainly we see stark evidence of this in S.E. Europe in Yugoslavia today.]  The parable of Abraham offering, before God to sacrifice his first born son, is symbolic of this trend.  God, advising against such sacrifice freed Abraham to allow his son to oppose the tradition of his father, freeing the next generation to change. Only so do we correct failed traditions, mandates from the past that were no longer functional in the community.  This meant that Abraham no longer should be seen as his son’s god.  That there must only be one God.

The Jews thereby put faith in God’s goal of unifying all of mankind: God was the spiritual father of all humanity. This belief also demonstrated the Jew’s willingness to remain weak (humble),  before God. The flaw in the this position is that, the Jews awaited for the second coming (for the Messiah) to unite mankind.

4.         Jesus represented a different view of the emancipation of humankind. He completed the process of setting us free first, by accepting the validity of his three predecessors, and second, by addressing humankind’s final tyranny, a tyranny of having  to wait for others to act.  Man was free to create his own heaven on earth.

a.     Before Jesus, each culture had its panoply of gods, myths of origins, heros and a separate history, all of which separated tribes and empires. All those “outside” a given culture were reviled as lowly, thus justifying their pillage and murder. By advocating the singularity of humankind, culture and race wars could no longer be justified.  Thus, rather than separate histories there need be only one universal history, one that didn’t deny unique cultural histories but rather giving them much more meaning in the form of a larger relationship to all others.

b.     Christianity is universal because it subsumed the traditions of Buddha, Laotze and Abraham, adding the final link that would free mankind to act themselves to create their futures. Space and time were seen to unify humanity so that human kind could progress toward its potential.  This was, always is, the future to be created.

Buddha – meditation, turning inward.

Laotze – cultural anonymity, turning outward

Abraham – disconnecting from the past, anticipating a future

Jesus – acting in the present to create a future

c.     Time is unified because all histories are part of a single mankind.  The symbolism of the death and resurrection is that, each day and week and month we should awaken and make, however small, a new beginning toward progress in our lives.  In sum, these four men offered a path toward unshackling mankind from the tyrannies of the fronts of time and space and at once setting us free to evolve from the state of a natural animal to that of a “super-natural” animal.

d.     To live in only one of the four fronts of time or space is so dysfunctional as to endanger humanity.  To think “scientifically only” is to deny our ability to change. To think only in terms of traditions likewise locks out any possibility for correcting dysfunctional mores. To live only a life of meditation is to deny  concrete reality.  The freedom to move back and forth from one to the other mode of thought is the key to understanding fully our experience and acting more efficaciously. Learning from the past, anticipating a new future, meditating on our learning and taking action.

e.     Progress through history has been brought about through the power and courage of individuals who were instilled with an indomitable spirit to risk change (the Holy Spirit). (p.196)  The “Cross of Reality” provides a standard by which judgement about the spiritual health of any society can be measured, identifying both cause and solution to the four social diseases of war, revolution, anarchy and degeneration. It can be said of humankind that, “The creature is made creator.”

But in the light of these experienced lives, the known social facts now can all be deciphered by a final standard.  A social order may be pronounced “sick” according to the amount of tyranny instead of authority, or causation instead of creativity; or it may be predicted “healthy” because of its degree of fellowship, of rhythm and symphony instead of blueprint bureaucracy, or of its quality of serviceable compassion instead of power. (pp.196,7)

Chapt. VIII – (p.198)


1.         The Enemy of the Holiday:  The industrial revolution has created a condition of migratory peoples,  “glorified migrant workers,” Eugen called them.  Migrants were a people who became only loosely connected to place, or a group, as they constantly change schools, jobs, marriage partners, and professions in these decades.  Dedication to associations waned and in the process, the ability of different types of communities to regenerate themselves. Peoples are naturally separated by class, culture, language, profession. [RF – now, less than a month from the years 2,000 A.D. few, if any institutions escape full scale degeneration, including that of the family.]  ERH, even in 1946 has asked,  “What is to be the social glue which will regenerate the community?”

…we shall have to create opportunities in which men recover their power to found or re-found communities.  This power is lost.  The modern mind has lost its recipe. (p.198)

The holiday is one unifying force, an indicator of the vitality of  associations of all types when its spirit and purpose is remembered.

On a holiday, we share one time and one space although we are divided by self-interest…we carry on as though we were one and the same man, regardless of birth, unafraid of death, unabashed by sex. unperturbed by fear. (p.199)

2.         The  meaning of holidays has degenerated, having mutated into mere leisure.   We need time out from the everyday struggle for survival of course.  But when cultures forget the price of progress in terms of pain and sacrifice, then the spirit of the holiday becomes individualized, unregenerative loafing.

3.         Leisure tends most of the time to be private, that is playing, getting away from everyday community demands. Leisure therefore may divide citizens. The true HOLIDAY, on the other hand, unites members of a community.  It is a communion of joining in fellowship to celebrate some great struggle in the group’s history.  “Holidays are the mortar of society.” (p.203)

4.         Holidays are an essential part of  religion for religion is not private.  The purpose of religion is to imbue individuals with the strength and courage whick holds the power to regenerate the community. Language and religion are the only avenues to creating a common spirit. Language provides the communication avenue and religion creates the power. Therefore, religion must create holidays to bind communities,  reminding and empowering its members to  continue battling for essential causes.

The deep sorrow at President Roosevelt’s death, and the solemn rejoicing on V-Days, were expressions of a profound  health of the American spirit.  I felt great pride and gratitude for being allowed to share in them. (p.203)

5.         Mere leisure isolates the soul, true holidays on the other hand, unify a common spirit of the people.

Sunday, in the history of the Christian church symbolizes a memory of the resurrection (rising from the dead) in the spirit of a new beginning. “That is the sublime reason why Sunday is the first day of the week, instead of the last.”  In church doctors, lawyers, dock workers, parents and children, people of all stations not likely to interact during our normal working week join in communion.  This unity of spirit reminds us of the necessity to act toward community renewal, to the day of evaluation, to reconsidering our acts, or re-deeming (re-thinking) our lives. The meaning of redemption is to think anew. Holidays represent the pause we need for that reminder.   (p.205)

6.         All churches, even pseudo-religions function on the basis of holidays, which form a rhythmical pattern of reminders.  In Christianity, Christmas, Easter, Pentecost and Advent are examples.  “Philosophical systems are not rhythmical.  Religion is. Why?”   Because the purpose is to lift members up to a higher level of behavior.  The rhythms of holidays remind us of steps to be taken to this end. There must be a period of incubation for the  spirit to evolve. (p.207)

…weeping and joy, winter and summer, victory and defeat, birth and death, make up the rhythm, if and when we tackle them as opposite numbers and do not leave them to accident.  One Sunday in seven days, one vacation a year, mark us out as educated people. (p.208)

Originally man celebrated the seasons, winter equinox, sowing harvest, etc.These and other, previously sublime holiday celebrations have, in modern industrial culture, been doctored for commercial reasons.  This “doctoring” reflects the degeneration of the meaning of true holidays into mere idle leisure.

7.         Sublime religious cycles should not be confused with the mechanical cycles of, 365 days of the year, or of the other mechanical dates of the solstice and equinox.  The fourth of July in America, and celebrations of births, or great victories (V-days ending WWII for instance), or births, deaths and anniversaries  are anything but mechanical.  They represent the eras of great social accomplishments created by mankind.  These un-mechanical rhythms are the essence of our social existence.

A birth represents faith in the future, a death (or end of any era) represents time for refounding.  July 4th in the U.S. most commonly today,  “is only a time for beer and baseball.”

8.         Rhythms are scheduled reference points in our lives, sign posts in life’s journey. We commonly witness depression and lack of will and commitment today: people raise the question as to who, and what they are and what is the meaning in their lives. The frustrating impress of factory and office schedules dominating our lives is attested to by the psychological problems: divorces, and other examples of dysfunctional behavior are indications of having lost our power to understand and control, at least to some extent, our lives.  The separated compartments of our lives have been deadening: religion is only a Sunday morning meeting, the endless racing for more money keeps us encapsulated in the organization. Life’s rhythms are out of joint.  [RF – I witness more and more lonely people, and fewer who can find intimate friends.]

Psychoanalysis is the obvious reaction to the deeper lack of rhythm which factory and suburb imposed on us. (p.211)

There must be a rhythmical balance in our lives between working teams, intimate relationships, professional associations and community, each solves basic necessities of life for production and reproduction.  We tend to get isolated in one or another of these modes of existence which seriously diminishes our ability to maintain our psychic balance.  We change jobs, partners, communities in desperation rather than by plan.

9.         ERH points out that industry has organized so that it is impossible for people to maintain sufficient control over their work so that they can feel any sense of accomplishment, let alone pride.  And it is this type of “breaking natural rhythms of life,” i.e. loss of control over our lives, that is so spiritually eroding.  Under these conditions, groups are merely conglomerations of migrant workers, like mindless cogs. [RF – There is a conscious management tactic which creates this environment, the term for this is, “dumbing down” work assignments.]

10.       The point is, more meaning needs to be reestablished in the different segments of our lives.  For instance, in the past the family was the source of social security, delivery of health services, counseling services, production of goods, and most of all, education. And all of these functions were carried out in fellowship in different types of small groups.  No one could carry out these functions alone, so one learned to found communities in fellowship and mutual respect.  Much of that has been lost in our present organizational systems. Almost 100% of these functions are now carried out by institutions in which the individual has no control.

Modern industry has deprived too many people of their right to crucial living, of a wholesome suspense of growing from one phase of life into the next.(p.214)

11.       The holiday reminds, us, not only of the pain and suffering, but also the elation in remembering great accomplishments of events. Celebrating Labor Day in memory of the war against industrial armies fighting the establishment of unions, or celebrating the American Revolutionary War, or the great martyrs through-out all of history, who paved the way to some human freedom, these and other mile-stones in history at once remind us of the price that must be paid over and over for our freedom from tyrannies. Cementing our fellowship with these heros connects us to the great movement of history and more importantly, adding crucial meaning to our lives by placing us in context with the evolution of all of humanity.

When one’s life becomes insipid, ERH avers, one’s vital spirit (soul) is diminished and with it the ability to participate in life. Life’s essence centers on our ability to face problems and in the process, reproduce vital rhythms of living.

The greatest conflict of our day seems to me to be wider than factory and suburb.  The extremes are reached when warrior and the thinker of our days are confronted in their tendencies…The cleavage between their official philosophies has been taken for granted.  We have left peace-time thinking and war-time action completely unreconciled.  Thinker and warrior have no common history….Thought has been academic, warfare has been brutal, these last decades. (p.215)

12.       In sum, the regenerating potential of the holiday may be said to remind us of how the great forms of our institutions came about.  Those institutions, such as law, government, public schools, and many of our freedoms do not perpetuate themselves.  As a matter of fact, all forms tend toward lifeless, mechanical actions which eventually fail to function as intended.  The necessity to revive the very creative spirit which created those freedoms and social benefits is always present.

13.       FOR ONE TO LIVE SOLELY WITHIN THE SPIRIT OF THEIR AGE ALSO LEADS TO SURE SOCIAL DECLINE.  The tendency, so common today, leads one to exploit our  natural resources and social accomplishments to the limit because, by definition, we live like “there is no tomorrow.”  And, of course, such an attitude becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Unavoidably, we must begin by inheriting the best values of our parents.  But also, we are the inheritors of a million years of the development of language, without which we would be communicating with each other by grunts and squeals.

However, while this (physical) life stretches from the cradle to the grave the life span of an inspiration reaches from the middle of one man’s life to the middle of the life in the next generation…Hence, one’s generation’s background is due to the previous generation’s foreground.  My father’s values determined my education.  (pp.220.221)

14.       Physical mutations of genes have a direct parallel in spiritual attitudes as ideas change from one generation to another.  “The meaning of liberty is our power of creating a new kind of man.”  Without the knowledge of human progress taken from history, we tend to misjudge our power to change, and thus degenerate into mere pragmatic attitudes expecting immediate gratification and thus lose the very power we possess to change. “…creating the world is a perpetual act. What we call creation of the social world is not an event of yesterday, but an ongoing event of all times…Each generation has the divine liberty of recreating the world.” (p. 225)

15,       It has been a failure of our educational system, in declining to teach students they must devise new ways to re-establish the social achievements of past generations.  Students are taught the methods for different disciplines, usually in a fragmented way.  What seems to have been omitted is their obligation to the community and to future generations.  [RF – I heard a neighbor the other day say that, he had to deal with the world the way he found it, and his sons and daughters must do the same. He went on to say that he had no interest or obligation in preserving the environment or use unrenewable resources sparingly. His children would just have to deal with the world as they found it!]

The Camping Mind (p. 231)

1.         The main thrust of this section is to examine the tendencies of organizations to routinize its procedures, thinking problems through carefully and completely before acting.  THE EFFECT OF THIS TENDENCY IS TO COME TO ACTION TOO LATE, the crisis has begun, in other words.  The  opposing view is demonstrated the soldier who sees danger, who responds intuitively and responding to a need to surprise the enemy: often coming to the crisis too early, but in so doing, prevents the crisis. Since the point is allegorized by the term, “war,” ERH’s conclusion is that we will have eternal war unless we can reincarnate some of the soldier’s intuitive process into the bulky procedures of the bureaucracy.

2.         ERH, likens the introduction of intuition to that of the gasoline engine where “explosions” (as in warfare) are to be controlled, which of course, would  be the goal for some modicum of peace in the community.  We must merge these  two qualities of order (rationalism) and intuition —

else society will always come too late to any emergency, to any task. Therefore, the corollary  to the abolition of war is the integration of the soldier’s way of life into the mental life of the community. (p.232)

The organization represents too much rationalism, the soldier symbolizes faith that surprise will be a bridge to a more vital future. Rationalism versus intuition – order versus risk – past versus future, these are the unavoidable paradoxes inherent in our everyday decision making.  They reflect the essential balance that must be struck between the points of the cross of reality, mentioned above.

Would it not be very unpleasant to have these constant conflicts?  Yes, it would be voluntary conflicts spread thin over innumerable occasions which should take the place of the large explosion called a war…catastrophes would be replaced by an infinite number of controlled explosions.

We cannot have life without explosions; let us  bring them under control by spreading them and by dispersing them and by putting them to some positive use.(pp.232,233)

3.         To accomplish this we need to integrate the two “prodigious virtues” of reason and faith.  “Reason is objective and gives us security.  Faith is selective and has a sense of the important.”  For them to be separated leaves us with impotent reason and faith remains too intermittent.  To always be in a state of too earliness, or too lateness, leaves society dead-in-the-water.

The time lag of Reason cannot be cured unless it is put under pressure by the bold approach of youth; and, vice versa, a blind youth goes to Hitler. (p.234)

4.         The academic – overly rational mind – must be tempered by the “Camping mind” which goes back and forth between reason and faith.  Economics lies at the core of most wars, but the science of economics is heartless because science cannot recognize ethical decisions.  Economics must, unavoidably deal with unemployment for instance, putting it at the center of its considerations if we are to avoid war.

Continuance of intractable wars occurs unless the intuitive mentality of the “soldier” demands that peace time must be used to avoid war:

…fire, light, and warmth are three equally necessary phases of the communal life. The fire of the service men and the light of reason, and the warmth spread from their interaction into the mechanized areas of production and consumption, this seems to me the full process of living. (p.238)

The Rhythm of the New World

1.         The remainder of the last few pages summarizes with the ultimate question.  America, perhaps up through WW II, had acted, more than not, to avoid catastrophic war by having integrated the efficiency of order and the intuition of soldier, willing to have faith and risk acting in new ways.

This quality seems to have been squandered in pushing the youthful faith aside.  They have become cynical, our leaders, and we have a society unwilling to sacrifice immediate gratification for a future, living on the physical world only.  ERH quotes an ex-student, a soldier returned from the war:

Those of us who have accepted death and come to life again many times will either have to find our moral equivalent for war or perish or degenerate. (p.241)

How then are we to break this mindset.  This interim period, as it has been called for some time, rather than meaning we must wait and see, should be a wake-up call to recognize these last wars have created a new time and new spaces which require new approaches.  Certainly, the risk is great as well as the sacrifices. [RF – I am now writing this during the Christmas season of (1999), to conserve, to be generous to the needy, to forgive, in short celebrate all of the mandates for Christmas  would appear to destroy the economy.  Every merchant claims that well over half his annual income derives from this season.  The enigma is no less in all other arenas of critical social problems.]  ERH raises the question then as to how we are to balance morals and economics.

2.         The first step must be to change the spirit of the people.  All creative acts have succeeded against impossible odds.  Always, solutions to critical problems seem impossible in the beginning.  Creativity, by its very definition, rises above what previously was thought impossible.  The “Camping Spirit” must be established.  Creativity always begins in small units, with one, perhaps two, then must double, and double, and double again the numbers of small associations in our lives to educate in this spirit.

If we have the courage to do this, we may enjoy the rhythm of peace.  For peace is not the sleep and the torpor of non-movement.Peace is the victory over mere accident.  Peace is the rhythm of a community which is still unfinished, still open to its true future. (p.243)



Lectures 1-2
Feringer notes
Last edited: 11-98


Lecture – 1

1.The basic problem raised in this essay is; “How do we find unity in our lives?  “…which is after all the question of our God.” (p.1)

2.The method of doing this is to speak the truth about important things to everyone.  But this cannot be done to everyone in the same language.  Peoples of different cultures, different generations, different socio-economic classes must each be told the same truth, but in a different way.

3.”The Gospel is that which can reach all people in the same language. It’s unique.” (p.3) The Bible is a polyglot, it says the same thing in many languages.

4.All living knowledge, knowledge of concern between people, must be regenerated (spoken of differently) each day and in each new situation.  Even the same issue will be spoken of differently in different situations.

5.Science, or knowledge about dead things, is different.  Anything that can be spoken about in the same way to different people at different times, is dead knowledge.  THAT IS WHAT ATHEISM IS, JUST SCIENCE!   Science is  logic and analysis is dead knowledge, representing the remnants of experience.

6.This parochial view, that we can say the same thing the same way to all people, is what constantly separates people. Facts given out of context are not understandable because human events must be narrated to be understandable.  Lack of communication may lead to our destruction.

7.Atheism is an attempt to treat God as a thing.  Natural  science treats the world (including people) as things (objects to be observed).

8.We can only understand experiences when we participated in them; to understand love we must love. And we cannot know the things we have learned,  all the time; we must re-learn them, just as with religion.  One cannot know God all the time, only at certain times.

In general this essay is more about the nature of religion than specifically about atheism; religion is the value for which we sacrifice,  and atheism is a religion in that it is a scientific way of looking at that events “from the outside.”  And this is anti-life or anti-living, because one cannot understand human experience without participating in its processes.

Fashions of Atheism – 1968 – Review

This essay is more about the nature of religion than specifically about atheism.  Religion is the value that addresses living social processes, and atheism is a religion that addresses non-social events ( from the “outside”).  Atheism is thus anti human life because one cannot understand human experience without participating in its processes.



Lectures 1-2
Feringer notes
Last edited: 11-98


Lecture 1

1.The primary point of these lectures is that while universals may work out “in heaven,” the reality in which we live is always limited and therefore universals applied to our concrete world are limited  in describing, or guiding our experience.

For example capitalism, is just as necessary as communism, and the Franciscans (representing day-to-day consciousness) are just as necessary as the Dominican order, which eulogizes long-range generalizations.  “…our head can think universally, but our heart is of course attached to what we have to do, what we have to suffer for, what we have to stand for in the eyes of the world.”  (p.3)

2.To the Franciscans, the particular illuminates the whole; “…every day has its revelation….all your life you have kept the capacity, the power–the spirit you can say — to look into the chalice of a flower as though you saw it for the first time.”  (p.6)

3.This raises the question, “What can be taught?”  The answer is, of course,generalizations, and that is the division of labor for the Dominicans. To ignore generalizations is to invite anarchy!

4.ERH points out some detail of this unity of two (seeming) opposites. Capitalism was unheard-of before Adam Smith, and Marxism before Marx. What they saw was a world economy, and their solutions were in response to that revelation.

5.A question is raised as to the relationship between different “times” in history, between old and modern. “How can we relate to older times?  Were they not different?”  ERH replies that we are inheritors of the past, and of the present.  The rule is that time cannot be fragmented, otherwise we will not be successful in solving today’s problems.  Modern, is not better than old, and vice versa. “So new is not the criterion of history.” (p.10)   Marx and Smith saw something that others didn’t. “Seeing” is important for us to remember today, because  “…we are blind and deaf if it is in our interest to be blind and deaf.” (p.12)

6.ERH goes from this question into original sin.  Original sin is the attitude that if it has been done before, that is enough. The sins of grandfathers will be visited upon those of future generations.

This attitude, ERH asserts, is not enough; we must also impose our own judgment on the present and go from there, choosing between what is passed on to us and our own “heart,” as representing our experience in the present.

7.Language is about following commands, about carrying out that which must be done, about that which is serious. We must therefore not speak to others, or think of them, in terms of labels like black-white, rich-poor. We must speak to them as human beings, so that they can respond in the highest sense, unbounded by labels, which must be broken out of.

Lecture 2

1.This series seems to be addressing the unity of all mankind, that what is important for the individual or the partnership (two friends or man and wife) is valid for all mankind.  Therefore in a  viable society, persons practice hospitality.  They accept the stranger into their house as if he were a king.

2.Hospitality is like a disarmament conference, it is not a natural act.  It means you treat others not as an abstract category, as “public,” but rather as “people.”  In this situation, to be hospitable is to help others achieve what they were meant to achieve.  (p.5)

Talks with Franciscans – 1965 – Review

In speaking with the Franciscans, Rosenstock-Huessy begins with reminding them of their philosophy, to live intensely each day, to maintain the ability “…to look into the chalice of a flower as though you saw it for the first time.”  But then he goes on to put this attitude in context by comparing them with the Dominicans, who eulogize the big picture, long time-spans, and seek the generalizations from experience. Of course, we need both attitudes, and in this article he gives vivid examples as to why. Generalizations represent order, but the revelations from each day are unpredictable.



Lectures 1-2
Feringer notes
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Lecture 1

1.Problem:  It is difficult today to get into other people’s minds, as they seem to be driven by nobody but themselves.  ERH likens the situation to the weatherman who can’t predict the weather because he can’t get it into the laboratory.  “…certainly we can’t put ourselves into a laboratory and experiment with ourselves..with war…with our children,…or with housewives.”  (p.3)

[RF – I interpret this issue as  how we experience the same events, but see them rather differently. Our attempts to speak to each other about them results in distortions and misunderstandings,  which in turn have dire consequences when issues are significant to us.]

2.How, then, do we communicate with others?  This leads to the next question; by what type of commonly agreed-upon rules, (values) can we guide our lives?  The answer is that we do so by “connecting the times.”  This, ERH asserts, is why Judaism and Christianity have been given to us.

3.The times become too fragmented when each culture and age has its own mythology, its own invention, art and science.  HOW THEN CAN WE GENERALIZE ABOUT THE HUMAN CONDITION AND FIND GUIDANCE AND FULFILLMENT?  In the beginning of tribal life there existed nothing but fragmentation (chaos).  It would seem that each culture and generation battles the same evils — the prospect of death and destruction.

4.PROGRESS begins in understanding ourselves, in identifying the parochialism of our own times – in other words,  finding truth. Social truth, we learn can only be established over a period of more than one generation (it takes 3, minimum). This is because peace is established by agreement, and agreement takes much more time than truth in natural science.

5.Prophesy and fulfillment must be a central part of our finding social truth and in establishing the validity of our guiding rules.  [RF – The primary source of common experience in Western Culture (Christianity) is the Bible, and this is the source cited for examples from which generalizations can be deduced.

There seems to be 4 stages in the process of becoming “disentangled” from our parochialism: 1) the prophesy, 2) the coming, 3) the defeat, then 4) the gospel (the story of what happened).  In Christian literature these are manifest in the stories of, John the Baptist, Jesus, the apostles, and the four gospels.

6.The fulfillment (the end-point of an era) never looks like the prophesy (the beginning point of anticipation)..  THE TERM “DISANGELISTS” REFERS TO THE FACT THAT FOUR 19TH CENTURY THINKERS REVERSED THE ORDER OF PROPHESIES OF THE EVANGELISTS.  What these four did (Darwin, Marx, Nietzsche, and Freud) was to proclaim that, according to the culture of our times:

1)”…there is no history, but that everything has to go in reverse.” (p.6)

Freud says that children must be emancipated from their parents, therefore there is no history of the culture to build upon.

2)Darwin proclaimed the survival of the fittest, when we know that when a species had evolved to its limit, it was the weak, frail, adaptable ones with sufficient flexibility that heralded the new direction of evolution.  People have survived because they were capable of change, of reorganizing in every generation.

3)Marx divided history into promise and fulfillment, but he separated them so that they had nothing to do with each other. (p.6)  In the ideal Marxian society there is no longer a need for struggle.

4)Likewise as with Marx, with Nietzsche  said that we can no longer be led by our ideas, by our values because our values change.

These four have destroyed the “Greek thinking of our time” — that there was no difference between the good, true, and beautiful (Plato) on the one hand, and Christianity on the other.   They essentially said that, 1) you can do nothing about the class wars, 2) the fight for survival is endless, 3) we cannot inherit tradition (Freud), and 4) man can only go from one sensation to the next (Nietzsche). Christianity opposed all of these concepts, but in spite of this opposition, the four concepts of these 19th century thinkers have dominated our thinking today.

7.We need myths in order to achieve.  (p.15) Christianity posits that one needs frenzy and passion to achieve anything. “There is no way of growing, except by going through the myth, through your mythical period.” (p.16)  “Every age and every sex and every nation has to have their own myth.  Otherwise one cannot pass through the terrible ordeal where they fail to be recognized by the rest of the world. (p.16)

THE GIFT OF THE DISANGELISTS WAS TO ARTICULATE THE VALUES OF OUR AGE, THAT NO PEACE AND NO DEVELOPMENT OF HUMAN SOCIETY WAS POSSIBLE WITH OUR PRESENT (GREEK) VALUES.  These values stated that “self knowledge was more important than creativity.” (p.16)  We can be creative, but we cannot know how we do it at the time; another way of putting this is that we cannot analyze any act until it has been completed. We live with the original “faith” that it is possible for us to create.  Marriage, for instance is not based on logic. Lindberg’s love of his plane, the Wright brothers’ love of building an airplane are cases in point. In other words, love (charity), faith and hope are the basic elements of creativity.

8.Christianity came into the world against idealism.  Idealism says to each of us that , “I am God.”  There is no time element and no history in idealism; both are “out of this world.”  Every one of us, if he is creative,  goes through the 4 phases of prophesy, fulfillment, apostasy, and gospel.

The 19th century was a time of Unitarianism, of not recognizing miracles, of not going through the mythical period or the four phases of creativity, of no divinity, of no obeying commands from the past or from the spirit of the times.  They didn’t see the miracle that peace is when it breaks out, for instance.

Lecture 2

1.The key to creativity is in going through these 4 stages.

The four “disangelists” carried out the 4 phases backwards, first gospel, then the apostasy, then fulfillment, then prophesy.  In effect they demonstrated that our “Greek”/humanistic ways, mistaken for Christianity, reduced man’s creativity, his ability to change and grow. Their assertions would reduce humankind back to the animal state.

2.Humanism infers that we wish to have our cake and eat it too; to have peace without war, and to have peace with the luxury of being a pacifist. (p.3)   This is to say that the mind (with its idealism) and the body are not free to do as they please (if society is to continue). One must follow the commandments necessary to maintain society and seek peace.  Our weakness has been in not recognizing the reality of cause and effect. “If you don’t obey God, then you have to obey General Eisenhower…But if you only wish to think about peace, because that’s so much nicer, you will not think at all.” (p.4)

3.For instance, if we can’t communicate, if we allow language to hide lies, if we lack trust and faith, – in short without the “living word” – there will always be war!  Certain things can only be achieved by war, such as stopping Hitler!

4.The second point is the downfall of Marxism. Marx failed to realize that the workers of the world were not brothers, but patriots willing to fight for their country and against each other.

The only country that took up Marxism, against Marxist prediction, was  a non-industrialized country, Russia. In two world wars, workers fought each other for their country.

Prophecy always comes in ways not predicted, or not accepted, just as the Jews prophesied Jesus, but didn’t recognize him.

Four Disangelists – 1954 – Before and After Marx – Review

This is a remarkable and tightly knit essay about how four 19th century thinkers disprove the notion that scientific (Greek) thinking is a valid basis for the analysis of social problems.  The author shows how the thinking of Freud, Darwin, Marx, and Nietzsche have proven un-prophetic when applied to our social experience of recent times, and that creativity (our ability to think anew about ourselves), follows from Christian doctrine, not Greek Humanism.



Lectures 1-25
Feringer notes
Notes started: Feb-March, 96
Last edited: 11-98


Lecture – 1

1.One of the heresies of today is that people believe that religion is a private affair – and this is not possible. Therefore, there is little religion today.

2.Greek thinking (i.e. analytical thought), treats religion as either history, or a comparison between religions.  The problem is that things cannot be compared without any definition as to what they are, or should be.  Comparisons sans definitions are unfruitful. SO IF WE ARE TO SPEAK ABOUT RELIGION, WE MUST FIRST DEFINE WHAT IT SHOULD BE.

Comparing religions one would hope to find one religion better in one respect, and another in some other way, or for some other purpose.

You must develop an understanding of what religion is and how the various phenomena which we call religions – with a plural – and what they contribute or how they fulfill this postulate, this necessity.  (p.3)

3.It is very easy to compare things, but very difficult to know what to compare.   Do we compare games, superstitions, superfluities, or whether you like it or not, or where different religions are practiced?

4.Why should we compare religions in America, a country which has abolished religion?  America’s religion would seem to be acceleration, to produce technical achievements, consumer goods, and physical stimulation.  Our wealth buys adventure; and life now has no other meaning, it is just material (and sensation), and boring.   Perhaps we will “throw the bomb from boredom.  (p.5)

5.In  sum, one cannot know about other people’s religions, because you cannot understand them when you don’t have religion yourself!   (p.7)

Religion is not that one goes to church, or confesses – these are theology! They are expressions or superstitions of religion.  The religion of yesterday we call “superstition,” and the religion of tomorrow we call heresy. In between is the religion of today.

6.If we eliminate churches, customs, weddings, hocus-pocus, “…we are looking for that power which generates all these forms. “So the first definition, I would suggest, is that religion is a power.”  A power that is pervasive, that cannot be defined, “It is a power for which there is no private property. You cannot appropriate it, but it can have you!”  (p.8)

7.The part of man that is most easily bypassed by religion is the brain.

a.Religion is not a philosophy – it is the opposite.  In modern times the term philosophy has become a hodge-podge of meanings. Philosophy is systems of ideas, and is based on logic after a set of assumptions has been established.  All philosophy must begin with one or two unprovable assumptions that appear to be true. It is the objectified world. Thus, philosophy can only exist within a religious system. (Most philosophers today in this country have science as their religion, but don’t recognize their passion for science as a religion.)

b.Religion is a power, that creates superstitions, customs, churches, rituals, etc. Religion starts with the notion of what the social world should, or might be. In other words, we are to change the social world. And thus, “…the religious soul is the man who knows that from birth to death we have to keep an open mind and have to think differently every day.”  (p.11)

This is to say, that as we gain experience about ideas about society, we learn its meaning and may wish to change our social goals; “…the first religious experience…is that virtues become vices and vices become virtues.”  (p.12)

c.Theology, the science of religion, is not religion. Abelard, the founder of Christian theology was excommunicated for having theorized. All theology is part of philosophy, ruled by logic.  One cannot know what Christianity is through theology. “Religion is a power, and therefore not a system.” (p.15)

Lecture – 2

1.In order to compare religions, we must first know what they are, and believe them to be necessary in society. [RF – this seems reasonable to me because, all intelligence is an attempt to bring order to our experience, and all systems of order begin with unprovable assumptions. The religious notion (or assumption) that we must shape our social world toward what a community ought to be would lead one to reason that religion is necessary.]

2.Three aspects of any activity: playing at it, making a business of it (either making money or managing), or being serious about applying it to social problems. Politics, business, sports, and religion are examples.  But of these, religion is the most difficult to define.  It is everywhere, as everyone has some religion, and it effects all activity. It is frail, easily corrupted, and the corruption is difficult to detect.  (p.3)

Religion becomes corrupted when people use it for their own self-interest.

3.RELIGION IS THE POWER THAT MAKES US CHOOSE TO ACT, OR NOT ACT. Or forces us to action we never considered before. It is the power to place God above men, life above death, living beings above dead things.  To obey only oneself is to use  other people, seeing them as “things.”

4.Prayer means to become aware of the existence of more than yourself, of others. “…a potent man is a man who can look down to who he really is and admit who he is.” (p.5) ERH defines God as becoming manifest in the spirit of  humans. Therefore, all human beings should be respected as having a potential to manifest this spirit. (p.9)

5.ERH defines religion also as “the ability to appropriate a new experience.”  [RF – I’m not sure what he means.  I assume “social” experience, to understand another’s actions toward us.  “…there is no greater gift for any human being than to have somebody who cries for him….God is the power which makes us give a new experience a new name.” (p.10)

6.There are many gods, and we cannot know God as a singular, we can only know parts just as with people.  We can only say we have known some people, but can never know what all of humankind can be or is.  Too cheap, ERH says, to think there is  one and only one god.  Even the concept of God, man, and world is of little use. (p.16)

Man is never singular He/she is son or daughter, father or mother, brother, friend, etc. We can never usefully think of any person in the singular

We tend to treat others and even ourselves as “things,” the same as the next man. This tendency defines, in part, “the common man or common woman.”

7.It is religious to not command any person any more than necessary.  It is religious, respectful, and loving to allow and help others to think for themselves. Of course there are situations when people must follow rules and act with order. Also, we must accept commands from other authorities at times, but for the most part, we must be free to think for ourselves, to face our problems. We should not to blame our problems on others,  and should feel free to accept commands.

When we are drunk, drugged, hypnotized, or afraid we have to be commanded, i.e. treated as things.  Thus, man may be said to be half subservient and half “divine,” half required to take commands, and half free to command (himself at least), half natural animal and half god.

*THE ISSUE IS, when is the individual one personality and when another? We are constantly changing. RELIGION IS A POWER THAT HELPS US DECIDE WHEN WE SHOULD LISTEN AND WHEN WE SHOULD COMMAND, and therefore  it is necessary throughout life.

8.ERH asserts that American “religious naturalism” sees things as always the same: God is always God, man is always man, and things are always things. Contrarily, to grow, we must remain capable of acting differently as situations require of us – to command at times, or to follow at times.  (p.21)

9.America has been founded on the notion that man is good by nature. THIS, ERH BELIEVES, IS NOT THE CASE! We are many things at different times, at one time perhaps a saint, at another a villain, at one time stupid, at another wise.  [RF – ERH said to me once, “Be humbled by the thought that you are quite capable of committing the most heinous crime in the world, or the greatest deed.”]

These three aspects of reality – God, individual, and things – are constantly changing.  ERH provides a number of examples of these points here.

Lecture – 3

1.           IF you are not aware that religion is the most frail and the most  delicate thing, you omit the fact that religion tries to empower us, to realize our life as unique, irrepeatable, one singular event…Religion always invites us to realize that this moment — like here in this class is unique — now you know how difficult this is to realize. (p.1)

2.Nothing that can be numbered or classified is a religious experience. As long as we believe we can predict human behavior, whenever it is predictable, then it is by definition mechanical, repetitive, uninteresting.

The difference between philosophy and religion is really very simple. In philosophy your mind is stable…And in any religious experience, your mind is overcome, overwhelmed by an experience…you are bold enough to admit you have never made (the thought) before. (p.3)

3.Religion and superstition are closely related. WE ARE ALL SUPERSTITIOUS.                 Superstition is a belief that has survived from some past experience. While we          can easily recognize superstition in others, it is difficult to find in ourselves.

Superstition occurs whenever we are too lazy; when we believe we already know all about some thing or some one.  In this state we attempt to solve today’s problems by yesterday’s maxims. A literal translation from Latin, “the left-overs from yesterday.”

4.ERH insightfully explains in some detail the mental phenomenon which causes superstition. In sum, what he seems to say is that the tendency is to view experience in the present in terms of preconceived ideas (of reality), i.e. the act of living too much by reliance on formulas.  By contrast, if we focus our thoughts on what is happening in the present, sans those preconceived notions we will respond much more wisely to present situations. Superstition unbalances our thoughts in favor of “living in the past.

5.We are all superstitious “…let me say, by 90%. That is, the full life is not granted us all  365 days a year.”   He repeats, that  it is easy to identify in others and difficult to identify for ourselves. (p.7)

Paradoxically, being superstitious is precisely the foundation of religion, ERH avers.  All religions are, by definition, dogmatic and prejudiced. ONE’S WEAKNESS IS NOT IN BELIEVING IN A RELIGION, BUT IN NOT KNOWING WE ARE DOGMATIC.  When we are conscious of being dogmatic we can listen to others (hear their dogma), but to be without this self-knowledge precludes the ability to listen thoughtfully and discuss issues clearly.

Without superstition, nobody can live forward, because superstition is simply the former form of faith, the old form of faith. Without dogma, we’ll find out, nobody can reason. (p.7)

Thus, superstition is a step to religion. Superstition means we still have something to learn about religion (in that our beliefs constantly need refining). To have a living (true) religion, thoughtfully, means we still retain the power to recognize uniqueness in situations and respond accordingly, i.e. more realistically, from greater awareness. It allows us to live a more “alive” life, as contrasted with seeing all experience in terms of old ideas.

6.Philosophy (as are all formulas) is unrelated to time, and abstractions.  To have religion is to live in time, fully conscious of the present, sensitive to the nuances of the moment.

*Since the religious experience is by definition spiritual (inside us), it neglects the outside spacial world.  By contrast, philosophy neglects time, since “principles” are assumed to be true for all time. “Religion is the power to neglect space.  Philosophy is the power to neglect time.” (p.8)

7.Understanding the divisions of labor between the brain (thinking rationally, describing, theorizing, philosophizing, creating concepts) and that of religion is crucial. Philosophy and science help us describe the world; religion commands us to respond to experience in a certain way. (p.9)

In order to grow, we must first stop doing something, then begin acting in a new direction. One follows commands.  ERH asserts many people today are ruined by education that fills them with superstition, which they do not recognize.  It precludes the ability to know ourselves.

8.Superstitions, unmediated by (true) religion, lead to ruin. Marriage cannot stand if it is not a unique encounter at each moment. To live this way is to be more conscious of life.9

We tend to live most of our lives repetitively – at lowered levels of “aliveness” – thus deadening our senses. Repetitive living and sensing uniqueness is the difference between the working bee and the truly-living human.

9.Here, ERH begins a new line of thought.

All religions have a uniqueness, emphasizing different facets of living. All religions are only lived partially.  At best, one  lives only a partial “aliveness,” and the rest tends to be repetitive (superstitiously). And by necessity, all life must (should) be both. WE LIVE IN THESE TWO WORLDS.

10.All religions are distortions in one way or another.  ERH raises the question, “What is the American religion, and how much is it distorted from a truly living religion?”

He suggests that America claims a “natural” religion, after the concepts of Thoreau and Benjamin Franklin. This is the religion of most Americans, regardless of the denomination they espouse. A worship of “natural man” assumes all people are born good. By contrast, Europeans worship their nationalism.

The second concept of “natural man”, is that all men are brothers.  ERH is dubious about this term. A literal interpretation creates the wrong image. Here he refers to our social roles, which are many.  We are fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles, friends and enemies, managers and subordinates. Each of these roles calls for different and “unequal” relationships.  UNITARIANS, HE DECLARES, ARE THE PRIMARY NATURAL RELIGIOUS BEINGS IN THIS COUNTRY. Later he points out the great strength of this term.   (p.22)

11.True to this notion, America was founded in protest against everyone being compelled to have the same religion, against European religion. Natural religion allows for individual beliefs.  In another sense, Americans tend to live with this dogma (of independence). Therefore Americans “neglect time” in favor of the abstract dogma. This dependence upon individuality tends to keep people  stuck in the present, “like the old-time town meeting.” (People who are too independent tend to venerate their thinking process to the detriment of reflecting on what we have learned from the past, or of planning into the future.)

ERH concludes that the notions of natural religion and natural man are, at best, only  a very partial religion, because the generations must be unified. That is, we must take from the past that which is vital and to be continued and forget what is no longer productive. Past and future determine the present actions.

Lecture 4

1.Four points to summarize: 1) Europeans believe there is no religion in America and that going to church doesn’t indicate much. 2) Religion is easily corrupted, a frail and refined thing. 3) It is difficult to have a genuine religion because there can be a false appearance, behind which are hypocrisies and heresies. Finally, 4) religion is “innocence restored” (reaching out to others),  but people, weak at times, can easily corrupt good intentions. They can run around innocent looking, but inside are like wolves. ERH warns people how easy it is TO MISTAKE THE FORM FOR THE REALITY.

2.Because it is difficult to distinguish form from substance, it is difficult to understand other people’s religion. It is equally difficult to distinguish superstition from thoughtful belief.  For these reasons, religious belief is easily abused and corrupted.  BUT IN SPITE OF THESE DIFFICULTIES, RELIGION IS SO PRECIOUS, IT IS WORTH THE EFFORT TO ACQUIRE.

3.Religion is not philosophy, or theology or psychology.  MAN WAS PUT ON EARTH TO OBEY AND TO COMMAND – command the dead things and obey the living God. THE IMPERATIVE IS THAT MANKIND IS BETWEEN COMMAND AND OBEDIENCE ALL THE TIME. “Obey God more than man, and command things more than men.”  (p.3)

4.Parents act in place of God toward their children, and they do command dead things and people; people when they are “dead” morally (drunks, the greedy, criminals, etc.), when they seduce others. A dark fact of life is that people, at times must be treated as things. ON THE OTHER HAND, AT ALL OTHER TIMES THEY MUST BE HONORED AND RESPECTED.

5.IF GOD ONLY BECOMES MANIFEST THROUGH PEOPLE, WE CAN ONLY RECEIVE THE WORD (ORDERS) FROM OTHER PERSONS, BECAUSE THAT’S HOW GOD SPEAKS. (Our own thoughts must be confirmed by communication with others). So at all times we must make the distinction between who is to be obeyed and who commanded. AND, OF COURSE IN DECISION MAKING, ONE CAN ALWAYS MAKE MISTAKES AT TIMES.

In sum, people can be things like sticks and stones, and the line between things and other persons runs right through us.

Religion is man’s power to distinguish between persons and things.”…We call the world of things “the world” and we call the unity of persons “God.”  (p.5,6)

6.The world of “social forces” is higher than our individual selves.  The creation of freedom, the practice of science or medicine or other professions, the welfare of youth are examples of social issues that must command us.  We breathe life into our religion by following commands from the right authority this makes it real,  “the word made flesh,” so to speak.

There are thus three entities in the world, the world of things, the world of people, and that of “spirit.” (The latter forms a higher command than that of our personal welfare.)  (p.6)

People are not “things”, because memory of their vital spirit survives natural death.  It is our “natural selves” that die and turn to dust.  But our spirit can live on in memories of others, and thus influence the future. For instance.

Lincoln is not now a part of this world, of things.  He is not natural.  He is an historical leader, an historical gift to this country…he’s an inspiration…” (pp.7,8)

People are part “natural” or of nature, and part spirit.

7.Religion cannot exist unless it divides reality between the world and God. In other words, between the physical world and the spirit of mankind. ERH asserts that, since America’s religion is claimed to be “natural,” it does not make this distinction.  This is why Europeans believe there is no religion in America.

8.If all nature is “one,” then man is inside nature and cannot be religious. Nature acts by physical forces, like gravity. Economics, the distribution of goods and services of this world, is therefore a figment of nature. AND AS A MATTER OF FACT, TODAY THIS SEEMS TO BE THE PRIMARY FORCE THAT  DOMINATES OUR VALUES.

Helen Keller was great because she conquered her natural inheritance, she overcame it.

9.Usually people have two religions, one they espouse and one they practice.

ERH once again sets forth the criterion of revealing one’s own biases (religion) as a basis of understanding why and how one comments about other religions. (p.14) The problem, he reminds us, is, “when another religion is superior to ours and when it is inferior; i.e. when to command and when to obey.” [RF – his reference, at least indirectly, seems to be to get at what is necessary (universal)  in religion.]

10.To ask “why,” he reminds us, is good for the method of physics (dead things), but not useful for social science.  In social science we must ask “when” because we are constantly asked to decide between alternatives, and that decision changes with the circumstances. This point is consistent with the basic difference he describes between social and natural science; social laws change, but laws describing “things” do not.

For example he reflects on the story of Job, who, when he asks God “why,” is never answered.  WE DON’T KNOW WHY WE ARE HERE. But we must, to survive, decide what types of decisions to make and when. Things are dead. Humans are part dead and part eternal, part natural and part God-like because they are capable of being creative and instilling their spirit beyond their death. Nature can be measured by number, while God (spirit, creativity) cannot.

11.The laws of “Nature” are the same tomorrow as today and yesterday. Living, spiritual human beings can change. And extending this idea, in nature every moment is of the same significance. To change and grow requires the strength of the soul and therefore to be “only natural” would be soul killing. We would be unable to change. [RF – ERH’s definition and description of the soul is a large subject and appears in another essay, THE PRACTICAL KNOWLEDGE OF THE SOUL.]

For these reasons, consciousness of time is crucially different between natural science and social science and religion. Natural scientists apply one kind of time in their work, but live a different kind of time in their social life.  (p.19)

12.Epoch-making events, e.g. causing new discoveries, marriages, deaths, or major political events, cause new eras thereby   different directions.

13.Property (wealth) is natural; it gives us physical comfort, food, shelter – the necessities for staying physically alive.  But this is never enough for us. Comfort by itself is soul-killing.  If we are to grow toward a spiritual nature, we are fulfilled by service to our community.  THUS OUR GOAL SHOULD NOT BE A LONG LIFE PER SE, FOR ONE WHICH  WE CAN REMAIN SPIRITUALLY ALIVE AND FRUITFUL.

Natural religion tends to over-value property. True religion balances this tendency with spiritual growth.

14.Natural religion says “All men are brothers,” which isn’t enough. We are also fathers, sons, daughters, mothers, etc.

15.Natural religion doesn’t recognize that we can change our nature, i.e. that humans are different from things. Thus, one age must change from the preceding one. Each generation must become a new age and  have some different goals than the previous age. (One age may need to re-establish freedom, another may need to defend  against oppression.)  To create that new age is always our challenge.

Natural religion tends to define nature or natural forces superior to those of the spirit. Thus, property is more compelling than ideals (of course beyond the basic need for survival – although even survival under certain conditions may not be worth living. This is why revolution must always be the last alternative.)  Also, with natural religions, the possession of property would take precedence over love as the reason for marriage.  [RF – One is reminded of the sorry state of India, where the religion allows for dowries, and the man can even legally kill his wife to obtain another dowry.]

16.Spirit means a unity between more than two people, and it breaks down barriers between ages, between times, between the sexes, social class, race, etc.

17.The true religion of America described here is twofold: 1) consciousness of the natural unity of man and nature.   Physical things dominate; property and long life are venerated over quality of life. 2) The passion to endow the next generation. [RF – I’m not sure of the meaning of this concept. (See (p.30) where he claims this quality is in direct contradiction to the former point.]

It is a wonderful quality which has kept the American soul alive, because it means that the miracle of conquering death or of overcoming the time limit set in one’s own life span…that the miracle happens in man’s heart….(it) endows other lives. (p.30)

*             All (real) religion consists of a reconciliation of what I think of myself in my own time and what I think should be the cause of events for all time…the real religious problem now we discover is not to be found in natural religion.    (p.31)

18.Nobody can think accurately about oneself. Benjamin Franklin has identified philosophy of nature with natural religion. To believe one can know oneself is an anti-religious attitude.  Natural religion obliterates the distinction between philosophy and religion. Natural religion believes that one’s mind is stable, and things in nature come and go. Our mind is, in fact, fickle.


Lecture – 5

1.Man seems to be in a situation with 3 dimensions, 1) He has a philosophy about religion. 2) He is part truly religious.  3) He values the natural (material) world over the spiritual world.

2.There are several universal dimensions of religion:

a.The living religion, which expresses itself by sacrifice.

b.Mental religion, which expresses itself by philosophy/theology (one’s own    ideas).

*       c.Institutional religion expresses itself by community spirit (authority); the       institution articulates common values and thus is the authority.

*All people have these three religions, and this makes comparison between religions complex. The universals between all religions are that (c) points toward the past, (b) the present, and (a) the future.

Clearly there is conflict here, and this means that at any moment one must decide how to resolve it, i.e. which consideration should appropriately dominate in a particular situation. To be vital and creative, all three attitudes are necessary.

3.Man has separated these parts into three separate religions, thus  fragmenting his time sense. In life these parts of mental functioning are in constant conflict (memory, emotion, and anticipation).  And they are manifest by different action – the future by sacrifice, the past by obedience, the present by reflection.

In another vein, the present is thought about, the past is listened to (and obeyed – for instance the ten commandments, in Hindu, Sruti means literally “what we have heard”), and the future is spoken in terms of prophecy. This is to say, although our speech is in the present, it is directed toward creating a future. We “propose” by speech.  Actions do not speak for themselves, because one action can mean many things. They must be accompanied by speech to indicate intentions, attaching intended meaning to the act.

4.Natural religion tends to abolish certain actions regardless of intent.  Spanking a bad child is out of vogue today.  Today. in this country, children tend to be given too much freedom.  TO SACRIFICE (POPULARITY AT THE MOMENT) IS TO CARE FOR ANOTHER PERSON, to be responsible for another person’s life, and therefore one’s own feelings may be less important at that moment.

Here ERH provides an example of “living” religion, where one person has intentionally (because his last words said so), sacrificed his own life for that of another, forgetting himself (forgetting his philosophy, the church, but being spontaneous).

5.ERH indicates how a sense of time is efficacious, going much further in explaining one’s behavior; being conscious about assumptions from the past, about where he/she is headed, and conscious of what he thinks in the present. In truth one attempts to survive in the present under the conflict of the opposing demands of past and future.

This is instructive for maintaining a vital understanding of our experience.

a.Things from the past may be dead, having been proven false, but still lying around. Our imperative is to forget these things. ERH uses the metaphor of oil, which is the present state of once-living organisms, but which offers no basis for understanding the vitality and nature of past life.  Non-living things cannot die; living things can. Living things that anticipate death RETAIN THE POWER TO RESTORE LIFE.

We can do something about regeneration of human community, and about flora and fauna of which we should be the caretakers. Socially, one can write a book, reform legislation, create a piece of art.  To know the difference between alive and dead is also to know the difference between past and future.

b.Living things enter time and beckon us to the future. RELIGION IS AN ATTEMPT TO SALVAGE WHAT IS LIVING FROM THE PAST.  (p.18)

…if man must obey God more than men, it also means that he must find out whether the people in authority or himself are defending at this moment a corpse interest, or a future interest, or the interest of a future otherwise not possible, otherwise blocked.  (p.18)

All of these ideas are symbolized in the notion of thinking, speaking, and listening.

6.All religions are institutionalized, even the Quakers who claim not to be. One cannot be born into a faith without an institutional presence.  The tendency of Quaker and other churches is to prefer hereditary members over converted members. IT SHOULD BE THE OPPOSITE, for obvious reasons.

7.In Protestantism the “word” is the sacrament. Thus, the text of the Bible is a corpse until it is brought to life by the faithful – “The word made flesh.”

In the text above we have said that to institutionalize is to live in the past, to endow is to live in the future.  We must have the predictable order from the past in our lives, but also the freedom for a new future, and the present to act.  Any religion that does not embrace all three timespans in its teaching is doomed to remain impotent.

We all live according to the three calendars: of the past, which is predictable and natural; of the business calendar, which is 24 hrs. per day and is objective and practical. Then a personal calendar for our own affairs, which is to decide  on problem solutions and take action.

8.Natural religion thinks of time as a given, from outside man, from the beginning until the end of the universe, eternal in both directions. Time of living beings must have other dimensions, extending backward to re-examine and learn new things about the meaning of our experience; into the future, which should be created by us; the living present in which we act; and “time out” for rest and planning. The difference between natural religion and a living religion is that, while we can describe “nature,” it does not tell us what to do about the problems presented to us.  Of course, “naturally” we get food and shelter and defend ourselves against enemies. But to create a liveable society is a different matter. A liveable religion deals with what must be thought about and acted on to create a liveable society.  And to do this, past, present, and future must be combined and lived in.

9.This unification of time is God’s revelation (gift) to man, presenting a method for creating a liveable society.

Lecture – 6

1.Here ERH describes his logic for believing in God, which he defines. The logic seems to be as follows:

a.The atheist believes that his logic, his mental powers are supreme, always dominant. He knows he can speak, but ERH asserts, that to speak is to have faith.

b.No one can speak and expect to be understood, accepted, approved, and believed unless he believes his word is true and that others will (should) respect it. The atheist therefore believes that others should accept his word that there is no God. [RF – I am unsure what he means here!]

c.ERH defines God as the power that makes us speak and listen and that others can understand.  [RF -by inference, ERH suggests that even atheists harbor a part of a living religion, but appear to deny the formalities of religion. In another essay he calls much of what is said in Christian churches  “stories fit for children,” thus recognizing the dis-ease of atheists.]

As an aside he points out that IN AMERICA WE ASSUME THAT ANY PERSON HAS THE RIGHT TO SPEAK TO ANOTHER AND ASK FOR HELP; EVEN ENEMIES HAVE THIS RIGHT. If you believe this you have the best of the natural religion, as assumed in the aphorism, “the brotherhood of man.”

d.To speak means therefore to have faith, a trinitarian faith, 1) that what we say is meaningful, 2) that it is right and found to be true, and 3) that somebody will listen.

e.Whenever we speak we need three processes by which we institute God in our life: faith, love, and hope. Even the atheist hopes to be understood, he feels words are true, and finally by speaking (instead of clubbing the listener), he shows respect and therefore love. THE PROCESS OF SPEECH IS ALWAYS BETWEEN THOSE WHO SEEK A UNION. “WE ALL HAVE RELIGION BECAUSE WE SPEAK.”  (p.4)

2.To speak and to be listened to, we must have peace.  When a situation breaks into fighting, there can be no communication by speech; to an enemy you cannot speak. Thus, “…to speak is always a decision on the timing of the act.”  Virtue is speaking at the right time; vice is speaking at the wrong time. As a matter of fact, all fruitful actions follow the same principle, to be committed at the right time.

3.In spite of the fact that atheists have “some” religion, generally they speak to and for themselves. Non-atheists are just the opposite, speaking to others in the name of their profession, or of a group. NON-ATHEISTS BELIEVE THAT WHEN THEY SPEAK, SOME HIGHER POWER HAS ENABLED THEM TO CONTACT THEIR FELLOW MAN.   (p.7)

Obviously, to lie is to destroy speaking and listening, which is to say, the community. Speech is therefore essential for the survival of a growing social universe created together with others.

4.“Your religion is not embedded in your ceremonies, but in your treatment of your own word.” Every act of speech in society testifies to our belief in God. Because God is not an abstraction, but the power by which peace, truth, and efficiency are united.” (p.8)

*Truth in itself is powerless.  One must speak out and act on it; or must stick one’s neck out and say, “This is true”, for society to survive.”

5.Everyone wants and needs power. We want to speak our minds truthfully, we want to be acknowledged for this truth, and finally we all hope for the power of our truth.  And of course, we all have some fear and trembling as to whether we are right.

6.The term Devil is a metaphor for 1) lying (denying some act or some fact), 2) for being in a hurry (impatient, unwilling to take the time to make peace with enemies),  3) not loving enough to take the time (omitting speech). Somehow one believes that enemies are inherently evil and to be eradicated or controlled one way or another.  THE ATHEIST DOESN’T BELIEVE THERE MIGHT BE A HIGHER POWER what may account for the point of view of one’s “alleged” enemy.  One has no faith that the intentions of others might be honorable. [RF – I wonder if he might, at another time, qualify this statement to, “the tendency of atheists”]

Practically speaking, of course some people wish to do us in,, and we therefore have a natural right to defend ourselves.  But we must be patient enough to discover motives, and to keep trying to discover them even in the face of precipitous acts by others.

7.The nature of our speech, or lack of it, is a fundamental issue.  True, intelligent religionists practice this universal relationship between one’s speech and God.  How we treat our own word, and observing how others do the same, is the only way to discover the religion of others, whether they might have the “religion of the devil.”

8.The notion of sin is, of course, to lie.  We all have the power to be either truthful or to lie. THE NOTION OF ORIGINAL SIN IS THAT FROM THE BEGINNING, HUMANKIND HAS LIED.

But sin can be undone by speech.  We apologize. We stop wars so that we can speak. The advocate of NATURAL RELIGION looks at the jungle and concludes that “social life of human beings is a jungle.”  One of the miracles of human speech is that it renders former enemies capable of rising above nature and making peace. No animal society can do this!

Part of this process of making peace REQUIRES OTHERS TO SPEAK FOR US.  That is, it is assumed that we would speak out in self-interest.  But if some other says that “this person speaks the truth,” then we can be believed.

9.In natural religion the assumption is that peace is normal, that all people are “naturally” good. Sin, then, is a question of will.

In natural religion, following the assumption of “naturally good,” the lie means one has been possessed by the devil.  ERH ASSERTS THAT TELLING THE TRUTH OR LYING HAS LITTLE TO DO WITH MORALITY ( intentions, acted on willfully), and much to do with the individual’s condition of strength or weakness at that moment in time. When we feel weak we lie, and we have little patience. The natural religionist believes that being truthful or lying is an act of the will.  TO HAVE THE COURAGE AND STRENGTH TO SPEAK THE TRUTH IS ONE OF THE MIRACLES OF LIFE.

10.Telling the truth may be dangerous to us physically.  The martyr is not one who wants to die, but one who cannot stand to lie any more.  He/she must speak out regardless of the consequences. The intentional martyr is neither Christian nor an advocate of a true religion. The true martyr has come to prize self-respect above personal safety.

11.We are free because we always have the choice to speak the truth or to lie.

12.To summarize, religion has everything to do with maintaining freedom and little to do with calculation.  We fetter ourselves with calculations, to need our present standard of living, to embrace dogmas (free enterprize, the ethic of consumption, slavery to the timetable and to fads of all kinds, etc.). THE FUTURE CAUSED BY SUCH DOGMAS BECOMES A PRISON. Europeans often say America is a giant, but afraid to use its power, so it hides behind principles (of non-involvement).  A freely religious stance would be to say, AT TIMES WE WILL USE OUR POWER AND AT OTHER TIMES NOT, it all depends.  A true future in this sense is not calculated, but maintains freedom to make choices when consequences are apparent.

13.Freedom happens by breaking the chain of causation.  When our acts constantly seem to work against us, we must regain our freedom through forgiveness from others.  Everyone needs this.


a.On the question of speech.

b.On the question of goodness (i.e. man is not eternally good, but neutral; he/she may sin or do good deeds all through his/her life.)

c.On the question of freedom (events occur by natural causation and humans have little choice over the matter, except for minor matters, of course).

Natural laws of cause and effect apply to dead matter, predictably.  In social life we are unfinished, and therefore to some extent unpredictable.

In natural religion, there can be no difference between cause and effect on the one-side and freedom on the other. (p.26)

The notion of cause and effect seems subtle, as a distinction between natural religion and a living religion.  For instance, we can explain any criminal act on the basis of cause and effect.  It can be caused by drugs, or by a poor home life, or by poverty, or some mental break-down, or passion, etc., etc.  BUT THIS DOES NOT MEAN THAT MAN IS FREE FROM PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY.  If the individual is not assumed to make at least some choices concerning his behavior, we can never be held personally accountable.  We train animals by stimulus-response, and of course humans to some extent, as well. Becoming human means moving away from that fact of nature.  A LIVING RELIGION REQUIRES THE ASSIGNMENT OF FREEDOM TO ALL INDIVIDUALS. OF course our actions are caused in part by instinct, but choice allows us to rise above mere instinct. (p.27)

Lecture – 7

1.Things “natural” proceed according to their nature, and nothing needs to be done by us. But human beings, if they are to rise above their natural animal nature must do things to intervene.

2.We are dominated by economic considerations:

The future of the economic order and the future of Christians are in conflict. This conflict seems to be decided at the outset in favor of the economic order.  For the languages of Church as well as state, of the Bible as well as the Constitution, are losing their power in daily process of advertising…(p.3)

In the following pages ERH read part of an essay written to a class some time before 1954. From the present perspective of 1996, he seems to have predicted the turn of events. Gigantic corporations, the destruction of unions, layoffs and unstable labor conditions generally, increasing gap between rich and poor, greed, commercialism dominating both public and private decision-making, and with almost total disregard for environmental protection. Even the traditional churches seem to have these values as well as a considerable intolerance toward other churches and cultures (e.g. the increasing expression of isolationism in this country and an unwillingness to help keep peace in Bosnia.)

All of this bodes alienation between peoples, the lack of willingness, or ability to speak to one another.

3.In business, one isn’t interested in speaking and listening and serving, as much as in selling.

ERH suggests that, in professions we should be setting examples, training successors.  Moses is cited for leading the children of Israel out of Egypt, because they worshipped the golden calf.  Our golden calf today is commercialism. All is sacrificed for the “bottom line.”  WHO WILL LEAD US BACK TO REGENERATING OUR COMMUNITIES, and getting us to speak meaningfully to each other?  “The Great Society is not a good society.” (p.10)

In dealing with things we follow the line of least resistance. In dealing with God, we always have to follow the line of hardest resistance. (p.11)

We do not grow when we follow our natural tendencies To grow we must rise above those tendencies, and this is always difficult, if not dangerous.  We might get fired or begin a war by speaking the truth.  There is no “profit” in doing good deeds, or in loving one, or in being creative in art or in the art of living, in the commercial sense. Or in sacrificing or volunteering for the community.  YET HOW ELSE ARE WE TO CHANGE OUR COMMUNITIES FOR THE BETTER?

4.Why one is willing to so sacrifice, or to love is inexplicable.  To change something in the world that needs changing is very difficult and seldom is commercially  efficacious.

5.ERH cites the “secret” in drama, where in the play at the end we learn something new about the characters and thus change our opinion.  A living religion, ERH suggests, has this same quality, in which the real character of a person will have its effect in the behavior of others.  THIS IS THEIR POWER, THEIR SPIRIT FINALLY REVEALED.

6.We begin to regenerate the community by regenerating our speech.  We speak to one another because we have something to say. (RF – that is, speech other than small talk over the back fence.]

…all living religion as against institutionalized religion, and against personal religion…where a soldier dies for his country, or where a daughter carries on the memory of her father, or where her father forgoes smoking and drinking so that his girl can get a dowry — in all these cases, both people settle in a point of time between them…this is the secret relation to the next generation. (p.19)

All religious problems are between two generations. TO BE RELIGIOUS, WE MUST SPEAK OUT TO HELP CREATE THE NEXT GENERATION.

All religion is predicated on a relation through time. (p.20)

*It is a religious problem to say, between today and tomorrow I haven’t lost my reputation, my honor, I have some authority for tomorrow.  Nature always threatens to ruin us by cataclysms, or temptation, and it is quite a miracle to maintain our dignity and honor through time. We strive for what should become “everlasting” in life, so that the next generation will have more life.  To have the power to do this is to have God within us.

7.It is because unpredictable situations constantly arise that one must be prepared to “…recreate the world every minute…”. Our children get sick, a natural catastrophe befalls the community and destroys our home, there is an auto accident, a transfer to a new job, etc., etc., these can change our lives, and these events call on us to readapt to the new reality. To “adapt” means to make choices, and to make choices that will be efficacious to both ourselves and the community can be difficult if not overwhelming. In these cases, it is the father (parent) who must lead and remain strong.

ERH suggests that God is in this same role vis-a-vis humankind.  The loving father or mother forgives, offers a second chance, helps along the way. BUT IN REALITY, ALL FATHERS AND MOTHERS ARE LESS THAN COMPETENT TO DO THIS JOB; HUMANS ARE WEAK AND MAKE MANY MISTAKES.  Our image of God is that he is the perfect father.  We are a weak copy of that model, and all religions are based on this notion.

8.Natural religion says, that when a man dies he’s replaceable, like any machine cog.  “Jesus dies and we say he is irreplaceable. So he can’t have died.  He has risen.”  His spirit influences our behavior after his death.  And, of course a living religion would have humans act the same way – that all of us live in such a way that our deeds and our spirit will survive in the next generation. THAT IS THE MEANING OF ALL RELIGIONS, THAT THEY UNITE GENERATIONS AND THEREBY CONQUER DEATH. Thus, a major reason we need religion is because we die. “If you believe it is good to live 150 years, religion is not for you.” (p.30)

9.Greek philosophy (Plato in Phaedon) believes in the immortality of humans. At physical death we simply change our form and go on, just as the traditional Christian church claims – which is childish.  But, from the standpoint of our spirit carrying on in others, that is a more sublime meaning. A religious act, then, is to live in a way that can be emulated in the next generation to create a better community life.

10.Greek philosophy, Hinduism, and other religions believe there is no death.  Christianity is unique in that it holds there must constantly be new beginnings.  Physically, life precedes death.  Spiritually, death precedes life because the new life carries on from the endowment of the dead person’s spirit. Our death  should herald the birth of a new beginning.

The essence of Christianity is that we all say that we have killed Christ and therefore are saved, because His death opens our eyes to our right direction of life. (p.33)


When we witness the death of an exemplary, loving parent, we are motivated to continue their example, to bring the parent’s principles to fruition.  Our relation to God and Jesus is the same, writ large.  IN THIS SENSE, THE AUTHORITY OF OUR PARENTS CONTINUES TO GUIDE US.

Summary For First Seven Lectures

To begin, Rosenstock-Huessy lays out two primary conditions that must be fulfilled if one is to compare religions with any understanding. This series of lectures is dedicated to explanation of these conditions. First, one must possess some definition of what religion is, what one means by the term. Second, one must understand one’s own religious biases. The logic for the first point would seem obvious. However, he explains the inclusion of the second on the basis that our biases are unconscious, and that unless we become conscious of them, we tend to reject any opposing ideas out of hand.

He also points out that the concept of God includes the notion that the universe is one entity, that heaven and earth are of the same piece. Our goal on earth is to evolve toward the idealized community (heaven). The method for achieving this is to live religious principles. The concept of devil is a metaphor for the opposite, separation of heaven from earth, of humankind from nature, or from God, of deeds separated from speech and moral values. BY IMPLICATION, WHEN HUMANKIND IS INFLUENCED BY DEVILISH IDEAS, SOCIETY FALLS SICK AND DIES. Different religions throughout history and throughout the world aim toward these universal principles (but all fall short of comprehensiveness. History offers the record of the consequences of our behavior. Furthermore, many of our “natural” or animal instincts such as greed, self- interest to the exclusion of consideration of others, lying, deception, thievery, wanton murder – attributes which we normally think of as “sinful,” – weaken society.            THE GOAL OF ALL SPIRITUAL GROWTH (RELIGION) IS TO LEAD US TO RISE ABOVE OUR ANIMAL NATURE.

He claims that 90% of the population of the U.S. has the same basic religion, regardless of their chosen denomination, This is what he calls in this essay “natural religion.”  It is the religion of commercialism, of over-consumption, of separating religion from business ethics, of exploitation of natural environment for the sake of profit (free enterprise carried to extreme). Finally, “natural religion” embraces the assumption that man cannot rise above his “nature,” what one might call natural instincts, if these instincts are thought, not defendable they must be accepted as unavoidable, unchangeable.

Rosenstock-Huessy, on the other hand, notes that humankind DOES INDEED POSSESS THE ABILITY TO RISE ABOVE NATURE, that we possess the power to make decisions and to change our nature; in other words, mankind is yet unfinished.  However, to metamorphosing our nature is agonizingly difficult: it requires discipline and the ultimate power  we can muster. RELIGION IS, BY DEFINITION, THE POWER THAT MAKES US CHANGE and grow. That human societies have survived for some millions of years gives testament to the fact that mankind has demonstrated this power is worth noting.  But what also must be noted is that most “mainline” religions do not seem to evidence the basic principles which can forge such resolve today.  These principles existed long before any Christian or member of any other religion trod this earth and, by implication, one must conclude that humankind the world-over is, spiritually, the same.  Skin color and cultural mores aside.

However universal are these qualities of humankind, there are many ways of achieving them,  and these differences are marked by different names of religions and denominations with all their different traditions, theologies and liturgies. Comparing these different religions is tricky.  We see that some are strongly consistent with the “universals” on some points, and not on others. The main part of the text in these lectures is devoted to indicating differences between the American “natural religion” and what he calls “a living religion”  that is representative of universal standards by which one cane draw comparisons. These points are summarized in the numbered paragraphs below.

Finally, Rosenstock-Huessy identifies three basic aspects of religion. Categorizing them is helpful for our understanding of this complex subject. 1) There must be a formal church, this is by definition the institutionalization of each denomination, the formal authority.  He points out that the membership and attendance at church “…does not mean very much about one’s religion.”  2), There is the theology of the denomination.  This is the logical deduction that explains and follows from some event which engendered the beginning of the religion.  Theology, ERH points out is not, or does not describe a living religion.  It is a part of philosophy, which is logical and therefore little related to “living religion.” For instance, we will, at times, make “the morale choice,” because we cannot face ourselves otherwise. People are martyred, not because they are masochists, but because they cannot stand to lie any more. When we apply “logic,” we usually rationalize in our own favor.  In this sense, liveable religion is spiritually driven, as compared to philosophical logic. 3) Finally, there is the living religion, or personal religion.  Our beliefs demonstrate their meaning when we have decisions to make about how to behave in crucial circumstances. Do we lie or not lie? Do we stand up (speak out in public) and be counted when required, or are we faint-hearted? Do we give fair work for our pay or slough off on the job? Most importantly, are we willing to sacrifice our personal welfare for the sake of helping others?  Only when we act selflessly at the right time will we build a decent community.

ERH points out that morale action has little to do with willpower, and very much to do with our feelings of strength or weakness at these crucial decision points in our lives. It is the POWER OF RELIGION THAT HOLDS THE POTENTIAL TO STRENGTHEN US AT THESE TIMES, and therefore, religion is a necessity. Considering the three dimensions of religion, atheists eschew formal religion, but embrace a theology and usually possess truly moral (religious) values, as ERH defines them.

Differentiations between natural (American) and living religion are as follows:

1.Philosophy & Religion:  Natural religion makes no distinction between philosophy and religion; in other words, it sees religion as theology only. Thus,choice is a matter of will. Living religion asserts just the opposite: “the moment of truth” is not acted on by logic, but rather by our strength or weakness at that moment in time.  Thus, the religious judgment is based on our emotional state.

2.Time & ReligionNatural religion assumes time to be extending only into the future, and each moment is the same. Time is thus measured and given meaning by the clock. Each moment in time is thus a unit in itself. Living religion doesn’t ask “why” as does the naturalist, but rather, “when.” Time is given meaning by acting at the right time in the right way. We must be conscious of the “pregnant moment.”  Time here is united because we learn from the past. The authority of past values carried forward is followed, in the present we reflect on those commands, and take action anticipating consequences in the       future, thus seeking to unite time. All religions unite the generations.

3.Speech, (the word) and Religion: With Natural religion, the word has a defined meaning. In Living religion, the word is given meaning by our actions, “the word made flesh.”

4.Freedom and ReligionNatural religion binds our instincts. Living religion, frees us to choose whether to follow instincts or act differently.  To act differently, in some instances, is precisely the necessity for surviving under liveable conditions.

5.Spirit & ReligionNatural religion makes no distinction between spirit (God) and man. Man’s view of the world (his logic) dominates thought – which is his God. Living religion views spirit as a unifier between peoples; individuals can understand each other. Words by themselves are abstract symbols. When words are combined with behavior, meaning is created; thus they create common understanding, “the spirit of mankind.”  It is the spirit of understanding that unites generations, races, social classes, etc. This unites thought and the material world, but also makes a distinction between the two. This power to unite lies outside the individual, but can only exist in common with others. Thus, “spirit is a miracle, a “gift from God” to humankind.

6.Morality & Religion  Natural religion holds that all people are basically good and that sin, or lying is a matter of willpower. One chooses to follow the path of the devil, so to speak truthfully.  Living religion holds that we are not good, per se, but are at times strong and at times weak. Thus, moral behavior is determined by our state of strength or weakness at a given point in time.  Freedom means that we choose, to be sure, but we cannot “will” ourselves to be strong or weak. THIS IS WHY WE NEED THE POWER THAT RELIGION CAN CREATE IN US.

7.Death & ReligionNatural religion believes that one does not die, but simply is transferred into a new realm and continues living. The Greeks, Hindus, and many other religions believe in some type of continuation of life; in a type of reincarnation. Living religion holds that we die physically, but our spirit is (can be) remembered and influences others (negatively or positively). We conquer death by our spirit living in others. The spirit of Lincoln, of Aristotle, of Bach and Einstein is carried on by others – as is the spirit of all those who develop strength during their physical life. Christianity holds that we grow through stages in our lives when our old ways are forgotten (put to death), and we take on a new direction in our lives, new beginnings.  This is the meaning of the death and resurrection of Jesus.

In sum, the “living religion” forms the basis for a true religion. ERH holds that “natural religion” is truly the American religion, of perhaps 90% of all Americans, regardless of their proclaimed denominational allegiance.

Lecture – 8

1.First, to lay out the criteria for comparison of different religions, religion involves “…this strange relationship between our powers to do wrong, and our (received) command not to do wrong…these were the ‘mays` and the ‘cans.`”  (p.1)

2.For humankind to dominate nature, they must form associations.  Our major dilemma is that our associations are a two-edged “blade,” as along with the power they give us, they constantly mislead us.  At any moment any family, nation, class, school, lobby, etc. can wrongly influence us if we allow it.

3.The church empowers us to choose between associations, and the state provides the opportunity for association.  Association provides us with our physical needs for food, shelter, security, etc. It provides for the “cans.” Opposed to this is the church, which deals with what we “may” do.

4.The church also gives us the power to dissociate ourselves from associations of the moment. The girl or boy who leaves home to marry, or leaves one church for another would be examples. The pilgrim fathers dissociated themselves from a state and came to America.

5.Religion deals with the problems of association and dissociation, to say yes and no at the right time, and to be willing to risk sacrifice in the process. (p.8) It deals with the question of personal power to maintain the freedom to make this decision, to stand alone or not to stand alone. “…every human being becomes human by having the power of dismissing associations and forming new associations…” (p.21)

6.The questions of “why” or “what” are questions about things, and are not religious questions. Yes and no questions are religious when related to association or dissociation.  To ask why someone loves  you has no answer. Psychology and other social sciences ask “why and what” questions, and therefore they cannot deal with a major dimension of the human psyche. The soul (the soul is the essence of what our spirit is, of what we individually are. Love remains a mystery.  THIS IS WHY THE TRADITIONAL SOCIAL SCIENCES ARE UNABLE TO REVEAL THE TRUE NATURE OF INDIVIDUALS OR OF SOCIETY.

7.The act of saying NO to some significant temptation of life is the road to maturity, to developing a soul. THIS IS  HOW WE EXPERIENCE RELIGIOUS POWERS.

We do not live by asking what and why, but by saying yes and no, thank you and no thank you.  This we do each day of our lives, and at times, each moment of the day. GOD IS THE SECRET OF OUR PROCESS OF BEING REVEALED BY HOW WE ANSWER THESE QUESTIONS PUT TO US, REGARDING ASSOCIATION OR DISSOCIATION, BY SAYING AND ACTING ON YES AND NO.  (p.17)

We impress others by our record of saying yes or no, by our associations to which we have become dedicated, for better or for worse.  This establishes that we have made decisions and that our life is not just drifting.


8.Change is a painful process. There is no God outside us (God is part of us). We must learn that God is another part of ourselves. “There is no God outside….God must be discovered by you and me in quite a different manner, as inseparable from yourself.” The question, “Is there God?” is for four year olds. (p.22)

9.God is terrible passion; he isn’t kind.  Love is jealous and powerful. God is not enlightenment, but darkness, mystery. “God is the not-yet-revealed light. And in you, and in nobody else.” God is the power that changes you, and that power is a secret.  (p.26)

10.”Spirit” is two “wills” that have become unified. They may be of different generations, but always between two different people. No single person can have “spirit,” but one moves within a spirit; spirit then unifies associations.

The secret of the Holy Ghost is that it is spirit recognized under the right name,  “…as Baker’s millions and Baker’s books recognize each other in the title, `Baker Library.’ ”  (p.26)

I believe his point is that one cannot have a “good life” without “spirit,” without some type of spiritual experience, and he cites several different situations that reflect “spirit” as an inspiration, as a source of creativity. 1) One problem is what becomes of us after we die? ERH cites Chinese ancestor worship as a response, one’s relations to one’s  ancestors. (they believe they never die). 2) Greek mythology demonstrates the father/daughter spirit, the idolatry of daughter by father (Athena jumping ready-made out of the head of Zeus). 3) The family, the bride/suitor relationship, i.e. Christ and his church, and  from the father the bride comes to a marriage and a family.  William James Senior was a follower of Swedenborg whose philosophy proclaimed the sacredness of the family.

These intimate experiences become a spiritual source of creativity. (p.27)  The religion of philosophers is “a change of mind,” but mind-change, sans action, is impotent, and thus a very superficial religion. CREATIVITY AND ACTION ARE CRUCIAL TO REAL LIVING. SENILITY AND COMPLACENCY ARE TERRIBLE THINGS.

11.As we age our body deteriorates, and for this our mind must make up the difference. Our body changes every 7 years and at each instance our mind must change accordingly, as we mature. At each instance we physically die in a way. One who misses some needed change remains childish until the change comes. Some, for instance wish to remain young all their lives, and persist in acting as teenagers.

12.The more we struggle against death, the more intensely we live.  THOSE WHO ARE INDIFFERENT OR LAZY ABOUT ISSUES FAIL TO BE FULL OF LIFE, BY DEFINITION.

13.What we really seem to seek is that someone will continue our spirit, our ideas, our direction, AND WHEN THIS MIRACLE OCCURS OUR WORLD FEELS FULFILLED, we know then that we could face death.  But we may often not know this, as our ideas may be picked up only long after our physical death. Some religions attempt to put life into us, giving us strength to face death. THESE ERH CALLS  THE ACTIONS OF  NATURAL RELIGIONS. [RF – which seems to me would include most organized religions.]

Lecture – 9

1.To come alive, to find fulfillment in life we must live a paradox; each day we must move toward re-inventing ourselves, we must change as we learn new lessons from our experience.  However, we also remain the same in the sense of our spirit of freedom, our dedication to principles and carrying on commitments from the past which represent necessity. This is the process of deciding what from past behavior should change in the light of new knowledge.  The crucial point is maintaining the freedom to decide.  “God is freedom.”  (p.1)

2.Life and death is a mystery. However, many religions and philosophies deny death.

…never misunderstand Christianity.  It’s not an attempt to leave man in the lurch or to declare him to be a sinner, but it’s an attempt to give man his share in divinity…a religion which tries to discuss this secret…So this is revealed religion, a power to withdraw the veil,…revealed religion.  (pp.4,5)   [ RF – Emphasis mine]

3.Revealed religions center on change.  But most of us have 3 religions that are compatible, each emphasizing a different human need.  1) Be a stoic, buckle down and accept a new condition, such as weathering a storm. We are our own god in this mode, following our own direction. The force for change comes from outside us, however. 2) Another is, of course the revealed religion, which means our work and the fate of people must be changed to improve the social health of the community. [RF – An example that comes to mind today would be the need to recycle our waste. Another would be to persuade people to work toward reversing the destruction of the living environment.] THESE ARE RELIGIOUS DECISIONS BECAUSE THEY MAY GO AGAINST THE VESTED INTERESTS OF SOME GROUP. 3) Finally we must accept the need for change in our hearts, once the need is revealed.

These three sources of authority must command us to change, come from 1) God, manifest in events around us, 2) the authority of the groups to which we belong and revere, and finally 3) within ourselves. WE MUST REMAIN FREE TO MAKE THE CHOICE BETWEEN THE THREE AT ANY PARTICULAR MOMENT IN TIME, ACCORDING TO THE CONTEXT OF OUR SITUATION.

4.All of this may be understood as commands from God, to obey during our lives, made manifest in nature, in our communities, and within ourselves. Also, these concepts can be understood from their time perspective: 1) to obey authority from the past (identifying movements from the past that should continue, like justice, human rights, free press etc.; 2) – to attend to our social survival in the present; and 3) to found new institutions needed for a future. TO SO OBEY IS TO MAKE A RELIGIOUS DECISION. This is why religion is at the heart of our everyday activities, why it is therefore necessary, and why all religions are the same.  They respond to the same basic problems of life at a general level, BUT WITH DIFFERENT ADMIXTURES,  just as all governments deal with the same problems in different ways. (p.10)

5.           …the Bible is very careful to assert that long before there were Jews and Greeks, there is God and man in conversation. (p.13)

Jahweh is the God who speaks! Judaism and Christianity are trying to fight against the notion that there can be religions separate from the “universal.”

The average person is religious.  IT TAKES A SOPHISTICATED PERSON TO BE NON-RELIGIOUS. Academics try to separate religions, make them different.  ERH refers to the story of the good Samaritan, who was neither Greek nor Jew, nor academic.  Basically, he was a good man. Religion, at its root addresses to the basic question of “may” and “can.”  The Bible, in the beginning describes nothing but the universal humane condition necessary to sustain humankind.

6.The story of the fall of Adam and Eve is not one of temptation, as most believe, but rather of the unwillingness of Adam to own up to his acts; “the group [serpent and Eve], made me do it.” Here is the typical “may” and “can” issue. Adam did not obey, and was too weak to own up to it.  The notion of original sin (of Eve) “…is just silly.”

7.Another definition of God is “He who can admit his decisions.” In the Adam and Eve story, man makes the divine decision, (to part-take of knowledge and thereby participating in the creation of community), but doesn’t want to be responsible for it. (p.16) Finally ERH points out that this situation is a classic demonstration of the behaviorist nature in man, where he is influenced (forced) by his environment (the situation). “…the difference between the divine life and your life is that you want not to be quoted. That’s always the devil.” (pp.18,19)  It is a sign of sublime courage to admit your decisions, especially those for which one might have to sacrifice in making them public.

8.Humankind cannot be thought of in the singular. Another lesson from the Bible is  that man cannot be thought of in the singular; it must be man and his associations all together. In the singular we cannot build bridges, or create language and change our nature.  The whole center of the Bible teachings, ERH claims is that man is not singular. Individually we are trained, taught language, obey past authority handed down from others.  This central Biblical question comes down to, “Who is man that God should me mindful of him?” (p.21)

9.Islam is a revealed religion, a universal religion “…inside our own..” (p.21)

10.Our lives are spent “incorporating dead matter into our lives.”  We shape material things into food, bridges, beds, houses, etc.  BUT THE POINT IS THAT WE SHOULD WEAVE THESE “CORPSES” INTO MEANINGFUL LIVING.

11.The changes demanded of us change our status vis-a-vis our intensity of life. When we admit that some change could be threatening, such as the bomb or an earthquake, then some aspects of our lives shift.  The question we must address is, “Can we survive the change?”  We cannot understand what these changes might mean until we have experienced them, until after the fact.  These changes dominate our consciousness for a while; we cannot understand their meaning rationally, as the outcome is always different than we imagined.

12.Each religion, emphasizing as it does different aspects of change, at the same time emphasizes a different intensity of life that results from that change.  These different intensities become one of the scales for comparing  religions.

Lecture – 10

1.Degrees of intensity of change we undergo: change is perhaps the dominant experience in life, affecting our body, our soul and our mind.

a)The term “mechanical,” refers to change brought about by physical forces. Driving in a car (movement through space is change), a machine changes raw material (fuel). Mechanics changes things, and we are in control. We control things, and this change is physical.

b)Organic change refers to physiological matters, of aging, and this is metabolic, a loss of form, not of position. All change can be either positive or negative. Illness, for instance, is usually thought of as negative, but it can have meaning, a warning.  Illness in this country is treated as a more or less mechanical phenomenon, but more and more psychosomatic dimensions are being recognized. Thus meditation, imaging, biofeedback etc. are becoming accepted procedures. FOR THE RELIGIOUS PERSON, THESE OTHER DIMENSIONS ARE EASILY ACCEPTED, because the religious person knows both his weakness and strengths.   An organic change must be accepted as a personal challenge, engaging the miracles of nature, and mind and spirit.

c) Change occurs through work.

d) Change occurs through love. [see para. #2 below]

e)Change occurs through politics. Changes in politics are most direct and easy to understand. During the American Revolution, identities and values were reversed in the extreme. Before the revolution, it was an honor to be a Royalist, and afterwards Royalists were defiled. We ceased to be one thing, such as a German, or Italian, and become American. Politics is largely beyond our control.  It involves incalculable risk, and often surprise and disappointment. General Marshal, promoted Eisenhower, only to have his friend refuse to back him up. Hitler experienced unanticipated changes.  Movements get out of our control, even, at times beginning inadvertently. They follow certain rhythms of life. HOW TO DEAL WITH THESE EVENTS IS A RELIGIOUS QUESTION. “The religious man always knows his weakness,” and can therefore handle the political change in time.

Politics are part of community, forces outside us individually, although at times we can influence them. Political changes (the consequences of politicking) are beyond our control, so we must simply adapt to them, accepting any necessary sacrifice that is a part of daily life. Military life, for instance, demands sacrifice. We owe soldiers love and respect when they have died for us. And some respect is shown by our willingness to be called and serve ourselves. ALL OF THESE 5 STATIONS OF “ALIVENESS” (mechanics, organics, love, work, politics) ARE AT THE CENTER OF LIVING LIFE FULLY.

2.We always live in-between right and wrong, ignorance and intelligence, life and death. THE POINT IS TO ATTEMPT TO BE A LITTLE MORE IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION.      We tend to love and hate the same things at different times, whether those loves and hates are our gods, family members, ideals, or things around us. To do so is a healthy sign because it means they are not idols. It reflects the necessary quality of remaining capable of dissociation and reassociation.

3.Coming to be “alive” means we enter history by responding to different roles in life; we give meaning to the words love and politics and mechanics, etc.

TO RECAPITULATE – mechanic life is met by (power), organic life is met by rhythm (falling into the rhythm of the universal), conscious life is met by work, love is met by reciprocity, and politics is met by sacrifice.

Lecture – 11

1.IN SOME INSTANCES WHEN WE KNOW WHERE WE’RE GOING, WE CAN GIVE UP WHAT WE HAVE!  When one doesn’t know where one is going one tends to cling to what one has. Most people in his country have no spiritual direction, so they cling to their possessions, their toys. [RF – Today I suppose these would be exemplified by computers, and cell phones, new cars, stereos, etc.  I’m not sure how to take this statement, except to assume it applies to a person who doesn’t think for himself because it is neither my own experience, nor his. I would refer the reader to his chapter entitled METANOIA, in I AM AN IMPURE THINKER.  In these instances one must be committed to change without knowing what the change might mean! The next paragraph seems to confirm this.]

2.Change requires us to first take a leap into the future, into the new life of change, even before we know much about the consequences. It is our faith that the move will be productive.  Many people claim to be ready for change “when they can afford it.”  But such assurance never materializes.

Love is the first step that carries us over the barrier of fear of change.  To hate anything that becomes a barrier is a necessary dimension of love.  Love means we have the courage to be transformed. (p.12)  All of this refers to #4) above.  We need friends because we need someone to accept us in spite of our shortcomings. Someone who’s love, faith in us and willingness to tell us the truth gives us the strength to take the risk.

Love and will are opposites, we can have one or the other, but not both at the same time.  Love is a surprise, it is “discovered.”

Passion gives us the energy to do things that we would not ordinarily be capable of. When we love something,  the difficult becomes easy. Love cannot be willed, it can only be developed. (p.17)

3.Time must not be understood as a sequence of moments whereby the past causes the present, which in turn, causes the future. This is the phycisists attitude toward time. BUT HUMAN TIME doesn’t work that way; we must first anticipate what our future should be, then contemplate the past as the first step in taking action in the present to get there. THE STEPS TO CHANGE ARE 1) anticipate the future, 2) build a bridge to the past, and 3) take action in the present.

4.Life is built around five items;  man dreads change, but he must produce change, impose change, and must obey God (authority); God is the power that makes us change.

“Mechanics” directs us to employ the laws of physics, controlling power but also falling under the laws of entropy “Organic life” retards entropic processes, and work does the same (slowing down the “fall” of entropy. Passion contrarily “defies the laws of gravity” (love overcomes hurdles),

ERH’s POINT IS THAT, THESE FIVE BASIC FORCES OF LIFE, OF ALIVENESS, are the subject of every religion, because if man can shape them, he can exert some control on his life and death. (p.7) TO DO SO ALLOWS MAN TO RISE ABOVE HIS ANIMAL NATURE, and move toward divinity. Note, for instances the following table of the mythical gods:

a.Mars (pure power) is the god for mechanics, the Roman god of war.

b.Mercredi (Mercury) is the god for metabolism, rhythm.

c.Athene is he goddess of industry, of work

d.Venus is the god of passions

e.Saturnus is Saturn, the god of catastrophe

These represent the 5 days of the pagan week, “What we live under these five influences, that is the common possession of the whole human race.” (p.10)

5.The power of all of these forces is overwhelming, at times threatening us with life and death decisions and this power is, unavoidably on our consciousness, or we know of its presence intuitively. God is not a product of our minds, but of our experience; we know how powerless we are.

Our beliefs are fragmented among the five, or some combination thereof. But one seldom seems to be able to think of them as parts of a whole.  Are any of the different religions superior to the other? Judaism, Muslim, Buddhist, Christian? Not a useful question to ask.  All religions reflect a consciousness of  power represented by the 5 Greek or Roman gods

6.The first change we are forced to experience in life is space; the second is the rhythm (the heart beat, the pendulum spaces of time); the third is the operations or working. Spans of time, cycles of time, stages of time, etc. are the measuring milestones in our lives, BUT THEY CANNOT BE MEASURED AS IN PHYSICS, as they are relative. Whenever we speak of associations of people, space is subordinate to time. Whenever we have mechanics, time is subordinated by space. (p.14)  Things must be done in a timely manner, as a proposal or any influential  speech requires that it be said at the right time.

7.Religion is the reversal of what we call “normal relations of space and time.”  For the phycisist, space has three dimensions, and time is a fourth.  FOR THE RELIGIOUS BELIEVER, time has three dimensions (past, present, future), and space has one.

The great riddle of human experience is how to create new times (changes), a new period in the history of the community, or begin a movement that lasts into two or more generations. To bring about such a change, ERH experienced a loss of friends, country, fortune, profession. To accept such inevitability is to make an asset out of a liability, becoming  stronger in the process.

The other side of this issue is THAT WE MUST DEFEND AND RETAIN EXISTING THINGS THAT MUST NOT BE OBLITERATED. That the plants and animals have taken millions of years to evolve doesn’t mean that we are free now to destroy them. Then what?  It is the same with justice, human rights, the Declaration of Independence. We must not be so blase` as to think that something cannot be wiped out. One aspect of our eternal battles is to know and fight for these issues.  Only sacrifice, work, and passion will keep these miraculous creations going.

8.New creations are miracles – poems, children, love, or sacrifice for a good cause. All of these must be preserved.

9.There is a great difference between creativity and work. Work is mere will and energy. Creativity requires passion for some goal beyond.

10.The first experience of our lives is that we were brought into existence by someone who cares for us and gave us a name.  THIS IS THE STARTING POINT FOR ALL UNDERSTANDING OF OUR EXPERIENCE.

11.EDUCATION.  The worst aspect of our present education is that it is dominated by the physical sciences, which teach us to describe the universe, but end with nothing to do with how we are to evaluate our personal experience.

Those who really love us wish us to be free to grow, not demanding we become carbon copies of themselves. The first thing that should be learned in schools is  “…the spirit in human relations…”

…you must trust your nurse, your mother, your father, your teacher that he renounces all right to mold you in his image. (p.24)

First things tend to rule what follows.  What we must learn then is that human experience and the quality of our community comes before physics. We wouldn’t survive and grow at all if someone had not helped considerably along the way, and sacrificed for us.

Laws of physics, of the natural sciences, are several times removed from our direct experience, so why begin with those?

…you and I, in our highest moments, live in a living universe in which all the voices of the universe talk.  Everything has a voice. And you have…if physics is a questionable entertainment of the mind, then you don’t have to throw the atom bomb. If physics comes first, then there is no way out. (p.16)

Lecture – 12

1.One who has lived in a very abstract world – a world made from their mind, from their fantasies, their wishes of the way things should be rather than how they are – has a difficult time “coming to life,” understanding what is being said here.

2.Change usually means values change their place, and what was once prized becomes useless. The Romans would fear Mars, the god of war as a demon destroying their fields and slaughtering them, then invoke him to come to their side and be a blessing. “All defined experience is a revaluation of our ethics.” (p.2)  In war we defend our way of life by being asked to kill the enemy (who has done nothing to us).  “Every defined process means that you have two logics, which are contradictory: one before and one after the appearance of the god.” (p.2)  Acting on these commands allows us to understand religious experience. THERE IS NO OTHER WAY.


3.We should look at ourselves in relation to human history, as a light bulb is related to the electric power house.  We live our lives, shine, then burn out and are thrown away.

4.In life we live in several contexts; in work, in home, in recreation, in study and learning, in many different associations including church. In each we may have a different role; each is essentially different and serves a different purpose with different meaning in our lives.

In any of these parts of our lives, our highest state is when we are un-self-conscious. Our normal state is to be self-conscious, to rationalize everything from this self-consciousness. From this self-conscious state we are attempting to control the situation.  Un-self-consciousness occurs when our spirit moves us, when we do and say things regardless of the cost. When we make important commitments, we tend to be most creative.  SELF-CONSCIOUSNESS therefore is a lesser state of living.

Quantity has little to do with importance.  The important events in life are rare, and usually-short termed, but creative and defining.


5.It would seem that what we know most certainly is that which we experience most often. Yet, ERH makes the case that those rare occasions when insight and creativity and decision occur mold us permanently, AND THEREFORE THOSE RARE MOMENTS ARE MOST CERTAIN in our learning. We are the only ones who can find the unique direction that we, individually must take and this direction represents an exertion of great and rare energy.


6.These five dimensions of basic religious experience (mechanic, organic, consciousness [work], passion, and politics) can therefore be characterized as having an ascending or descending degree of warmth, of aliveness. (p.12)  We live in these 5 rings of ethical behavior, and the problem is to know which ring we are in, or should be in, at any moment of time, requiring a decision from us.

Each of these dimensions has a quality of excitement from “white heat” to apathy. This, ERH asserts, is why so much advertising literally screams at us to get our attention because we live most of our lives in a state of “suspended animation.” THE POINT IS THAT WE ARE FREE AT EACH MOMENT TO CHOOSE WHAT STATE TO BE IN.

7.Different religions deal, then with the same problems in a different way just as dictatorships, aristocracies, or democracies represent different ways of dealing with the problem of government. In each of these approaches, energy is differently placed.

Hinduism emphasizes the state of deep sleep, an organic vegetative state of low heat, seeking immunity from mechanics (the physical universe). Not to be confused with normal sleeping, it is a special “deep sleep.”  In Africa, the hunting society believes the mind can leave the body, travel thousands of miles, and kill an enemy.  The Hindu attempts to achieve all 5 life processes by emphasizing only one. (p.15)  Also, Hindus have no history – all is thought which is out of (the context of) time.

8.Two criteria for religions: 1) they must be true to their creed, and 2) they must account for all of life’s basic experiences. (p.17)  For instance, philosophy excludes love, sleep (the importance of death), or the importance of political decisions. Therefore it cannot satisfy logically, as  it cannot fit many of our life experiences.

…religious idolatry — would begin when any one of these necessary (5) elements of experience is arbitrarily, or voluntarily, or deliberately omitted and crushed. (p.18)

[RF – By these two criteria, most religions seem unrelated to our everyday life. Perhaps that is their problem or the problem of all religious belief in general. It is either narrow idolatry, or it is misunderstood and rendered irrelevant to life experience.]

This is an important concept – that is, any frame of mind, any attitude that omits any of the 5 criteria narrows one’s view of reality, no doubt causing problems in life.  For instance, if one says to one’s self that the only reality is ones own feelings, one feels free to ignore the law, or their debts, or differing values of  others.

9.The expression, “the fullness of times,” ERH uses to describe those attitudes that recognize all 5 of the states of life experience.

The hope for religion today is that we can bring ourselves to see the one God as a sum of the 5 gods of the Greeks, or the Romans. “..divinity is obviously he who can communicate and go back and forth between those various aspects and temperatures of life.” (p.24) By exercising this freedom to decide, all have the freedom to belong to all the gods.

10.Religion is always ambiguous and never logical because it requires us (if it is complete with the 5 dimensions) to be different things at different times – a lover one time, a worker another, a patriotic soldier at another, a logician also. It argues for us to be always free to move from one to the other as the situation demands. One must maintain the courage to move from one to the other, to change, to end one era of one’s life and enter a new period.

Lecture – 13

1.           “Religion describes a real experience of men, which we call the religious aspect of every man.  There is no non-religious man….people have either a false religion or the true religion…they have their appetites.  And they have their ambitions…So they cannot help being transformed in what they believe in.” (p.1)

One of the main pillars of ERH’s philosophy is that the world is one, that thought and concrete experience cannot be separated, one has no meaning without the other.  This quote indicates his belief that all religious thought must derive from concrete experience, and it is because these experiences are universal among all peoples that there is a core of ideas common to all religions.

2.           …religion has been killed by the word “duty” and it has been killed  by this separation of the religious man and the superior humanist, who has no religion. (that is, no true religion)  The humanists have a very poor religion and I think they have played out — the liberals — because they denied their own prison.  They denied their own captivity under the law of the unknown god.  As long as the gods are unknown, you are under their law.  Because you just carry it out.  As long — as soon as you admit that the gods rule, and we are in their hands, you can choose, you can free yourself from the gods.  That’s the meaning of false doctrine of the law and of grace.  The man who is in grace denies them and says, “oh, I’m a free agent, I do what I please,” doesn’t know what he pleases — what this pleasure is, that this pleasure is always one of these five.  (p.2)

3.Time, in each of the 5 dimensions, takes on a different meaning.  One experiences time, when in love, in an utterly different way than at work or play.

4.Play is important to understand because it means that which we play at, whether games, or ideas, or even life. Play is a mental construct in the sense that it originates with ourselves; we set the rules and participate  THE GODS OF PLAY ARE IDEAS, coming from inside us and therefore removed from God’s creation of the world. We cannot say that whatever we like is true!p. (p.7)

Those who believe that reality is what the mind imagines believe that God is an illusion!

5.Being creative, bringing a new idea or an image into existence, is just like bearing a child, painful and requiring sacrifice. There is nothing playful about art!  WE THEREFORE MUST NEVER JUDGE SERIOUS THINGS FROM THE RULES OF PLAY. “…if it is just a good idea, please don’t do it.  You can only do it if it is (ultimately) necessary and unavoidable.” (p.10)

Life cannot be lived experimentally.  True inspiration awakens us to a new world. (p.11) The primary function of the artist is to tell us what we are doing, and so make us conscious of ourselves. ERH uses the metaphor of the artist fertilizing the egg (creating new possibilities for seeing reality); ordinary people live unfruitful lives until they become conscious of reality. The artist, through his art, attempts to so fertilize our imaginations, attempting to tell us the truth about ourselves.


6.The first decision we make, or should make if we are to come alive (live fruitful lives), is about death, ERH asserts. His logic is that we are created by way of the sacrifice of our parents, and we ourselves only “come alive” spiritually by living our lives in a willingness to create new life (meaning not only procreation but new communities, and fruitful change in ourselves). Fruitful creativity, with change is living.  So the experience we have is that fruitfulness is created by sacrifice of all types, then we die.  THIS IS THE FIRST RELIGIOUS DECISION WE MAKE, THAT WE CHOOSE TO LIVE HONESTLY REGARDLESS OF THE RISK, WHETHER WE KNOW IT OR NOT, AND WHEN WE RECOGNIZE AND PRACTICE IT WE OPEN OUR LIVES TO THE REAL FREEDOMS OF CHOICE AND GROWTH. Of course a choice may be to avoid the choice!

His aphorism is that the past is not dead and life is not in the future, but rather the opposite – the past creates life, and our future is always death. (pp.16-19)  All past societies that fought wars for justice, scientists who sacrificed to create a more stable and better physical existence, and our own families – all of these forces created and regenerated life upon which our lives are based.


To face the fact that we will die frees us by teaching us the miraculous values and possibilities of life.  We are then motivated to live more meaningfully. ANYTHING THAT IS NOT WORTH DYING FOR WILL EVENTUALLY DISAPPEAR, AND SHOULD.  (p.22)

7.           Another decision (within the 5 dimension paradigm), would be to choose nature, (physics, the universe of laws).  When one begins with nature, one can never derive a logic for love or sacrifice (and all social rules for building a community).  Hormones, sex, glands do not create love. “…sacrifice is a form in which man is deified,… (p.20)

8.There are many gods, of course, the god of sex, of greed, of learning, of work, of play, automobiles, gambling, sports (exercise), vanity, etc. The 5 dimension paradigm (nature, organic, consciousness, love, politics), are generalizations summarizing all basic life experiences. The point is that we must be conscious of that which we worship at some given time SO THAT WE ARE CONSCIOUS OF WHAT WE DO.  Play, for instance, is useful, but not adequate for meaningful life.

9.”Where,” ERH asks, “…does America worship?”  Of course, America worships the god of space, of things, of speed, (half the fuel used in the country is to get somewhere faster, and more than half our income is spent on things we don’t really need! (p.26,27)

10.THE SECOND GOD WE WORSHIP, after mechanics (death), is organic (dance), which informs many of our ceremonies, our play,  “…it means we should bask in rhythm, in harmony.” (p.30)

Worship means to enter the roads created by the gods.  The original name for Christianity was not Christianity, but “the way”.

Lecture – 14

1.ERH claims to provide a precise measure for discerning the quality of particular religions around the world. The Greek meaning of the term “mathematics” is exact knowledge that can be taught.  He claims, contrary to some humanists who believe we cannot know anything, least of all about religion, that if this were so, human society would have self-destructed long ago.

He lauds the Jehovah’s Witnesses, who claim to wish to know the truth and act on it. (p.2)  Where we worship we want the real thing – truth – regardless of what is worshipped.  And we all worship some things, or behaviors, or people (idols), or some evil, or some deserving cause. To march into war is a religious act. THERE IS A GREAT DEAL OF RELIGION IN OUR SECULAR LIFE. (p.5)

2.Life and death: The ancient Egyptians worshipped eternal life, imperishable things like pyramids and gold.  And they thought they had an eternal soul that never died.  To worship dead things and living things at the same time is a paradox. Living things die.  We all die.

Just as we have no peace without war, or no love without danger, there is no life without death.  The course of life runs out.

The Hindus tried to prolong life by seeking suspended animation, but that state is hardly living, in our estimation.

3.All living cells give up their lives to produce new life.  It is the same with human society. That we are always in danger is also a fact of all life.  In danger from natural disasters, from disease, from ignorance, from greed and lack of courage.

“Good works” are the acts that reduce or reverse these dangers. But remember, ERH admonished, good works can always be corrupted.

4.The Bible announces all of the corruption of ideas that impede the discovery of truth. (Read St. John’s Apocalypse, or Revelation). ERH claims a modern example would be social science, especially psychology, whereby everything is explained from the psyche (that is, truth is to be found only through rational thought. Much of our experience would tell us, if we listen, that truth often evolves in exactly the opposite direction from our (previously mistaken) logic.

“…as soon as you don’t read the New Testament, all these irreligions come up again…It is written as the inventory of the stupidities of the human race.” (p.11)

ERH repeats once again, to go to church isn’t much, and certainly not a religious act.  But to seek truth, and be willing to sacrifice and change…!

5.We are pitted against a worship of dead things (space). Of idiotic fantasy, space story, new cars, etc., of liberal ideas. The world of physics is the world of dead matter. “The only purpose of matter is to be told that it doesn’t matter.” (p.16) The profoundest religion you can have about matter is that matter is a means, not an end. We must seek to make dead matter less dangerous, less enticing, less hypnotizing. (p.20)

6.The first natural religions of the sky (having astronomy and worshiping the deities of the heavens as living beings), were those of the Egyptian, Babylonian, Incas, Chinese (to some extent). They thought gold was the source of life. (p.17)  They worshipped the imperishable, and the way for humans to enter that world was to have statues made of oneself. This was not decorative art, but a conduit for the living to enter the dead world of imperishable things.


7.We are nothing but dumb animals in the beginning of our lives, and the great goal of growth and development is to “come to life,” spiritually.  This is to say, to seek the truth about living, and how to live and what is of value. To see reality in social relations as well as in spacial relations, and to be willing to create new life. Those who are only self-serving remain at the animal level.  To come to life is to live so that those who succeed us will be instilled with the method of regeneration of the spirit. That is our protection against death.

8.Those who “come to life” as described above, are always in the minority, and must therefore be protected against the majority. Unfortunately, the majority always governs the quality of life for all.

9.The 5 elements are representative of the more frail, more delicate, more perishable and more endangered elements of life. The vote of the majority is, by definition, a vote for death.  Without a religious foundation, no democracy is possible.  “The meaning of your life is that you become the man who deserves the lifesaving by the minority.” (p.26)

One evidence of this is to strive toward the highest standards in one’s profession.

This country, for the last 50 years has dismissed everything which has been known about the human’s place in nature. …And they call this the era of natural science…it has totally dismissed the real relations between a scientist and his nature. (p.27)


10.To be a minority is always more difficult.  Hatred is always easier than affection.  To recognize dead things is easier than bringing them to life. RELIGION IS THE POWER NOT TO CONFORM TO THE MAJORITY.  It is easier to conform to orders, and more difficult to – say no, conform, to be unique, or be a minority. (p.29)

11.The Greeks knew all of this.  To them the cosmic order meant to create a decent community, to influence others to do so, to control living things less than dead matter.

Summary of Lectures 8-14

During the first seven essays ERH defends the notion that one can compare religions  only if one has a clear definition of religion, and is conscious of one’s own religious bias.  He also asserts that, basically, all religions attempt to address the same questions.  In this series of chapters he takes the next step for comparison, which is to ask, “What might be these common denominators for different religions?

One of the fundamental assumptions found throughout all Rosenstock-Huessy’s thought is  that we can understand our experience only in terms of ideas that correlate with our experience. In other words, if abstractions such as gravity or love cannot be experienced directly by us, we simply have no notion of their meaning.  It is the same with all abstractions, including religion.  For instance, concepts about a heaven or hell as places of total good or total evil, where either there is no danger or suffering, or just the opposite, are pure fantasy, since we cannot experience them except in our minds. And to the extent that such ideas prevail in religion means the perpetrators are simply maintaining a religion for the four-year-old mentality. While ideas of heaven and hell are useful metaphors describing our experience, taken literally they are really fantasy.

Therefore, the basis for comparing religions is not to look at their churches,  ceremonies, liturgy, and theologies, but beyond these to what all of these are intended to represent to their members.  If all meaning comes from human experience, and humans are essentially the same the world over, then there must be fundamental similarities based on how humans have responded to that experience.  For instance, all societies suffer from natural disasters, disease, failed crops, invading armies, etc. and the gods they conjured up represent their belief in where power lies to resist or placate those gods.

An examination of five core experiences of all humans is the primary thrust of this series of lectures.  These are intended to occur in sequence from birth, but the increasing complexity of our experience as we grow means that these five accumulate and become interrelated as our experience.  These are as follows:

1.Mechanical experience:  This is a recognition that the first experience we have is that of the laws of nature. We fall to the ground, or things fall on us. This can create pain in one way or another. Also, we unavoidably experience day and night, heat and cold, up, or down, and other spacial and natural phenomena. The primary quality of nature is raw power, moving through space, exerting energy to maintain our body temperatures; we build machines to do our work, and spend a great deal of time creating fuel for our machines.

Science is devoted to describing objects in the universe and in discovering the laws that explain how these objects may be manipulated. Science, is perhaps the main “religion” of modern industrial countries, from which is derived a technology to empower us in our endless quest for forms of material Laws of nature Because these laws are inexorable and repeatable, they define the mechanical elements of our experience. These laws are representative of our first experiences of life.

2.Organic experience:  Organic experience defines the processes of living cells, which seem to be dominated by rhythmic patterns. All cells take in food from other living cells. Basically these patterns are defined by such experience as hunger and satiation, seasons of germination, growth, fruition, and sleep (spring, summer, fall, and winter), of stages of aging and all its changes, stages of the healing process, metabolic changes tied to seasons of the year and also to day and night.  Examples of religious ceremonies abound in terms of the winter solstice, of planting, germination, harvest, etc.  But at an individual level all of these rhythms have their counter-part.

One of the most basic elements of organic experience is the contrast between life and death. We tend to fear death and must learn to be conscious of living beyond the most basic emotional and energy responses to life.  Life and death are opposites.  Life is unique in the universe where it exists.  There is perhaps no more clear element of all religious life than explanations about life and death. Consciousness of our state of health when we fall ill or suffer injury dominate our thinking, beginning with our earliest memories.

3.Work experience: Work dominates most of our waking life, and in this effort we strive to plan and predict outcomes. From an early age we are confronted with various types of survival problems, cleaning and washing, food getting, shelter-building, play, learning, and the like. In this experience we consciously attempt to solve the various problems that confront us.

4.Passion:   Consciously or not, emotions dominate much of our thought. “Our passions give life to the world,” ERH wrote in another essay, driving us to frustrations, despair, creativity… We seem capable of developing a passion for almost anything – property, power, love, hate,  but essential significance of emotion lies in the energy it creates.  This energy allows us to do things not ordinarily possible. Art is the method by which we attempt to understand our emotional response to experience.

5.Catastrophe: This is a force outside our individual or social life, about which we have little or no control. These are social or natural events, such as war or earthquake, which overwhelm us and to which we must learn to adapt and change. Catastrophe can represents turning points in our understanding of reality, or, if we seem incapable of learning from our experience, we continue to fail in forming any appropriate response.  For instance, our despoiling of the environment is leading to disaster, and if continued it will force us to pay a heavy price. And war, when it fails to inform us of its meaning threatens endless repetition if not the very end of society. ERH also uses the term “politics” as representative of forces beyond our control.  The sheer inertia of public power is overpowering to the individual.  This is why the individual must associate with others, in one way or another in groups.

ERH contends that all religions derive from the basic needs to respond appropriately to our experience, and that experience can be categorized into these five elements. The power to face problems posed by these experiences is essential to  survival, and therefore the focus of all true religions. This is to say, all humankind have sought to control the elements of these five forces.  The forces that drive segments of our life he would also define as our lesser gods. For instance, sex, or hobbies, or our profession.  Our problem of survival, both individually and as a culture, is to become conscious of what controls all aspects of our experience, so that we can respond to that experience in the most efficacious way.   Through the ages, religions have identified and attempted to explain or control these five categories of forces.

Some religions emphasize only one or two of these elements, believing they are the most important.  For instance, the Hindu religion attempts to eschew the force of nature (mechanics), by ascending into a state of suspended animation, deep sleep in a way, so that the physical forces cannot reach the psyche.  Psychosomatic medicine is one manifestation of this power of the mind.  Some of the mystical religions maintain that mind is the ultimate power of the universe, and thus they believe in telekineses and the inhabiting of people’s minds by others (for which the antidote is exorcism).

An ideal religion would then be comprehensive, addressing all five categories, just as would a complete and balanced comprehension of reality.  The goal of all religions seems to be that which is necessary to create an ideal community, one where individual growth of human potential would be maximized.  This, of course, can only be realized by recognizing what humans “can,” but may not, do. But our sins seem to lie in not attending to what one “may not do” according to the morale commandants from “God’s authority.” Modern industrial cultures seem to err in believing that whatever can be done is all right to be done. The Nazis, for instance, in their plan for the “final solution” of the “Jewish problem.”

Since putting true community-building (as contrasted with community-destructive beliefs) into practice can be difficult if not life-threatening at times, religious power is intended to propel one to confront and overcome such danger. That is, to have the power to bring about change that will regenerate community, to empower willingness to sacrifice for our fellow humans,  and the courage to act accordingly when required.  These are what ERH calls religious decisions.  It is because to act this way requires extraordinary power that religion is a necessity.

In the succeeding essays, ERH expands on the meaning of these five “spheres” of experience and offers examples of how different religions emphasize one or more of them.

Lecture – 15

1.One of the biases of the Greeks was to settle on the notion that the father/daughter relationship was comprehensive; “…a typical pagan, settling on one divinity, one superhuman experience.” (p.2) Paganism then, in part means artificial isolation (from the whole).


The American, for instance, believes in the dominance of science in all things, in analysis, the business cycle, the standard of living, “…these are his gods.” (p.2)  People yearn for comprehensiveness for unity, but they don’t seem capable of paying the price to have it.  It is easier to fragment problems, to simplify them.

2.Since the beginning of time there have always been those who are satisfied with a less vital life (pagans) on the one hand, and those who sought the divine inspiration and genius on the other. One makes us smaller, the other, bigger. One only becomes “bigger” by way of sacrifice.

3.The lower life can see the larger life  only when it (the lower) kills it. “You can’t make the embryo understand how wonderful this young mother is.” (p.3)

The difference between atheists and believers is not that one is better than the other, but that the latter knows of the existence of something better than now exists. “Believers” sin and are faint of heart just as much as are non-believers. All men are born  equal, and then become unequal.

4.The purpose of the formal church is to codify the standards for life (not of living, but of life).  ERH predicts a backlash in America, because our technology has dominated our living, but we yearn for something deeper now. We can’t continue to drift through life acquiring property. We have outproduced the world, with our “fragmentary religion.”

5.Man’s tendency is to drift toward, or remain in paganism, polytheism, fragmentary religion.

The Christian creed is the trinity – the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit.  The theology of the first 1,000 years was a belief in Christ as God (or in the representative of God the father), a belief in praising an “ideal” individual. God was met in the form of a suffering son who “…sacrificed for his enemies.” (p.8) In the second 1,000 years A.D. have been characterized by a belief in nature, in natural laws, in Plato and Aristotle. In seeking the order in the world.

This present millennium is coming to believe in God as the Holy Spirit, IN THE CREATION OF SOCIETY. “Spirit” in this sense means commonly held values, which we settle on by communicating with others.  It is the stuff of forming association.  God is thus called by 3 different names; God is more than one, he is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. (Holy spirit is the understanding between people, that which allows for people to live together in peace voluntarily.)


6.In the beginning of the 3rd millennium (now) God is met (experienced) in the form of the group.

If you haven’t lived in a family group, if you haven’t lived in a fraternity, if you haven’t lived in college, in a youth camp in summer, you don’t know what the Spirit is….

The logical order in the church was, “I believe in God the Father, and God the Son and the Holy Spirit.”  But practical experience was, for the people who were Christened, “I love Christ.”  The second step was, “I have faith in the order of the world as created by the Father.” And now, “I have experienced the Spirit.” (p.9)

One could experience (vicariously) the crucifixion and have faith in Christ’s love.  In the second millennium, one experiences the application of the power of science and technology.

7.Having experience is crucial.  One does not convince by merely speaking. That comes later.  One must first provide experience. [RF – Given the present degrading of social forms, the family, the work place, war between nations, it is easy to conclude that one experiences precious little “Spirit” of cooperation. In short, there is precious little unity of peoples and therefore, we tend to worship its lacking (paganism). When one doesn’t see the whole, or experience the unity, one gets stuck in partial gods.]

One can experience love of friends and husband and wife, one can experience having hope for one’s children, and one can have faith in one’s country.  And thus have something useful to say to all three. Thus faith, hope, and charity (love) is also another description of the Trinity.  To speak out truthfully this way renews speech.  These three articles of faith engender eloquence.


8.THE NOTION IS THAT IN EACH OF THE LEVELS OF EXPERIENCE – mechanic, organic, work, love and catastrophe – at different ages and cultures, each of these is worshipped.  The worship of the golden calf and of the heavens was #1, the worship of organism, of investing life in all things, the animistic and totemic religions would be #2. Religious manifestations here would include living sacrifices to the gods, customs of behavior of people at each age they pass through, rites of passage, etc.

The church in this country is the most irreligious institution I know of. It worships just tradition for its own sake, because it doesn’t tackle your own mysterious changes. (p.19)

We experience all 5 of these levels, to get through life as best we can, to live it fully. It is the unifying power of the single God that represents all 5, which frees us from getting stuck in seeing life in distortion, as being dominated by only one or two of the five.  We, for instance, need to recognize the rhythm of the organic plain (#2), where we age and disintegrate and don’t try to stay young all our lives. We live in a succeeding set of stages and roles. The stages are both physiological and social. One cannot live (and be accepted) the same way at age 30 as one did at 20.  IN SUM, LIFE IS DESCRIBED BY CONSTANT CHANGES TO WHICH WE MUST ADAPT APPROPRIATELY. To enter one stage from another, things must be given up, and new experiences confronted.

9.Our mind seems to be a barrier to these changes.  We are not trained to see them. Our mind can stay at 20 which our physiology is at 40.  Rites of passage recognized as religious experiences remind us of the changes in our lives. Thus, courtship, marriage, becoming parents and grandparents, birthdays, baptisms, promotions and retirements, etc. necessarily change our roles, necessarily must be recognized, and this is another reason why religious ceremony is necessary.

Here is religion.  It isn’t so far away in any one, big heaven.  Religion overtakes you, or your irreligion…It just happens to us, that we undergo these changes.  And to have religion means to receive them with an open mind, and throw your mind into these changes, and to say they are important.  After all, religion is the sense of the important, of what matters…You remember, the first religion was: matter does not matter. The second religion is: physiological change does matter. (p.26)

Lecture – 16

1.Religious beliefs help us maintain some identity, a modicum of stability, unity and permanence of in our lives in an environment of a need for constant change.  We change during life stages, we change roles as we grow, we might need to change nationalities where it may be necessary to migrate, and most of all, we change during the day as we go from one basic life experience to the next. For instance, one hour we may be a scientist, the next a group member, the next, maintaining our health (perhaps doing exercises, or guarding our metabolism by getting proper rest).  In each of these different situations we respect a different god – the god of nature, of politics, the god of life (organisms), etc.

In the light of all of these changes, our religion helps maintain our personal sense of identity. Religion thus rises above the need to change, not getting stuck in any one mode. It frees us to change, helping us to live life more fully and fruitfully.

2.Each of these five elements of experience is essential and must be respected.  Work, the 3rd level, needs to be planned, organized, it is  mainly a daytime activity.  These first three, natural laws (science), organism (the rhythms of life like sleeping and eating), and work, (the getting of food, shelter and clothing), are all outside activities over which we have much control.  For instance, we have discovered many of the laws of nature and can use that power.


But our inner life, our strength to think new thoughts, our courage to make difficult decisions, our sacrifices for the group are where the creative and major power of religion lies.

3.Thus, we live in two worlds which are compatible, but different, and in some ways opposite.  In the outer world, more is better.  In the inner world, less is better (we must learn to depress the intoxication of acquiring worldly possessions beyond basic necessities). In love and politics lies our spirit, our faith that we can be self-reliant.

4.Religion and philosophy are opposite, one relating to the outer world and the other to inner world.  Philosophy is the result of being self-reliant and self-assertive. Religion (faith) helps us create by way of our spirit.

So the great question mark for every modern man with regard to this third phase is, “What can I do purposely?”…you can’t breathe purposely. You can’t sleep purposely.  You can only sleep when you no longer have purpose (for the moment).  (p.12)


5.ERH asserts that one cannot rely only any one of the five, not on science only, not on our health only, on work, love or on politics only. Not even on God only.  We need all of the above, and this is why we must be capable of change. By extension, ONE CANNOT RELY ON “SELF” ONLY. We need knowledge of nature, we need health, we need work, creativity, and politics.  “…the faith of a scientist consists in that he says, `There must be science’ before he can prove it.  That’s an act of faith.”

Thus, half the content of our acts is rational, and the other half is always based on faith. (p.15)

6.Creativity is high on the list of needs because we need to do things we have never done before, in which case we are never sure of the outcome of those acts. One of the definitions that separates humans from animals is that humans are capable of doing things where the outcome is completely unknown. No animal does this!

“…the experience of novelty is the highest religion of the human mind…As long as you are rational (only) you can never experience novelty.”  (p.27)


ERH goes on to suggest that purposeful living is important, but insufficient for living a full life.  When there is no clear way for action, one must simply change, get out of a situation, perhaps establish a new purpose in life – in order to maintain sanity.

…dead things cannot die.  The rationalist is always the deadest element in any family, and so he doesn’t fall sick.  But he, on the other hand, doesn’t live. (p.23)

7.The scientist acts as a god in that he can control things when he learns the natural laws that describe their processes. It is therefore natural and necessary to worship this power,and it gives one self-reliance (within that sphere of activity). But, because of this, it can never (or should never) be more than a partial worship.  (p.27)

Thus, in addition to self-reliance, we all know that humility, a recognition of one’s weaknesses and limitations (and the faith that one can change and persevere) is also a necessity. ERH believed that the propensity for Americans to over-value self-reliance is a sickness.  They (Americans) are stuck worshipping at the first mechanic (scientific) level of experience.  Hindus’, on the other hand, became stuck worshipping the second (organic) level. They believe divinity is achieved by descending into a deep sleep of meditation. SO THE TWO RELIGIONS ARE OPPOSITES, one all for action and purpose, one to eschew the concrete world. One worshipping conscious living, the other unconscious living.

8.Americans, because they worship science and purpose , and control, and willfulness – believe that they can “will” love and creativity and therefore be captains of their souls, and of spirit.  Thus, “…modern man has lost anything that transcends the first and the third sphere.”  Idolizing work, he fills the asylums or psychiatrist couches because he cannot understand his inner emptiness.  (p.33)

Lecture – 17

1.ERH coins the term “spheres of reality” to denote the 5 classes of experience. 1) At the outermost is dead matter, “the space world of stars…” of metal and water, Imperishable things. 2) Next comes the sphere of life, of all living organisms, of which humans are a class of animal – “animated.” 3) Next is the sphere of will, of work (which is to say organized time) – here dead matter (and lower animal life) is incorporated for human use. 4) One should make a distinction between those who create ideas and put them to use, and the worker (who is at level 3). Love, passion, sacrifice, and affection are the essence of level 4.

More on relationships: Each level is more important than that before it, in the course of human society- building. Level 3, (work and the power of will) is capable of combining levels 1 and 2.  Each of these levels is a religion. Those who seek money worship level 1, and everything (including people) is valued in terms of its monetary value. They make no distinction between the different levels. Prince Hal (Henry IV part II) just fooled around when a youth, but knew the difference between play and serious business – and was therefore great.

2.In sum, we all come under the spell of these minor gods, BUT THE IMPORTANT POINT IS THAT ONE KNOWS THE DIFFERENCE between the “spheres of reality,” and can step into the appropriate one when called upon. We pay a price for worshipping each god.  The lesser gods are serious business, because we always pay a price for whatever we worship.

3.In the 4th sphere, people are not seen as one of many, but as unique beings; “..everybody has a personal name.” (p.14) In the 3rd sphere, “workers” are seen as the same, a commodity, where one is the same as another.  In the 4th sphere, one cannot replace another – one’s wife or husband, friend, children, or family members are irreplaceable. This is the sphere of the personal, of love, of passion and compassion, and also the love for one’s work, or one’s country.  Species have a name (not numbers).  Thus, species represent a naming (by category) which is still contained in science (sphere 1).

4.People seem not to understand, today, that since the Renaissance  they have lost their understanding of what it means that every human individual has a different name. Our tendency is to grant everyone inside our own nation, or class, the right to have a different name, but “outsiders” we call by a classification; e.g. Germans, French, Jews, terrorists, etc, implying that it is all right to kill them. If they die in some catastrophe, we view it as a lesser loss. PEOPLE WHO DON’T SEE MAN AS THE CUSTODIAN OF THE EARTH care little for the extinction of plants and animals.

“…remember that where there is a name, there is affection.”…And people will blow their heads out and kill each other for a name…What’s in a name? …a love story…identity, belonging…being a member of reality.  (pp.18,19)

In the old times, after a child was born, it could be destroyed with impunity before it was given a name.

5.           …the condition of a name is that the person or the living being, addressed in this manner, turns around and comes to you, and knows that it is meant, or she is meant,…A name must always enter this field of force.  A name is that term or that expression by which somebody recognized himself, is spoken of, and is spoken to. (p.20)

Affection means that one name stands for all situations. To call someone something behind his back differently than to their face signifies a lack of love or respect. A name is physical, someone hears it.  Thus, names are just are real as things.

Names have consequences by way of addressing people with an admonition, or command, or response to them.

“Every religious person believes that God can hear.  Otherwise we couldn’t pray…IF a name suddenly is heard for which you have waited inside yourself, from the mouth of another person, you have entered a new sphere of life.” (p.23)

6.           The whole of religion is built around the sacrament of love-making, of declaring your love.  That’s why love is according to the Gospel is the greatest manifestation of the divine power…Romeo said, “it is my soul that calls upon my name.”….your real birth. That’s your soul that’s born at that moment. (p.24)

ERH goes on to point out that the difference between living in sphere 3 and sphere 4 is that, in sphere 3 (work and will power) one declares him/herself to be self-made; while in sphere 4, Romeo’s statement exemplified the essence of love, by hearing that someone else defines who one is by calling his name.

7.To be loved means that all past sins are forgiven, and we are born again – made over, so to speak.This gives one the power to face the world and in the end, perhaps the world, will call you by the same name.

We are made by the recognition of others.  This is what politics is vis-a-vis the 5th sphere.  Love is not necessarily agreeable, or perhaps not very often agreeable. One frets, strives to provide for, feels pain for those loves. But love is something one cannot escape.

Love saves you from despair in your own power to be recognized by the world. That’s the best definition of love I know….You need somebody who sees in you what you hope you can be. (p.29)

8.The 3rd sphere, that of the bureaucracy, will turn you into a rubber stamp. You are viewed as a commodity of labor, it encroaches upon your sense of self-respect. No doubt with only rare exceptions, the bureaucracy has an enervating effect on one’s soul.  This is why the 4th and 5th spheres are so important.  They provide an environment where one generates the power to rise above and beyond mere “work.”

9.Love “annihilates” the past because it is only interested in the future.

The lover calls you by your name as part of your future.  And enemies call you by your name as part of your past. So love makes the present. (pp.31,32)

Lecture – 18

1.To call the person by the right name – friend, lover, admiral, garbage collector – creates social order in the world; social order means communication, and the foundation upon which all association (community) is based. Organization (the 3rd sphere) tries to make all relationships impersonal. Passion, love (the 4th sphere) is just the opposite, and therefore more alive.

2.We live in a highly impersonal world. Politics, which is another word for organization (the 3rd sphere), MUST HAVE AN INDIVIDUAL’S NAME ASSOCIATED WITH IT. Organization intends to exclude the 4th sphere (love), and thus, it should never be loved. Respected, responded to, but not loved.

3.THE GOOD LIFE is peopled by a world which, as far as possible, lives in the 4th and 5th spheres – where everyone should be loved by someone and can be unique. This means a world where people are an end in themselves, rather than a means (as they are in spheres 1-3).

4.In the 4th and 5th spheres we really achieve humanness, as distinguished from mere animals. One can say, we begin to acquire a “soul.” WE ARE PART, OR HAVE A PART IN, ALL 5 SPHERES.

But the more careful you distinguish what part of yours has to stay within these rings, the more free you will be for being also a member of the fourth and fifth sphere, of where the man (person) only begins to exist. (p.7)

Where creativity and prophecy occur, engendering the ability to change toward growth.

5.The advent of almost all professions requiring specified formal educational certification is an example of over-organization. There is little improvisation. This is a manifestation of praise of method over content, for formal schooling is more important than demonstrated competence. Why do we channelize our efforts toward organization?

Because you don’t dare to love.  That’s too vulnerable, that’s too exciting, and too dangerous.  And there you can go wrong. (p.8)

All order is an attempt to be predictable. Predictable never leads to innovation, or creativity.  One cannot love a predictable person. The only person who is interesting is the incalculable person, because you can’t calculate her by any standards of organization.

6.Where one loves, truly, one quiets their desire for sex. ERH tells the story of the priest who was excommunicated and had to marry because his congregation could no longer love him. He had to belong to something.  What is love? SEEING ONESELF INSIDE A LARGER BODY. Love therefore is not idolatry – one should not idolize a husband or wife, or friend. But one has a common faith with those  one loves.

Love requires speech. We tend to get stuck on understanding communication in terms of the content of the message – BUT ANOTHER CRUCIAL ELEMENT OF SPEECH IS WHO SPEAKS TO WHOM.

All of these comments about love are an attempt to have you understand the implication of the 4th sphere. By “work” (3rd sphere) we incorporate dead matter into our lives.  By love we incorporate organisms, that otherwise die, into the life of the race. (p.14)  Love is therefore the process by which we really overcome death. One can save the United States from decay, one can save the environment, or reverse degeneration of the culture.

By their fruits you shall know them.  That is the important rule of the Fourth Commandment. (p.15)

6.The fifth sphere is “love to the square, or life to the third power. ..without spirit, no great nation can live.” (p.16)

7.The order of importance of these spheres is for a good reason. Dead matter is just there, we cannot avoid attending to the laws of nature. Metabolism likewise has a rhythm we must pay attention to or fall sick. Organization (work) represents production.  BUT WHAT TO DO WITH THESE METHODS? These are largely if not completely described by quantitative measures. The fourth and fifth spheres must guide and control all the others.  They are qualitative, unmeasurable by quantitative means.

8.Selectivity is the heart and soul of spheres 4 & 5.  It lies at the heart of love, of art, of all creativity. Every new theory demonstrates a different method of selecting elements of the universe, and therefore creating something new, or not-before noticed. Selectivity is qualitative, not quantitative.

To get one’s wishes does not improve one’s happiness, because it would reduce our power of selectivity.  Neither the 1st, 2nd, nor 3rd spheres have any criterion for importance (except within their sphere).  LOVE IS THE ONLY POWER THAT IS SELECTIVE.

9.When one lives in one of the spheres only, one confuses the richness of the others for its own. To differentiate the spheres is a selective process.  When we pass through different roles in life, youth, young adulthood, middle and old age, we have different abilities and privileges, as well as different metabolisms.  Life only becomes interesting by selecting, by making these distinctions, when we separate the generations.

Selection is not organized so much as it is recognized.  Therefore, to be selective is above and beyond mere organization.

The businessman can only speak the language of regulations, and of organization, and of production.  That’s not the language with which you bring people together. (p.29)

Lecture – 19

1.ERH sees a necessity to differentiate willful love from real love.  Willful love is want of eros, “just sex,” it requires no deep relationship; it is playing. Love for which one will sacrifice is deeper, but one has no control over it.   “…much nearer a disease than to a free act of your will.” (p.1)

2.Serious life has that aggravating quality of not being amenable to being called on at the beginning or off at the ending. Play, on the other hand, is completely controlled by will. The issues of serious life are necessity, beyond our choice.

True love is not luxury, it is the only way we have of overcoming death, and it is not sentimental.

3.These 5 spheres, in sum, describe comprehensiveness. They arise from our fear of change. These five spheres arise from a number of questions: 1) What does this change mean? 2) Where can I hold onto something that lasts, across this chasm of change? 3) Where am I before, and where am I hereafter? (That is, what reference points do I have in life and what do they mean?)

One leaves behind the sphere of mutual recognition and enters the sphere of fate, of war, of catastrophe.  The Roman god of catastrophe is Saturnus. And the Jewish god who raised Saturnus says, “I am he who comes.” (p.5)

4.Two conceptions of catastrophe: in one case, as the end of an era, and  the other, as the beginning of the next era, as a new beginning.

Our (American) initial response to deep change is that of fear; that is how the 5 spheres were derived – from our fear of deep change. Jews faced this fear and took the opposite view – that any change is better than the present tyranny. Doing God’s will is better than doing the will of the rich. Jews believe that today is not good enough.  Saturnus (Americans) believe that “the devil we know is better than the devil we don’t know.”

5.One can understand the temptation to believe that deep change will make things worse, (especially if one is rich at present.)  Satan is a metaphor for hatred of the uncontrollable.  Here we tend to value (worship) the ways of flesh rather than what is necessary to create a good community; it is the way of selfishness, of seeing ourselves and our logic as god.

6.It is easier to understand the first 4 spheres than the 5th, where questions of the existence of God arise. All personal and social life must bow to the natural power of the catastrophe, of war and pestilence, of earthquake, of incurable disease, of the atomic bomb and its consequences.

When these things happen, when blindness or crippling disease occurs, when war comes, all of our plans and loves and possibilities must change before such awesome force.  The earthquake means that the earth is still being created. Forces of creation continue. It means as well that the nature of humankind continues to evolve and our goal is to shape that evolution toward an ideal. A momentous insight, that earth and heaven are yet unfinished.


7.All of this means that our whole view of the meaning of different religions must be reassessed, because the universe is still in the process of being created.  It means that humankind can participate in this creation as agents of divinity; the creations of humankind are social, in community and  in all our roles.  WE THUS EXPERIENCE CREATION IN OUR LIFETIMES ALL AROUND US.

In this way, we become, or have the potential of becoming reborn, that is, with violent change.  At these times we must decide whether to live a selfish life, or be concerned with the future of the community.  One’s individual life, or the life of one’s small group associations, as against the rest of the world.

8.The question between the secular and the religious lies in sphere 5.  For instance, to judge that Russia and America together must address something bigger than their national survival. THE GREAT QUESTION IS, DO PEOPLE SEE CATASTROPHES?  How much of their experience do they understand!? (p.15)  Every sphere realizes change in different ways, but more importantly, how do different groups address catastrophe?

The Jews prophesy catastrophe far ahead, and imagine, today, “It smells fishy.” (p.15)  The Pagan down-plays future dangers. The Christian takes a stand in between and asks, “When must we let go?”

The Jews try to create a future, and have few loyalties to kings.  Pagans have too many loyalties and don’t wish to change.  Christians accept the notion of creating a social future “kicking and screaming in protest”, but seek, at the right moment to let go of the past customs.  Thus, the Biblical quotation “They have ears and don’t hear, and they have eyes and don’t see.” (p.16)

9.The primary source of meaning in our lives is fighting for a cause. One doesn’t know beforehand which one is likely to be the right cause – it depends upon what others wish to dedicate themselves to, what catches their spirit.  But commit we must, and sacrifice for the cause we must, in order to create a future, with no guarantees of success.

ERH likens the individual decision to a leaf on a tree, which asks, “Do I live my own life, or do I drop and fertilize the roots of the tree (of society)?”  There is so much of the universe that is non-living – dead – and so the life that exists, including humankind and the animals and plants, must fight for its existence. EITHER ONE SACRIFICES TO RENEW LIFE, OR LIFE WILL NOT BE RENEWED. “The solidarity of all life against all death — that’s the problem of level 5.” (p.19)

As long as one denies this question, and this battle for life, and withdraws, one denies the value of religion! It is humanity committing genocide. War is life against life, not life against death.

10.War is death against order, and against sphere 4.  War is a battle between associations, not between individuals – this is why war is in sphere 5 and against sphere 4.

The individual life is less important than the life of the association (unless, of course the association is too corrupt and not worth saving). Individuals must fight for the association (the nation) because it protects individual freedom in many spheres with law and order.

11.A CATASTROPHE forces us to confirm or restate the religious question. The problem is always the survival of the human race against a material universe. Religion  presents the standards for values that allow the race to become unified, otherwise it tears itself apart through anarchy. The problem, at first, is whether or not we recognize an impending catastrophe brought about by human action.  The environment, for instance. A blind society is caught off-guard.

Jesus was said to have addressed the Jews about the impending doom of Jerusalem, the destruction of the Temple.  He gave a warning and proposed a plan of change – to inform the Jews they must live in a different way. And he thus allowed the Jews to survive. He anticipated this destruction by 40 years.

12.Those who cannot anticipate such a future are enslaved within the first 4 spheres, and thus unable to see what is going on in the world.

Catastrophes require us to change our character, our ways of living, our hearts, our interpretation of what is important in life. Social catastrophe indicates an ignoring of social truths that unify society. Anticipation of the catastrophe creates time to adjust and formulate a plan, like providing for a life boat on an ocean- going ship.  THIS IS WHY PROPHECY WAS VALUED BY THE JEWS.

13.This change is not just an adaptation to a new circumstance.  It is much more fundamental to change one’s heart and character. IT IS A REBIRTH. The Fundamentalists seem, as they do in most of their philosophy, to misunderstand the momentousness of this act. To change is no light matter.  They seem to worship the forms and miss the meaning. Just as do scientists and others who are imprisoned in a misinterpreted faith, with no freedom to change their minds about its meaning.

To anticipate the emergency, as said above, is to prepare to meet and survive it somehow.

…sacrifice is, of course, nonsense if it isn’t the condition for surviving emergencies, catastrophes.  That’s what sacrifice is by definition.  (p.24)

14.There were attempts in the past to avoid real sacrifice in the form of change of habits by way of offering of human and other animal sacrifices on stone altars to false gods.  These cultures tried to find a scapegoat, “…to buy off the emergency.”  And certainly this seems to be basic to human nature – to attempt avoidance of pain by cheap methods.

15.One of the differences between Christianity and Paganism is that one says, “I must volunteer to sacrifice (as we all must).”  And the Pagan says, “Who, beside myself can I find to sacrifice?”  Agamemnon sacrificed his daughter, but Jesus volunteered himself.

16.Agamemnon claimed to believe in the gods, but his action belied that belief. Jesus proclaimed an impending catastrophe; it was not his speech, but his actions that empowered his belief.  He was willing to die for them – and thus impressed much of the world with the power of that belief.

Lecture – 20

1.We need to learn to climb up gradually from the first sphere of material things, to a sphere of more life, and eventually to conquer each sphere it by making it easily accessible. This is the importance of production, to rise above spending all our time consuming  and attend more to the quality of social life. THIS IS ANOTHER WAY OF STATING THE PURPOSE OF RELIGION. “…nature is that which has to be treated in the opposite way from all living beings.” (p.2)

2.ERH next tries to make the case for seeing our individual selves as a speck of dust, in contrast to the whole of humankind. Our individual lives are less important than the group; our language is inherited from them, our knowledge, customs, art, institutions – everything that makes us human has been given us on “loan” for our short lives.

The point is, individually we can overcome death  only by love, by dedication to others or to causes or professions – we continue to live in memories after physical death. This is accomplished by accepting and living by the requirements (laws), and fulfilling the purposes of each sphere. Each sphere represents a higher form of living from the previous, and all are essential to survival. Realize and recognize this as the method by which we achieve the fulfillment of humankind.  And of course, this is the purpose and method of religion.

3.‘The term catastrophe needs more definition.  In this essay, catastrophe does not include natural, cataclysmic events such as earthquakes.  Rather it derives from the Greek Katastrophein, TO TURN WHOLESALE. In short, it refers to social events, to the management of affairs.

4.Another interpretation of catastrophe is that it is something that is terrible to live through, but necessary for the future of the society or race. The English, French, American, and Russian revolutions were terrible to survive in the short term, but fruitful in the long run.  As was the Reformation brought on by Luther.

5.RELIGION IS THE POWER TO BOW, ALTHOUGH WE SHUDDER. (p.12)  “He is outside the religious sphere who denies this unity of the necessary and the terrible.” (p.13). Philosophy is on the other side; it attempts to emphasize what should and should not happen, what is logical.  It reflects the wishful thinking of fantasy, it assumes that it can command the forces that created the universe. The fantasy is that good can exist without evil, not recognizing that one always becomes corrupted with the power of knowledge and self-importance.

Religion, on the other hand, should force us to recognize the social catastrophes we have created and act to survive – and be willing to pay the price (of sacrifice) for solutions to social problems.

6.As one goes from sphere 1 to 5, the issue of time and timing becomes ever more crucial.  In the cosmos, a specific physical event is not important, say a volcanic eruption, which could happen at any time.  In sphere 2, the rhythm of the organism demands attention to “when-ness.” With the organization of work, time schedules are at the center.  With love, declarations are  effective only when they come at the right time, which can only be felt or intuited, but certainly not willed.  And finally, with politics, the right moment, the moment of opportunity, of truth,  all are crucial to success or failure.

ERH points out that for the last 400 years philosophers have constantly missed the importance of time.  The coming of Christ is that He came when the times were fulfilled. THIS IS THE NEW ELEMENT OF THE CHRISTIAN RELIGION, compared to other religions. (p.15)  In prophesying the catastrophe, one is being prepared to act at the right time.

Christianity comes into the world to say, “You have forgotten one element, the element of timing.” …The Christian problem is to recognize which (social) catastrophe is indispensable, and then to go into it by voluntarily stripping yourself of the privileges of the old order, which makes the break so much harder if the privileges still stand up. (pp.16,17)

French nobility, in 1789, offered to give up their privileges (August 4), but it was too late.  They had to have been given up before July 14 in order to influence a catastrophe. No sacrifice done under pressure is a real sacrifice. Jesus certainly could be called a political rebel; however, because he sacrificed himself on the cross before the catastrophe of the taking of the Temple, he was a “savior.” Nietzsche, likewise pronounced “God is dead!” Man must now become superman. He, likewise suffered persecution. Most people tend to function in the sphere below their best self, below the highest level of receptivity and understanding.  RELIGION IS PRECISELY FOR THE PURPOSE OF AWAKENING US TO ACHIEVE A HIGHER LEVEL.

When there is not a strong force driving us we tend to slide down into the next lower sphere.  [RF – In modern times someone put it this way, “We are as lazy as we dare to be!”

7.Love, spirit, inspiration “…I call “breathing together” – a shared sense of the world at that moment. Spheres 4 and 5 are to be looked up to because they leave us open to new experiences (and to growth through change). And, of course, these are the realms of religious experience. That which we look down on (spheres 1,2,3) are materials which we manipulate to higher ends (the building of community).  To recognize only  material reality is to omit the other half of experience. (p.23)

The religious experience, or religious issues, are where we decide in favor of action that moves us to spheres 4 and 5. These are the highest experiences of life, serving the community.

8.The very beginning of our lives is in an environment of speech from the authority of our parents, people we must look up to for all our needs. Only by being led by higher authorities do we live more in spheres 4 and 5.

A child is plastic, and can be trained into almost anything.  This is the positive aspect of being said to be “childlike.”  One can still learn.  To be childlike also means that we listen to an authority. Having learned what is believed to be necessity frees us to know where the realms of freedom might be, and therefore to be creative – to think for ourselves.

This means listening to the authority of the dead, of our ancestors. This, ERH claims, is why all religions embrace issues around death.  CREATING A GOOD COMMUNITY IS BY DEFINITION A PLACE WHERE COMMANDS (FROM REAL SPIRITUAL AUTHORITIES, I.E. ALL GREAT FIGURES IN HISTORY AS WELL AS OUR ANCESTORS) ARE LEARNED.  A good community is one that has the power to regenerate itself (teaching citizens to be plastic, changeable).

9.           …worship of the dead is simply a way of remaining childlike. (p.28)

To renew ourselves is the central problem of religion. It is the power to decide when to follow orders from “authority.” This is the only route to human survival and growth.

To lose parents means that we are no longer protected by someone else against death. Death projects survivors forward into a position of the next to die.  Perhaps for the first time, one is forced to face death and the question of what our living has led to.  RELIGION DEALS WITH THE DIFFICULT PROBLEMS OF CHANGE (all things in life resist death and change), empowering us to face down death.

10.An authority is, in part, someone who can face us down, who can criticize us with validity, who can laugh at us without our resentment.

Lecture – 21

1.Thought is inferior to speech.  The real power for humans is the words that are spoken to him(her) and what he speaks in response.  And the meaning of our speech becomes manifest only in our actions. We are forced to think because somebody speaks to us. (p.2)  “And that first layer of speech is an invocation, the name-giving.”

To speak to another person helps us know who we are. “Thinking is a storage room for speech…the first connection of men with real life is speech.” (p.2)

2.The society is in trouble when there are no great authorities to look up to, no Lincolns or Rossevelts – and parents to a great extent have lost their authority with their children, or the respect of youth in general. It is chic today for young people to eschew all authority. No wonder there is so much de-generation. NO DOUBT ONE OF THE CRUCIAL JUDGMENTS ONE MAKES LIES IN CHOOSING  A PROPER AUTHORITY TO LOOK UP TO.

3.One of the important elements of community is integrating groups with different approaches to thought and mores.  In order to include people in our circle, we must understand our own values and religion – only then can we learn to accommodate theirs.

Prayer means invocation, the willingness to learn from the other fellow who you are. (p.7)

The first layer of speech invokes names whose “tone” of utterance is ripe with meaning.  Hindu, Sanskrit, Old German, Latin and Greek are the full flowering of grammatical forms (speaking about something).  Syntax, as in Beowulf and Homer, produces long sentences.  Grammatics and syntax reduce tone and increase  “…estrangement from the people being spoken to.”

This is why the Protestant service has, as a backbone the reading of the Psalms, which intones fully by invoking the name of an authority (the lord).  All of this discussion exemplifies the need to look up to an authority as a fundamental religious act. ERH GENERALIZES THIS EXAMPLE TO THE FUNDAMENTAL NEED FOR AUTHORITY IN ALL SPHERES. This need seems to lie at the base of the method for growth.

4.ERH makes the point once again that all activities are specialized, e.g. the scientist, the government worker, the banker and carpenter and watchmaker —.  But, as humans, we also have other experiences outside our means for making a living.  ONLY RELIGION HAS THE PURPOSE OF BEING UNIVERSAL, of teaching us and giving us the strength to integrate all our experiences into our thinking so that we can understand interrelationships between ideas and one another..

The point is that invocations (names) are the universal language of mankind, because they are the one part of our language that really is universal.  And invocation is the bedrock of religion.  It is not music, as some assert, that is the universal language. And in spite of the fact that there are hundreds of languages, names are still their only universal element. Names do not belong to Latin or German. “The only connecting link between the Siberians and American is the name, Lincoln.” (pp.9,10,11)

5.The reason for the requirement of the Liberal Arts in college is the need to be in touch with the universal names in history. The names of Jesus, of Moses, of Buddha and Lao Tse exemplify universal names of religion.

In Christianity, Jesus invoking the name of our “father,” implies that he, and we ourselves, are mature enough to “take over” the management of our affairs.  And Jesus’ words on the Cross, “Father, why have you forsaken me?” is the first step in this invocation process. “Names are the way of incorporating ourselves into each other.” (pp.14,15)

6.The religious service requires that we recognize the ultimate power that created the universe. It is praising this power, allowing us to participate in it.  In THE ORIGIN OF SPEECH, ERH points out that the first language was that of invocation.  The first act of all cultures was to name all the animals, land, plants around them.  This was also an act of invocation. The rest of our language followed from this.

The importance of our feeling “attached” to the universe could not be more real. For only those persons who are attached to the community have any value to it.

…whom you praise — you can praise the gods, you can praise the spirits, you can praise anybody.  But you have to praise the power, otherwise it becomes oppressive. (p.18)

7.It is important also to understand that this praise is not because God or the universe is large. That is very abstract and perhaps unimpressive (to ERH).  But what is praised in the end is the enormous power to change and to change the world when we are included in the community. The Puritans exercised their power to reject powerful government in Europe, as did the underground that opposed Hitler.  WHAT WE ACTUALLY PRAISE AND GLORIFY IS THE POWER WE HAVE WHEN WE CAN UNDERSTAND AND ACT ON ALL 5 SPHERES OF EXPERIENCE.

The declaration of one’s faith is part of faith itself, as a declaration of love is part of love itself, as the declaration of war is part of war itself.  Great is what forces us to speak of it….this universe, it is so much alive that every one of us wants to participate by having his say about the universe. (p.21)

The point is, when we do not so praise the source of our power and thereby do “His” bidding, our alternative and strong tendency is to become self-centered.

8.The meaning of atonement lies in the fact that since God created life, and in order to live we must take life, we feel that we must give something back to pay for the gift of our lives. All primitive societies  made offerings, at first, of the most desirable parts of the animal.  In general, this is a symbolic meaning of the offertory in the church service. (p.24)

The most primitive phases of religion are incorporated in all of the parts of universal religions.  So aspects of this universality are praise, invocation, and offertory all of which go together, his place.”p.21-29

9.To invoke names, to include in praise of life is to speak to all living things. To speak only about them is to put them outside our living universe. No doubt this is why we seem so casual about exterminating animals and whole species with our technology. IF WE ARE TO BECOME THE STEWARDS OF THE EARTH and accept this burden seriously we must understand all our experience, including all life we can dominate. IT IS ONLY IN THE POWER OF RELIGION that this becomes possible, because by definition, religion includes all elements of the universe, not just some of its parts, like science, or our bodies, or our search for gold, or our institutional life.

Lecture – 22

1.The 5 spheres of existence are largely a matter of “looking up and looking down.” 1) Matter is just there, regardless of our existence. Beginning then with 2) organic, which is our “half existence,” 3) to work, and 4) on to loving and finally 5) catastrophe, we progress in stages of “aliveness.” The final sphere, catastrophe, calls for a necessity to be our most conscious of who we are in order to face the most difficult issues of our lives.

A catastrophe, that you have to be asked to stand up and testify for the truth, or that you have to die in battle as a soldier, or that you have to rescue somebody from danger or from oblivion, or that you have to sacrifice yourself for your children, that is not to be known before it has happened. (p.1)

Other stages are there most every day, and can be planned for and anticipated. Love, creativity, and catastrophe can be anticipated, of course, but not really planned for in the sense that we know when they will happen.

2.One problem is that catastrophe happens seldom. We get the feeling that we cannot or do not ever meet the extreme case. Another problem is that people tend to believe that #3, work, or those levels below (#’s 1 and 2, science (matter) and the half-alive experience of organism) individually may account for all our experiences.  In other words, the sphere in which one lives most hours of the day (work) tends to incorporate standards of explanation that dominate all life experiences.  PEOPLE OFTEN FIND IT DIFFICULT OR IMPOSSIBLE TO MAKE THE DISTINCTION BETWEEN WHAT IS LOW AND WHAT IS HIGH, WHAT IS MERE DESCRIPTION AND WHAT REQUIRES DECISIONS ABOUT SIGNIFICANT PARTS OF LIFE.

3.In sphere 5, “To embrace the darkness of your own death and to affirm the end of the United States, or to affirm that we mustn’t go to war now against Russia…This takes the acceptance of a will that is not your  and my will.” (p.4)  In other words, the will of higher authority – in these examples, either the creator of the universe, or our government, both of which must be higher than ourselves individually.

One may not agree with these higher “wills,” but one needs to accept them. For example, the Civil War general, Lee, didn’t wish for the defeat of the South, but he accepted it.


4.It is precisely this decision, whether to recognize and accept as inevitable the will of powers beyond us, – to accept that which has already been decided – which is the question of religion.

…how many people will look up to catastrophe and love, to things that are bigger than your own mind, and accept the verdict that is expressed by the fact that some people love you and some people don’t love you, and that some certain states of the world come to an end, and certain other states begin?…Why couldn’t the South say, “Thy will be done” for 90 years?….95 out of 100, they pray for all other things except for the one thing they should pray.  That is, that their will be not now recalcitrant and obstructive to what has already happened. (pp.7,8)

ERH saw those who exclude themselves from the common will (or common need, or community interest) or common catastrophe, or “…any judgment of God,” as having a “black soul”.  To reverse this tendency one must first become conscious of how one has excluded oneself from this personal isolation from the world.

5.There is a necessity to accept this higher will, and ERH defines prayer as an attempt to find out what higher spirit should grip you. And, he points out, this spirit is always represented in only a minority. Individually, it grips one only occasionally.  What often passes for prayer, the asking for personal help or for some fortune to come your way, is not real prayer, but merely an expression of desire.  True prayer is an attempt to reach beyond oneself.  And one seldom, if ever, can understand it and should not assume to do so.  If one wishes to be a member of the “creative and fruitful minority”, it is  a necessity. Otherwise prayer is pointless, or “just nice.”

Any nation and any individual who does not pray doesn’t complete his existence, because he does not bring into his life those spheres for which he has to wait, or which have already passed away and which are not with him at this moment. (p.16)

Because we cannot always be at our best, at our peak, “…we must make room for the entrance of the big life. That’s prayer….Many people who think they don’t pray, do pray.” As one attempts to get into this higher spirit, “God’s spirit,” real prayer is always reciprocal. A Sufi prayer expresses this: “Wherever a man says, “O Lord,” he also says, “My Dear Son.”

Prayer creates an association. To bestow a title on God establishes that we are also a reviver of the spirit. A title is bestowed on us, as son or daughter. Thus, the essential of the prayer is the invocation (in both directions), just as one does in addressing his/her sons and daughters. And just the same as we bestow our love and wisdom on our children when we invoke their names.

To find out “who we are” to know ourselves we can be reinstituted in the universe, we find our reference point through this type of prayer. Saying son, or daughter, means the speaker is father or mother.

6.This grand “spirit” is the basis for building a decent community.  It is not building new churches, which is merely mechanical convenience.  It is not grand buildings that reveal a strong faith, but the spirit of the congregation.  No one is self-made, except in the 3rd sphere, that is, one can will to work.  But creativity, the power to love, the power to face difficult issues (catastrophe) comes from outside us.  In these endeavors one can never be “self-made.” Thus, functioning in spheres 4 and 5 helps create a future and lasts more than one generation.

7.One never learns anything unless one feels gratitude toward one’s teacher whoever that person might be – parent, school teacher, etc. Most of the student’s experience is immediately. to forget almost all of what is taught. Those who do connect with students have connected with the times, and taught students to do the same.

You cannot learn without a personal relation to the men (and women) from whom you learn. (p.13)

All teaching is guided by the spirit of the level of the 4th sphere, and lasts beyond one’s generation.

8.The 5th sphere deals with principles geared to last for ages, for hundreds of years.  “The civil war has made law for centuries.  Slavery has been abolished, for good.” (p.13)  Each of the spheres below the 5th is intended to last for shorter time periods – centuries,  generations, a year or more, days or months, – and matter, of course for eternity (out of time).

Prayer is a necessity for those who wish to avoid being trapped in a single sphere; those who wish to be creative; those who need the courage to risk; those who wish not to be trapped in their own “time,” as would, for instance, those who deny the civil war happened (many Southerners for 100 years, and some even now). “Prayer completes man, because he is always incomplete in the spheres in which he has to move.” (p.18)

9.One’s own purposes, which is to say one’s own will, is always smaller than the community issues, such as slavery or corruption in public office.  One cannot build a complete life out of one’s own will.  One must be open to one’s higher potential for the community.

Prayer is the power which links us with what’s really going on at this moment,……The power to find his surrender to a will that isn’t his own. (p.22)

Prayer is not something done in church…Prayer is a public act….your exposure to the power takes you back into full life.  And full life is neither public nor private. It’s just life. It’s open life….only work is done privately, because it’s under your own purpose…Religion is either cosmic, an attempt to get in touch with the cosmic order, or [it isn’t] religion.  (p.24,25)

Differentiating expressions, open from private, is important.  No event concerning the community is private. Prayer is not for private purposes despite popular beliefs.  “…in any lecture there is also prayer. (p.26)

10.Of course, in our everyday experience we intertwine private and public, with personal and public affairs, and therefore function within different spheres of experience.

In order to cover the 5th sphere there are certain institutionalized forms, “liturgies.”  Religion lives by liturgy, “…by forms in which man is all the time kept alert to the 5 challenges of his existence…liturgy is an attempt to make the power to change spheres available to you.”

All liturgy has 5 qualities in order to bring about this power within us. 1) It must oppose superstition about the natural world. 2) It must say that any catastrophe can be a blessing in disguise (e.g. a crucifixion can lead to a resurrection). 3) One passion must not obstruct the rise of another passion. No passion must be self devouring. Otherwise one would go to pieces. 4) It must empower you to give up one type of work for another. For instance, Judaism tries to emphasize that men’s will must have an end, that even the greatest purpose of men may need to be abandoned. 5) Liturgy regarding the organic sphere  (the Sabbath), is to remind us that we always move out of our natural rhythms of life, and must slow down and get back into them.

…you can see suddenly perhaps that the liturgy is very elaborate and very eloquent. A liturgy works itself into you by the calendar.  Liturgy comes to men not by a system of thought, and not by books, and not by philosophies, but in the form of taking you through experience over the years…an attempt to make you participate in the full life of the human race when you are in great danger of being sunk into one of these smaller grooves. (of a single sphere). (p.30)

11.Any acts that cause us to risk our lives are acts for the public good, but are logically inexplicable. We expect uncritically that all people should act humanly toward us, should assume we have rights to live.  Where does this come from?  It is God’s law.

All religious acts are stupid in the eyes of the men of the world…If you are not stupid you will consider your own advantage…To rescue another man’s life,…is not clever…But the whole problem of religion is: is your purpose good enough? (pp.32,33)

Lecture – 23

1.What is “true” is at first agreed upon by one or two, then it may be recognized by a few more, then, eventually everybody.

This meeting will deal with animism, then the astrological (sky) religions, then Greek, then Jewish, and finally Christianity for the next 5 meetings.

2.Animism assumed that not only all plants and animals are alive, but also things like water, stones (such as the  remnant is the Holy Stone in Kaaba, Mecca).  Animism is a religion that attempts to address the issue of “aliveness” (vitality).  It does not deal with the great gods of catastrophe, or of a means to rationalize, “or recognize that which we have to give to the golden calf,…,”   or idolizing of the sun, the moon, or iron & steel. . It was an emphasis on the first experience of life, that is, staying alive.

I must warn you, that it isn’t primitive, but it is only limited, which isn’t the same…you and I must be animists.  But we cannot be only animists.  So my criticism of this first tradition of the human race, animism, is not that it is wrong, or primitive, but that it restricts the universe’s perceptions, and our means of dealing with the universe..,  (p.3)

ERH warns that we must not supersede basic religious ideas, rather we must advance to take one step of development at a time, while advancing, retaining the previous concept. In this case, the first idea is that life is one,  and  “…primitive people had this glowing desire to unite with all life.” (p.5)

3.This notion of inclusiveness is important, the declaring of something being either alive or dead, vital or nonvital. When we speak, we use the terms “is” or “was,” betraying the faith of our (ERH’s) belief. “We either consign a present and future to the individual or group or idea, or we consign it to history.”  [RF  – Consigning to history means, pronouncing it dead. ]

Defining “Heaven and Earth” will also help our understanding of “aliveness.”  Earth is all things that can be measured and counted by mathematics. ERH asserts:

Heaven from now on …in the New and Old Testament, and in the traditions of mankind is a membership inside that world in which everybody has its own name.  And earth is everything which can just be mentioned by counting it, by analyzing it.  (p.8)

4.The enigma for animists was that, while animals and plants were alive, they had to be taken for food.  So their response was to sacrifice in their own lives for this gift from the gods. [ RF – Interestingly ERH cites the example of the WW II, when the government of Germany had to be destroyed, our leaders killed or imprisoned, then we sent CARE packages to help the German people – as a modern version of animistic sacrifice.) Likewise, in primitive times, they had to supplant or increase the plants and animals taken so that there would be a future for the tribe.

5.ERH points out the weakness of modern science lies in its inability to help us understand our experience. An example is that our encyclopedias define animism as a philosophy (meaning something outside our experience rather than part of it, everyday). The issue today persists, “What is alive and what is dead and what do each of these mean?” All through our lives we cannot avoid making this distinction.  ERH goes on to give a number of examples  of religions today that are largely based on this distinction between life or death. Hinduism, for instance, addresses the problems of living by seeking divinity, nirvana by way of rejecting materialism in the form of deep and persistent meditation. Similarly, in the USA, our values focus on dead matter; acquiring property, on organization and work, on poisoning our environment with pollution.  What is all of this other than preferring life-destroying actions, to being stewards of the earth!?

We live, for the last 70 years in an atmosphere of prohibiting life…of saying that life is better when it is predictable, organized, coordinated, registered and measured, measurably under control…(p.15)

…our religion of America, that no life is better than life…as soon as you want to control life, you deprive yourselves of life.  Because by establishment…life is that which cannot be controlled.  And death is that which can be controlled…The pursuit of happiness will always lead you to keep everything under control, because happy is that which you think happy now.  And bliss, or life, or reality, or however you call your real destiny, is that which happens against your will and desire only later showing you that it was a blessing in disguise….The power to realize newness, you remember, we called the power of religion. …Now the animists were able to realize newness, because these migrating, migratory tribes learned new climates, new animals…(pp.16,17)   [RF – emphasis mine.]

6.To recognize newness means that one is forced to decide that which must be revered as indispensable and that which can be pruned, cut out. In America and other industrial countrys the advent of pollution means that water and air and clean soil are of little importance. It is only a minority that recognized who recognize these are essential resources that must be regenerated.

Heads of large organizations as well as a majority of our elected officials the world over, through short-sighted greed, allow this condition to prevail over the life and welfare of the community. WHAT COULD BE MORE OF A MORAL AND RELIGIOUS PROBLEM?!

7.In sum, ERH points out how fundamental to all religion, yesterday and today, the assumptions and guidance of the principles of ANIMISM are.  Animistic tribes recognized  two fundamental human experiences, the differentiation between live and dead things, and the consciousness of reality through naming.  For example, ornithologists working in New Guinea after WW II identified 137 species of birds, and were amazed to find that the natives had names for all of them. Primitive prayer “…very often only consists of names…giving a string of names under which you place yourself….There is nothing more real than something you have to give a special name.” (p.21)  They give us orientation – reference points to who we are in the universe.  [RF – Throughout many of ERH’s essays he emphasizes the importance for us of having reference points by which to judge the nature of some situation, so that our response will be appropriate.

8.Naming creates our consciousness of reality; it also “…completed creation.” It recognized the right of those 137 species to exist.

The recognition by animists of distinguishing living from dead is equally fundamental. The recognition is two-pronged, recognizing the dead ancestors and incorporating their wisdom into the present and future. These profound insights represent a judgment as to what should be preserved from the past. Anticipating the yet-unborn, recognizes that a future must be established for our children.

You cannot meet in any town in America anybody who will make a sacrifice for the year 2050, because nobody in this country believes that this is his concern…That’s why the government had to take over all the holdings and conservation, because no individual cares for the future of the soil of this country….And therefore America has no future. (p.27)

But the animists of past times would know this!  Thus, they knew the problem of reproduction.  ERH goes on for several pages giving examples of how important the issues of production and reproduction are.  Not uncontrolled population, but continuing the life of the species on this planet.

9.Great people are a species by themselves in the sense of examples which, if followed, will help the future of civilization.

Lincoln is a breed completely his own…he is the most religious person of the 19th century in America and that he didn’t belong to a church.  You can’t read his second inaugural without feeling that he has a new revelation.” (p.30)

A saint is somebody who must be succeeded.  And in the saint you have the original hero of antiquity…the animistic religion, is still vigorous and we can’t be without it.  The animistic religion expresses itself by creating species. (p.31)

10.   We have no instance above religion which can tell us what it is to be a religion. You have either a religion of the Devil or the religion of the living God.  That is, you have a religion of fruitfulness, or a religion of destruction.  (p.32)

Joseph McCarthy and Hitler represented religions of destruction!

Lecture – 24

1.A theme throughout this and other essays is that modern social science has not presented us with anything close to an adequate power to interpret our experience. BUT CONTRARILY, RELIGIONS, BEGINNING FROM PRIMITIVE TIMES, HAVE HAD AS THEIR FOCUS PRECISELY THIS, and have accumulated much more wisdom, much more comprehensiveness than our social sciences (which are stuck in sphere 1 mainly).  Albeit, all religions are incomplete in the sense that they emphasize different aspects of the necessities defined by the 5 spheres as he describes them.  The animists, for instance, got the idea of wishing to regenerate their tribal life (forever), but didn’t realize that change must occur, and as new events challenged them some decisions needed to be made as to what should be kept and what should be consigned to the past.

2.ERH speaks often in these lectures of the importance of the group, of the species, but little of the individual, except to point out that the group is always superior to the individual.  [RF – In other essays he qualifies this statement by pointing out the shortcomings of the Russian and Nazi states, which sacrificed the individual, supposedly, for the state. Dictators left out the restraints that religion puts on all human behavior, such as personal sacrifice for the welfare of the group. Something which the “leaders” of devil states failed to apply to themselves.]

The importance of the individual is recognized by Rosenstock-Huessy, but individual importance gains its status in terms of what it does for the group, and as a representative of a group.

3.Meals are, or should be first, religious ceremonies exalting the group.  One doesn’t eat alone normally, but all must have food. Celebrations around meals give thanks for sustenance for the day. Ulcers, over- eating and drinking result from too much eating alone.

The life of the spirit is also part of community, which by definition is a group of people with similar values who wish to live together in peace, voluntarily.  Celebrations, meals, etc. exalt this spirit of the group.

Church buildings are nothing more than a pile of stones, if they are not under-pinned by a common spirit of its members.  He points out that in any situation the meal becomes an opportunity for communication, where “…the unity of humanity begins to sprout.” Where one can make friends, where the foundations of humanity can be revealed. The meal can be an opportunity where the catastrophe of not having food can be felt, at least intuitively. If one cannot understand these things, one  “…cannot understand the ritual of the whole Christian world, as to Communion supper…the sacrament of the Communion makes Christianity into more than an accidental club.” (p.16) [RF – Certainly people working together may accomplish much of the same.]

4.Progress is not mere change. It is where everything from the past that remains a necessity to perform is retained, in addition to the new necessities. Mere change is running in circles, if what is lost is equalled by what is gained. New inventions, and technology which goes today for progress, is a blind alley. Mere change can be destructive if the implications of the change are not thought through.

The future is built upon the vital foundations from the past. In addition to imagining what the world must be like in 2050, we begin to plant the seeds of actions which will realize that dream.

5.Animism emphasized the 2nd sphere (through maintenance of life) , and the 4th sphere (through loving relationships of the group).  The religions of the 3rd sphere were an attempt to break out of the “organic” 2nd sphere and into the universe.  Thus the “sky” religions, those who worshipped the laws of nature first revealed by the cyclical movement of the stars. Contrary to popular belief, the primitives and the “sky” empires never worshipped the sun and moon.  The stars, sun, and moon didn’t die, but always returned.  They were eternity.

Where as the animists worshipped life, and life was unstable, it always died and was unpredictable, the sky empires (Egypt, Mayan, Inca ) worshipped that which was stable and everlasting. This was the dead matter of the universe whereby laws could predict events and calendars could be created.  The two religions, the sky empire  and ancestor worship, were opposites.

…man puts his foot outside his family life, his tribal life, his bush and jungle life in which he was only interested in living things, and tried to look away from dead things. (p.25)

6.With physics, man is master of dead matter. The sky empire or calendar religions were the beginning of this utilization of knowledge of natural laws. Animism created superstition regarding the live sacrifices.  The sky religions eliminated this need and erased these superstitions. They created celebrations for the entire year; animism had only a six month calendar (half the year inside the hut and half outside).

Furthermore, the star religions lead to permanent settlements. “The great idea of the Incan is settlement.”  These led to a faith in the power to develop and order the use of multiple, incorporated communities, expanding  the limits of the outer world (as contrasted with the world of the single tribe).

Lecture – 25

1.To summarize, Religion empowers humankind to instate ourselves into our real home, the community on earth and the life experiences which must be understood and mastered (in so far as we are able to respond). The first step of this method is to recognize powers beyond us that possess authority and wisdom for guidance; ultimately, the power that created the universe (God).

The second step is to place ourselves inside the basic spheres of experience that humankind must confront. These are:

a.Organic sphere, whereby we recognize the rhythm of our metabolism, breathing the air around us, digestion, rhythms of natural physiological functions in general, (rest – healing, shelter, clothing)  adapting to the rhythm of the seasons.

b.We must attend to consciously taking action to survive.  This we can will (or control), our need to work, where we are capable of gaining control over the lower living and dead matter (sticks and stones) of the universe. For instance, the producing of food and  other necessary goods and services needed for physical survival.

c.The sphere of free association, friendship, love, passion, and affection describe the next higher stage.. Love is the power which leads us to sacrifice for something or someone outside ourselves. We are capable of selflessness toward true friends,  our family, our country, our profession, causes. This is the binding force of all vital communities, necessary for survival.

d. Finally, a recognition that we live under the  impact of tragedy, both physical (such as earthquakes, or floods.) and social, (such as war).

2.The first religion revered the organic, the perpetuation of life (one’s self and other life). The ritual of the communion supper represented this concern, recognizing life is everywhere, that it needs to survive off other life and therefore must destroy life. In animism one believes that higher life can take  only life-forms below it, while preserving those species (thus, it is sinful to kill for sport or eat your own species). The aim of animists is to concentrate on the evolution of higher life. JUSTIFICATION FOR TAKING ANY OTHER LIFE IS WHAT IS NECESSARY TO PERPETUATE THE  SPECIES.

ERH points out how, in modern times, we have lost this reverence for lower life, in the sense of conservation of life forms. Pollution, over-grazing, over-plowing, poisoning of air, water, and land, destruction of animal and plant environments, is the evidence around us.

3.Another religion was the so-called astronomical or sky religions, which sought to describe the eternal cycles of the universe, and eventually the laws of nature. Their momentous discovery was realizing some order in the universe. They worshipped the eternal, which they observed were the cyclical nature of the stars. God did not reside “in any space,” however, but was the eternal cycles.

As an aside, ERH asserts, it is a misreading to say these people worshipped the sun and stars.  It is also a misreading to suggest (contrary to common Catholic belief)  that God is “in heaven.”  Jesus, St. Augustine, and Paul said that God resides in the hearts of humans.

The sky religions are considered great because they try to reach out beyond immediate human experience to comprehend the universe and place humankind in some relation to these. Egyptian, Mayan, and Incan are examples; they built temples intended to be a focus point for the universe. In their astronomy they counted in terms of epics, of centuries and millennia. The concurrence of the Pleiades they discovered to be 1460 years. Their observations spanned three cycles, from 2780 BC, to 1320 BC to 140 AD, each cycle is an “eon” and they discovered the solar year of 365 days. Modern industrial society, especially America tends, to look at experience in terms of short cycles, weeks or months.

This penchant for seeing only short timespans, adds some fuel to the destructive belief that pollution doesn’t matter, or that a clean and regenerating environment is too costly.  This bird-in-the-hand religion destroys the future for a community; but long time-spans are bad for business.

4.The sky religions believe in a world without end. Christianity, on the other hand, does not believe this, and ERH claims that the King James version of the Bible is wrong in using the term “world without end.”

The real belief of any Christian and any Jew is that the world has seen many ends and many beginnings, that there are eons.  And if you say “world without end,” you abolish the power of God to end and to begin. (p.19)

5.Herein lies the difference between the sky religions, great an advance as they were, and Judeo-Christian beliefs.  While science discovered star tracts, it has nothing to say about what all this (the laws of nature) mean to life on earth – other than, of course, the impress of natural cataclysms and our knowledge of growing food and shelter.

Many of the churches in America today do not distinguish between these differences in religions.  The Animist wants to keep in touch with what is near and dear; the sky/scientific religions wish to keep track of what is distant and eternal.  In all these religions God created the heavens and earth and established laws eternal, and humankind were the pawns reacting to these powers. THE PROBLEM WITH THESE GREAT RELIGIONS OF SCIENCE WAS THAT THEY FAILED TO BE AN INSTRUMENT TO ANALYZE HUMAN SOCIAL EXPERIENCE.  THEY WERE OVER-RUN BY  HORDE OF MEN. Egypt has been ruled by foreigners since 900 BC. (p.30) These conquests brought to light the unresolved problem, “How were people of different religions to live together in peace?”

6.The Judeo‑Christian approach came along to address this problem and incorporated humans in the continuing creation of the earth, asserting that humans could be creative in terms of emancipating human society  from iron laws of nature. What is more, that humans could change.  That humans, in contradiction to the eternal laws of nature, were the repository of God on earth in the sense that they could change, could think for themselves and participate in creation of society.

Clearly humankind, to survive, needs a reverence for life, including social life,  and it needs science. Our experience would also tell us that we need to learn to live together, voluntarily in peace. The Greeks believed (see the lectures on Greek philosophy): 1) in the superiority of men over women, 2) in the necessity for war (peace was not possible), 3) in creativity as engendered by a homosexual relation between men, and 4) progress in social conditions was not possible – life was controlled by the gods and social life occurred in terms of endless cycles already experienced.

Judeo-Christian religion believes the opposite from the ancient Greeks. the great problem now, in addition to that solved by Animism and science, is to evolve human society to take charge and be responsible for our behavior. We must learn to live together in peace, lest they destroy themselves, and all other life on earth.  In sum, 1) all religions evolved to solve a problem related to human survival.  There are inadequate religions. 2) A vital one, which Rosenstock-Huessy believes was the intent, all along, would be Christianity, which represents an inclusion of the bedrock of all religions and is thus, universal.  The other religions failed because they stood for an incomplete set of guides for the maintenance of society.  [RF -Was Jesus trying to say all along that, “It is all of the above.?”]  3) One can conclude, looking around the world at social conditions, that all alienation, including shooting wars, are religious wars.


Lecture given to faculty at Dartmouth College
Chapter 8 from, I AM AN IMPURE THINKER, Argo Press
Feringer notes
Notes started: 7-7-97
Last edited: 11-98

1.The goal of the author is to make three points: 1) The time has come to build a science of timing, of which teaching and learning are its principle elements. 2) Society will be (is) doomed without the timing of teaching – we suffer every day from “brain erosion.” 3) Every individual must be trained in the importance of timing in all of his experiences – the greatest sin of which is being either too early or too late.

[RF – ERH assumes that learning means understanding some experience, taking it into one’s deepest values and being willing and capable of applying that learning in the right situation.  `Applying’ means acting in an efficacious way, at the right time.  The opposite definition would be that learning is achieved by scheduling and teaching by the clock. This is artificial and ineffective, for the most part. One can schedule rote exercises, but not understanding.]

2.A convincing anecdote makes a case for the importance of timing in teaching. A town has prevented its own destruction during the Peasants War in Germany.  It anticipated the possibility of a social breakdown from corruption in the Catholic church 40 years before the Reformation. Town leaders entered into a self education program promoting continued social peace between diverse religious groups. After the inception of the Reformation (1525 A.D.),  marauding bands of religious zealots roamed the countryside, destroying towns in their path. THE RESULT OF THE EDUCATIONAL PROGRAM WAS THAT THE TOWN WAS ONE OF THE FEW THAT SAVED ITSELF, BECAUSE IT WAS UNITED IN ITS BELIEF IN  RELIGIOUS TOLERANCE. IT WAS CAPABLE OF DEFENDING ITSELF AGAINST THESE BANDS.  An important fact of this successful educational program was that it broke monastic rules of that time.

3.Academe faces a crisis today. Curricula is peripherally relevant to today’s needs, and teaching depends mainly on rote memorization.  The social meaning of studies is largely ignored. THIS IS DISASTROUS IN THE STUDY OF SOCIAL SCIENCES.

Objectivity is its god.  It would treat all realities as things external to the mind, things in which we as thinkers have no roots, which may accordingly be touched, weighed, measured, and manipulated without reference to common destiny in which we and they are jointly bound.  This may do for physics.  It will not do for human society. (p.93)

4.Social time is created by humans, not a given datum of nature, and lasts according to our making.  It must be won and preserved by vigilance, “…otherwise our `present’ is starved and distorted.”

5.The past and the future are an “abyss” before and ahead of us.  [RF – I believe he means, by this statement, that our penchant to think mainly in terms of the present consequences of our decision-making is destructive to both ourselves and to the community.  Sacrificing discomfort in the `present’ is always the price one pays for efficacious consequences in the future, for both ourselves and for our communities.]

6.When we speak, we are not only speaking and acting for ourselves, but we are also acting for others.  One is a father or mother, a representative of a group, a son or daughter, a friend, a community member.  ALL THESE FORCES MUST BE BALANCED IN ADDRESSING IMPORTANT DECISIONS.

7.We are able to become more than thinking animals; but in order to rise above this animal state into which we are born, we must communicate with others.  Our ability to do this rests on our willingness to speak the truth and on the preservation of language.

8.As teachers we not only speak for ourselves, but also in the name of great causes through history. Socrates, Jesus, Newton, Abelard, Billy Mitchell sacrificed in order to speak the truth to improve the community. Today these lessons must be passed on. “Man’s dignity is not in producing private opinions, but in timing public truth.” (p.95)

9.Truth must come at the right moment, then the words take on full meaning.  Otherwise, lacking such a timing element, they are abstract, not vital, as seeds fallen on barren earth. Truth becomes concrete (demonstrated) only at that moment. “For these reasons teaching involves the central problems of timing.” (p.95)

10.Any decision, especially teaching, is preparation.  Often it must be too late, because it occurs when we have seen the consequences of action; certainly this learning moment is a pregnant, but only for future use.

Just as often, teaching is too early because we must anticipate – it is “life in advance.”  Facts and anticipation are thus the paradox in timing.  Facts are understood by analysis from past events.  Anticipation conversely is entered only through love, faith, and hope.  Concern for students, faith that the knowledge will prevent harm, move one forward, and hope that the right consequences will evolve.

11.Facts are past events, and are “poison” when their occurrence is not motivated by some problem that must be acted upon to create a future, i.e. when they are “…treated as an agenda.”

12.Learning from others is borrowing (from others’ experience), dead knowledge until brought to life by our applying it (thereby bringing it back to life). Until then, knowledge is only words or formulas.  And when we learn from others, we owe them gratitude for not making us re-invent that reality (completely). We lack enough time to learn what we need to learn as it is. And, of course when one does not learn about reality, one must re-invent it – like reinventing the wheel.

Thus, there must be a close relation between thinking and experience. To separate these is disastrous.

13.Gambling is the short-term substitute for faith. (p.99)  ERH tells the story of a talented son of a missionary who left the studies of his ancestors for a profession in sociology and human relations. But, because modern social science utilizes the methods of the physics – incomplete for understanding our experience.  What was his fate in these studies?

He often feels like going crazy, his big powers being wasted in separation between his sociological head that classifies everything like a botanist, and his living soul and body that must love and hate.  …He tries to analyze himself with modern psychology to find out what is wrong.  OF course nothing is wrong with him; he is sane in a madhouse. But he is overcome by his academic environment that he denies himself his own rescue; he could jump to freedom by serving in a more than personal and more than “objective” cause …(p.99)

The solution of course is to connect the thought with action in service to the community.

14.We tend to teach that no relation between learning and obligation and practice exists.  Other examples in the text testify to this gap between learning and meaning and obligation and fulfillment (living).

We, in teaching, tend to destroy or punish those who live in, or for, the future.   Individuals are usually somewhat self-denying, but groups are ever more greedy in their quest for power. [RF – or is group life the dark side of good individuals?] In groups we tend to be more self-serving. Such indulgence can only be rectified by following goals beyond ourselves.

15.How does one live beyond one’s self-interest?  By the realization that civilization, or our community and ourselves, or successors, will perish unless we act for goals beyond ourselves.   By uniting both “production” and “reproduction,” by connecting facts with meaning. As teachers we must refuse to bury students in an avalanche of facts.

By resting, and reflecting, a willingness to experiment and risk for a good cause we reach  understanding of the subject matter.  Separating fact from meaning creates two types: 1) the prodigy who knows numerous facts [RF – R.M. HUTCHINS coined the phrase, “knowing everything about nothing of importance.”] And, 2) the playboy who can’t take any learning seriously. Both types fail to contribute toward a future.


As academics, we tend to become stuck in the stage of disbelief. Our revolt against an overbearing religion has led us to this.  But after several hundred years of this disbelief people are longing for some meaning in life, something more stable than ever-changing social norms.

Sans more fundamental beliefs, one degenerates into despair.  One cannot be an atheist forever. It is useful only for transitions between stages when useful at all.  Social survival is based on the reformation principle, to think anew about one’s beliefs, to be re-deemed. [RF – By this he means to renew the way basic truths must become manifest.]

17.There are basically three life-stages for people; as children, as adults, and as elders. Each has an essential role. The elders reflect wisdom and prophecy – reminding others of the standards to be maintained.  They are suited for this role because they no longer need to compete for power, or sex prowess, or status.


18.Colleges cannot degenerate into trade schools for people to maintain “systems” (maintaining institutions like medicine, manufacturing, education, etc.)

Students must be taught to have an expectancy of a better society, to be taught facts in the context of meaning and use them to that end.

19.The Enlightenment of 1750, with science as a dominant ideal, persists today and creates no social expectancy. No motive to improve society, or for “…a great miraculous, surprising future.”  Expectancy carries one beyond mere doubt, beyond burnout and despair in middle age.

Education must therefore give promise to have a better life as a fruit of knowledge. Life is more desirable than any abstraction, any ideal, any separation of mind from body (i.e. the separation declared by Descartes).

20.Our education today fails to produce genuine elders.  The growth and anticipation of students is stunted; as a consequence it fails now in preparing them to see through quacks and tyrants, whatever their form.

Quackery and tyranny is more often than not subtle and refined in its ability to convince people to give up their power. The only antidote to such a condition is the elder, who warns and prophesies.   Every student cannot become an elder, of course, but he/she can learn to identify one, and be instilled with the courage to identify wisdom and to speak out the truth.

The antidote to facts is “fienda.” The cultural lag represented by teaching, through which society has to assimilate each newcomer, can be balanced by crediting out students with being ancestors of as many generations to come as have gone before.  When we look at teaching from the end of man, from the regeneration of the universal order, we shall treat the student as the founder of centuries. (p.108)

21.What present problems must students be taught to solve?  We must teach them what the ultimate end should be, and what a decent society might be as a standard.  Teaching students their obligation to speak out as determined by that end. THE END DETERMINES THE BEGINNING, in the present. Facts come to life when used to renew society.

We must teach about the dreams of our ancestors, and what is yet unfinished. We must revivify the commonplace, such as that the lack of justice leads to gangsterism.  THIS TAKES GREAT EFFORT AND DEDICATION, AND OFTEN RISK.

22.Three levels of reality must be taught students so that they properly exercise their powers:  1) about “things,” over which we humans are superior; about the ethics of manipulation of things in nature,  in other words, about science, its limits and its purpose.  2) About that which is our equal, our fellow humans, with whom we must learn to  respect and cooperate in order to survive. Achieving meaningful agreement requires an exercise of power “with,” rather than power “over.”  3) We must learn how to deal with those things which have power over us, (natural catastrophes, famine, earthquakes). Perhaps most of all, we must teach the power to instill in ourselves courage and the will to act appropriately. Finally teaching that as we are mortal, and to expect death as a part of nature, but also the difficulty in surviving the change in stages of maturing.  OUR PRESENT CURRICULUM REPRESENTS ONLY THE FIRST OF THESE THREE.

23.Passage from one stage in life to another is a wrenching transformation, a spiritual phenomenon.  Transformation is empowered by two forces, expectation and a sense of time and timing.  How, for instance, do we transform and give hope and power to the down-trodden, so that they will not revolt?  One needs to educate to such assimilation.

Transformation is manifest in our senses.  Science relies mainly on sight.  Wisdom relies figuratively on smell, on suggestion and intimation and intuition.

As a closing statement ….

24.One lecture is never enough for influence. What is necessary is many contacts, so that everyone can be both speaker and listener.  One can never predict when ideas will take seed in one’s thinking.  WHAT THE COLLEGE CAN TEACH IS AN UNDERSTANDING AND RESPECT FOR TIME AND TIMING IN SOCIETY – THIS IS THE HEART AND SOUL OF EDUCATION.


Feringer notes
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Lecture 1

1.What is a university expected to achieve?:   ERH asserts that the university, as with all schools,  is intended to prepare one for the future, and that in the present day, not only has it lost its way, but students also are concerned only with the present, the next course, the next exam! “The world of the universities has detached itself from the human future.”  (p.3)

2.The professors may be interested in the future of physics, or of math, but not of the human race.  The well-known aphorism defining the attitude of academics is – knowledge is good for its own sake.

3.Today the university seems to be “…a workshop for plumbers…” (p.11)

4.A university —

…is only a university if the questions of human race are kept in obeyance there, and alive in these little groups, so that at a decisive moment they can come forward and speak with authority to the rest of the world and make them see this in union.  (p.4)

Here ERH refers to the original purpose of the university to convene, or to consult with the community councils for the purpose of speaking out on issues of the day.  In those days their chief concern was the future of the community.

5.These issues cannot be discussed out of the context of history and of what is to be done to create a future. Issues cannot, or should not, be discussed without such reference. He reminds us that any issue;

…is not a moment in time without relation to past and future, but it is a relation to everything positive that has gone on before, and everything that depends on you and me to achieve in the future.  The university has the longest breath–just as the president of the United States has the shortest breath. (p.4)

6.Here ERH defines past and present.  It is not the time of the physicist, because the purpose of the community is to survive and change, so that it progresses. In social life, if there is no beginning of time, as assumed by natural scientists, there can be no progress.  Progress forces us to cite a time when some movement in a community began.  That is why the Bible begins with the statement, “In the beginning…”

The future is known as much as the past.  Only the present is not known, because we don’t know what cowards we are, what criminals we are, what liars we are.  Because you and I are unknown–we are the X in the equation–it is not known what the present will be like tomorrow…Will you stand up and tell the truth? Will you? It probably doesn’t pay, I mean, in your eyes.  (p.7)

Social time relates to phases of social processes, time spans for making peace, for a courtship or a friendship, or trust, or a reputation to be established.

7.The timespan of the future is proportional to our memory of the past, in the sense that the longer our historical reach, the greater the insight we have into the range and  consequences of human actions; of what we need to know about continuing issues into the future and what is yet undone.  For instance, few people seem to believe that all of humankind is one, and thus, war continues. The essential orientation of thought is that without thinking about direction, the society tends to drift.

The University – 1968 – Review

Here the author summarizes his “dis-ease” with the modern university.  He sees its present emphasis on “knowledge for its own sake” as having rendered the university impotent, because it does not deal with each subject in the context of its relevance in creating a future for the community.  In some detail he lays out what it should be if it is to serve this crucial purpose.


Lectures 1-3 complete
Vershire, VT
Feringer notes
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Lecture – 1

1.The notion of the peace corps is a fundamental new direction and must be preserved. “You must have to restore the Peace Corps even if the government of the United States would abolish it.” (p.1)

We are entering a new epic. Previously relations between countries were determined by each nation’s self-interest. Theodore Roosevelt, in  1905, was the first “voice in the wilderness” to speak against this policy, saying that the world was now too small for such a policy, and nations must now work for the benefit of all mankind.

This idea, now taking hold, is the major foundation of the Peace Corps. It heralds a new era and portends the possibility for more peace in the world.

2.The necessity for a “peace corps” is that the world has become so divided, so fragmented, that it will tear itself apart if it doesn’t solve its problems in a different way, A WAY THAT WILL ENGENDER PEACE – peace in terms of common agreement!  Examples of fragmentation in terms of decision-making are, 1) the new electric company, centered in another state, shifted power from community, 2) airplanes built in another country eliminated local jobs, 3) the highway dept. in Washington D.C. decides on distant roads and bridges rather than local constructions.

3.Every technological development causes such fragmentation, and every new development expands the space in which we move, shortening the time we have to adapt to the change. (p.7)

Each new invention requires reorganization, not only of government offices, but new laws, and newly-trained people.

4.We are on this earth to unify its peoples.  Technological change destabilizes the basic ties of unity because it increases the rate of social change.

5.People, for the most part, do not recognize that technological change destroys old groupings. This fact needs to be more broadly communicated and understood, as only a few, exceptional people see this.  New gadgets invented everyday destroy old groupings.

Lecture – 2

1.Because of the rapid change, to which adaptation is far behind, our institutions are near the breaking point. [RF – Today, in 1997 this institutional breakdown continues. The other day a prominent doctor said, “The roof is caving in on the practice of medicine.” There is little confidence in most government agencies, least of all in legislatures. Almost every decision made is justified on the basis of advantage in the short range, for commerce, regardless of the social and environmental havoc that results.)

2.There is little peace in the world, and what peace exists is only apparent.

It is unknown what peace is. You must think that the United States have not made peace in 1865.  They have not made peace in 1921.  They have not made peace in 1945.  We live in a country in which the three greatest wars have ended without peace.  It’s only a semblance of peace. (p.12)

Just below the surface of decision-making there seems to be little ability to solve social problems, regardless of massive efforts to do so.  Is peace the absence of war, or the reverse?  Is it imposed by the victor?

PEACE CANNOT BE WILLED, like love, one can work at it, but it just seems to break out when the time is right! But by itself…”Will cannot make peace.”  Quoted from Goethe, (pp.13)

3.There is no common root for the term, PEACE. Two groups disagree on the method for achieving it. . One group believes in contract as a basis, the other  believes in rational formulation. ERH believes both are wrong.

4.The only basis for peace is for people to do something for nothing. (p.16) This they can only do if they admit that peace is neither will, nor rational, nor a “feeling,” but is sacrificed for. Often well-meaning people cause great friction, so he admonishes the Peace Corps candidates to be aware that their actions in other countries can be productive, or destructive.

Your going to India is under the same stars…You will only make peace there if you can do something – something that is not prescribed by your instructions here….the real problem is: will you find the inventive step that constitutes your experience of peace with these people:  …The main point is that peace is not found in us.  It befalls us.  We may support it.  We may help that it can unfold.  But you can’t even call it your own plant.  It is not like a seed, where we put a seed into the ground,..because it takes so many other people’s peaceful endowment.  (p.18)

5.The gap between the old and new orders has yet to be filled, and the Peace Corps is an attempt to do so.  Only later, after some experience, after looking back on your history, will you know. To the candidates ERH repeats, “You are dangerous people.” (p.9)

Lecture – 3

1.To establish peace, to re-found communities after disasters, one must, through actions, expose oneself to misunderstanding. Only then will one understand.  One can understand the nature of situations only by looking back.

b.For the formation of human character, nothing that lasts shorter than a lifetime is important. And three generations are needed to agree on something before peace is possible. (p.2)

c.When we are exposed to so many events and experiences in a lifetime of new technical advances, how are we to understand them?  So little of each event is left in our memories.

d.Peace is brought about by unifying space and time.  With each new technological invention, expanded space and shifting groups, and contracted time are the factors for which appropriate adaptation must be made if peace is to be established.

e.We are on earth to do the necessary things, without which life cannot go on. We need to understand what needs to be done ahead of time, and with each succeeding generation there is less lead time to discern this.

f.Our lives must be spent being willing to fulfill an indispensable task in the community:

He who does the one thing necessary all alone, against an army of enemies, he’s of course the greatest.  That’s why the Crucifixion ranks as the one greatest act in humanity, because He was the only one who grasped that it was necessary, to show that in defeat we can be victorious. ….I say this because you must not think that everything in human history is natural. Everything is supernatural. (pp.6,7)

g.Language is not natural; there is no natural language. Incest is natural, and it must be a taboo.  Language was created by humans because it was necessary for them to communicate in order to find peace between themselves. But this is not a natural process – it is more super-natural. Little progress in social life is “natural,” it is “super-natural.”

h.Mankind, from the beginning, has always tried to outlast the individual life.  Everything of any importance must last longer than a single lifetime.

PEACE CORPS  –  1966 – Review

Peace is one of the central themes in all of Rosenstock-Huessy’s thought, because it represents a primary measure of a vital community.  This series of lectures presents an outline of major themes, which  present barriers to peace today.  The major barrier, he argues, is defined by his “law of technology,” namely, that each advancement in technology shortens the time available to adapt to change – and widens the space (geographic boundaries) of the effects of the old procedures it replaces.   He suggests that the Peace Corps has the potential as a tool of foreign policy, for success in creating true peace,  where previous policy only created new wars.  For these reasons it offers an important link in his thought for social regeneration.


Lectures 1-20
Feringer notes
Last edited: 11-98


A series of lectures given at the Union Theological Seminary in New York.

Lecture – 1

1.A primary cause of community disintegration in modern times is technology. ERH formulated the rule,  ANY TECHNOLOGICAL INNOVATION EXPANDS THE SPACE IN WHICH WE MOVE, CHANGES GROUP RELATIONS, AND SHORTENS THE TIME IN WHICH WE CAN ACHIEVE ADAPTATION.  We can see its manifestations most clearly in third-world countries where there is destruction of groups — a family,  a village,  a town, or a country.

The issue of facing war and endowing peace is the problem dealt with in this series, as war of one type or another has been a major consequence of this disruption.

2.One aspect of this disruption is the inability of people to speak a common language. In disciplines, too much specialization creates barriers between individuals, social classes, and countries. The implication is the dying of hope all over the globe.

3.ERH claims Darwin, Marx, Nietzsche and Freud were influential voices whose messages contributed to social disruption in a major way.  He dubbed them `disangelists.’ [RF – At the moment it is unclear to me how he defines the term “angelist,” regarding the four scholars who were original thinkers intending to change the way we think. Like all original thinkers they were certainly ex-angelists at their inception. To evangelize is to preach the gospel. My best guess is that since ERH saw Christianity as a unifying force, these four scholars preached ideas that would create further disunity.]

People are separated by social classes, race, language, culture, country; there is discontinuity between ideas, specialization between disciplines, incompatible philosophies.  The Lonely Crowd is what Riesman titled industrial culture.  What will cure this sickness of fragmented realities, generations separated and unable to understand each other?

4.This breakdown of communication between generations must be cured simply because we cannot establish social truths in one generation. In another essay he asserts, that each generation evolves its own myths, and to separate these into truth and non-truth one requires the next generation to either prove or disprove.

5.Prophecy and fulfillment! Were these four scholars prophets?  ERH asserts that Christian doctrine (and history) reveals four stages that define an era: 1) the prophecy, 2) the event prophesied, 3) the defeat (or decline), and 4) the gospels (the stories by apostles of that era). And this seems to be a yardstick to describe how the four were disruptive! “Prophets of doom”, and “devil writers” –  he called them. (p.7)

He points out parenthetically how fulfillment of the prophet is never recognized within the group; the Jews never recognized Jesus as the fulfillment of a prophecy.

6.What these four proclaimed dissolves history as we have lived it!

a.Darwin espouses the survival of the fittest, i.e. the brutes (or the strongest) of the world will always rule. In reality it is the child who starts a new generation. A new idea never has power in the beginning, and other examples can be given whereby a theory for animals does not apply to a world of humans, although his theory has indeed been so interpreted.

b.Marx preached endless class wars, but in the end there is to be peace in his time. How was peace to be brought about?  We are not advised by Marx, in the historical record on this question.

c.Nietzsche preached that there is nothing inherently true, beautiful and good, in this world – only our thinking makes it so.  There are, in other words, no absolutes.  According to Nietzsche true, beautiful, and good are the same as love, faith and hope from Christianity. His logic was, that since we always have change, knowledge is what we wish to believe, rather than anything depending upon historical verification.  The Greeks believed in the ultimate truth as represented in theories, in abstractions, in thought by itself.  Christianity believes that thought must be validated by experience over time, and the meaning of faith, love, and hope are sequential elements revealing progress.  The Greeks didn’t believe that humankind could cause progress – that was up to the gods, which controlled man.

7.The value of these four thinkers was that they forced the Christian theologians to separate the humanist (Greek) thinking  from the “Cross,” i.e. from Christian principles. (p.10)  These four also give evidence from their experiences in life, that for one to proclaim truth, one must be indifferent to the forces of their own time. Nietzsche eschewed academe, Marx eschewed safety (he was chased out of several European countries before living in England), Darwin had to be indifferent to the church at a time when it mattered, and Freud had to disregard concerns of the medical profession about work..

ERH, while not believing in their ideas, did believe in their genius, their sincerity in seeking truth,  “…their way of life.”  He also believed however, that they were out of tune with their own time.

Still another lesson they teach us (following Marx) is that social change must, come about only with war. ERH subscribed to this idea, if one broadens the definition of war to include non-violent revolution. In other words, significant change does not occur incrementally.  Pacificim therefore is not a viable principle for change because, were it commonly held as a belief, the brutes would rule the world. Peace would exist only from the barrel of a gun.

Question & Answer Period

1.Q – What I would like to ask about the distinction between Christianity and myth?

A – In order for any growth, at the beginning we go through a period of frenzy, of mythologizing about the consequences of our change.  The myths and legends in our story books reflect this stage of change metaphorically. “The sleeping Beauty is a much truer love — everything taken together.” (p.22)

Every nation has their myths, George Washington and the cherry tree, etc. And at the time of our change, of our frenzy, do we understand what we are going through? “…this is the human situation, that at no one time where we are acting (taking action) are we allowed to know what’s happening.”

If we attempt to be objective at these moments, we suddenly become impotent.  For example, if we are self-conscious in giving a speech, attempting to assess our impact in the middle of the speech, we fail as a speaker. THESE MOMENTS ARE NOT TO BE OBJECTIFIED, BUT TO BE ENDURED. At these creative moments our passion is obsessive, unconscious, and we totally believe in our acts, that a significant contribution to the world will hang on our invention or act.

2.Q – What was the myth from which Marxism stood apart, in order to create its own myth?

A – The myth of harmony in humanism, that humanism would create the good, true, and beautiful.

3.Q – Was Christian idealism ever a creative myth?

A – There is no relationship between idealism and Christianity.  The idealist (philosopher/humanist) believes that at any moment he can call on all of the creative powers in the world, as with any divine spirit. This is to say that the “ideal” is like a tool on our tool bench. The Christian, on the other hand knows that he/she can never be complete, because for any significant achievement or truth to be revealed, three generations must pass.  This is the meaning of the Trinity, that one must sacrifice oneself in order for any achievement

FULFILLMENT  in one’s life, as demonstrated by the story of Jesus, is described by four phases;

…everything that goes on in Christianity is having to do with these great four phases of promise, of fulfillment, of apostolate, and of the story — the Gospel.  Every one of us, if he is really living at all, goes through these four phases, because you have to be true to your calling, to your own moment of divinity. (p.25)

ERH clarifies this statement — following one’s calling is paralleling the life of the cross,  “…to carry through one thing which at one moment got hold of him and he knew that nobody else was going to do it if he didn’t do it.”  It takes 30 or 40 years to know the consequences.  This is easy for some to accept, and not for others.  But we will never feel fulfillment unless we follow “our bliss,” as Joseph Campbell describes it.

4.Q – Dr. Freud came in for attack here. Where is the crux of Freud’s error, as opposed to the other three dis-evangelists?

A – Freud was wrong in 4 things:  he was philosophically with the Unitarians, who believe that philosophy had to rule theology and that you didn’t need anything more.  Why are they wrong?

a.They didn’t know that war was natural and peace is miraculous, they thought the opposite.

b.They thought that speech was natural, and thought  or philosophy was miraculous or divine.  We know now that it is very easy to have thoughts privately, but to be understood by others is miraculous.

c.They thought that love was natural and sex is divine.  We know that it is just the opposite, that sex is natural and love is supernatural (divine).  We know that there is no love without sacrifice.  Love is desire and sacrifice in balance.

d.It is a victory to be loved, and only then comes a willingness to love in return. The great error of our society in America today is that sex is confused as love.

The evolution of real love is that to be loved is a miracle; it is overwhelming, and calls for love in response.  There is first faith on the part of the girl that her love will be returned,  then love in response because of the realization of that miracle. ALL OF THESE HUMANISTIC BELIEFS WERE OPPOSED TO THIS IDEA, AND WERE HELD BY MR. FREUD

Chapt. 2

1.To summarize, the message of Christianity was in response to the Greeks, who had invented philosophy (pure thought), and advocated science as the sole method for a description of the universe.  Christianity raised the question, how is a community to be created, one in which  people live together freely, in peace?  They found the key in formulating the fruitful cycle from promise to fulfillment:  1) the promise, 2)  the prophesy and command to take action, 3) the apostolic, where others take over the cause, and finally 4) the telling of the story, the Gospels.

2.In sum, these four disangelists dissolved the pillars of community, made us back into animals, into individuals and class warriors, and into  “…insane men in a frenzy.” (p.2)

3.ERH asserts that these “disangelists” represented only one quarter of reality, and that for any generation to have meaning someone must speak out and represent all of reality.  By this he means the “man in business, and the  worker.” They represented also the “scourge of Christianity, pacificism.” He points out that in America in the last 150 years, organized religion was pacifist. This country has had more wars than anywhere else. This means that our wars have been economically motivated, and this is caused by our lopsided view of “the man of business.”

4.During the last 1500 years there have been 3 eras when the time-span of peace was extended, by monasteries, by cities of the late Middle Ages, and by Capitalism. WHAT ERH IS ASSERTING IS THAT WE MUST STUDY WAR AS WELL AS PEACE, THAT OUR EXISTENCE IS AN ALTERNATION BETWEEN THE TWO,  AND FINALLY THAT IT IS WAR THAT IS THE NORMAL CONDITION OF EXISTENCE, AND PEACE THAT IS THE MIRACLE.  (p.5)

5.The mind and the body are not free to do what they please, but each must attend to  obedience to the creator.  This is to say that war is a natural given in nature, and peace is a creation of the living word (which allows us to understand each other)  “…world without the living word is at war.” (p.6)

6.The second generation after the end of a war becomes complacent about paying the price for peace, and then war breaks out once again!  Once again ERH pillories the liberals [RF – in what reads like his half- serious, facetious mood] “…who have doubts about everything and an unwillingness to sacrifice for peace.”

7.ERH charges that the intelligentsia of the West was unable to connect the times between generations with two different values.  Marxism’s downfall was that it assumed all conflicts would be between Capital and Labor. Proudhon predicted in 1836 that the ultimate state in society would not be between capital and labor, nor world government, nor something resembling a league of nations, but rather THE CREATIVE ANTAGONISM BETWEEN TWO GREAT WORLD POWERS. “There is husband and wife, so I don’t see why there shouldn’t be Communism and America.” (p.14)

8.Because in the last century the “church” has been impotent, it has been without prophecy, or fulfillment, without crucifixion and fulfillment  “The church had to leave it to these disangelists to prophesy and to gospelize…” (p.15)  Christianity is not a power in life today because it (the organized churches) has eschewed these acts, to connect the generations by detailing what must come about, or will come about if action is not taken. The great accomplishments after the depression of 1929 were that a liability (unemployment) was turned into an asset.

This was caused by a shift in values. Before 1846 labor was treated as a commodity to be sold over the counter. In 1936, the U.S. Supreme Court reversed this notion, and stated that the unemployed were not “labor” as a commodity, but human beings. Then unions became strong, social security was instigated, with collective bargaining, better compensation, etc. THE POWER OF MARXISM WAS ADDRESSED AND RISEN ABOVE, and a liability was turned into an asset.

9.Here ERH re-introduces a definition of the term METANOIA, a rethinking of old values, of one’s place in the world. Marxism failed, and Capitalism did not crumble by its own injustices, it became socialistic. But Marx as a person deserves a place in history because he was willing to sacrifice for his own ideas, (sacrificing his ability to make a living).  By this standard, his life was a great success!

10.So this new era in America (and Europe) in 1936 is now over. Unions are now broken; there are to be no “dialectics,” that is ideologies.  RATHER OUR NEW ERA MUST BE A DIALOGUE (A CONVERSATION) BETWEEN TWO POWERS.  Not just a theory, but explaining between opponents, “…for war, solidarity; for peace, conversation…”  And Marx’s prophecy was fulfilled?

Strikes have always been fought for the dignity of man and for the solidarity of workers. And that is a religious item.  (p.22)

Thus Marx’s prophecy (of dignity for the working man) must be continued, but the downfall of unions now invites a new prophecy, which is necessary when one prophecy has been fulfilled. The fight of unions was in the end a religious fight. WILL THIS BRING ABOUT A MORE SERIOUS STUDY OF WAR?

11.In the question and answer period the question was raised, that isn’t a study of war, of the warring side of human psyche, opening a Pandora’s box? YES, ERH answers, the devil must be given his day in court, but not allowed to conquer us!

Q – Have not these four disangelists revealed the dark side of mankind, that is, the war between conscious and unconscious, between the animal species, between human groups?

A – Yes, we will always need this, to address ourselves to the reality of the human psyche, BUT ALSO BY DOING THIS, LEARN TO RISE ABOVE IT. But the disangelists have only revealed this side of man, they have not explored it.  (p.26)

Q – Is there no such thing as a war between ideas? Do we always have to have armed conflict?

A – Idealists are the war mongers, because they see their views as absolute, as non-negotiable, because to them the mind is divine!.  The only person you can deal with is the one who can make up his mind, as contrasted with those who follow some idea regardless of real-life situations.  So ideals make for war. (p.27)

Q – How is the next era to begin, through dialogue?

A – Today, dialogue between East and West is not possible.  We have many philosophies, just as in Christ’s time, and these have little common ground.

What unites people is a similar life-style. Generals of opposing armies understand each other, just as do workers in all countries understand each other. The Christian churches have done this, taught us that war is wicked. It can be, but we are kept alive by the conflicts, by the misunderstandings, because our survival is tested in each conflict.  The churches, by avoiding the study of war, have been a barrier to our rising above it!

PEACE CORPS – 1966 Vershire, VT

Lectures given to a group of Peace Corps Volunteers – An Exploration of War!

1.The idea of a peace corps is a necessity; but one must be aware of the destructive nature of fashions that are superficial and impotent.

“The Peace Corps is too serious to leave it to anybody official. You would have to restore the Peace Corps even if the government of the United States would abolish it. (p.2)

War is caused, in part, when a nation oversteps its duty to other nations. The English/Chinese opium war is an example.  When one country damages another war becomes inevitable.  THE PEACE CORPS IS AN ATTEMPT TO BREAK WITH THIS PAST WHEREBY ONE COUNTRY EXPLOITED ANOTHER WITH NO CONSIDERATION FOR ITS PEOPLE AS FELLOW HUMANS. Rather, governments must begin to act “in the interest of mankind.”  HOW THEN IS NATIONAL SELF-INTEREST TO BE BROKEN DOWN?  This is the question of these lectures.

2.ERH repeats once again the evidence from which his stated LAW OF TECHNOLOGY is derived.  This is, that we now live in an age with rapidly changing inventions (technology), and that each new major invention widens the space in which we move, changes fundamental human relationships (i.e. destroying familiar groups such as family, village, town, or country), and decreases the time we have to adapt to these changes.  We are now, therefore constantly off-balance.

Learning the meaning of our experience rests on a striving to unify the forces effecting our lives. It is too casual to call this “the push-button” age, it is much deeper.  It is threatening our ability to fend off fragmentation of parts of our lives, our sense of basic “groupings,” our sense of what is valuable and necessary, and what reality is. Most of all it threatens our ability to maintain a balance of these forces. HOW THEN DO WE CREATE A FUTURE FOR OURSELVES WHEN CHANGE IS SO CONSTANT?

3.How do we bring up our children, and adapt ourselves to rapid change and imbalance?

Lecture 2

1.The town in which these lectures were held, Vershire, VT, has been destroyed by technology. Its fate is controlled by a regional government, or by state and federal funds, where the community has little voice. The meaning to the townspeople, of social and economic forces  derives from another source, rather than their town meetings as in the past.

I mean, we are talking about daily processes that eat the marrow out of our daily life, of our work, out of our friendships. (p.6)

In this situation people lose their jobs, but are held accountable for their behavior in many ways by outsiders, causing them to feel dislocated. Our schools, courts, and all professions are not functioning properly, much of what they do is dis-functional to the community. ON THE INTERNATIONAL LEVEL, THIS IMBALANCE IS A CONSTANT CAUSE OF WARS, BECAUSE NEW ISSUES ARISE, OLD ENEMIES BECOME ALLIES, OLD ANTAGONISMS ARISE IN NEW FORMS, COMMUNICATION BREAKS DOWN AND MUST BE SOMEHOW RE-ESTABLISHED.

2.THE FUNCTION OF THE PEACE CORPS MUST ATTEMPT TO FILL THE GAP BETWEEN THE OLD AND  NEW ORDER (of rapid change). ERH goes on to explain that this has been the focus of all his professional life!  (p.11)

3.If our grassroots are disappearing, or have disappeared, THEN THEY MUST BE REPLANTED.

One must get involved in community issues.

4.It is not trade between countries that will cause wars in the future, but constant technological change. We are all guilty of this malfunction in societies around the world, because we all participate in the technology. Therefore it is incumbent upon all of us that we participate in establishing a cure.

5.Part of the cure is to re-establish our attitudes (this gets to psychological principles we are taught to follow).  At present we are taught that peace and love are acts of will:

…peace has been omitted in the thought of mankind as a task or as a problem for the past 200 years.  It has been replaced by will. Peace will not be brought about by your will. (p.16)

One, for instance, cannot will that someone else falls in love with him/her. One can only act in a way so that this might happen. Peace may come to men ofgood will. ERH refers to a Greek text that says, “Peace to all men of His grace.” (p.17)

6.Peace cannot be imposed.  If a strong power dominates, the peace does not come about by the free will of both parties, only one party, rendering it only temporary.

Friendliness is not peace, in the sense that its time-span may be short.

Contracts, as peace agreements, are insufficient because even if one follows the letter of the agreement, the intent may be destroyed, just as with any law. Just as no lasting marriage between a man and woman could survive if each party followed the letter of some contract.  It must be from the heart, from a desire on both parties to be fair and trustworthy, etc.

Peace and love are also like citizenship, which cannot be defined by some printed formula.  Citizenship occurs when breakdowns bring forth persons who work to rebuild the community. (At this point ERH tells the story of a Nazi speaking in the U.S. south, attempting to sell the idea of a dominant Aryan race. Dissention in the community was quelled by a senior citizen reminding listeners how, historically, peace had been maintained by people of good will.  The citizens responded by escorting the Nazi out of town.

To create peace, at each instance of a threat, “citizens” must invent a solution that may never have been thought of before. THEREFORE, ONE OF THE CONSTANTS OF PEACE IS A WILLINGNESS TO BE INVENTIVE. “You will only make peace if you can do something that is not prescribed by your instructions…” (p.24)


Lecture 3

1.ERH begins this lecture by identifying the basis for understanding, explaining why three lectures are a minimum.  One must have time to think and ask questions.  Understanding never really comes before there is first mis-understanding. [RF – My own experience has taught me that, corrective action only occurs where there has been adequate time and discussion to articulate the root problems. Only then can solutions be discussed.  It seems to be the norm that solutions are discussed first, which, of course, never bears fruit.]

2.There seems to be little understanding of the importance of time, and of timing. We have educational programs run by the clock – and thus all that can be measured is some quantity of memorization.  Serious issues cannot begin to be comprehended in less than 3 months. AND MORE LASTING TRUTH ONLY AFTER 3 GENERATIONS. THEN ONE CAN KNOW IF PEACE HAS BEEN ESTABLISHED. Only after persons from a generation have been replaced, and the spirit has been transmitted and interpreted by others.

3.Peace is the form in which transitions between people can take place without”shaking” the old order. He cites the example of Indira Gandhi, whose relationship to a past respected leader allowed a transition in which there would be no bloodshed.


…would mean that your children would be barbarians, and would upset everything you have created or you have done.  And this danger is very large. …The danger is that all the good there is discarded, in favor for the latest news. (p.5)

In other words, time treated as a commodity to be banked is a curse, but this is the most common way people view it. Time (social time, psychological time, not the time of the physicist) is not the sum of moments.  It has fits and starts, interruptions, moments when important things happen (historical moments), and time when nothing happens of significance in the community.

5.Important tasks must be addressed for community survival in the long run. And for this to happen, only a few people need to know what is necessary ahead of time, even though the rest of the community does not understand.  THIS IS WHAT LEADERSHIP IS! This is the stuff of prophets and fulfillment.  ERH cites the example of Jesus, who was perhaps the only person who understood the significance (necessity) of his crucifixion.

6.ERH suggests, therefore, that these significant events in human history are not natural, but supernatural. They  are not assured.  For instance, animals naturally perform incest. But human tribes early on discovered that this would destroy the tribe; thus, he asserts the first law of the tribe. History has little to do with nature; the human and holy spirits know the ends.

And mankind is “the strange animal” that is allowed to make mistakes, because when he acts rightly (for the community), he is forgiven his sins. ( This is the true meaning of the concept of redemption.)

This is another reason why three generations are necessary to establish what is significant truth. We seldom if ever know the fruits of our own efforts.  One good test for identifying significance  is when our children and grand children tell others to follow our prescriptions!.  SO DON’T LOOK FOR ANY LASTING RESULTS OF YOUR WORK IN YOUR LIFE-TIME.

7.We often fail from the sin of impatience.  And when the going gets tough, when we believe all we have done has failed, perhaps the only thing we can do is to develop (in ourselves and our clients) a strong spirit to survive and begin again or carry on when time permits.

Another source of sin is our failure to address only what is our own business, what is our charge, and our authority to carry out?  The guide to our actions must always begin with an understanding of the problem at hand, or it that is not known, to begin to articulate the problem. Agreement on this is a primary step in articulating our authority. -16

8.These type of social problems test our claim to creativity, because our very survival depends upon their being addressed.  Sewer systems are a technical problem, obtaining agreement of citizens, even thought they may not like the solution, is a social problem.

9.Our society, dominated as it is almost solely by commercial attitudes (where important projects are determined by what they cost rather than by a realization of what must be done) is contemptible, because it diminishes the community.



Feringer notes
Last edited: 11-98


1.If the university is one where the student is promoted for answering questions on tests, it is no place to ask serious questions.

2.ERH makes a distinction between “people” and “public.” Public is the group with which one must agree, must get along, and therefore he characterizes these as persons who are drawn together by some abstract principle, such as the American Rifle Assoc or the Republican party, or the Democrat party. .  The members of these groups are not known to each other, other than by common belief in a “principle.”

3.Where one belongs to a group in order to put all of one’s values together, such as Christian or Jew, then that is a people.  The politician addresses the “public.”  Academe, in general, addresses “the public.”  One idea today, another tomorrow; that is the public.

4.Four types of groups to which we can belong;

a.people of our blood.

b.people of the spirit (same values).

c.public,  “…which comes together in common mental spirit, intellectual pursuits, such as college students.”

d.mass man, people who are starved, fearful, who can be manipulated  “…under the promise of food,”  for instance.

(Category b contains the people to which one can give a life, a group upon which the           maintenance of the community depends. To study abstractions is not serious business; rather one must put ideas into practice.  “…anybody who is           interested in the life of Jesus doesn’t know what Christianity is.”  (p.7)

5.What is serious business is those ideas that infer or describe actions that can last for generations.  Most intellectual thought is entertainment, an interim, but one which has no lasting import. A thought of lasting import is about something that “…is necessary.”  And – necessary for “the people”.  To shovel snow is necessary for the individual, but not for the people.

6.The “eye” shows us what is only physical about a person, but if you wish  to find the spirit of the person, listen to him/her. (p.11)

7.Four divisions of human physiology:

a.Genitals, directed by the sense of flair, smell, anticipation – sensitivity for the future.

b.Heart, one has sound, song, praise, curses you hear.

c.Eyes, go directly to the brain – mass man worships the brain.

d.Skin, hands, feet  equal the individual “for the moment.”

Heart is for the future, and academic thinking is of the eye.

8.Figuratively, “people of God” live in opposition – those of the heart and of the genitals  make the long- range decisions while those of the skin and the eye make the immediate decisions.

9.People of the heart and genitals are thus capable of being members of a “people” that lasts at least four generations.

Individually we are between our parents and our children; “we” are in the present.  “If you can bring yourself to see your decisions in the light of these two generations…that’s enough eternity, so to speak.”  (p.13)

If we look at our own lives only, we cannot tell what is “really” important.  If we look at these two generations, then we can see what must serve those generations.

ERH quotes from Hugo of St. Victor (11th Century),  “…the church (true religion) has existed since Adam and Eve — Christ has only made it visible.”   Therefore, all denominations have the same root. (p.14)

Important decisions are those that will allow the human race to continue through time, and to make such decisions that when one acts on them one has joined into “the holy spirit.”

10.It is a “people,” then, that through time represents the “holy spirit.”  (p.16)  ERH defines, in greater detail, as to how this takes place.  And what we call reason  is of a secondary order BECAUSE REASON ALONE, OR AS A PRINCIPLE GUIDE, CANNOT LEAD US TO JOIN THE “PEOPLE.”

11.Christianity is based on the brittle, frail, next-to-impossible proposition that the Word will unite two or more people in the spirit,  when they had no idea of each other’s existence before. The consequences of organizing to bring about this unity cannot be predicted.

12.If one belongs to a “people,” one lives in three streams of consciousness,

a.How I think of myself and call myself.

b.What others say to my face (tending to be polite rather than candid).

c.What others say behind my back.

Hell is when all three of these streams are different, and heaven is the opposite. And of course, it is the latter that we must strive for all our lives.  (p.19)

13.Death as the fountainhead  of life  is the problem of Judaism and of Christianity, that the word and wisdom of one generation can inspire the next generation. Thus, Jews and Christians are special only in that they have focussed on this problem.

Liberal Arts College – 1960 – Review

The thrust of this essay is to argue how colleges and universities today do not prepare us for creating a future.  The author describes different types of groups we belong to, what those groups mean to us in terms of past, present, and future, and how traditional colleges should not be mistaken in teaching about the past and present only.  The essay thus serves as a useful foundation for curriculum development;  by inference one may assume ERH also indicates what the liberal arts college should be.


Air Force Academy – 1952
Feringer notes
Last edited: 11-98


Lecture – 1

1.Where does teaching occur?  And what might be said to be a normal situation? In one way or another teaching occurs everywhere, and most people are teachers. With children the normal situation is within the family at first. In the home, teaching occurs when it is necessary, when some situation requires it. It is the same outside the classroom, in the work place and elsewhere, for instance,  learning to ski.  In the classroom the timeliness is out of kilter because it is arbitrary.

2.What other barriers are there to classroom teaching?  One question is, how much time is there for teaching?  The less time, the more general the teaching must be, and it would follow, the less learned. ERH cites the example of the history teacher who was asked, how much time is needed to teach universal history, he replied, “From one minute to ten years.”  How much time is available?

3.Finally, to whom is the teacher speaking? Outside the classroom teaching occurs individually. In a classroom one must speak to a “mass,” to everyone, but no one in particular.

In sum, one could say that the classroom is the least normal (and least effective) situation for teaching.  The classroom:

a….is too impersonal.

b….too general.

c….too late or too early. Timing is not geared to need.

4.There are three elements to a possible learning situation that define it:

a.Training may be said to deal with automatic responses whereby the method would be practice. These methods derive from science, mainly physiology.

b.Instruction can be defined as the passing on of information. The methods for instruction would also derive from science and deal with the mind.

c.Both (a,b) above are necessary, but do not speak to the issue of what the student might do outside the classroom, where responses to real-life situations are called for. Real teaching  may be said to deal with basic changes in behavior outside the classroom, where personality is changed. Teaching addresses issues of the “soul.”

Category (a) above addresses reaction, something mechanical,  organic. Category (b) deals with transmission, something memorized. But true teaching addresses the transformation of the student, because in real life our goal is always to make things better than they have been, which requires constant thought and action. Knowledge is transformed in the process.

5.All of these three dimensions occur together, but real teaching subsumes the other two and is the most important. Ultimately the student must teach him/herself. The end (goal) of teaching determines its content and methods, of course. Ultimately, it is the spirit, one’s attitude toward engaging in life, whereby there arises a need to  prepare the student to be a teacher.

6.Teaching embodies the basic experience of the culture, passing on what the community believes is the “truth.”  It must therefore deal with the past, present, and future times; e.g. what do we need know today, what has been known about this in the past, and what actions need to be taken by us that will enhance our future?

7.The child doesn’t live in either the past, present, or future.  He/she lives “out of time,” without a consciousness of time except for the moment.

Lecture – 2

1.To summarize up to this point, 1) a trainer is a man who can mold a body, 2) an instructor is a man who can mold a mind, 3) a teacher is a man who can change a mind. (p.1)

A teacher is a time-binder, having assessed the needs of today, of his generation,  to the point where the next step is prepared for.  Education does not mold a person for his own sake, but to prepare him to create a future for himself and the community.

2.Life processes occur in phases.  In marriage, for instance, first a casual meeting, then passionate courtship, then commitment (marriage), then establishing a home are all different phases of this process, each different from the next in intensity. In a like way,  as all of the important parts of living occur in different phases constantly,  TEACHING AND LEARNING ARE THE SAME.  One can never teach the same idea in its different phases, from introduction to practice, in exactly the same way. Just as one could not gauge the whole of marriage experience by learning about courtship only.

3.The first step is mechanical, one involving memory and repetition. This is a preconscious, “sinking in”, non-rational step. This seems like “dead weight,” nothing instinctive (organic).

4.The second step is organic, getting a feeling for the subject, getting an instinct for it.

5.Another step involves passion, a love of the subject, an intense desire to formulate one’s knowledge and practice.  And the next step is enthusiasm. Finally,   comes learning the structure of its principles, the rational part.  This must always be the final step, because only then can one understand the meaning of any of the preceding elements.

6.The sequence of the phases is crucial, as there is a natural rhythm.  When one addresses merely a number of “thinking machines,” irrespective of the personalities, one  taps only one phase of a complex process, and this renders that aspect of the learning incomplete and of little use. One learns to change when one is spoken to on a personal basis. A well-known aphorism about teaching is that learning is greatly enhanced when the teacher cares whether the student learns the subject. This is a personal act.

7.Different methods may be used for each step; certainly no single method will suffice.  How, for instance, does one become infected with the teacher’s love and enthusiasm of the subject? These come from the soul of the teacher and have nothing to do with logic. The rhythms of learning, the mechanics of beginning information, the organic investment, the love, enthusiasm and finally, the logical order  (the theories about its cause/effect aspects) all form a rhythm that can be felt quite naturally.  One might call each progressive step a state of “aliveness,” from  sleep to intense consciousness – Beware of university schools of education which begin with the last step and miss parts along the way.  Is it any wonder most of our school teaching is so ineffective, except of course for training in the simplest sense.


In POTENTIAL TEACHERS the author raises the question, “What are the barriers to teaching?” Real learning, he asserts, arises from real life, which is specific and personal and where significant learning occurs unpredictably and only “at the right time.”  The classroom, by contrast, is general and impersonal, and comes either too early or too late (because it must be arbitrarily scheduled).  Because it is difficult to surmount these barriers the norm is to forsake teaching for training or instruction.  Real teaching blends these approaches in a natural rhythm from one phase to another; “Learning dies by being taught with only one rhythm.” These essays help us understand comments he makes  throughout other essays in which teaching is only touched upon in passing.


written about 1940
From: Vol.I Argo Press, Norwich, Vt. 1981
Feringer notes
Notes started: 8-13-91
Last edited: 3-3-99


Sociology of Teaching and Augustine

1.ERH describes the historical situation of 4th century Western culture; the scene is the transition from classical times to the rise of the Catholic church. Augustine finds himself defining his role as a teacher and priest on the one hand, and as a father on the other. Could he, and did he, have the right to attempt to educate his son?  And if so, what were to be the elements of creative teaching?  ERH uses the term “creative teaching” to mean the transmission of the spirit,  as in recreating the human spirit in students (engaging oneself in living, in participating in community life toward its regeneration)


2.ERH suggests that  with the break-up of the family today,  the question is relevant once again.  In the 4th century the family was the primary teaching link for society.  Still,  Augustine puts the question to himself, “Can parents teach their children, and if so, by what intellectual authority?”  Today, with institutionalized education, the family no longer has such a primary influence.  It was Augustine’s faith that he can be a rightful candidate.  Another title for the essay could be, “Who is your teacher when I, your father, seem to teach you?”  (p.2)  The thrust of the essay, then, is the method by which his teaching was accomplished.  THIS ESSAY IS NOT AN INTELLECTUAL MONOLOGUE, BUT A STRUGGLE BETWEEN TWO WILLING SOULS, FATHER AND SON.

3.ERH classifies this essay as neither fiction nor philosophy nor theology, nor even autobiography, but rather correspondence, “…a sociological phenomenon.” (p.3)  It is not “personal” in the sense of interest only for the two parties;  rather it has a wider scope, two hearts searching for a general truth. To understand social affairs, all forms of literature must be called upon:

We think for our personal salvation.  And all social forms result from this fight for salvation of persons.  Of this, the De Magistro, is a telling example. (p.3)

4.The essay says a great deal about education, but the treatment would be unheard-of in present-day institutional literature on the subject.  Augustine is not writing as a professional,  a scholar, or Bishop, but personally, with an interest in the state of society.  And ERH makes such a point of the setting and reasons for this dialogue because:

…it is possible that social science springs from personal bias and passion and belonging.  Then, it is true that we do not teach others to do good because we, like Augustine, are compelled to teach by our own life’s forces,  even with the odds as in this case, against our qualification to act the teacher. (p.3)

Teaching, in this sense, is an integral part of life, a necessity implying a new view of education, as the reader will discover below.

5.ERH contrasts his view with that of John Dewey, who, having written voluminously on education,  HAS NEVER STATED WHY HE WRITES. The teacher is taken for granted by Dewey, but not granted any articulated intention.  Is the only reward for the public school teacher his pay?  And if not, do we assume this teacher’s goal is the passing on of information?  Can this situation be the role of a good teacher?  Can there be an unarticulated personal “agenda” of the teacher, and if so, is this a healthy situation?

To raise such questions as who should teach and why, ERH asserts, puts education into the realm of social science and politics.

But as it is, education is a humanistic and even humanitarian specialty since it is mere giving to somebody, with the teacher receiving a salary, in reward. (p.4)

6.ERH’s point in raising all of these issues is to point out Augustine’s relevance for our time.  He developed the ideas of metalogic, which assigned the highest purpose for education,  and of metaphysics, freeing mankind to study nature objectively and thereby de-demonize it.  With metaphysics, the old myths of demonized nature could be overcome, and principles of modern science methodology could be articulated. Descartes later advocated separation of mind and body to articulate the method in greater detail, opening the way for modern science.

Augustine suggests a third method to enlighten us about the understanding of experience, because neither of these first two methods addressed society.   Augustine assumed that humans think, so that they can survive; that this knowledge would be a universal curriculum, and therefore everyone needed to teach. Why is he teaching, by what authority, with what conditions?  He saw that the relation of teacher and  student, and the orientation of both, are therefore of crucial importance in social science! Furthermore, Augustine asserts that a vital science of society must unite all three of these methodologies into a single study of human experience, i.e. the creative powers of the universe (religion), nature, and human society. In other words, human experience cannot be understood without such integration.

The Distemporanity of Education

1.To summarize, Augustine recognized that there needed to be three different methods for understanding experience: 1) meta-ethics for the understanding of the creative powers of the universe, describing  the goals of mankind, 2) metaphysics to study nature so that man could understand the concrete world around him in a de-demonized way, and 3) a science of society in order to understand human behavior. Each of these methods would have to be different, because each phenomenon was intrinsically different. Finally, he recognized that at the core of these methodologies would be different concepts of the phenomenon of time, which he saw  as intrinsically different from space. The concentration on space is the orientation of natural scientists, who define time as the fourth dimension of space.

Since thought requires time, one cannot observe it, although one can know it exists.

If we are products of our time, we shall never know this same time as we may know a fact outside nature. (p.6)

Thought and education both take time.  Modern thinkers have dissected time into “atoms” of before and after, the concept of “present” being a split-second, a fiction.  While this seems satisfactory for physics, it doesn’t work for society.  For if time units are disconnected, unrelated to each other, then education is not possible.  Planning, for instance, can be for hours or even years,  whereby,  psychologically, time appears to stand still. (p.6)

2.The notion that time flows, but also appears to stand still, is paradoxical.  But undeniably all action, including thinking and teaching  takes time.  The teaching act is central to a philosophy of time, because there is an “older'” and  “younger,”  and when interacting they both exist in a conscious “present.”  Another way of stating this is that the teacher has a prior knowledge of the subject, the student a later exposure.  THIS CONCEPT ALSO DESCRIBES THE BASIS FOR ALL SOCIAL RELATIONS. (p.9)   People with different points of view (experience of times) are linked together in the present.

3.The concept of different “times” of people means each has different ideas, different interests, etc. Differences are a prescription for acrimony,  of course, but when persons can function in a group, in harmony in the “present,”  they share the same “times.”

In learning, in teaching, in education, the miracle is achieved of bringing both together in a third time.  This bridge is called the present. (p.7)

ERH goes on the point out that if this harmony were not created, people would be unable to communicate. He  confesses that in all his searches he has found no other thinker before Augustine who has articulated social problems according to this time perspective.

In the “present,” ERH tells us,  “Here, the darkest division of man stares us in the face.” The abyss of time is ahead of and behind the group. The teacher’s preparation is based on knowledge from the past, and the student’s anticipation looks to the future. But ERH wonders why, in all the treatises on education, the teacher is not mentioned. He/she is considered an “objective” observer, without a particular time perspective,  rather than a crucial participant in the act of transforming. IT IS THIS TRANSFORMATION THAT SPELLS OUT THE EDUCATIONAL TASK. Without the transforming role of the teacher, we lack of ability to communicate adequately, to achieve cooperation, and thereby are primed to destroy our communities. To understand, one must have a sense of time and timing. (p.8)

4.Throughout history, movements die, people and ideas pass on, epochs pass on, generations fade. “And yet the spirit’s bloodstream survives every one age.” (p.8)  Where cultures survived, it is precisely this that was their accomplishment and revitalizing engine.  As Augustine and ERH assert, it is this spirit that must lie at the heart of all teaching, because it is the only way that the times, from age to age, can be united and integrated. It is the only way the student can understand his own experience in context.

5.Unless we reach back into history, then forward in anticipation, and strive to build a better future,  we will not rise above animal cultures, which are imprisoned in relearning all of reality each generation.  This concept is the difference between Christian and secular sociology.

When curriculum is based on subject matter only, it becomes hopelessly departmentalized into specialized “disciplines.”  When it is based on mandates from the “state,” it degenerates inexorably into propaganda and lies. The only avoidance of these pitfalls is to put the transformation of the spirit at the center of teaching and learning.

We need an answer to the simple question: How can people who are not contemporaries live together successfully? And Augustine’s answer is: They succeed if they admit that they form a succession, if they affirm their quality of belonging to different times.  If the time difference is admitted, they may build a bridge across the times, in corresponding acts.  By these acts, that which is called “the present” is produced.  The present is not a given data of nature but a fruit of social efforts. (pp.8,9)

Analysis of the Text

1.There are 14 chapters in the “De Magistro” text.  In the first seven,  Augustine and son Adeodatus engage in a dialogue about semantics, which Adeotatus sums up:

All speech is teaching.  Words are signs.  Signs need not be words.  Acts may be shown without a sign.  (p.10)

2.Chapter 8 seems to be a play of ideas back and forth about the reality of words and signs, as differentiated from actions.

3.Chapter  9:  “A sign may be equally or more valuable than the reality signified.  But our cognition of the sign is less precious than our cognition of the reality signified.” (p.10)

4.Chapter 10: There must be a connection between signs and real objects or acts.

5.Chapter 11:  Understanding results from connecting words and signs to concrete things and acts. While words alone can challenge us to “seek reality,”  we must then seek understanding by making the connection between the words and concrete events.

6.Chapter 12:  “Sensations and mental perceptions are two classes of our perceptions.  Sensations never are replaceable through words of others, except on faith.”

This is to say, hearing speech from others is either doubted, or received skeptically, or taken on faith. In no case does this represent proper learning, however. Obviously, with “proper learning,” words must be connected with experience.

7.Chapter 13:  The listener is always the judge of the speaker, that is,  judging speech. The problem, of course, is to determine if the speaker is speaking his mind, or is lying.  Just as often, we may fail to speak our true thoughts, and quarrels or misunderstandings result.

8.Chapter 14:  “Nobody sends his children to school to let them think the teacher’s ideas.  They ought to get the objective knowledge.  This they only learn by spontaneous consideration inside themselves.”  During the teaching act, or dialogue, no time seems to pass (consciously).

Words from outside us should be taken as admonitions; one learns (understands, as contrasted with mere recall of information) only by thinking about the words, and thus, in the final analysis, one must teach oneself.

Repentance for a Social Situation

1.ERH points out that in “De Magistro,” Augustine has laid foundations; foundations are necessary so that regeneration can take place. These foundations are the assumptions to which one can return  as a new starting point.

He also asserts that the essay is not laid out along the lines of a Platonic dialogue. The descriptive part in the beginning does not assume to judge the “traditional” way of seeing teaching at that time, but rather to describe what is being jettisoned in the next part of “De Magistro.”  The dialogue is political, dealing with the relations between father and son, and with little theory per se.

It establishes the difference between Greek and Christian thought, whereby the Greek mind can revel in pure ideas  and the Christian believes in meaning, in terms of the intended consequences of action.  In Greek thought, a dualism  separates theory from practice.  In Christian separation doesn’t exist, but another dualism does,  between seriousness and play.  “…the only dualism admitted by a Christian community.” (p13)  

The first half of “De Magistro” is a prelude to an exercise for more serious topics.

2.ERH goes into a long discussion about the interrelation between work (struggle) and play, which, summarized, turns out to mean both are natural and necessary. To find the truth among us, we must both work and play together. Thus, it was appropriate for Augustine and Adeotatus to play with ideas as a prelude to the   struggle to follow.

If they would analyze the impact of this one little fact, they would face the real educational mystery, which is that man meets his fellow man only when he meets him on different levels. This is not a logical proposition; and it is not a psychological proposition.  It is a social and historical phenomenon…The student plays, the teacher struggles with the truth. (p15)

3.He goes on to explain that the natural attitude of the student, even in the best circumstances, is to come to the classroom with an anticipation to learn.  But, by its very nature, the experience inside the classroom is vicarious reality.  Even though the teacher comes to the same scene with seriousness and conviction, he must allow the student to play with the ideas.  “We need a transformer, to bring the truth from the form of conviction to the form of play.”

Other transformations must take place.  The student must realize that one day the knowledge will have serious meaning in his life, and so his attitude must eventually change from play to seriousness.  “Good teaching begins with a joke and ends with a challenge.”

4.Two dangers degrade teaching into puerility (childishness), or sublimating it into crusading.  When the aforementioned transformations take place, on the other hand, “…all that which education can do, has been done.”

There is, of course, always risk involved; the teacher can be, and often is, misunderstood.  Methods of teaching for rote memory can easily be done, sans risk. Being misunderstood naturally arises when each party believes he/she is a master of the language, and leaves the situation believing he has been understood. This is seldom the case.  Nothing of importance transpires between student and teacher with rote learning.

Both teacher and student must struggle, both must change levels of attitude, and most importantly, the result of this mutual struggle and play must progress beyond how the two conceive of it.

5.That “beyond” lies in use of the knowledge.  At some point in the conversation, the logic, pragmatism, science, and scholarship transform into reality.

6.The “struggle” of the teacher signifies that he has put his heart and soul into the act, and good teaching requires this. Modern educational psychology ignores this fact. Augustine’s meta-ethics requires that the teacher be satisfied with his ethical role.

To teach as defined above portrays the struggle of the teacher to balance duties to the truth with love of the student. These oppose each other.

The conflict which the teacher takes upon himself lies between his thought in his own time and the survival of this thought beyond his own time. (p.17)

To survive these opposing forces, one must have a “soul,” which is the power one needs to rise above these conflicting forces.

7.If this struggle of the teacher can be recognized by the student, the student may be transported into a serious and beneficial fellowship of learning.

8.There are two forces that must be present for good teaching and learning; faith and love underpin the power of the soul. For the student of good will, faith in the teacher and love of truth.  For the teacher, faith in the truth and love for the student.  Without such good will, significant teaching and learning cannot occur.

The Correspondence of Human Beings

1.The power of teaching, of instilling creativity,  is beyond both student and teacher. God is the source of both love and truth.  In modern educational psychology, the teacher is mere facilitator to the student’s intellect.  In antiquity it was the teacher who was the fountainhead of truth.

2.Augustine’s view of these formulations was that they were both deficient.  Dualisms usually turn into exploitation by the half of the duality  that obtains and maintains power over the other. Capitalist exploits labor, husband exploits wife and family, although that power is always limited in practice.

IT IS INSTINCTIVE AMONG HUMANS THAT THEY WISH TO BE CONSIDERED HUMAN BEINGS.  They wish to be loved by someone. ERH points out that we have many names – teacher, doctor, boss, husband, wife, American, Christian – and could abandon any or all of these and survive, with one exception.  We insist on recognition as “being” and as a “human being” (p.19),  without which we could NOT survive.

3.     All specific social functions are mere surface roles compared to this underlying lasting role.  This role consists of a correspondence between my names for myself and society’s names for me. This correspondence binds us.  Without it, we lose our being and our humanity.  Most moderns take this correspondence so much for granted…(p.19)

THE IMPLICATION OF THIS NOTION COULD NOT BE MORE FUNDAMENTAL; THAT A GOAL OF MERE GROWTH IN INTELLIGENCE AND WISDOM AND EVEN SURVIVAL IS NOT ENOUGH. “Foxes are intelligent and weeds grow tall.”  Our fundamental goal for all education must be for individuals to acquire the status of being recognized, addressed, and thought of as a human being.  We risk life and limb and would submit to abuse and endless suffering every day to maintain our need for personal dignity.  The truth of this may be seen in the struggles all around us.

This need for being addressed as human,  the listening for our name to be called, derives of course from our language, which exists only in correspondence with others.

4.No one, then, is self-taught. Neither teacher nor student can claim supremacy. Their humanity arises from a common spirit, a correspondence of spirits.  “Hence the two Egos must be made to perceive this common basis, background, condition of one spirit.” (p.21)

For one’s ego to be sacrificed in an atmosphere of love and faith also means that the creative power from teaching and learning and the willingness to sacrifice for the welfare of the group comes from outside both parties. This outside power is what ERH identifies as God.

The Biographical Place of “De Magistro”

1.What does dialogue achieve in the personal life of the two involved?

There is always the danger that the student can become a follower of the teacher, tied to his ideas and unable to become an independent thinker in his own right! So Augustine makes very clear that he is not the teacher, or leader; he strives in the end to provide (spiritual) emancipation to his son/student.

[RF – This seems to me another paradox in life, where one must have teachers who are not teachers.  Obviously Augustine’s message is that no good teacher attempts to tie the student permanently to his (teacher’s) thinking.  Therefore, teaching and role models can only be temporary.  The student borrows the ideas and behavior until, and only until he rises to the capability to think for himself, and hopefully in time go beyond his teacher.]

Augustine, as a cleric,  states that only God can be our ultimate teacher and leader.

2.This appears to be the logic behind ERH’s view of history – it must be biographical and autobiographical (the professional term is “narrative history”). Otherwise, one reading about Socrates or Plato or any other great figure of the past is very likely to catch too tight a hold on one’s thinking, rendering it narrow and incapable of change.  It would be precisely the teacher’s function to insure that the student then becomes emancipated and free, transformed into  an independent thinker. (see pp.21-23).

As Augustine exclaims in the tenth book of the Confessions: “People must be connected by the bond of charity before they can listen and speak to each other with profit. (p.23)  [emphasis mine – RF]

3.He goes on to explain that teaching is charity, not “thought.”  He asserts that one cannot teach science scientifically, because trust and respect cannot be established by formulae.  In elaboration he explains that love and will are not the same, and modern psychology (especially educational psychology) mistakes them for being the same.  One can force students to do exercises because of the power of  position. One cannot will the student to believe (respect) by this method. The teacher, he reminds us, has no spiritual (lasting) authority outside the classroom.

4.Teaching is the model for establishing efficacious relationships, because it is the model for creating time (gaining time, in other words).  [RF – Armed with knowledge, one is relieved from the necessity of re-inventing it.]

Our life experience is full of stimuli, which pushes us to change, redirecting our attention and dedication too quickly. What is important in life is that which is lasting; behavior, formulations that work, basic principles – truth.  The protection against these fragmenting forces is therefore the teaching situation, which acts to encapsulate teacher and student, literally taking them out of the time of demands from outside the classroom. (Using the term classroom in the broadest sense; it may be inside a building, or beside a shade tree.)

5.Teacher and student give each other time. By the mutual willingness to speak and listen to each other, by the opportunity for each to express their (always different) experiences in reality, by taking time to think and time to understand and grow (a period of incubation), they create an environment of peace. Peace can be defined as the process by which people give each other time.

This requires faith on the part of the student that truth is worth seeking, and love (desire) on the part of the teacher for the student to grow.  This body of time incorporates three times – past, present, and future. The teacher  already has had time with the subject matter, the student  will have time in the future, and both meet in the present to communicate.

6.These then are the principles for establishing transformation.  None of this is incorporated in the modern psychologists’ theories of cognition, or conditioning, or humanistic interaction.

Former Evaluations

1.ERH  evaluates what three other scholars have said ” De Magistro”  was about. Each of these took from the text according to their biases. Leckie, a modern scholar,  was looking for educational method, and  wrote about cognition, the humanities, and Rhetoric.

In 1527, Erasmus of Rotterdam commented on the text.  Being a humanist, he was looking for the basic philosophy; his question was, “What is the fundamental system of ideas he is representing?”  Put another way, Erasmus  assumes religion is one of several philosophies. In the middle ages Bonaventura was looking for God.

2.Each of these scholars put aside parts of the text that were not relevant, according to their biases.  Rosenstock-Huessy does the same, by his own admission, but asks the reader to consider that he left out nothing in his analysis.

Bonaventura separates Heaven and earth as different entities. Erasmus assumes that thought is the principle creative force of the world. And Leckie, the modern scientist,  looks for the scientific method of teaching.

3.Rosenstock-Huessy’s bias is that all of these are part of the same reality, and that the goal of society is to create peace (cooperation).  To do this is no small effort;  teaching is not scientific, but educational and political in essence. The power to speak the truth, to speak and listen,  is a miracle, and its accomplishment represents the creative spirit within us.  This source is not within us, but has been passed down to us,  and of course its carrier is true speech. This ERH calls the Holy Spirit.  Rosenstock-Huessy asserts that St. Augustine was the first great scholar to understand and articulate these concepts.

4.Teaching and learning, by this concept, only truly occurs when a “present” is created between teacher and student.  This present represents a living cell, a time capsule in which the spirit of the discipline and its place in creating community is established.  The living cell creates time and space in which the living spirit can be realized, a social and psychological phenomenon.

Contrarily, modern so-called “sciences” of learning are inadequate descriptions of this more vital educational process. Memorization and logic do not describe the creative act, they are merely mental manipulations,   characteristic of dead cells.  No viable society can be made up from dead cells!

The Creation of a Body of Time

1.Dialogue at the time of Augustine was not new; however, there was a difference between Christian dialogue as articulated by Augustine, and pre-Christine (Platonic) dialogue. In the Platonic dialogues, students were “taught” by the “master.”  The interlocutors were either proven wrong, or all participants were  proven inadequate to the task.  There was play at the beginning, then serious discussion.

2.Augustine introduced a third element, in which each participant would trade roles as speaker and listener, as teacher and student. In this third part there was a free examination of ideas, especially questioning of old ideas. An atmosphere of equality was created, which was to lead to a formalizing agreement about the future.  Formalizing meant articulating a new situation from the past, what should be carried forward, what should end, what possible new or revised methods of examination might be needed. All this indicated  a vitalizing break between past and future.

3.In this new situation, the past can accept change because the teacher (representing past experience) participates.  Future, then,  is in part a continuation, and in part a portent of new directions.

Each generation is made up  partly of the past and partly unique newness.   The goal  is to unify time (correspondence) in the present,  of past, and future. Eugen says:

…my knowledge of this break produces in me the forwardizing energy called teaching by which part of my experience can be regenerated in somebody else. (p.30)

4.Man possesses an innate desire to pass something on, to connect with the future.  He knows death is inevitable.  Consciousness of our own mortality leads us to disregard any importance of the automatic flow of time,  in favor of  influencing life past our own death.  What is important to us personally is the continuation of our spirit, our ideas, our influence.  For example, we desire  less crime, or the welfare of our family, a cleaner environment, more justice, less greed – whatever we fought for in life.

5.There is a reciprocity between teacher and student in this three-part dialogue. The student is relieved of the burden of re-inventing all of reality, while at the same time being given freedom to renew old practices, invent new ones, and in turn leave his own mark on the future. He is free to re-experience the past, without having to be manacled to it.  THIS EMANCIPATION FROM OLD THINKING IS A CRUCIAL GOAL OF AUGUSTINE’S CONCEPT.

The teacher, in his turn, is listened to, receiving validation by having been unburdened of his heart-felt concerns for the future of society.

Man does not live in the present alone but, by merit of the forwardizing energy he reaches a beyond-himself time. The teacher is forced to enter a relation to human beings whom he can teach because he must make this connection with a beyond-himself time.  Once he has determined this beyond-himself time, he is relieved. …Man is he who can inherit faculties acquired by other members of the race. (p.31)

6.The student, by “backwardizing,”  re-enters the ranks of those who determined the past.  He no longer feels a need to be determined by it, rather he determines it by looking at the past from the perspective of questions from the present.  IN THIS WAY, THIS THREE-PART DIALOGUE HOLDS POWERFUL PAYOFFS FOR BOTH STUDENT AND TEACHER. The reciprocity creates a forceful binding process, of cooperation between student and teacher, of past, present, and future, and explains the necessary quality of creative thinking required by everyone who wishes to grow.

[RF – This section of the monograph might have been titled, “The psychology of true teaching.”  In my own experience and reading, this seems far more insightful than any other books by famous modern scholars.]

7.By contrast, Humanism asserts lasting divisions between past, present, and future.  ERH’s binding of all times then unifies all of humankind.  Its basic accomplishment lies in the creation of a “super-time,” a fusion of past and future, and creation of an expanded present (as compared to a momentary present).

Another accomplishment of super-time is that it fends off loneliness, connecting one with all times of history and of the future. It extends one’s relationships beyond personal life restricted to the present.

8.IN SUM, THE CREATION AND ARTICULATION OF A SUPER-TIME IS THE SECRET TO A VITAL SOCIETY.  It is the product of a social cooperation and a method by which one becomes capable of rising above one’s mere animal nature, to be transformed into a maturing human being. It is how human beings conquer death!

9.Antiquity didn’t know how to do this. It lived a life of endless cycles.  Modern views of Humanism, as reflected in all social science today,  accept these fragmenting, Platonic beliefs as well.

Super-time is a conscious creation of energy to transform society, derived from faith, love, and hope.  The  student has faith that the teacher is telling the truth, and a love for the truth.  The teacher has love (and respect) for the student, and faith in the truth.  They both have hope for fulfillment.

The academic world which is Greek in origin still cultivates a disdain for super-time, and for the energies which alone are able to produce it.  Faith, Love, and Hope, are not considered worthy of scientific investigation.  They are called irrational, unproven, non-existent, cobwebs of mystics. ( p.34)

10.         The church in teaching the secrets of the creative life and the standstill present, teaches them in a non-creative and pre-Christian manner.  And she does so to this day, either in the Aristotelian forms of the middle ages or in the Platonic manner of the Liberal Arts college. (p.38)

11.THIS EDUCATIONAL PROCESS BETWEEN STUDENT AND TEACHER IS THE SMALLEST ATOM OF SUPER-TIME.  IT VISIBLY CONNECTS TWO GENERATIONS, AND EXPERIENCES FOUR DIMENSIONS OF TIME: past, future, the fleeting moment, and the timeless present. In our personal lives we experience a tiny speck of reality.  Only through a truly consciously creative educational process can we hope to expand that speck into our human potential.

No teaching of this nature can be based on traditional scientific methods.  Contrary to popular and professional assertions,  teaching is not and cannot be scientific.  The creation of super-time is based on speech.

This power of speech is not an appeal to man’s rational or intellectual faculties only, although it appeals to them too.  But it appeals to the whole man.  Speech is four times as rich as thought.  And without this wealth of appeals it could not move man into super-space and super-time.  Society is built by the energies which enable us to get outside our own short living time and living space and which make us to desire to melt into the world, be born into the future, enter the graves of the past, and reach our own innermost centre. (p.40)


Reprint from the “Archive for Adult Education” – 1925
Translated 1992 by Raymond Huessy
Feringer notes
Notes started: 11/92
Last edited: 11/97


The context of this essay was the tragic situation of Germany after WW I. Rosenstock-Huessy was raising the question, “How has the German education system been faulty to not have prepared its citizens to see, and understand and respond more appropriately to their experience?”  Apparently the German citizens did not see the pickle they were in.   Rosenstock-Huessy writes as though he is offering the German people a method to better prepare themselves for the future, to rise up from the “dead,” in this essay.

I.      Theory & Practice

a.   “Schooling” is defined as the educational method for youth. Its characteristics are: 1) transmission of information, as contrasted with need for an adult education that would transform the students. Transmission is, by definition, oriented toward the past,  with no admonition to act.   2) Teaching is teacher-centered.  Transmission also negates the role of the teacher, because the teacher is primarily an instrument, analogous to a tape player or video today.  3)  The primary activity of the student is to memorize, a situation that does not require leadership, but mere formal authority over the students.

b.   True “education,” for any age, by contrast is much more than mere “schooling.” Adult education,  in particular, is oriented toward solving community problems as a step toward a better future. This requires a curriculum that prepares the student to see, understand and deal with problems at hand.  In the process the adult is transformed into a new being, because creating a future always demands a new type of person to evolve with changed times. The difference in age, in adult learning situations, between teacher and student is much less, and therefore the teacher needs to lead, at first. The authority relationship between student and teacher may shift back and forth.

c.   Of course, these definitions are not pure, as all levels of learning involve passing on information from the past.  However, the solving of problems, where the answers are not known beforehand, new information to be created and tested – a very subtle and demanding process.  Furthermore, since the curriculum arises from community need, adult students have the power to evaluate its relevance and participate in its formulation.

d.   Two “curious” types of adult schools arose in Germany after WW I, one based on humanistic idealism and the other on “realpolitik.”  The purpose and philosophy of these schools could not have been more different.  The “Keyserling” school in 1923 reflected idealism and the “Speidel Workers Council Schools,” represented the latter.  One represented theory (idealism), and the other, practice. These orientations existed previously, but between 1500 and 1900 they grew more and more apart, and finally evolved into isolation and incompatibility.   They became two poles of philosophy, each giving lip-service to the importance of the other,  but in reality they ignored each other.

e.   Rosenstock-Huessy despaired of the educational  institutions for adults in Germany at this time, not only the Keyserling and Speidel schools, but also the university and the church, as offering inadequate and disconnected teaching:

Until now we have in a spiritual sense known only the conscious misleading of adults: demagogy.  But now we attempt conscious spiritual leadership: “andragogy”…So andragogy is the name under which we can group all school-bound teaching of adults.  In any case the rise of andragogy as a renunciation of both mere pedagogy and demagogy is significant. (p.3)

II.     The School of Wisdom

a.   The essential characteristics of the Keyserling school were: 1)  well-to-do people who wished to improve their minds, but, 2)  with no motive to put this learning into practice.  Adults entered to “become wise,” to know themselves, to become “grown-up.”  Entry into the school was voluntary, motivated by a personal desire for enlightenment.

b.   The opposite of this characterized the Speidel school.  Here adults were driven by some community need, by a higher call to “duty,” not something they arbitrarily chose, and not for their personal ends, but for group ends. The problem of  “andragogy” is to resolve these two opposing forces.

c.   The existence of the Keyserling school represented a recognition of the failure of both the university and the church.  The university had become “soulless,” and the church “deadly to the spirit.”

The Keyserling school employed unconventional and perfectly valid methods for teaching, but, like the university and the church, failed to connect learning with action.  The validity of the curriculum and teaching methods did not make up for a failure in philosophy and this turned out to be a fatal flaw.

d.   The notion that knowledge studied out of the context of practice could have power was fallacious, in Rosenstock-Huessy’s view.

Whoever pretends to believe in the lack of preconditions in the social sciences, exaggerates the weight of his little bit of personal morality and good behavior.  It is nice, of course, not to lie consciously.  But it is much worse for the spirit and truth and science, to lie without being aware of it. ….Keyserling’s new approach has little prospect of ending anywhere different than where Plato’s, Marsilio Ficino’s, Richelieu’s, or Leibnitz’s academic life ended: in the highest personal truthfulness, in  institutional unreality and ambiguity!  (p.7)

Knowledge studied out of the context of use, out of the stream of history, knowledge taught as a bundle of abstractions only, isolates people and constrains them from connecting with others, because it offers no basis for commonly agreed-upon validation of the usefulness of the knowledge. Nor does it allow any learning from other generations.

Keyserling does not differentiate between “his” truth for himself and responsible “teachable” truth for others.  Without such a filter, such a spiritual self-purification from the fetters of individuality, one graduating class, one generation, can never connect to another. (p.8)

e.   True teaching means preparing the student to validate the relevance of past knowledge, add to it the knowledge of some present situation, then find a method for solving the problem at hand.  All of this requires some common agreement as to the facts and the effectiveness of possible solutions (which is to say, testing them).   “The problem of continuity, inheritance, transmission, is the problem which causes our existing institutions to wither away.”  (p.8)  Another way of putting this is to say that this form of idealism tries to drive out the devilwith  the devil, subjectivity with subjectivity, individualism with individualism, just as does the university.  What if the professor lacks knowledge, or is biased, how are his pronouncements of the truth to be validated?  In a “pedagogical” system the student is stuck with accepting the knowledge uncritically.  How can such a method prepare a community member participating in community affairs to respond to community problems fruitfully?

Adult experience should move one toward being a wiser and self-assured personality.  Today university students are self assured because Western Culture and its traditional universities emphasize science, which requires only memory, but not social wisdom and a call to action.

f.    The vitality of the society is at stake here.  Any community requires vital leadership, which is to say, outstanding persons, what Rosenstock-Huessy calls “a personality.”   The idea, established in the 16th century  “Humanist” movement, meant that anyone could do anything.  The fallacy of this notion lies in the fact that, when everyone believes they can become a “personality” (great person), then no one can.  Where, then, is the leadership? Even if a leader is present, he/she is not accepted, or worse, not even recognized.  Such  is the result of the cult of individualism (humanism)!  [RF – In my own experience I have many times been confronted with groups who had little or no knowledge of some issue, but claimed the right to have an opinion and an influence equal to that of the expert.]

g.   Another concern Rosenstock-Huessy raises with traditional adult educational institutions is that of homogeneity, of the lack of representation in planning bodies of many group members.  Examples of this phenomenon are too numerous to list.  Police departments, political parties, universities, churches, labor unions – in short all institutions – have failed to reform themselves.  No homogeneous group can change itself, because to do so transforms it into something else:

Whenever members of a homogeneous social group whose inner attitudes are well-known and well-established, makes use of educational institutions as adults, any attempt to effect essential change in the group must end in failure….This is also why all party activity is immune to improvement.  And that is why any homogeneity among students sets narrow limits on the art of the teacher.  (pp.10,11)

III.     The Workers’ Council School

a.   The context of the “workers” situation was the need to re-establish a movement, originated in the past, but  which had faded out.  In the past peasants needed to defend themselves against the powerful. The first step in this process was to know the rule of law, to know one’s rights as well as responsibilities.  With the rise of capitalism and the humanistic notion of individual worth, the new peasants, the workers, became the “soil” for entrepreneurship.  There were  schools established in the 19th century for the peasants to study such subjects as marriage contracts and other aspects of contract law, in addition to some general education.  The present need in post WW I Germany was for the modern peasants (workers) to protect their rights by re-establishing the dissemination of this type of knowledge.  The movements of the 19th century were characterized by political activists for the purpose of raising the economic status of workers and for protection against exploitation.

b.   There was an important distinction to be made, between the study of rules and the rights they bequeathed,  on the one hand,  and political action on the other.  Law is, by definition, oriented toward the past, and changing the law is directed toward the future. This new popular adult education, as represented by the Speidel school,  was oriented toward political action.  However, the orientation was insufficient because it became manifest in a form that was narrow and idealistic.  Rosenstock-Huessy explains in some detail the evolution of this phenomenon.  In a nut-shell, it amounted to Speidel concentrating on political forms, i.e. how to obtain workers rights.  They learned to stop certain types of practices through the courts, but in the meantime the economic disaster of the country made such political concern irrelevant.  The workers could not see that the larger picture was that their economic problems were tied to those of the rest of the country, and single issue political action then took on a bad smell.

“Politics today is filth,”  a businessman wrote recently.  He meant that idealistic political thinking which stares fixedly at Berlin, equating politics with government policy, law with state regulation,   public life with the life of the state. (p.11)

The failure of law was that cases came to be decided on the basis of a technicality.  This distorted the spirit of the law.

c.   The workers were mainly interested in learning 1) their rights and how to defend them, 2) law to become equipped to prosecute a lawsuit, and 3) arbitration processes.  Trials were seen as the scene of the real context between labor and management.  Distinctions between individual legal rights and public rights were important to understand, i.e. those established by legal procedure on the one hand, and those   “…shunted off into politics, campaigns, parties, and parliaments,”  on the other hand.

d.   In practice, the Workers’ Council Schools failed 1) because their membership was too homogeneous, and 2) because they allowed themselves to become too fragmented into a narrow, specialized approach to solving their problems, as described (in b, & c) above. This is to say, because of a failure to identify the larger context of their society into which their movement fitted. Also, 3) they failed because they saw their situation as a microcosm of all social activity.

Do not underestimate the danger of this situation! It is the last bit of “soil” in society which is being consumed….True teaching is, and must be lacking, because it is borrowed, and borrowed from a world divided into theories and practices.  The incest in these schools, that in them the workers are only among themselves, we can only take for the second impediment to the schools’ coming to spiritual independence. But this impediment has a greater importance now than ever before.  Because in our fundamentally weakened people, each individual group is incapable of regenerating the spiritual life, even of its own environment.  (pp.16,17)

e.   “How can we understand the prospects for these two types of schools, “wisdom and law,” and what should we hope for?” (p.17)


editorial comments:

Up to this point the author speaks of the degeneration of Germany in 1925, exacerbated by improper teaching of adults.  The failure of both schools was in being incapable of counter-balancing the corrupted institutions.  Therefore the need for a new type of teaching, which Rosenstock-Huessy dubs “andragogy.”  Andragogy was conceived to sensitize adults to the meaning (spirit) of their times, to awaken the spirit and motivate action on the part of the citizenry to improve the community.  It would be entirely appropriate to  call this new teaching, “a higher form” of teaching.  It exactly parallels the relationship of his new form of grammar that ERH called, “The Grammatical Method.” This new grammar goes beyond Alexandrian Grammar, which we all learned.  And in a like way, “Andragogy” goes beyond traditional teaching.

The distinction between pedagogy, demagogy, and andragogy is important, because each has a different but justifiable  purpose.  Each calls for a different methodology.  It is equally true that, in reality,  these types can never become isolated and followed in a “pure” form, because there is always overlap at every level.  Each type either calls for or anticipates the next step.  For instance, all learning requires memory, vocabulary, sequence, logic, and so forth.  And even with andragogy, in certain situations the purpose and methodology of pedagogy and demagogy would be subsumed as part of the teaching process.  This is to say, in some situations with adults, where the students are new to a subject, and the teacher is an expert, the students are hardly in a position to determine goals or participate equally with the teacher.  Contrarily, in elementary school part, of the preparation must anticipate andragogy.

[RF – Having said this, I would hope the reader can better understand the full implications of the final section.]


IV.    The School of Law

Rosenstock-Huessy points out that the time to create new institutions is in the time of need.  In this case in Germany, he points out how the lost war reflected  a number of social breakdowns, deeply divided social classes, deeply divided specialized professions, a demoralized citizenry in which self-confidence, a vision for a future, and hope were at the lowest point, and finally, serious divisions as to teaching methods and curricular theories.

A school for adults, which would produce individuals prepared to face problems and create new forms to deal with new problems, what ERH calls in this essay “Schools for men”  (p.19), must break new ground.   The needs (goals)  were clear:  1) to unite deeply divided social classes, 2) to create some commonality of interest between the most deeply divided specialized professions, 3) to also take into account both individual and group needs, and finally 4) “…to melt down the isolated specialized teachers into one teaching community.”   Another way of generalizing this concept is that the educational system must be based upon the experience of the country, an experience where failed institutions and much suffering was rampant.  What was needed was:

…a School of Events, and a school for those who have undergone those events.  The mere man of knowledge, the dogmatist, the professional man, the philosopher, the rationalist, all those who neither can, nor will let their knowledge be changed by events, have no place in andragogy.  The priest and the Levite pass by:  only the Samaritan is ready to think and act anew!  (p.19)

Demagogy:  The state is interested in promoting its own survival, which means that there must be some modicum, some minimum common spirit by which unity and public order could be maintained.  The state there has a primary interest in maintaining an educational system that will sustain this common spirit.  Examples are given: Germany in 1810 and France 1871 were both defeated in war, and each country started new schools.  However, for the reasons stated above, these new schools failed to appropriately prepare adults.  The new concept must recognize and subsume the justifiable need for the state to create unity among its citizens.

Andragogy:  The context in which the need for a new approach to the educational system that would go beyond “Demagogy” was the degenerated, dispirited state of Germany in 1918.  He raises the question, “How are individuals and groups to regenerate themselves and their country?”

It is not only a question of preserving our state, but of barbarization of Europe.  It is not only a question of inspecting politics in the capital, but of ordering life in all parts and places of the country.  It is not a question of teaching a homogeneous student body, but of bringing a disparate population together.

All adult education, if it is to achieve anything original, anything that shapes men, anything that arises from the depths of time, will have to proceed from the suffering which the lost war has brought each of us…  (p. 18)

The basis for a new power of teaching must arise from the shared experience of both student and teacher.  Where  that experience was catastrophic, it heralded the need for a new type thinking and  of a new type of adult.  With andragogy, not only was this experience to be shared in the sense that the background of students was to be a constant source of data in the teaching process, but  the age of student and teacher is shared as well, as the teacher’s age was typically close to that of the student.

1.     The difference between adult and elementary education:

a.   A child, by definition, has not yet the capability of taking on responsibility in the community.  He/she learns to develop skills, follow curiosity, and is allowed to play and enjoy and follow natural inclinations along these pathways.

b.   The adult is one who has taken responsibility, who has entered the life and history of the community, who suffers from the failed processes in the community as well as  having enjoyed its benefits.  The mature adult, in order to heal the wounds of failed processes …”must build on the graveyard of dreams and of withered blossoms, if they mean to rescue what can be rescued.” (p.21)

c.   “Nationalism and Naturalism” are the enemies of adult education, negating the need for adult education.  The focus of nationalism is on the past, and the principle direction is toward solving economic problems.  The narrowly-oriented nationalist tends to be relieved of re-examining present conditions, of freeing the citizen from having to strive for change that is, in fact, needed.  An example is the tendency of nations to go to war over past grievances, rather than finding solutions based upon present conditions.

“Naturalism,” as the name implies, is following natural tendencies; it is natural for workers, according to Rosenstock-Huessy,  to study events of the past that may be interesting, but with no conclusion as to what wisdom these events might offer in the present, sparing them the need to act on that knowledge.  As historian Page Smith put it, “..sparing them the need to attend to what must be learned, rather than merely what might be interesting to learn.”  Growth and change at once oppose natural tendencies, growth and change that are essential for survival from one generation to the next, for creating a more viable future.

d.   Historical thinking is a fundamental dimension of andragogy, in that past events are to be analyzed for what can be learned from them so that  past failures might not be repeated.  In this way the past becomes unified with the present and future.  Adult education must rise above natural tendencies.  Knowledge is never settled for long.  [RF – One is reminded of a well-known aphorism of Alfred North Whitehead, “Knowledge keeps like fish!”   Knowledge must be validated by being acted upon. Since action  takes place only in the present, time is unified completely (past-present-future).  What is most likely to draw people together is a common recognition that dreams must be achieved, or at least movement toward them.

e.   Consistent with these principles, theory and practice are to become unified in the method of andragogy. Only thus is any knowledge validated, and at the same time that knowledge is re-invented and renewed. It then becomes alive, filled with meaning.

In andragogy, theory becomes  practical deed, in the responsible word; in the crucible of necessity, however, practical deeds become the stuff of theory. (p.23)

f.    Synonyms for andragogy would be “adult education” or the “school of events.”

g.   Andragogy is not merely “better” as an education method for this purpose, it is a necessity:

The decision whether we want to continue in the old division of pedagogy and demagogy is no longer ours to make.  For our childish dreams are played out, and the demagogical arts of seduction are no longer of any use.  Dreams and arts have been smashed by a ghastly reality.  We can either do nothing, which is to say, remain dead, or we can say “yes” to the School of Law, speak as men from the prave of our hopes, and so come to life once more. (p.25)


(Translation from Soziologie by R. Huessy)
Feringer notes
Last edited: 6-29-99

1.The problem focus of this essay is how humankind overcomes death.

All “men”  kill, because  they must seize living things in order to live.  All men die.  So nothing that happens could become history  if there were no cure for death.

The history of mankind is composed on one theme alone:  how does love (of life) become stronger than death?  (p.1)

[RF –  I believe it is useful to add a personal comment here, raising the question as to what Rosenstock-Huessy means by the term “death.”  I have often puzzled over attempts at interpreting his work, until I reminded myself of his specific definitions and assumptions. The reader will find it useful to keep  these in mind.  What Rosenstock-Huessy is referring to here is “spiritual death,” since that is the only form of death we are empowered to overcome.

If the reader reviews several other essays, such as SPEECH AND REALITY, PRACTICAL KNOWLEDGE OF THE SOUL, or the lecture transcripts on COMPARATIVE RELIGION, he/she is reminded of the three basic concepts of reality Rosenstock-Huessy articulates, with three separate methodologies for the analysis of our experience.  The three methods are, of course, natural science, social science, and religious science.  Yes, “religious science.”  (See the first chapter of SPEECH AND REALITY for a detailed defense of his logic.)  It seems to me these form the bedrock of his concept of reality, upon which the GRAMMATICAL METHOD is founded. Speech  unifies the three phenomena of nature, society and the soul.  The soul being the driving force for one’s journey toward change, growth and fulfillment.

A fountain of youth, or any other  power which claims to extend both  physical and spiritual life, depends upon a vital community and that, in turn, rests on individual strength of character, a willingness to make sacrifices to maintain  community; inner strength he defines as, “the soul.”  For instance, the body of Socrates has been ashes for some twenty five centuries, but his spirit (soul) has survived through history to influence any who desire to be enlightened by it.  Rosenstock-Huessy’s  subject therefore is no irrelevant, abstract artifice of religion.]

All serious religions were created solely to address this issue of death.  That some religions teach a belief in reincarnation of a physical form  is not what Rosenstock-Huessy is defending here.  [RF – The Dalai Lama, presenting himself as living in different bodies for thousands of years, describes the spiritof these lives through history, not  physical continuation. The spirit of previous Dalai Lamas is taught to the next generation.]

2.       Since early times, beginning with the oral tradition, the word has been carried from one generation to the next.  The message is in the form of  stores of how to survive: the strength of heros and failures of villains, in a word, what is reality. Our  earthly existence is determined in part by physical needs; we are born, live for a while and die.  Our social life is ruled by different laws, of initiation, of  celebration of our physical powers (exemplified by sex and passion), and our power to influence our lives (through ceremony, and sacrifice (in modern times, sacrifices in war or other community service).  All religions in all ages have celebrated these basic needs in one way or another.

3.       Tribes throughout history that survived, we can assume, lived a reality that, at some minimal level, engendered survival. But Rosenstock-Huessy attributes the articulation the bringing them to consciousness, to Jesus of Nazareth. The method for achieving regeneration was thus revealed. “This,”  ERH interprets  here what Bible is about, it is the process by which we overcome death.  But the reader may be surprised to learn that this survival may not be what he thinks it does.

4.       The journey to salvation, of both individuals and society, is a journey from “outside to inside,” from  the physical wants of our natural animal nature to the evolution of a spiritual strength of humankind. Another way of putting it is the building of an inner core of strength to face problems and act to correct them – the development of a personality, of a soul.  The method requires giving part of our lives to community service, building inner strength by developing the courage to constantly seek and act on truth as we know it when appropriate, and perhaps most of all,  constantly working at re-discovering reality (truth).

5.       Outer life is ruled by physical needs and described by “natural laws.” Laws that describe the inner life of intuition and thought and that curb grievous animal instinct are vastly different from laws of nature. We live in two worlds, then, and while these worlds are different and ruled differently,  they are inexorably intertwined, forming the unity we call living, coming to life, moving toward human potential.

6.       Natural science cannot comprehend the chasm between natural and spiritual life, between the  “outer,” and the “inner.” Nor  does traditional theology, as interpreted today,  concern itself with how a natural man (Jesus as a child and later, a carpenter) became  supernatural.  Yet, we all change in one way or another. Physical changes derive from nature, but learning which transforms us from one level to another is miraculous. We are the animal which holds the potential to become part god, by virtue of our learning to grow and become creative. While this may seem nonsense, because we do not create seeds or any other living form, one may ask just what we do create.  The answer should be obvious, we create communities which are the environment in which we, individually, may become capable of thinking something never before thought of. Each stage in this transformation is a small miracle in every sense of the word.

Traditional explanations of religions the world over, including Christianity, seem to believe that gods are gods and ever are, and shall be.  Although Christians are in awe of Jesus as a miracle worker, Christian denominations fail to concern themselves with his incredible change represented in this story.

The relevance of this issue, the path from outer to inner, is simply, that the human spirit is the master key to moving in the direction of human potential.   The story of Jesus from the Bible tells us of a journey that we also can make, in part. Science explains nature; it has little to say about non-physical phenomena.The problem caused by the gap, as Rosenstock-Huessy describes it,  between “outer and inner” life is that it creates a barrier to learning how we change from a lustful animal into what we presumptively call, “a vital human being.”  We are born totally demanding of our physical needs but with a potential to become creative.  None would deny that the goal of all cultures is to teach people to think for themselves, to seek truth, to speak out and otherwise act in efficacious ways, on what we believe.  And all of this must culminate in the creation of a decent community because without it we would remain as jungle animals.

7.       Spiritual growth is the linchpin to all such learning. Teaching, as traditionally practiced, is mere transfer of information leading to the creation of drones.  Vital teaching seeks a transformation of the listeners. To be transformed means to become a new type of being with a new nature.  Such growth requires more than thought alone; it must fire involvement, testing of ideas through experience and analysis. This, of course, is not to be taken without risk. The meaning of the Crucifixion of Jesus is that transformation is bought at the price of sacrifice, whatever its form may be.

8.       Creativity needs to be defined. Basically, the term means thinking for ourselves as contrasted with a life of living on the ideas of others; which we all do, by necessity,  much of the time.  Creativity must be a constant process of developing new tools in art and science to constantly refine our knowledge of reality and our changing environment. Even using the thought of others demands that we consider and accept or reject that thought; it demands that we be accountable for our thought and actions. A community, at peace with itself, is the essential environment to engender all of these elements of survival.  So the notion of creativity in this sense is essential to our survival and therefore the central goal of all education. [RF – One doesn’t need to reflect long to understand that survival also depends on a social (religious) morality.]  Heaven is not separate from human experience, not a place of sugar-plumb fairies we go to after death; that is the child’s vision.  The sublime meaning of heaven and hell is as a metaphor for the communities we build.

Thus, the path (method) to our development into creativity is the lesson ERH  takes from the Bible.  What then is the essence of this method, not entirely original with, but articulated by Jesus?

9.       Natural science methods do not claim to inform us about many (the most crucial) aspects of social life, such as the  phenomenon of creativity and inner strength. It was created to deal with description of inanimate phenomena which are predictable and amenable to precise measurement.  Yet many social scientists do indeed use  natural science  method for social analysis. [RF – perhaps as the noted psychologist Edward Guthrie averred, The scholastics systematized a world of unripe knowledge and thereby protected it from its enemies, but at the same time they denied it the chance for progress.

The method is inappropriate for social phenomena because many social events remain inexplicable as to cause, and hardly amenable to meaningful numerical measurement, timing, or useful prediction. This is to say, we often cannot explain why  one or more persons may have taken some action or why they had some insight.  We can only reveal a change by describing a chain of events telling the story of what happened.]

The essence of  human experience is that one witnesses transformation of people; an event may change a person from civil behavior into that destructive psychotic, an honest person may become a criminal, a coward becomes a hero, or an inspiration may cause a person to take action that changes history. Many social events suddenly occur surprisingly.  Such transforming events are not predictable in specific ways. They seem miraculous.  Natural scientists, by their own admission cannot explain the origin of their own creative hypotheses.

10.     Why should we take such interest in spiritual (creative) growth?  Because it is the driving power for all original thought, for perseverance in the face of indomitable force, for our own transforming process as well as the ultimate necessity for the survival of all mankind. Power, unmitigated by ethics tears the community apart.   We enter this world as a powerless, complaining animal interested only in personal gratification and living by the moment with the potential to evolve toward that of  a courageous, intelligent person, willing to confront difficult  problems and having acquired the capability of regenerating ourselves and our community. Some miracle!

11.     Spiritual growth cannot be understood by a method of “pairing opposites” (measurements between acid/base, hot/cold, fast/slow, weak/powerful, etc.  Transformations of the human spirit are seldom logical. Rather, the process can only be understood in its unfolding, like scenes in a moving picture where a person  experiences a number of acts and evolving  stages of  behavior; “after knowledge.”.    But narration can produce crucial aspects of understanding of spirit. We commonly witness fundamental changes in persons.


Such witnessing holds the power, either directly or vicariously, to change one. Example, as an effective method of teaching  was known by my grandmother’s grandmother. ERH asserts that this mystery is exemplified by the life of Jesus, who began as a natural person (a carpenter), became a visionary teacher, and finally, Christ.  The message speaks to us – that human beings are capable of similar transformation. The power of witness is the method by which a new “spirit” can enter and transform us.

12.     The term, “nature,” defines entities which cannot change; this is usually dead matter. this lack of ability to change allows for predictable cause/effect relationships to be discovered and cast into useful theoretical concepts with a logical unity.  Paradox, on the other hand is common in social life:  behaviors are often contradictory,  a person evolving from a squalling infant into an Einstein is in one sense the same person that has undergone momentous change.    Tom Jones was Tom Jones from one to seventy-five years.   Speech by itself lacks the power to change one, it must be accompanied by witness.

13.     Logic holds power to inform, but never to transform. Measurement in social experience more meaningfully reckons by mile-stones, before-and-after significant events, a before one had emerged into something else. The “divine world” of spirit is briefly revealed by such witnessing; never by words alone.

14.     A vital life is not the life of mere plodding repetition day after day. Building a community and a vital personality requires an integrated set of evolving behaviors over a lifetime.   One must participate in community life by responding to experience and in the process, learning from it and responding efficaciously to it.  We advance in leaps, as each successful era in our lives ends and the next begins.  Creation is a never ending process of the end (death) of one behavior and resurrection in renewal.  In a small way this takes place in imitation of Jesus, from one stage of evolution to the next, Rosenstock-Huessy implies.

15.     Each advance represents a new spiritual redefinition of the world.  The world (our perceptions of it) has been redefined when we learn; sensitivity to this new stage will carry the power to overcome our fears and risk action on these new insights. The process of growth carries a moral responsibility because one cannot improve oneself without community.  This process of growth by successive stages of transformation advance is trinitarian; we enter the process responding to our world as we have seen it, living what we believe to be a true reality. This, obviously,  accepts the past as our authority. Then some experience creates what seems to be a new insight, a new, advanced concept of truth. This “vision” motivates us in the present to act on (test) the idea.  In the process of living it, we discover its validity. Discovery of a new truth and acting on it reflects a faith that our change will portend a better future.  Obviously, Easter symbolizes this continuous process of creativity.

16.     The transformation occurs in three discrete stages of before, during, and after – living in the past, present and future. The essence of growth is to think in new ways.  Our everyday thinking always looks to the past.

All thought is afterthought, thought about a finished world…The creative speaker on the other hand is the mouth of an unfinished world, one which is becoming a word in him….All discovering thought…happens in just this way. (p.5)

The concept of the Trinity in Christian speech, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,reflects this discovering process.  This is to say, our views from the past always represent a tentative understanding of the world, but that understanding is enlarged by a discovery of previously unseen reality rather than a conceptualization from the past.  While that conceptualization is a part of the process, it is eternally incomplete by itself.  We only grow through constant stages of change. [RF – certainly this implies the right kind of change at the right time, not change for its own sake.]

17.     Thinking for oneself is a necessary, everyman’s everyday manifestation of creativity.  Rosenstock-Huessy describes the actions of Jesus as demonstrating this trinitarian process available to the human race, unlocking the mystery of growth.  He also explains it in this essay in terms of “Life, Teaching and Wirkung,” that is,  living out of the past, teaching the vision of newness, and being an activist (living the faith in the vision in the present).  It engenders the power which “brings us to life.

Change, of course, can result in either success or failure, for  better or worse.  What does it mean to be overwhelmed by what we believe to be truths we have thought? We must prove (or disprove) the worth of our thought; otherwise it is mere entertainment. Thought, un-acted on, remains impotent speculation. The  creative force of the spirit comes after one has lived the vision. And our words only have power influencing others when they are backed by our own actions.  Failure, negative consequences are be just as valuable as success because knowing what does not work is useful.

18.     ERH cites the metaphor of the seed, blossom and fruit as parallels to creative thought.  The seed must be germinated and the blossom pollinated, then, under the right conditions, the fruit will appear.  No one element of this trinity has power in isolation; the three parts must be a whole and the proof, of course, is the existence of the fruit.

The boy awakens as a youth so his feelings may “be thought through” as thoughts; the youth ripens to manhood so that his thoughts may become deeds.  If the youth does not eventually overcome glorious squandering of self, if the academic remains tangled in systems and analyses of his own free will, the man who grows from them willy-nilly and who must somehow deal with life and its myriad circumstances, will deal with them poorly, lamed as he is in soul and spirit. (p.12,13)

19.     True learning involves accepting the call of the vision, acting on it, describing to others what happened as a result, then, analyzing for generalizations.  What changes us from ordinary to extraordinary  is developing this spirit.

20.     In sum, this essays describes the path from total dependence on “outer” influences to an “inner” weighing of life. In a sense one may say that experience must be filtered through a spirit, the inner life to be matched against a vision.   What is the fruit of  creativity?

The “sinner” looks for life in busy-ness.  The man of action/influence knows that busy-ness  is only death. He has lived.  This life has been transfigured in his vision.  If he looks back at life, it is no longer his life that he rediscovers.  He has sailed forth from his life, steering a strange ship into the world… (p.13)

Having changed, one has unavoidably acquired a new perspective on life and both memory and anticipation of the future take on different colors.  Our vision has put us in touch with divinity for a moment, but only a moment before we are returned to earth, drawn onward, impelled to recreate the world in the direction of that vision.

Connected to the star that stood over it, destined to prove the worth of what it has viewed, it climbs back down from the bright space of the spirit into life on earth … (p.13)

To truly change in this way is one of life’s everyday miracles.  It is to think things never thought before, and to act against odds and even in the face of danger if need be; it is taking on traditional powers and  propelling us beyond the common earthly animal state in which we were born.  We have gone beyond the natural, toward the supernatural state.

…we are not gods. But we can live in the supernatural, and take life from the supernatural which confronted us in the act of vision and illumination, rebirth and change; and that means accepting a call and working. (pp. 13,14)

21.     Mortals are not gods; they are the animal which is capable of being touched by some creative power. Mortals are part children of nature who are totally influenced from outside forces. This part of us is self-centered, taking  no responsibility for the community. We must also become workers, laboring to survive on earth. These qualities of humanness describe our animal nature. Touched by creativity, however, we are also part visionary.

The profound meaning of the Trinity teaches a necessary balance between these three orders of man that  can bear the fruit of transformation.  Transforming from animal to “human,” comes at a price. The moral obligation of intelligence and action is that sacrifice must be made to build the community.

22.     There exists different moralities, one for each of the “stages of man.” The natural animal part of us explains our need to satisfy  selfish  wants and defensiveness.  The worker part of us describes the necessary energy required to accomplish deeds. Both of these qualities, left to themselves, take us down the narrow path toward abuse of others, self indulgence, greed, hatred, all of which leads to destruction.  Individuals and people in groups,  public or private, become killers when not led by a principled soul.

Absolute power in any form, but especially that of the state and large bureaucracies, becomes monstrous when led by pure self-interest. This force destroys social life sooner or later.

The polemics of both Machiavellian “realist politicians” and the ethical fanaticists are so unappealing because they seek the divine in men in mere dictatorial imposition on the one hand, and in mere bourgeois morality on the other.  That is why the full miracle of the trinity had to take on personality in one man, so that the division of man into a diabolical giant and a divine dwarf, into state and individual, could be done away with once and for all.  (p.16)

23.     The final link in the process of  creativity, then, must be one of divine selflessness.  The individual must  pay dues to the community for his survival because a community, fed by both physical and spiritual food, is the creator of language, which is singly responsible for the transformation from the Darwinian society to one which engenders the true human potential.  The creative spirit of the individual which brings one to life is, at once, engendered by the community, and the community gives it everlasting life.  And religion, in the most sublime sense, can never be merely personal.  It too can give us power individually, but that power can only derive from a moral community.  And it is for this reason that every living person owes a commitment of some kind to the community. All three moralities – of natural man, of the visionary, and of the worker/activist   must remain in compatible balance within each of us.

Survival occurs because man is free to move back and forth among these three roles, keeping them in balance.  The “statesman” at the head of government is essential to prevent it from acting as absolute and adrift.  The state, and all organizations within it, must be led by carriers of “divine ethics,” not just those of “natural man.”


Lectures 1-20
Feringer notes
Notes started: 12-91
Last edited: 12-98


Lecture 1

1.We are constantly threatened with oblivion.  To attempt to avoid this, indeed to also conquer death and to create the most desirable society, we must listen to history, because only there can we find guides to achieve our end.

The minimum potential of mankind is to remain animal and to die.  The maximum is to create, to work toward  “heaven on earth”, [RF – I have found it useful to paraphrase this as meaning  “a decent society on earth.”]  SUCH A SOCIETY CAN BE APPROACHED ONLY WHEN WE KNOW THE UNIVERSAL QUALITIES OF ALL HUMANKIND. THUS, THE NEED FOR A UNIVERSAL HISTORY, as contrasted with historical fragments such as the history of Russia, or of science, or of the American revolution. These are examples of specialized history. THE QUESTION THEN IS, “WHAT ARE THE COMMON DENOMINATORS  THAT APPLY TO ALL OF HUMANKIND?”

Our own age, or any single age, is too short to reflect all problems (generalizations) about man. Therefore, to better understand our experience, the only reference point we have to begin with is history.

2.What is worth remembering, what has to be remembered, and what is the minimum below which man remains a mere animal?

3.IT IS NOT TRUE THAT MAN WANTS TRUTH! “Very few groups in the world are out for truth..”  Read the papers, listen to the politicians, or fishing stories about the one which got away!  Human tendency is to accept expediency, half truths, fictions. Man has a natural proclivity to lie, to self agrandizment, to flee reality for the warm comfort of fantasy, or be lazy and accept simple answers; in short, to deceive both oneself and others.   HOW, THEN, DO WE FIND TRUTH IN HISTORY?

4.False knowledge is eventually revealed. Truth requires three generations who can agree on the meaning of a fact. (p.5)  The Spartans said, “All history — all battles, all campaigns, all legislation – has to be celebrated by three generations, by three choruses, the young; the grown-ups and the hoary heads (the old).”  Then men can understand each other’s judgment. History is very severe in its judgment as to what should enter it.  “Only those things enter history in which the grandfathers and the grandchildren agree.” (p.8)

5.The problems we need to solve today were generated in the past, and only if we know the past can we find some viable solution.

6.Why Universal History?  Only then can we learn what human societies have learned about their follies and successes. Universal history must begin with earliest man, and is only useful if it is this inclusive.

7.The first chapter of UNIVERSAL HISTORY is speech and naming, the calling and response by persons.  “…speech ends where people only talk about other things than themselves.” (p.15)  But to understand social experience, one needs to identify problems, to identify scoundrels and heros, that is the first achievement of speech.  Speech sorts out people, and is therefore dangerous. Speech determines whether there will be war or peace: speech = peace; no speaking = war.

The first lie in the Bible begins with Adam; he blamed his actions on the snake, taking no responsibility. Reflect on the several years it took to reveal the lies of our military, and what a pointless and immoral war (Vietnam)  was perpetrated on the American public!  We are constantly fed lies, and must learn to cope with this fact.

8.Parrots can talk just as can people (that is, repeat what has been taught them). Speech, by contrast is people speaking their beliefs honestly. To speak truth from the heart is divine.  History begins when people speak.

No individual can know truth from his/her own experience. It takes time, usually three generations –  grandfather, father, and son.  When these three agree on some fact or idea, one can have confidence in its validity. Therefore, anyone who believes only in his logic is wrong, because we live in the present, from moment to moment, with our lusts and biases – all of which must  be tempered by wisdom from the past.

9.The second question is, “What is the condition for making people do more than talk?” (p.19)  “The divinity of man is in the fact that he can be spoken to, and can speak–and not talk.” (p.20)  Man is free because he can choose between speaking and not speaking, and free to transform speech into action. History, as with all experience, can only be learned (understood) by response to events.

10.The Bible is universal history because it raises the basic questions of humankind. It was not written as a religious document, but as a sociological one. We learn, for instance, that short term solutions are expensive and never solve problems for long.  Specific events in history have little or no meaning outside the context of larger spans of events. And every people and every generation has something to contribute to universal history.

The first chapter of the Bible addresses speech, not linguistics, but the fact that  “…you call me Mr. Huessy, and I have to say, `Here I am’.” (p.15)  It confers status, in this case saying, “I am American, a Christian etc.” It is therefore beyond mere description, sorting out people into categories as to their beliefs and commitments, saying “yes” and “no,” drawing lines – and all this makes it potentially dangerous.

The divinity of speech (true speech as opposed to mere “talk”) lies in the fact that it is the only way by which mankind can be transformed from animal (at birth) into a truly human person.

Lecture – 2

1.Sacrifice holds humanity (the community, including all humanity) together. But human sacrifice is pagan, and voluntary sacrifice  (e.g. to be called to defend your country, or to do charitable acts.) eliminates that need.  All over the world, different cultures live in different stages of sacrifice, mostly pagan, some Stone-Age Indians. “Most people I meet live 1500 B.C.” (p.3)

You live in the Christian era if you don’t demand human sacrifice.  [RF – I assume this means human sacrifice broadly defined, for instance to blame others for one’s own failures.  And if you insist on voluntary sacrifice,  “…the people who bring these sacrifices must be worshiped, and must be respected, and must be included in your plan of life.” (p.3)

2.When we, as individuals, do not respond to relevant talk about events, when our newspapers or magazines ignore basic issues, when they ignore the lessons of universal history, then our culture is declining.  THE CHRISTIAN ERA ESTABLISHED THAT CERTAIN MINIMAL BEHAVIOR IS REQUIRED TO SURVIVE, I.E. VOLUNTARY SACRIFICE AND ASSUMPTION OF A UNIVERSAL HISTORY. (p.5)

UNIVERSAL HISTORY (the inclusion of everybody in the community) means that, if a community does not speak with its minorities, then eventually there will be war (of some kind) between those two.

3.Three major stages of development of human cultures:  First a universal church (the recognition of a universal creator). Second, one physical world covering the exploration of the universe (to survive we must know the physical world).  THESE FIRST TWO REPRESENT THE HISTORY OF HEAVEN AND EARTH. The third upon which we are now entering, is the recognition of a UNIVERSAL SOCIETY, that all mankind will be part of our consideration.

4.TRAGEDY AND HOPE ARE OPPOSITES.  Tragedy means there is not hope; it means the end.  With hope, the end means a new beginning. Hope is not found in the 4 Christian gospels, only faith.  Hope points backward, and faith toward the future.  Hope looks backwards, and  faith can’t see where its going. ( Faith is the willingness to change, being unsure as to how to change or where it will lead, but knowing that one must change.)  (p.11)

Hopes are of the physical world, faith of the spiritual.  Humans are unfinished; the work of the lord is to have us outgrow our hopes. (p.12)  Our personally centered hopes always produce tragedy.

Rather, our faith should urge us to sense, rather than hope, leading us toward what we are expected to achieve.

5.Since the earliest tribe, the goal has been to belong to the “all,” to the universe.

6.Parents are the creation of the tribes,  a father and mother  bringing up the child. THIS IS ALSO IN THE FIRST CHAPTER OF UNIVERSAL HISTORY.

THE SECOND CHAPTER IS THE CREATION OF PRIESTS over both heaven and earth, originating in the great empires, Egyptian, Babylonian, Assyrian, Chinese, Incan, Mayan. (p.15)


THE FOURTH CHAPTER, OUR PRESENT ERA, IS THE CREATION OF PROPHESY, AND OF PROPHETS. Prophecy, ERH asserts is part of our natural instinct to anticipate a future for ourselves.

Prophesy means that the present is not the mother of the future, but part of the present has to be wiped out, because otherwise we can’t reach our future.” (p.15)

7.There are two opposing points of view:  scientific, – that the past and present produce the future; and social, – that the past and the future will produce the present.  THUS, SCIENTIFIC THINKING, THAT WHICH PRODUCES ECONOMICS AND TECHNOLOGY IS NOT APPROPRIATE FOR APPLICATION TO THE PRODUCTION OF HUMAN COMMUNITY.  “…faith transforms the future into a fact, against the present odds.”  (p.17)

8.The remainder of the course will deal with these four stages of creation of UNIVERSAL HISTORY, the creation of parents, of priests, of poetry,  and of prophets. THE FOUR P’s!

Lecture – 3

1.History is what SHOULD be remembered.  What should be remembered are the elements of important epics, great tragedies, great accomplishments, and the conditions by which they occurred. (p.2)   Thus, “history” and “memory” (that is public memory) must be compatible if they are to be useful.

2.A famous actress stated, “I would like to be read in a hundred years.”  What is required of civilization, to survive in part by useful knowledge from the past, is a “…resolute forgoing of success today.”  That is, universal history should tell us what was important enough for people to be willing to sacrifice for, i.e. those forces required to improve community life in the long run.

3.THIS “FORGOING” IS THE MESSAGE FROM CHRISTIANITY, because it takes a long time for actions to bear fruit.  Not to have sacrificed is not to have made a distinction between past and future – and not to have made this distinction renders “history” a miscellaneous chronology of past events, unrelated to what may be significant in the long run.

4.Lack of memory is perhaps the distinguishing characteristic  of the politician; constancy   “…of your soul, of your body, is the condition of history.”  Changing one’s mind every day means having no convictions. (p.5)

5.Adaptation!  The psychologists admonish us to “adapt” to conditions.  While one must recognize and respond to reality, to a point,  one also needs to consider what needs to be changed.  ERH says, “So it is the essence of speech, of the creation of speech in humanity, to spare man the adaptation to any one moment.” (p.6)  It allows consistency in the long run. There must be compatibility between physical demands of the present and what will lead toward a viable future.

6.Education!  We are taught too much information that is not understood. Instead,  we should be exposed to things we can do something about, which are very important.  WHAT HAS KEPT TRIBES GOING FOR THOUSANDS OF YEARS IS THE POWER OF THEIR COLLECTIVE MEMORY. “History begins where death is survived.” (pp.8,9)


The tribe reflects that unity; it was the tribe which made “man” into a singular.

Initiation (into a tribe, profession, community, club ) is an important test, because the individual relies on his/her judgement at the time, not on rote memory.  This is why school exams are of such little use as measures of worth.  TODAY WE LACK PROPER INITIATIONS.  THE PURPOSE OF THE INITIATION IS TO INHERIT THE POWERS BY WHICH MAN SURVIVES DEATH.  Taken figuratively, this applies to the continuation of all organizations.

8.We need to have ancestors, not necessarily blood ancestors, but we may have to choose them,  those who will  enliven our spirit and help us grow, who possess a spirit  needed by the community. The specifics of the present require an emphasis on some actions, but that emphasis must be consistent with leading toward the future.  Mere expediency doesn’t do this.

9.In this, the third millennium, we must now learn these lessons if we are to establish better communities, learning how to court each other, to agree  “…to learn the power to speak something which no one has ever heard before.” (p.15)

10.To sing, to recite poetry, to speak the right thing at the right time, to be begin something new is a means to this end.

Man is not here to cultivate his ego.  He is here to subject his ego to the needs and necessities of history…by beginning to speak time and again, with a new enthusiasm, with a new language. (p.18)

Lecture – 4

1.We are now trying to end the 2nd millennium and begin the 3rd.  And we are not sure where we should be going, how to proceed or what should be the motivation to bring change.

2.For the last 1,000 years we have been in the Renaissance, back to pre-Homeric heroes. We go forward by looking backward (first). ERH believes we must now go back further if we are to gain insight into how to proceed, “…to the oldest layer of human speech and human politics, which we can reach….We are in the midst of an investigation of the tribe in his migration.”  This period from the past, he avers, is analogous to our present migration into the third millennium.

3.Primitive man could not live in cities.  He lived  without “culture”, but nevertheless, still great and heroic. Heroic in the sense that he did what had to be done to survive. The primitives were out to find truth and necessity, and to conquer death. (p.3)  So primitive man was not less than we are today.

For instance, they knew what things needed to be done “at the right time,” neither too late nor too early.  The word “tidy” comes from tide, implying timeliness.  WE ARE LOST TODAY BECAUSE WE HAVE LOST THIS SENSE, AND WE BELIEVE EVERYTHING CAN BE DONE AT ANY TIME. (p.5)  ERH expounds on the origin of the word “meal” as an example,  a reflection of the early tribal sense of politics. It meant doing something at the right time. The “session” of the meeting of the German tribal court was at mealtime.  “A man who is fit to live with others in an organized society”,  is civilized. The tribes knew this.

“Man in a group, inspired and singing, reaches divinity.” (p.7)  Today the tribe is still the taskmaster.

4.Tribes are the people who lived thousands for years in an ordered society, peacefully – it was why they survived.  Their order contained creative speech because generations could understand each other.

5.Because we see things differently at different ages, because we change, we can grow, and we can only grow because through speech we are capable of communicating these changes in ourselves.  Our time and timing in history become reference points for those changes. Thus, our world is “made” by speech.  Animals can’t do  this ERH said, “I used to be German, now I am American, this an animal can’t do.” (p.11)

6.The second thing speech can do is to allow us to join another group.

7.We are now in deep trouble, living with the Greek ethic, “…on the verge of deep corruption….Homosexuality is rampant,” as is incest, child molestation.  We learn 12 languages in our lifetime. (The term “language” is used here in a special sense.  Here ERH reflects on what he called elsewhere the 12 tones of the spirit, each of which required what he calls “language.” )

8.In another sense we need to learn three languages: 1) of the past, 2) of the future, and 3) of the present.  Today we tend to lose some ability to articulate and by indirection formulate our thoughts, because of radio and TV.  It is said we use language to tell lies.

We are thus losing our language.  [RF – one only needs to reflect on the power of most people’s thinking to see this.]   Tribes were able to use the same language for 5,000 years, and ours by comparison seems to be going in 50 years!

9.The tribal order knew they had three things to represent, 1) the impassioning in begetting, 2) the mood of being sober when eating or marching, and 3) the mood when sacrificing.  There are innumerable ways in which to do all of these things.

10.Worshipping the past is appropriate to a point, but one needs to maintain the power to eschew some of that past at some point. The willingness to leave something, to sacrifice, to form new units, these are three miracles that tribes knew.  “…you people cannot understand the Bible any longer, because you do not know that life always needs sacrifice.” (p.18)

11.We  have individual identity only when we speak for some community, some order. We are not important when we speak for ourselves.

11.THE ROLE OF PLAY.  The tribes knew that, out of play people were convinced that something serious should come, that at some time hence the play must be serious.  Today we tend to believe the opposite, that serious things can be turned into play. ERH admonishes us,

…the creative act that is demanded from our society for the next 900 years is that we must learn from studying play and our behavior in play, that probably certain offices have to be created in society, which no longer exist. (p.21)

He points out that the original use of masks, of animals, etc. were examples of this tribal understanding that acting out certain types of events (in play at first) were metaphors for what should become true.

Lecture – 5


1.UNIVERSAL HISTORY is different from “world history” in terms of method. World history’s method would be to begin at the beginning and expound to the present. There isn’t enough time in life to do this, nor does it make sense.

The concept of “universe” is limited; it has a unity.  It is the victory over danger that makes history interesting (and meaningful).  Thus, in telling a story about Lincoln, and how he overcame all his problems, we learn some truths. This method, of universal history, begins at the end (in this case a great figure) and tracks his life thus deriving the miracle of how he achieved his accomplishments. In world history, “…everything just happened.”  We see only what the world is,  with no implication as to how to change it.(p.1)

2.The hope of universal history is that we will survive and rebuild society,  achieving victory over death by acting in a way that will be remembered. THUS, CURIOUSLY, WE LEARN TO GO FORWARD BY FIRST GOING BACKWARD.

3.Our choice seems to be to have a vision of utopia, on the one hand,  or simply of endless revolutions as having “happened.”  Revolutionaries “…run forward into the future.” (p.3)  IF WE DO NOT LEARN THINGS THAT RELATE TO OUR OWN LIVES, KNOWLEDGE OF THE PAST IS USELESS. “History without promises is no history.” (p.6)   We must learn to be different tomorrow from what we are today. This insight comes largely from the past.

EVENTS OF THE PAST ARE INTERESTING ONLY FOR WHAT THEY POINT TOWARD IN THE FUTURE, and thus the future can be sensed, felt and touched.

4.WE HAVE TO DISTINGUISH BETWEEN THREE UNIVERSES THAT MAN HAS TRIED TO CREATE IN ORDER TO INSURE THAT THE LESSONS FROM THE PAST ARE CARRIED INTO BUILDING A FUTURE.  “…you will all be wiped out unless you recover your sense of a unified purpose for the future, because then you are working at cross purposes.” (p.8)

5.The moods that drive us are: 1) Mating (the power to create  unified generations by song and speech),  2) ecstasy (power to go beyond one’s self, that state by which we forget ourselves and passionately act, courting and singing; 3) death (that is to consider death, that one has only so much time, that one must consider what is worth dying for.)  There is, in other words a time when we must draw a line and risk dire consequences, and say “Over my dead body!” (p.13);  4) faith, the power to survive death, to sacrifice without being sure.

These are the moods that make us a human being, and at the same time serve to regenerate the community. What we learn from the past is subtle, and different from knowing facts about things. With living societies, we can identify one’s intuition as to meaning (before action), only through looking at past events. Only in history can we see some implication for what actions we are to take in the present, by sensing who we are and what we want to be. Second, we must act with passion, forgetting who we are.  Third, we must have faith that our actions will have the desired consequences, because we cannot know for sure.

The Trinity is true! There has never been anything else in the world but to believe in these three great layers of human existence: sacrifice, passion, reason.  Of which reason is for the moment, and your personal satisfaction; in which passion is for the changing of your environment; and in which death is for creating a long-lasting future.  And if this is not the Trinity, I don’t know what it is.  That’s exactly how the Trinity is described in the dogma.  It’s not my fault that the cardinals have forgotten it….This Trinity is the father, and the Son and the Spirit.   (p.17)

6.Speech embraces all these three stages in a unity.  Social Darwinism represents the opposite, a lack of unity.  Survival of the fittest means one must kill in order to live.  “Survival of the (unfittest)…”  Rather the Trinity means another way to live, in the sense of building a future.  With constant killing, there is no future.  Darwinism tries to establish order out of the lowest common denominator, of animal instincts, “…and not of your passions and not of your sacrifices.” (p.21)

Lecture – 6


To look at the dancers meant death; one could only look down at one’s feet when they were unmasked.  To try, to see God, the inspiriting power, was forbidden.

2.The tribal tattoo was their language to establish an identity of a tribal member; no tattoo, no identity. These people, he asserts, were not primitive, they were primeval.

3.In the tribes, the spirit was called by speaking the right sequence of words. (p.5)  Language then was essential to engender the spirit. “Our words are the beginnings of our acts.”

4.”Think of yourself:  what makes you into real men?” (p.6)  One has speech only as long as he belongs…”Speech makes us move, or it isn’t speech.” (p.7)  We become human by receiving and giving commands.

5.”…The Bible is in the tattoo of every tribal warrior, and made him able to enter all kind of disguises, all kind of masks, and recovering his integrity by serving.  (p.8)

6.The first preoccupation of the tribe was the creation of parents and children (including initiating them into the tribe and seeing them evolve into adults). The second preoccupation was the creation of priests. Priest is another name for “an authority.”   ERH says, by implication, that we need to have role models whose spirit we hope to instill into ourselves.  To do this, the spirit of that person needs to be acknowledged, recognized, and spoken of, as one whose commands we will follow.


It is only through speech, only through meaningful, convincing song, speech, command, obedience, authority, devotion, poetry, what have you.  (But certainly not what you all “intellect,” and not what you call “mind”…You can’t be potent and indifferent, because “potent” means to be enthused.  And “enthused” means to have a spirit that is bigger than your physical existence.

…man is that strange being that can at the same time know that he must be passionate, that he must conquer death, and that he must have a healthy body and be somebody. (p.16)

8.The Christian Church has purified the concept of the trinity.  We overcome death with faith, we overcome passion by love, and we overcome danger by hope. The Trinity symbolizes man’s ability to survive and grow, which means he must overcome death by creating a future through faith, maintain the ability to act in the present by love, and learn from and retain the best features from the past with hope.  Thus,  the father (present), the son (future), and holy spirit (authority from the past), are unified through speech in time.  One individual is all of these things at different times (if he enters history and acts appropriately, (honestly and with courage).

9.THE PRIEST, because he is the acknowledged authority, is assumed to have the wisdom and courage and authority to go outside tribal rules if need be. [RF – this seems to me to reflect the notion that no rules can be followed blindly, they must be interpreted to reflect “intent” in each new situation.]

Lecture – 7

1.The next stage in the evolution of human society (after tribes) was the establishment of the GREAT EMPIRES, Egyptian, Chinese, Aztec, and Mayan  whose pyramids symbolized the connecting of heaven and earth, of the holy spirit to action on earth.

Just as the tribal masks imitated birds and animals, the pyramids imitated  what was visible in the sky. (ERH points out how, at around latitudes 6-10 degrees, a special phenomenon of sun light indicated the pyramidal shape.

2.The pyramids indicated the notion that heaven and earth must be reconciled (p.3), which is to say, reconciling authority to guide actions in the present.

3.ERH goes on to explain how the great calendars were established. It was considered a privilege to observe the stars, implying that observation and obligation (services) must be connected.  To observe is to know, and to know implies competency and qualifications for priesthood.  And to be a priest is to serve.  THERE IS NO POINT IN OBSERVATION WITHOUT SOME DEFINED PURPOSE.  The great contribution of these empires was to discover order in the universe. Life then was seen as not hap-hazard.

4.It is unnatural for man to act against animal instincts. To follow trends or to live according to some type of order is a paradoxical problem. Thus, the thrust of human growth should be to attempt to become super-natural, to rise above nature by dealing with paradox.

Lecture – 8

1.”Man is this animal which, when he goes forward, must go backward.” (p.1)  The idea is that as humans we share in all of human history, which is all of one piece.  Our main thrust is always toward the future, to either recover from present social illnesses, or continue on our present destructive course, or survive one way or another.  To survive we need reference points in time; we need to know where we are now in some evolution of an era. There are eras within eras. We are still in the Christian era in the West, but also in the atomic era and in the beginning of the “cyber” era.

To understand this, one might imagine  one has amnesia, awaking in the morning and wondering what is to be done for the day.  Is there a crop to be harvested?  Is one a judge or doctor?  Obviously, one cannot continue  unless one is equipped with memory.  Likewise society needs memory to evaluate its present state of health, determine where it is in some set of social activities, and determine what must be done next and how long that action is likely to take.  To do this is to say we must determine what must be remembered and what forgotten from the past.  The farther into the future we need to prophecy, the further back into our history we need to know for the simple reason that longer timespans reveal more varieties of experience.

2.The tribal world created parents; the “sky” world created the notion of order”  …which cannot be interfered with.” (p.5)   (That is, the physical cycles and movements of “nature.”  However, the visible world of nature is not all there is.  Laws of nature and  our thoughts are invisible.  The issue then becomes, which world is dominant?)

We all live in two worlds: in the visible world, and in the world of consideration.  You couldn’t possibly, by looking at me, know how you should treat me.  You must have heard my name;…You must have come and sat down here.  That’s all in a second world, in a higher world, in a world of professions, in a world of knowledge, in a world of tradition….We can only be considered as moving in an order, which every one of us tries to smell with our flair, with our scent for the eternal order which we try to reproduce.  (p.5)

In Egypt the tribal power was reversed. “Not the ancestors commanding the living, but the living commanding the ancestors.  But if the tribes had it wrong was the Egyptian reversal the answer?  Jesus’ answer was a resounding NO!  Nature is one phenomenon of life, thought is another, neither is complete in itself.  For a science of society there must be an integration of the two and the following explanation provides an example of the history of this evolution of thought.

3.The Egyptians lived in an extended present which was 1460 years (the cycle of the Pliedes.) But when Christ came the problem of the Christian era was to supersede this long period.  The horoscope was for the empire, not for personal use. It served to anticipate planting and harvest.

The 1460 Egyptian years, the “great year” was too long to understand unity.  CHRISTIANITY INTRODUCED THE IDEA OF A WEEK WHICH EVERY INDIVIDUAL COULD UNDERSTAND AND SEE THE BEGINNING AND END EFFORTS.  This concept was the key to articulating how mankind was to progress, how it was to change society and therefore create a future.

4.Liturgy is the carrying out of steps in an order that is essential to community survival. Myth is a narrative story, which is true, but which cannot be reproduced by facts. (p.18) The narrative gives meaning to the liturgy.

Lecture 9

1.THE SELF doesn’t exist except in “your stomach.” Or in the “sky world”, or in the world of rules of order The purpose of the elementary school is to introduce children into this “sky world” (natural world).  It must begin the process of transposing a raw human being, through language, into “an element,”  a lieutenant in this movement  that is prepared to act toward creating social order.

In sum,  a segment of our education curricula is an attempt to introduce the “order” in nature and the method by which that order is discerned.

2.Great deeds are accomplished,  and crucial problems are solved by tackling that which is most difficult. Jesus could not have founded Christianity in Rome or any large center.  One must learn to solve the problem under the most difficult circumstances.

3.The Egyptians created a government, satisfying its people for 3,000 years, which was quite an accomplishment.  They did this by understanding “nature” e.g.  time of the floods etc.  Their social order was divided into peasants – those who worshipped the natural phenomena (movement of the stars), and  the priests, – those who were super-natural because they traveled “against” nature,  (north and south on the Nile as contrasted with the east-west movement of the sun and  stars).

The Jews came along and attempted to upset this order. [RF – This notion will be explored later I presume. I believe he may mean GREEKS rather than JEWS, as he immediately refers only to Greeks at this point in the essay.]

4.Until the time of the Greeks, knowledge was sacred,  inscribed on temple walls as hieroglyphs.  There was no writing on Greek temples, they abolished or secularized knowledge.

All of these older civilizations PRESCRIBED behavior with their knowledge about ancestors and the stars; this was meant to inspire obedience.   The Greeks, believing the gods controlled society, described behavior and categorized its several tendencies (i.e. systems of ideas – philosophy),  and forms of expression of their emotions (poetry).

5.The Greek substitute for the temple (with its prescriptive hieroglyphs) is the theory, the system.  The “Prescription” of the Egyptians were related only to the natural order of events (events in nature – but not social events).

The Greeks worshipped the notion of “systems,” which assumed humans might become god-like by controlling knowledge.

Both Greeks and Jews inherited the prescribing power of Egypt.

6.Greeks and Jews introduced the notion of man as  not part of the tribe, not beholden to his ancestors, not sticks and stones, but something different, with a mind of his own (mind was his god).

Lecture 10

1.ISAIAH, chapters 40-65, is the most important book of the Old Testament because it explains the notion of separation of church and state. Like the book of Job, no one knows who wrote (the second) Isaiah, nor is it clear how either book was chosen for inclusion.  It speaks to the problem of which power, church or state,  has dominance, or what  the division of labor between the two is intended to be.

ERH guesses  that Moses left Egypt 1280 BC.  Obviously, the Jews raised this problem at that time, that is, of the division of power between heaven and earth (mankind).  Both Isaiah and Job speak to this problem.

2.ERH  suggests that mankind has always been in awe both of the powers of the universe, (God), and his own power and has always attempted to comprehend them.  (p.4)

All over the ancient world, the Chinese, Etruscans, Persians, and other groups  were preoccupied with “…imitating the Egyptian example…They tried to establish empires.” (p.5)

3.Egyptians gave to the Greeks, writing, temples, agriculture, and calendar. Western man, for the last 1,000 years  has been infatuated with the Greeks.  “And the Greeks are not normal.” p.10-7    THE MAJOR GREEK ASSUMPTION WAS THAT THEIR “PHILOSOPHY” COULD  REPLACE PRESCRIPTIVE LITURGY. (p.11)  ERH warns us of the dangers of “systems. ”

He also points out that the meaning of the phrase, “to go ahead we must go back” is that, unless we can see different periods of ideas that (usually) “enslaved our thinking,” unless we see these periods objectively, as having been responses to a before, and an after, then we do not learn to see our current thinking objectively, and thus avoid being enslaved by that thinking.  To be enslaved is to be unable to look critically at our own thinking. Enslavement means imagining  that the way we think today is “natural,” or true!

4.The Greeks are insular; polytheistic, and simplifiers (generalizing experience) HERE HE DEFINES THE IMPORTANT CONCEPT OF“NATURE”.  We are not “natural,” only part natural.  Nature is suffering,  death, destruction, pollution, dirt, “BUT CERTAINLY NATURE IS NOT ORDER. EVERYTHING IN NATURE KILLS THE NEXT. NATURE IS WITHOUT MERCY BECAUSE…EVERY PART OF IT DOESN’T KNOW OF ANY OTHER PART.” (p.15)

The most important character in Greek philosophy is Hercules, who is the hero; THE GREEKS REPRESENT A COMBINATION OF TRIBAL ORDER AND SCIENTIFIC ORDER (from the Egyptians).

5.They accomplished this by stepping outside these systems, overcoming them, and using them.  They invented poetry to sustain themselves (as individuals) during longer periods of loneliness during  voyages, and to assuage their emotional state.

Thus, the nine muses became their gods.  God, the creator of the universe, was too powerful for this purpose.  We can only contemplate God in certain times, and for short periods – on the battle field, at the moment of death.

Lecture 11

1.That we live in this present year (1967) would be untrue, if four “offices” were not in place: 1) no parents in some form (teacher, godfather, nurse, older mentor), 2) no poets who could stylize and cultivate your feelings, 3) no prophets to clarify important aims of the community, and 4) no priests who incessantly direct you to know what is essential in your life, (marriage, childbirth, profession etc.).


All teachers try to bring your mind into compatibility with your soul and body,  i.e. not allowing your mind to fly fancily on its own course.

2.Our great job today is an attempt to save the contributions of Greece, while not worshipping them, and while setting aside the unadmirable aspects of Greece; e.g. homosexualism as the sole motivator of creativity, degradation of women, eternal war, slavery, and eternal repeating cycles of any type.

Poetry and theorizing  must be saved, however neither Greek poetry nor philosophy is a model for the future. [RF – nor are utopias, one might add, because they describe an ideal society, but prescribe no way to create it. As I understand ERH’s interpretation of Christianity, it is the method of creation, but the prices to be paid for social peace seems too high!]

Greeks lived for the moment – not seeing the need for unifying 3 generations. Poetry is to salve the mind for the present, which is necessary at times, but also we need to attend to the reality of survival over the long term.

3.The Greeks discovered or articulated the “other world,” the mind, but this is not all of life; we live in both worlds.

4.The Greek world tells us that we can be humanists (Greek) withoutparticipating in war, death, sacrifice, or passionate love (i.e. that we can have something for nothing, sans sacrifice). Living  requires response: “We cannot laugh always; we cannot cry always. But woe to the man who thinks he can direct his laughter and his woe according to his whim.” (p.9)

5.WHAT DID THE GREEKS ACHIEVE THAT IS ADMIRABLE?  They freed themselves from the “iron clad” vice of Egyptian enslavement, of sky-world prescriptions.  1) They recognized the plurality of the forms of life. 2) Each form was to be understood and respected, e.g. Homer taught that the enemy is to be fought, but also that he is your brother.  3) There are many possibilities for ordering thought. It is difficult for one to judge,  for instance, among the different philosophies!

Greek religion, poetry, the Muses accompany mankind on his travels. HOWEVER, the calendar of nature and the calendar of mankind have very little to do with each other.

6.The Greeks are an “in-between” civilization, freeing us from the iron grip of the prescriptions of nature (the sky empires). They integrated tribal and sky empires by focussing on the individual,  and they integrated the personal emotions and passions; through poetry. In other words, to build up our emotional strength.

…Greece was used to conjure up this poetical power of man to convince ourselves it’s worth living, possible to live, although our personal life is disordered, is unfinished, and the life of the nations on this earth is unfinished, too.   (p.16)

This is what is indispensable about Greece.  Not eternal war, not contempt for women, or homosexual creativity, or indifference to slavery. “The inability to create peace is one of the lasting handicaps of the Greeks.” (p.18)

7.GREEK CULTURE was a necessary transition in becoming free from ancestors, from applying the iron laws of nature to man’s society, and this is reflected in the second part of Isaiah, 40-66. It describes the separation of church and state whereby the individual has some part of existence in addition to tradition and nature. (p.20)

Lecture 12

1.The difference between poetry and priesthood is that the liturgy is strictly bound with a beginning, middle, and end – unchanging, irreplaceable, indispensable.

Poetry, by comparison, is motivated by inspiration, is unique, and may come at any time and anywhere. The poet is arbitrary, and free to deviate at any time  the spirit moves.  “…the Muse is the companion of the good life, but she is not the originator.” The Muses can accompany, but they cannot lead. As Goethe noted.  (p.2)

2.All art unifies and abstracts, and this is what united Greece, along with a common language.

3.The law of life is not where you have leisure; the order of life is where you have liturgy, and specific and adamant sequence of events. (By definition, law = order).

4.The Christian church is the heir of Israel and of Greece, and “…the expressions for the divine service are partly taken from Greek tragedy.” (p.7)

5.The word school is Greek in origin, and means “neither here nor there.”  Students are not expected to take responsibility for the community outside.

School is like life, and therefore can never sustain intense interest.  Life is at times monotonous.  The teacher therefore cannot control, any more than we can control our lives.  THAT IS THE SECRET OF LIVING, THAT TIME IS NOT UNDER OUR CONTROL. (p.9)

6.One of the purposes of the Muses is to run away from the humdrum of life.

7.To be potent,  one must be also able in “forms,” with regard to consecration, blessings, prayers, songs, i.e. liturgy.  We need to know the form of the ceremony to bury somebody, or to marry them in a way that is recognized and accepted by the community .  Muses and angels are the same, messengers who tell us how to communicate, enhancing our ability to communicate. All of this must occur at the right moment, to “get hold of them (these moments) – and dismiss them again. *p.13)

8.The political character of the Muses is that they anticipate the future.

9.Phoenician and Chinese languages do not write vowels, only sounds omitting vowels.  GREEKS INVENTED VOWELS FOR WRITING SO THAT THE RECITER OF THE PLAY COULD PERFORM WITH THE PROPER INTONATION.  THE HOMERIC PERIOD, AROUND 800 BC,  added to the old script the 5 vowels, epsilon, alpha, omega, u, and oi.

10.Jews did the opposite of the Greeks; they eschewed the Muses and devoted themselves to the future, to prophecy.  Their Angels were of mercy,  or of wrath.   ERH asserts that man is the being who resists natural causes, because nature has no reasons; nature is blind, deaf, and dumb.

11.The Greeks are the great artists of antiquity, and the Jews the great prophets.

Lecture 13

1.One can “know” things, (acquire information), but have no sense of its meaning.  One understands only through participation, through application of knowledge.

.2The basic assumption in approaching history, whereby it makes sense, is to study epochs, periods that have some unity, where there is a new idea in a culture and idea which develops, rises and comes to fruition, then an end.  ERH contends that the 1st unity is in the tribal life which created parents & families.

The 2nd period of unity was that of the great empires, Chinese, Babylonian, Mayan, etc.,  which predicted events through astronomical observations, i.e. the flood of the Nile.

The 3rd period was the Greek/Jewish, which broke away from both of the above, and was transitional to Christian; it produced philosophy, poetry, and prophecy. This was roughly from Homer (800 BC to 0 AD)

The 4th period was Christian. ERH contends that today the 2nd and 4th are in contention and that the Christian is losing out in this tug-of-war.  (p.3)

So you understand that knowledge of the thousands years BC, before Christ, is an important way of understanding our own era. (p.4)

4.We live because  the “electricity” of speech vibrates through us, in spite of ourselves.  The harmonies of the universe include a wave length from the past (speech evolved over the millennia, and is handed down as a gift to each generation.) through today and must be carried on by us into the future. In all periods there have been forces at work to destroy our precious speech by way of the many forms of deception or just plain rendering it meaningless.

Thought is an abstraction from speech, it is no substitute for speaking out, or from listening attentively to others. The Greeks seem to have understood this, and thus invented vowels.  One cannot participate in society simply by listening; one must also speak up and be counted in his opinions.


6.The meaning of the term “Greeks and Barbarians” is that those who could not recite were barbarians. And the term “humanity” meant that the Greeks assured themselves that they would always be at home with Greek.

Because the Greeks were able to see other communities from “outside,” objectively, their culture was fruitful; for example,  Athenians saw  themselves as citizens of Athens first, but also as citizens of a wider community as well.  This was unique thinking in the world in classical times.

To Greeks, the political order was of first concern, and nature came after.

The inner sanctum is the community which has given you life, which has sent you here, inside which I, and you are talking to each other.  Thisis the life which has been granted us.  And we have it only together.  And you have no life by yourself. (p.11)

Thus, the Greek response to the sky empire of Egypt, which was overwhelming to the individual,  was to create a courageous “individual” attitude:

We must, in addition to our political existence, which is too small compared to the pharonic Egypt or the Persian empire, we have to look outside and give life, and context, and meaning to the environment around the city.  And then polis and physis together, they will teach us how to live. (p.12)

And the City of God, of Augustine included both civitas and nature.

7.The Greeks conquered by way of poetry and philosophy.  The Jews survived and conquered by prophecy. TO PROPHESY IS ONLY TO BE OPEN TO THE FUTURE, AS YOU ARE OPEN TO THE OUTER WORLD. (pp.13-15)

Thus, the prophetic faculty is to admit to what God has ordained, to what is coming, to articulate what is already in process of coming true.  Prophecy has nothing to do with prediction.  To predict is to anticipate a future event; to prophesy is to utter a truth, e.g. “No house can stand divided, half slave and half free.”  Lincoln, — is prophecy.  NOBODY CAN THUS LIVE WITHOUT PROPHECY!


Lecture 14

1.As we live in a world dominated by abstract (Greek) thinking, we never expect something to come about in the sense of trying to create it.  The dynamite invented by the Jews to `blow apart’ Egypt was the creation of the Sabbath,  “…the most revolutionary time unit dealing with the calendar, because it defies the year:”  (p.2)

That is, the great 1460 years of the Egyptian cycle, was representative of other calendars as well, where a large unit of time (covering many lifetimes of the individual) governed one’s consciousness of experience.  These calendars were based on astronomical observations, long cycles of stars.  THE NOTION OF THE SABBATH, of seven days, WAS  THUS A CREATION WITH A SOCIAL PURPOSE.  That is, psychologically we can comprehend  events within 7 day timespans; we can see the effects of our actions and take corrective action if appropriate, and begin once again.

2.Psychologically, the feeling of man that he could comprehend and participate in creative acts by seeing the beginning and end of a process, freed man from the humdrum, deadening sameness of hundreds of years.  For us to see cycles, stages of progress is crucial to our freedom to be creative.


Just imagine remembering heroes who committed great acts, as summarized only every 1400 years?  Too much condensation to feel the reality of the act, the great passion and willingness to suffer for the sake of it!  Man, thus freed from the iron grip of either ancestors, or the movement of the stars, could begin to take charge of his own destiny.

Therefore the future and the past in the  Jewish doctrine are indivisible,  inseparable.  And that’s the meaning of the Sabbath.  The Sabbath is so short, and condenses the idea of time in such a short period of seven days, and you see, that even a child can encompass this.  Only professors can’t. (p.7)

3.The end and the beginning are one!  This sounds so simple.  One must remember, ERH asserts, that, while we can imagine what we would like in the future, we can have hope, –  the present will cause the  future only when we anticipate the future, and utilize the present to act toward building the future we want.

4.Our fear of death roots us in time, and thus we wish to survive as long as possible in life; to do this, we must create or participate in creating the future that ought to be.  Create heaven on earth, so to speak.  “So the experience of Israel is that God is in coming.” (p.9)   UNLESS WE UNDERSTAND THESE ASPECTS OF TIME WHEREBY WE TAKE ACTION TOWARD OUR FUTURE, WE CANNOT SURVIVE.

The physicist conquers space, but not time in social terms.


5.SIGNS OF A PAGAN COUNTRY.  Pagans are concerned with their own soldiers, but not those dead of the enemy. Nor do  they make no distinction between leisure and holiday.  The holiday means to become whole again, spiritually.  Leisure means to do what we wish.  Today, all holidays are turned into leisure, and we have lost their meaning of remembrance.    The future is always older than the past because it explains the past, not the other way around.  This is why pagans have no future.

6.Thus, the content of this day cannot be determined on this day.  Also inferred by this attitude toward time is that whatever is happening now will pass.  ERH points out that even though the Nazis executed 6 million Jews, that did not alter the fact of their downfall.

7.When we are alone, we must hold out against the forces of the world.  Poetry has allowed us to do this, just as the prophecy of the Jews allow us to create the future.  Both go together and occurred as a unit in history to free civilizations from the iron beliefs in ancestors and the heavens as determiners of human behavior.

Lecture 15

1.THE CHARACTER OF CALENDARS:  February 28 was the last of five Roman days that denoted an interregnum, before the beginning of the new year March 1.  What ERH  is diving at here is that calendars and  religious customs are based upon experience, not abstractions.  The calendar is based on Egyptian calculations of the flood. Roman experience was different.  Egyptians did notworship the sun or moon, contrary to popular belief, but rather the skies that told them when the flood would come. Their sky reference was the position of the pleiades constellation.

THE  IDEA OF THE SABBATH WAS LIKEWISE RELEVANT TO HUMAN EXPERIENCE, to remind mankind that this time was for God, not himself. It was the day of rest to contemplate  behavior regarding  divine mandates. There is nothing from science which otherwise explains the designation of a 7 day week.

2.On the Sabbath we are to be reborn, rejuvenated, re-created and to be creative in reflecting about the meaning of events, in turn. Holidays are a “sabbath written large,” to be distinguished from leisure time by virtue of the fact that with leisure we can do as we please.  On the sabbaths, we are not intended to have that freedom. TO DO NOTHING  is the recipe for vacation, and this is terribly difficult, but the sabbath must remind us of our obligation to the community.

3.The notion of the holiday:

On the holy day, on the seventh of every week, man leaves the world and passes over to that source, this fountainhead of novelty, of renovation, of renascence, of rebirth in which this world hasn’t been created yet, but begins all over again. (p.5-6)

4.The Bible was intended, by its authors, as an account of human experience, and to offer universal. EXAMPLES: the account of the flooding of the Nile to describe the religions of the great empires; the Jewish custom of circumcision at birth to indicate that one must pay a price for entering society and also as a symbol of human sacrifice (the spilling of blood).

ERH points out that all pre-Christian cultures required life-long membership; once a Jew, always a Jew, or Egyptian, or tribal member, or Greek. THE CHANGE INTO CHRISTIANITY WAS TO ESCAPE THIS TYPE OF ABSOLUTISM. (p.12)


It begins with resurrection, it begins with renascence, it begins with rebirth, it begins with regeneration.”….(man is) responsible for reappraisals, the renovation, the reinstitution, the reproduction of mankind. (p.12)

6.Christianity allows us to go back to the beginning, to begin afresh, without original sin.  Thus, the flight of Jesus and Mary back into Egypt, from which the Jews had originally fled.  It meant that he no longer recognized Israel and that  to return to the beginning, to the land of absolutes, was necessary for their ownnew beginning,  to find salvation in this way. (p.15)

ERH points out that the meaning of recording the accusers of Jesus –  the Greeks, Romans, and Jews – was that  the previous orders (of tribes, sky empires, Greeks and Jews), were not enough They were incomplete, too narrow, and Christianity sought to break out of this narrowness toward thinking anew. This meant  one had to be able to utilize the methods of all the old orders, by means of alternating between them. “The old orders are not rejected, but they are made relative.” (p.16)

In other words, past experience, science, philosophy, poetry and  prophecy – contributions of tribes, empires, Greece, and Judaism – are all necessary to the understanding of our experience. But each quality of thinking is to dominate at different times. There is a time to love, to analyze, to sing, to remember and to anticipate, to sew and to reap. The four Gospels are different because each culture had to be incorporated into a unified, larger insight.

7.No Christian country is guaranteed to stay Christian.  Today, ERH  suggests that the  USA is 90% pre-Christian and 10% Christian.

He claims furthermore that experts about God (theologians) are an anachronism,  that each of us is just as expert about God (presumably because one must be inspired to experience His spirit in order to understand).

Lecture 16

1.Christianity is never stable, the Christian era consists of a constant rebirth. Ethiopia has fused the antiquity of Judaism and Christianity, which is unique in the world.

A new Christian era must be recreated by ourselves; it is constantly in trouble with other religions.  Ethiopia, the Roman Empire and the papacy are experiments during the first 1,000 years of Christianity.

2.The prophets of Judaism are replaced by the Apostles during the first 1,000 years. “Apostle” means a messenger carrying good news.  But they found out that each of the four “orders” – tribes, Egyptians, Greeks, and Jews – had to be addressed in a different way,  and  thus the 4 Gospels. They explained the new doctrine that all men are equal, all man had the same task on earth (to establish communities at peace voluntarily), and they should all worship the same God.

a.The tribes thought that their ancestors were the only true source of  truth  (according to Jacob, founder of the 12 tribes of Israel).  “Matthew was written  to the Jews, to the tribesmen in Judaism…it was the most difficult to write to the most primitive people. He spoke of genealogy, which was of major interest to the tribal people.”

b.The empires thought that only by the stars was fertility guaranteed. The second Gospel, Mark, was written for the empire-builders.  He was the secretary to Peter, who lectured in Rome, and his writing obviously was from those lectures. The Romans and Egyptians were not interested in genealogy of the Jews, but rather in salvation so this is where Mark begins, with the Baptism of Jesus.

c.The Greeks thought that only through their genius could they understand     the universe. The third Gospel was written by Luke for the Greeks.  He was  Greek-educated, and writes in the tradition of schools.  He wrote to literate people.

d.The Jews thought that the “chosen,”  minority group was the only one to win over tyrants and idols of the mighty powers.

John strips the story of Jesus from all paraphernalia of geography and cult.  It’s not a cultural history (but)…The eternal truth,… (p.8)

3.All these four cultures had limitations; none of their thinking could be transferred outside their countries.  (ERH  calls Mohammed the great impostor and imitator of Christianity; he had to write his own scripture, and he chose four Caliphs to spread his word.)

Christianity is a doctrine asserting that all times (ages of humankind) are contemporary, (from the beginning of history to Armageddon) in a unified history of humankind. This means that all people should be understood to be contemporaries.  “To make all men contemporaries is the essence of treating time in the right and proper way.”  (p.17)

Christianity is therefore intended to be a model for behavior of all human beings, of how they can develop individually, and how they can create a community in which peace is accomplished.  Vitality comes from constant change toward regenerating one’s knowledge by finding new ways (which speak to new generations) to re-establish the old ideas.

We cannot save ourselves, we can only save each other, is part of this doctrine. To whom can we appeal when we are in deep anguish? To someone with a greater soul than our own!

4.The Gospels were written “in danger of life…” as a last resort, as a statement of what the authors wished to be remembered for, giving a warning to the rest of mankind that their communities would become hell if these (Christian insights) were not followed.   They were written during the first 100 years, AD (p.13)

5.Christianity stands for regeneration; therefore every generation must find a new way to say the same thing, a way to be understood by  the new generation. “It lives by a renewal of its forms.” (p.15)   Nor would Christianity  have persisted if there was only literature.  People had to be willing to sacrifice, make the ideas manifest in their actions, “make the word into flesh” in order to spread the message.

The spirit of the original four Gospels was regenerated by four notables who lived 300 years later, St. Anthony, St.Augustine, St.Athanasius, and St. Jerome.

a.Anthony (251-356 AD) founded a monastery in the desert to show that all of the earth was important, not just the fertile lands. These “nowhere lands” are part of the Lord’s as well. [RF, this seems to have a message for those who dump toxic wastes today!]

Lecture 17

1.From Anthony we learn that one must take the route of greatest resistance to educate others (presumably to convince the most skeptical).. This is to say, solve problems in terms of the long range consequences, and exert patience.

2.ATHANASIUS (290-376 AD) originated the notion of the trinity which frees us from the tyranny of human gods (emperors, kings, god-rulers).  The Trinity exemplifies a unity of time, of 3 generations that are necessary to establish any significant social truth. Athanasius would not accept that any ruler was divine, only Jesus was, so he was in exile most of his life. When the king of Egypt died, he returned to Alexandria,  having lived out the truth of the Nicean Creed, of the meaning of the Trinity.

3.AUGUSTINE (354-430 AD) proved,  by living the notion that no matter how wealthy and powerful one might be, his earthly power is of lesser importance.  He wrote in their language (Latin) that the poor and uneducated could understand religious spirit (a very difficult feat).  He was a great teacher, who  established the notion that progress could be made and that history was not an endless repeating cycle.

St. Augustine knew that there had to be this city of God in unintermittent renovation, unintermittent rebuilding, unintermittent rediscovery. (p.14)

4.All four established the notion that the common man was more divine than the emperor. That all people should be noticed, and every person is one’s brother or sister. If the victim is not as divine as the ruler, then there is no basis for the humane treatment of man. (p.16)

5.ERH notes 4 relationships that are an important aspect of reality:

a.The sacrificer and the victim.

b.The astrologer and the cosmos.

c.The poet and his poem (the poem precedes the poet,  and the poem is exalted by him above himself because it would not exist without speech, which was originally a gift to the poet).

d.The prophet and the prophesied. No prophet, no expectations, and therefore no recognition when some new expectation arises.

…without these four orders, we have no orientation.  You all live in a natural, geographical economic cosmos from certain geographical, physical, chemical, biological laws.  Well, these are laws of course that which this creation story has tried to propagate.  That man has a strange place in this creation (of society) He is part of it; he is a creature.  And yet he is also a re-creator, because he knows of his creation, as no animal does.  And he can shift the  emphasis.  And he is at all times on both sides of the creator and the creature. (p.19)

Another example of the paradox of humankind – half natural animal, half god.

Lecture 18

1.As long as we are willing to co-create, we cannot blaspheme God.

2.The idea of progress in Christianity comes from the book of John,14, where Jesus says his disciples will do greater things than he Himself. In other words, great teachers, geniuses, recognize that their achievement is always to produce persons capable of recognizing progress or retrogress, and attempt to achieve the former.

3.In 540 AD, a monk in Italy said we will count the Christian era from Jesus’ birth. It took this long before people felt they could do this. They could finally believe themselves capable of producing progress. (p.4)

Before this time, every country and every era had its unique chronology. “Therefore, to invent a chronology which would be valid for the whole globe is a very ingenious thing.” (p.4)

4.The Christian era sets a standard for the world, according to ERH, and it is the only era in which social progress has been made. If it disappears, we will revert to slavery.  The notion of progress is built into  Christian philosophy.

5.On Immortality:  “All the immortal stories otherwise, outside Christianity, pretend that you can have deathlessness without dying. Jesus said, it is just the opposite. Of course one must die to create an eternal life.  To die for the human race, is to be sane; to put the life eternal over one’s own existence.” [RF – On the surface this sounds paradoxical, but previously he stresses that one achieves eternal life by living in the minds and hearts of one’s successors.]

6.During the first 900 years of the church, it defined its principles by way of:

… witness, and the testimonial, and the sufferings, and the martyrdom of the saints….(All Saints Day recognizes this and)…is therefore a complete summary of the first thousands years of the Church history. (p.10)

The essence of the Christian story is that ordinary, vulgar, common people have done the most surprising and extraordinary things.  And that’s why they are called saints.  And for no other reason.  They are neither geniuses, nor are they talented, nor are they noble, nor are they rich, nor do they get the Nobel Prize.  (p.12)

7.ERH then evaluates the misunderstanding of the Reformation, in which he says that most churches misunderstood Luther, who said that every individualmust become a priest and speak the liturgy.  “The problem over the world is that liturgy, and service, and priesthood, and saintliness can no longer be separated.” (p.14)

We are now moving in the direction in which everyone believes he/she can do whatever they wish, and this anarchy of the spirit leads to the end of civilization.  To ask of people to have a “performance,” – an obligation to the community, is to create discipline and direction. Today  we are moving with precious little direction.

8.ERH mentions the soul and implies that many persons do not have souls. [RF – in another essay he says that one is born only with a potential, and through one’s life one must earn a soul.] (p.16)

In the final part of the lecture, ERH holds forth against Humanism! The essence of this argument is that the Humanist doesn’t believe in lessons from history.  History today is believed to be a collection of facts, which of course do not speak for themselves. Meaning in history comes from a record of someone having insight from his/her experience and learning new lessons that renew our ability to re-create community. Humanists say all people are “human.”  Are people human who slaughter others? Are people human who destroy living environments and poison the earth?  Is greed human?  Of course, if “human” means natural, then all people are born that way, as natural animals. But, ERH asks, isn’t our goal to rise above animal status?  The classical Greeks didn’t believe in progress; life droned on in endless cycles whereby common people had no power to resist “the gods.”  Christianity was a reversal of this thinking.

Lecture 19


When you are in love, desperately in love, and you suddenly have to admit that this love is stronger than any of your reasons not to go for this girl, then you begin to fathom for the first time what God is.  It’s an overwhelming power. (p.2)

The proof of God is not by seeing him, but by seeing a power that overwhelms us, causing us to act in spite of ourselves and often at great sacrifice. The Holy Spirit proceeds from the father and the son.

2.     …in life, the lack of charity is much more disastrous and important than the lack of intelligence.  It is not important that everybody should understand everything else.  But it is very important that he should be required to agree.  (p.7)

ERH cites the split between the Eastern and Western Catholic churches as being caused by “not being asked” about a change in the liturgy.  It was unimportant that the change may have been necessary!

“We are only human beings if we are held together by conviction.”  [RF – inferring, not by gunpoint, or other forms of coercion, but by honest agreement.]

3.This implication is fundamental, THAT EVERYONE, AS A CHILD OF GOD (except children of course) HAS A RIGHT TO BE ASKED.  “…an unbreakable right to live out your mind, your spirit, your physique, even your love and affection.”  (p.9)

4.The lesson of the second millennium of the Christian Era was that we must learn to get along with each other, or create disaster. In 1919, Woodrow Wilson  proposed the League of Nations.  Proclaiming the old ways (of force) had to come to an end.

5.Odilo (998 AD) pronounced the idea of All Souls to symbolize our needed direction, to break down the barriers of nation, creed, race, etc., and see mankind as one.   THE POINT OF THIS STORY IS THAT ODILO  REPRESENTED A REVOLT OF THE INDIVIDUAL AGAINST THE TRADITIONAL AUTHORITY OF THE NATIONS, and as a result, a debate lasting 1,000 years has brought out the great spirit of both individual and of thenational literatures. [RF – if I understand him correctly, we must now move rapidly toward social orders where all peoples of the world are recognized as equal.

6.ERH points out the richness of history whereby mankind has engaged in this type of debate. It is the core issue at the heart of all social progress over the ages. Most of our history books are secular and largely omitted this sort of religious ethics in the story. (p.16)

True history is where humankind take on a “…new lease on life.”  “The ensoulment of mankind is at a standstill at his point.” (p.19)

Lecture 20

1.The idea of a universal history is not to try to teach numberless facts, BUT TO TEACH THE RELATIONS, THE RHYTHMS, some expectations, as compared with daily events.  Time seems to be ignored today as well as the fact that we have a limited time on earth, and the time it takes to bring about social progress.  Our expectations today are unrealistic.

A universal history, when it is taught, can have only this one purpose, to implant in you the power to overcome your private times, your private rhythms, and to share that rhythm which makes you brothers with the people 7,000 years  back.  History should make you indifferent to your contemporaries, and should make you very intimate with the people of all other times. (p.2)

2.It is impossible to convey and teach a pure faith. “…the first Christians were not the best Christians, and never are.” (p.3)

None of our acts are either clear or unambiguous; they are at once good and evil.

3.Since 1889 (Woodrow Wilson made his pronouncement), the  third millennium of the Christian Era has begun.  But obviously, many people do not yet see this.  Timing is crucial, and when things come too early, they are not recognized.

4.It is a great temptation, and relief, to us  when we don’t feel we have a decision to make.  We can neither educate nor influence without convictions.  We tend to  hide behind committees, to relieve ourselves from personal decision-making and responsibility.

5.In the third millennium we must learn with others.  Unless we find one voice to solve problems and come to a decision, these problems (war, poverty, peace, environmental destruction, etc.) will never be solved.  We must find one power that governs our steps.

6.Today, we tend to live as “playboys/girls.   Life can be divided into play and seriousness, and ERH asserts that  today we tend to play all the time, taking nothing as serious. We have ignored accountability for the consequences of our action. We take no personal responsibility for them.

When we fail to speak out honestly on important issues, language dies; we cannot survive on small talk, or lies.

7.Christianity claims that life is expensive; the notion of anti-Christ asserts that it is cheap!.   “Any act which is worth doing demands infinite devotion.” (p.13)

8.The riddle of history must be in time, the timing of events and our response to them.

The timing in our lives can only be done once.  Once it is spoiled, it is spoiled…We can all only pray that we are treated mercifully,…it is unavoidable that there are terrible mistakes…the mystery of the Christian era is that there is no mistake, no sin, no failure that cannot be amended…if you look into the better lives of better people, you find great miracles, great mysteries…There will be no future unless you people, as any older person can tell you, respect the moment of your acts so much that you know the timing is of the essence. (p.15)


10.Finally, ERH asks, “how do you and I get orientation?”  And answered by citing the messages in the purpose of Christian  holidays, All Saints, All Souls.


Universal History – 1967 – Review

Just as the name suggests, this essay clearly states the crucial lessons we must take from history.  We are constantly threatened with oblivion, the author asserts and thus we must learn all we can about the nature of the universe and of mankind if we are to survive and grow with any quality of life.  To understand the changes that have evolved with different cultures, and the differences those changes have made, is his central argument for needing a universal history, which we do not presently have. Having said this, he then goes on to give examples of those changes, thus laying the groundwork for all his other writing.  Speech and naming, the central nature of Christianity in history, ethics, creativity, the development of human culture, how we become enslaved by certain types of thinking, the development of one’s soul, all are examples of issues raised here. The unavoidable picture of `mankind as one,’  is completely compatible with the essays of Joseph Campbell  on the power of myth.


Lectures 1-5 (Tippet Lectures)
Feringer notes
Last edited: 12-98


Lecture 1

1.”We have at this moment in this world receded into a pre-Christian scheme of history.” (p.5)  ERH mentions Spengler and Toynbee as examples of historians who advocated historic cycles and constant  progress, “the upward spiral” (never retrogression, only advance),  Benedetto Croce who ERH calls “a new Hegel,” and John Dewey believed in spirals theories, which ERH eschewed. “People were back to paganism…The ordinary human mind is pagan.” (p.5)

Today there are advocates promoting the idea that various cultures should disappear, e.g. the Chinese, Jews, Serbs. Once we cannot accept certain peoples or cultures on earth, ERH asserts,  we are back to paganism, which is a philosophy of chaos.  The cyclical theory of history creates chaos.  “Today the cyclical doctrine of history is taught in nine-tenths of our schools.” (p.6)

2.These ideas come from philosophies of natural science, however  “…no human being has ever lived in this manner.” (p.7)  This is a false doctrine, which, with any close examination,  would belie reality.  ERH  claims that the pagans “stole history,” and the fault lies with the Christians and all of us who were too timid or too silent, and thus allowed ourselves to be dominated.

3.           I don’t look at things…I am looked on by my creator.  He looks at me and says  “What a fool you are.”  It is more difficult to see ourselves in the middle of history and take responsibility for creating it.  THUS, IT IS ALWAYS EASIER FOR ALL OF US TO IMAGINE THAT WE ARE OUTSIDE OF EVENTS. (p.8)

4.In sum the two opposing forces are 1) those who say that one cannot understand history unless one is objectively outside it, and 2) those  who maintain that one cannot understand unless one sees themselves as inside, as part of events.  THIS IS ESSENTIALLY THE RELIGIOUS ISSUE, or decision!  That is to say, taking responsibility for the state of society.

5.Man is defined by his passions, not by his brain (logic), and “…the result a the world which is created by these passions.  And it is a very mixed world, half diabolical, and half divine.”    Life is very risky!  Old and new ways are no criteria for decision-making in themselves.  We must learn to take responsibility for the state of society.

6.Scientific history assumes that the past and present determine the future.  Cruciform history assumes the opposite, that the future determines the present (as well as what should be carried on from the past).  Of course, we do not change past events, but we do reinterpret it as new experience reveals its lesson.  Scientific history, is oriented only toward the concrete reality, it focuses only on physical cause/effect.  Cruciform history assume the value of revelation, of our ability to create a better world (than living by the laws of the jungle).

…history is only that event which you have dreaded, expected, hoped for, which you then have seen — helped bring about, and which at the end is there, and you have to cope with it, because it is your own doing.  (p.11)

[RF – Rosenstock-Huessy interprets religion as a power within us to risk change, and to risk taking responsibility for something requires maximum fortitude.  This power derives from the Holy Spirit.  Thus interpreted,  the nature of religion is universal and  analogous to Christianity.  History is the source of evidence for truth – seeking truth is divine.]

History is our power to create a future.  “…without Easter, you cannot understand Pentecost…If you cannot delve into this event at the moment in which it hadn’t yet happened, you will never understand Christianity.” (p.12)   [RF – I assume this means, history not only tells us what happened, but how it came to happen and that is valuable insight for beginning new movements.]

7.The future cannot be derived precisely from the past, because our dreams can (indeed should) change the present. One can therefore create some modicum of order in one’s life by acting on the notion that the future governs interpretation of the past and action in the present!

8.IN ORDER FOR MANKIND TO BE CREATIVE, TO CREATE PEACE AND GOOD WILL, MAN MUST BE GOVERNED BY HIS DREAM AND ACTION ON THEM FOR A BETTER COMMUNITY IN THE FUTURE.  So the notion of past should be replaced by the term “beginning,” and the future, by “the end” of some phase, or epic.

Lecture 2

1.Progress is now interpreted to mean more and bigger material things. The content of the Christian message is to rise above this “fall of man.”    “…our Lord entered the world to heal fallen man from his constant regress, from his constant cycles, from his constant superstitions that something had to be done tomorrow, because it had been done yesterday; that (in the US) the South cannot give up segregation as a token that they were not defeated.” (p.6)  In other words, Christianity was necessary to establish a set of rules by which “progress” toward a peaceful community could be created.

2.Given that man is half animal and half potentially divine, the Christian notion of progress is that man may fall “less profoundly.”  (p.8)  It relates to man’s relation to the divinity.  When man realizes that he is responsible for the collective sin, that he is daily crucified, that all humankind is his brother and sister; this is progress.

3.Progress is the ability to move in the direction of concluding  conditions by  which we can live in peace with others, (especially ones “in-laws”).  “…suffering is the only source of wisdom, and not my brain here.” (p.14)

Lecture – 3

1.MAN MUST LIVE IN THREE GENERATIONS AT ONCE.  Thus the title of this lecture: “Love, hope and faith.” Love is practiced in the present, hope is for return of certain things from the past and faith must empower one toward action to  create a better future.

2.In the 4 gospels that describe the message, meaning, and heritage of Jesus, hope is not mentioned.  Jesus was hope-less in this sense, he lived on faith.  With hope, one knows what is worth hoping for, bigger, better, a return to what was good about the past.

Faith grows from despair, where there is nothing to hope for it is the amount of expectation to know things not now known, of being led onto new ways, we are open to being told, to being informed, to being led into His (God’s) world.  SO FAITH IS OUR CONNECTION WITH THE CREATIVE PROCESS OF THE FUTURE.  THE FUTURE IS EMBEDDED IN OUR HEARTS BY FAITH. Hope connects us with what we have experienced.   (p.3)

3.Christianity is not the Judeo-Christian traditions. It’s the only truth. ( p.5)  Modern theology books omit the notion that hope isn’t in any of the 4 gospels. “Lord of creation has incarnated.”  (p.5)  He was incarnated because he embraced 3 generations, the future, present and beginnings (past).  Hope holds onto beginnings. The true stature of man is that he belongs to and holds 3 generations at all times.

4.     Human beings have no problems, and are no problems, but they are creatures, unfinished creatures.  And that’s much nicer than to be a problem,…this unfinished creature is now responsible for the harmony of these three great branches of the outstretched cross over our heads, of the divine.  This cross is stretched out backward by our hopes, by which we retain the memory of things past.  It is stretched forward by our faith.  It allows the Creator to enter quite a new page in His book of His creation.  And the love holds the two together, as in the case where the parents are asked to agree to the innovation that this girl now has a right to call this wicked man her husband.  (p.6)

Lecture 4

1.The future beckons and can be grasped only by faith and willingness to be open to the possibilities of being transformed.  This lecture addresses this need to change, and thus its name, “Between Halloween and Labor Day.”

2.The problem is that for this 3rd millennium we must change and in order to change we must be freed from the past (1,000 years.)

We are all “nailed to a cross” metaphorically speaking, between the past and the future, in the present. The “gallows beam” of the cross symbolizes this dilemma.  Winston Churchill said, “Everyman is nailed either to a cross of action or to a cross of thought.”

3.History is the recalling of the past that is capable of allowing us to change, and anticipating a new future. We must admit that what was once future (an expectation), became a past, then was sanctified by the next generation ( our grandchildren).  Only thus can there be progress and peace.

4.What we should learn from war is to sanctify and keep the memory of the soldiers who died, because they died for a cause. If the cause was worth fighting for, it (history) means that we too might be called upon to fight.   History reminds us what is important. It places us in time.  WE KEEP ALIVE THE MEMORY OF SACRIFICE, BY WHICH THE WORLD IS MADE POSSIBLE.  The Gospels represent the story of Jesus, what he sacrificed for, and why he died.

5.For mankind, history is more important than the natural sciences because it tells us what is important, and what is important is told to us by our heart. The direction of that knowledge changes, depending upon one’s present insights and dreams:

…the crucial form.  Only in the Cross has man found a form in which the directions — changes, in which one thing is true, although the opposite is true, too. (p.9)

(the heart, and the term “although”) They cross out the tendency, the trend, the statistically probable, the, the recommendation, the reasonable, the sober.  ..although reason tells you you shouldn’t, – you do it.  That’s worth doing.  Nothing in life is alive, or is human, that is not able to defy some natural causes, some natural reasons. (p.10)

6.If mankind on this earth is to grow the rules to guide his social values, he must be capable of resisting the principles of physics, the principles that apply to dead things.

…unless you have this power to resist all the highways of the world, wide as they are, convenient as they are…making you as welcome as they do…you are not borne by the spirit.  You are not a second-born human being.  And this old rule that man has to be born twice is unfortunately simply true, although the churches have forgotten it. (p.11)

[RF – Obviously, he means the term “born again” differently from the present-day Christian fundamentalists]

7.Christianity did not begin with Christ. The willingness to sacrifice was present in all pagan tribes, “Otherwise there would be no mankind alive today.”  The meaning of the cross is that when one sacrifices, one belongs to the ages. (p.16) [RF – In another essay ERH  called the birth of Christ, “The center of history.”  I assume the meaning of this statement was that, these universal principles, while practiced before, had not been articulated.]

Lecture 5

1.The thrust of this final lecture seems to belie statements ERH makes elsewhere, to wit that the “Cross of Reality” is not rooted in religion.  Here he seems to make the point that  IT IS INDEED SO ROOTED.  That is, that we live in multiple times and multiple places, that we observe events as “inside them,” or outside (as objective observers).  And that the nature of these times and places is not caused only by natural events, but also decided by participants in the community. That an old social practice may be changed. The meaning of events, past and present, is constantly fought over on the battle field. – the dignity of a nation for instance. [RF, have we not just witnessed this in WW I and II, and in Serbia/Bosnia today?]  This, ERH asserts is what William James means in his essay THE MORAL EQUIVALENT OF WAR. In war then, meaning is decided!

What is now, and what has been cannot be known.  It can only be decided.    (p.3)

The first few pages of this lecture are eloquent statements to this effect.  And later…

…the superior light of the man who went to the Cross without complaint in order to elucidate that on this earth, without the gallows beams (of these types of decisions) on his back, man could not live as he was meant to live: in peace with the past and future. (p.10)

2.It is the weakness of these times that the notion of multiple times and spaces is not understood, and therefore we seem to lack references points for evaluating our experience.

So this I think explains our growing neglect, or our decreasing understanding of the mystery of times. Take the relation between the generations.  The hurry with which we move through time makes it for the young man quite feasible to forget the greatest riddle of mankind is the peace between fathers and sons, and grandsons, and how this should be obtained or created that a grandson is even patient to continue what his father and grandfather have started. (p.4)

3.This then reflects the riddle of speech, that in order for the future generations to continue what must be continued, they must understand what we say today.  And therefore…

This is the riddle of speech, that the speech is a flow, is a stream, a river that must fertilize and wet all the banks of the river, whenever the water touches the ground.  Every foot of this riverbank is a year of mankind.  And the river, of course, must connect these various decades, years, centuries. And he must not form puddles, and where every puddle is left alone to itself…. (p.5)

4.In sum,  history has amply demonstrated changes in direction that were necessary at a particular point in time; when some emphasis of action was no longer needed.  There was a time when it was no longer necessary to be martyred professing the love of Jesus. There was a time when the emphasis on the “church” needed to be changed to an exploration of the earth, the result of which was a rise in science and technology.  And ERH admonishes us that the present challenge is to learn to regenerate society.

At this moment, where the Great Society knocks at the door, we must make peace with people of other creeds, with people of other races, with people certainly of other idioms, and other religions.  (p.11)

Cruciform Character of History – 1967 – Review

This is a transcript of the Tippett lectures delivered by Rosenstock-Huessy at the University of the Pacific in Stockton, California.  Their focus was to differentiate scientific (or cyclical) history,  which is how all of us were commonly educated in school, from “cruciform history.”  The difference is crucial to our survival and growth toward peace in the world. Scientific history puts mankind outside events, inferring what will happen in the future, in spite of our efforts.  Cruciform history puts mankind inside events, and is based on mankind taking responsibility for creating a future guided by his dreams.  Having laid out this issue the body of the lectures indicates specific examples of how cruciform history can be fruitful.  This essay also describes a fundamental building block for the author’s views on the future of Christianity.


Lectures 1-9
Feringer notes
Last edited: 12-98


Lecture – 1

Theme – How do we regenerate community? This, of course,  is the fundamental question of all human social life, and it generates a series of questions for which humankind has had to find answers through the ages.  Of these, an important question is, “What type of thought and action are necessary?” Another name for such a guide is “religion.”

1.Today, ERH asserts,  the arts are a substitute for religion! This is misguided because, as Goethe wrote to his son, “…the Muse knows how to accompany, but does not know how to guide, or to lead.” (p.1)

2.It is only the church (religion ) that can guide us. Arts and sciences are both only companions, not guides for life.  THE QUESTION TODAY IS ONE OF A DIVISION OF LABOR, WHICH MANY RELIGIONS (and other organizations) ABOLISH. For instance, our worship of youth tends toward firing old people and putting young people into positions for which they are unfit. “Everybody knows everything, therefore nobody knows anything.” (p.3)

3.The Egyptians invented the division of labor, separating priests from laity – priests knew what was in heaven, the laity knew  what is on earth.  The concept of heaven is useful only if it is a metaphor for what humankind should  become, as a guide to our behavior. It was the priest whose division of labor was to communicate this to people, therefore providing a direction for social life by way of unifying heaven and earth.

Today in the USA, the pollsters, psychologists, and news reporters are the American priesthood.  This is a distortion of Luther, who wanted everybody to PARTICIPATE WITH THE PRIEST, as stated in his aphorism, “everybody his own priest.”  This has been distorted today to mean NOBODY A PRIEST. With no single direction, all disciplines become fragmented into their own self-interest. The business man makes money, the writer writes, the reporter reports events for the purpose of selling newspapers, etc. But what is to create community?

The problem with college students today is that they have learned neither a trade nor how to direct their lives.

4.Larger and more complex societies call for more complex organization, but these divisions must be unified. The first division of labor is priest and layman. The second is warrior and peasant. The third is rich and poor. Recognizing these divisions is basic to social survival and while we cannot change them, we can mitigate  the distinctions. The larger the country or the organization, the greater the number of divisions of labor.

                                                                 A few basic definitions

5.The idea of democracy has been distorted by a bloated notion of equality,  which has caused us to lose respect for divisions of labor. In war, the military takes precedence over laymen, and in any crisis the leader must take precedence over the subordinate. IN SHORT, IF PEOPLE’S  EFFORTS ARE NOT COORDINATED BY LEADERSHIP, THEN THERE IS ANARCHY – WHICH PRESAGES THE ULTIMATE TERROR AND DESTRUCTION.

6.Divisions of labor are necessary, and therefore must be filled.   We are always obligated to find our role in society (where we should put our energies) at a given point in time for social benefit. (p.8)  In ancient Egypt, the Pharaoh earned the right to leadership because he could predict the floods of the Nile, which united  upper and lower Egypt, he represented the unifier of heaven and earth.

Today in this country, we place faith falsely  in the intellectual as an ultimate authority, as another form of priest. The intellect is not a complete guide for ruling. It takes also hope, faith, and charity to lead, among other qualities! Science is also unqualified,  because it is pure mechanism!

7.Our liberal arts colleges today are ridiculous because they have no direction. They offer us no basis for unifying our experience, they only describe, analyze, compare, and speculate about reality. There is no meaning to any subject outside its internal logic. “Nothing can stand in reality that isn’t necessary.  And God reveals himself only in the things necessary.” (p.14)  The lack of unity in our lives today blurs or erases understanding of the necessity (meaning) of different divisions of labor.

8.The Egyptian cycles of life were symbols of unity depicting necessities of the community:  1) Horus, heaven and earth, 2) Ra, the dominance of the sun, 3) Osiris, the fact of death, 4)  Apis (the bull),  reconciling the new Egyptian science with the values of tribal spirits.  The great historical change represented by Egypt was the discovery of order  in the universe – of science; they discovered that the stars in the constellation of Pleiades returned to their original positions in the sky every 1460 years.

This cycle, of course, is  indifferent to social life on earth, but it had to be integrated somehow. This belief in the mechanism of nature they saw as meaning that life also was  (should be) eternal. To the Egyptian, 1460 years. was like one day.  All of this represented a fundamental change is beliefs from the old tribal values of ancestor worship.

Lecture – 2

1.The major difference between nomadic societies and agricultural societies is that nomads can’t divide labor; each member must be a jack-of-all-trades. Ancestor worship, therefore, was a logical basis for guidance. But with the advent of permanent settlements, an entirely new life evolved. Fortresses instead of “warpaths,” settlement instead of migration, professional soldiers instead of every tribal member fighting, commerce instead of basic self-sufficiency, writing to supplement oral speech.

2.ERH doesn’t like the term “civilization,” because today it  connotes a difference between tribe (nomad) and city; however, both had discipline (order), and the secrets of living in both included religion,  perpetuation of the species, preparation for the future. Civilization means more than plumbing and parking lots. Today modern man is once again a nomad (peripatetic). The temple replaces the nomadic meaning for the grave.

3.The advent of the city created new unifying elements in society. The city  created geographic unity, with Egypt a unifying of the upper and lower Nile, of heaven and earth, in addition to the basic tribal divisions.  Man in the eyes of the Egyptians became superior to nature because  nature, as represented by the stars,  which could only move east to west, while  man could also move north & south. Yet paradoxically, Egyptians preferred the inanimate world because it was more permanent – gold the most enduring material.

4.The present day domination of our lives by commerce is bound to destroy us, as will any worship of material things, because that kind of worship always leads to acquisition of non-necessities. Today we do not live to create a future but rather live for the  moment. Notice, for instance our increasing national debt – whereby our present excesses must be paid for eventually by future generations. We are destroying the future of society.

5.The Greeks  believed (borrowed) the notion of the circular sequences of events, of cycles of nature, from the Egyptians. Plato in the Timaeus, for instance discusses the endless phases of government monarchy, aristocracy, democracy and dictatorship. THE CONCEPT DENIES THE POSSIBILITY OF SOCIAL PROGRESS. One is bound to live from the ideas of the past. THE NOTION OF THE “BUSINESS CYCLE” IS EGYPTIAN IN MENTALITY.

6.To know the movements of the sky was the first profession (the priesthood), and a revolutionary step away from tribal thinking. It proclaimed the elements of heaven were connected to those on earth.

To write was to meet eternity. To carve the hieroglyphs on the temple walls is to proclaim the eternal truths from heaven. The daily order (roles) for the people of the land were likewise proclaimed. The edict is the first use for writing. Real language  was high-brow. Idiomatic language was an after-effect. The first to speak was the judge, priest, commander-in-chief, proclaimer.

7.In sum, the empires created stability in one place, which meant they had to deal with one set of climates  on one land and to care for it.  This required discipline, order, division of labor. Historically all of the “stable” empires have fallen and reverted back to nomadic or more primitive culture, whether Egyptian, Babylonian, Chinese, Mayan, or Incan. Today in our industrial countries we rape the environment, and people don’t wish to pay for the cost of conservation – they want tax reduction,  and cannot bring themselves to sacrifice.  THIS HAS BEEN THE CASE WITH ALL EMPIRES – THEY COULDN’T MAINTAIN  DISCIPLINE AND ORDER NECESSARY TO SURVIVAL.

Lecture – 3

1.The Tribes and Empires had done their work of establishing guidance from past experience (ancestors), and science (order in the universe).  All of this established a starting point for the Greeks and Jews.  The tribes, Egyptians, Greeks, and Jews were four very different ways of life, which were “against” each other.

2.Most of us believe there is order in science, but not in society.  ERH admonishes us to believe in social progress and social order.

…God visits the sins of the parents in the third and fourth generation, and forgives those who serve Him in the thousandth generation— is simply true.  It’s a natural law.  It’s an order of human history.  For a little bit of merit, your great, great, great, great-grandfather’s effort, you are here alive. (p.1)

3.Regarding the necessity to follow these natural social laws, we must either ignore  history, or participate in it.  What has made these four modes of life available to us  (Tribal, Egyptian, Greek and Jewish) is the church. (p.2)  Each of these societies was trapped in its one mode of life. Christianity admonished us to integrate all of them and emphasize any one at the right time.

The Tribes created a past (recognizing that we have fathers and grandfathers and great-grandfathers who fought for our membership to the ages of founding fathers rather than  existing only in the present moment, isolated in inconsolable loneliness.  AND THIS VENERATION FOR THE PAST, AND FOR BELONGING TO THE AGES, IS NOT “NATURAL” in the sense of what animals can do. We are more than animals.  The CALENDAR of the tribes goes from birth to wedding, from wedding to burial, from war to peace, from initiation to initiation, etc, without conception of dates. The tribes  created the station of KING, with an ancestry to which he is heir.

The empires created the “eternal present” of the heavens.  They discovered from the heavens the perception of the year,  the equinoxes, the return of the seasons as measurements for time, rather than funerals, etc. No tribe could observe the solstice. But since Egyptians discovered that the heavens and earth are connected, they reasoned that time is always the present. [RF – I don’t quite understand the logic of this point although he gives reasons on page five.]

The Greeks subsumed the best of these two notions, then went on to create an order to ideas  (philosophy) and to articulate principles of  art.  These are their contributions – philosophy (the act of generalization and comparison) and poetry (the expression of subjective response to events).

The Jews rejected both the tribal and empire ways of life, investing in their future by way of the notion of prophecy.  THEY CREATED THE IDEA OF FASHIONING THE FUTURE OUT OF THE PAST AND THE PRESENT.

4.These four ways of living formed the four foundations (qualities of mankind)  represented by Christianity, – kingship, priesthood, philosophy and poetry.

“We claim today that we are the heirs to all these four qualities {of man}.” (p.7)

In America we assume all of these possibilities, and have been successful in abusing all of them. Liberty is abused by everyone assuming to be an authority.  The innumerable sects in this country abuse the notion of priesthood. ABUSE CHEAPENS,  THEREBY DESTROYING IMPORTANT PRINCIPLES NECESSARY TO MAINTAIN COMMUNITY.

5.Of course, we possess some of the qualities of these past ways of life.  To a child parents are as royalty.  And we have the power to judge the priest as his edicts apply to our personal lives.

6.Each of these creations of tribes, empires, Greeks, and Jews (and perhaps this notion can be generalized to all real creativity) had to take place independent of the others.  Tribalism could not have arisen in the Egyptian empire, and the Egyptians had to reject the assumptions of ancestry otherwise each of their ideas could not have evolved to prove their validity. But each of the four was incomplete as total guide for organizing social life. They were practiced to extremes, exhausting their validity, and the civilizations upon which they were built declined. .

7.If truth came only out of the past, this meant that all knowledge was assumed to be known at that time. No change was conceivable. With the empires, since the heavens were in constant motion, there was no time to pause and evaluate events. The Jewish God had time; he created the universe from outside it.  The creation of the Sabbath by the Jews was a resting period, a time to evaluate the past week’s events – an action that was otherwise only attributed to the “creator.”

But the belief of Judaism is that we must tend in the direction of rest if we want to have freedom, if we want to be divine.  The discovery of the Jewish people is that — the God who set in motion this world must be superior to motion, that God is rest, eternal peace, that He is the god of peace, and therefore superior …If you keep all things going, nothing new can happen…all mankind’s history is only the record of those actions of freedom by which people did something that had never been done before…All this is newness. (pp.12,13)

The Jews created the notion that man, because he possessed some small part of divinity, could create some new beginnings.

8.The profundity of this idea is that we are free to accept a fact and act before necessity forces us to act, thus having some freedom for decision.  To wait too long is to eliminate our freedom to act willfully. If, for instance, we conserve the environment now, we will have some future options as to how and when to do things.  If all is destroyed before we act, we have forfeited  that freedom; having destroyed animal habitats and therefore the animal species within them, we cannot then decide to regenerate those species.

9.Freedom is the opportunity to create the future. The genius of prophecy, its difference from projection from the past, is that it speaks from the future.  It says that if we wish for a certain type of world in the future we must act a certain way now, or face the consequences .  “All prophets must be partially prophets of doom.” (p.18)

Prophecy is indifferent to temporal orders. That is, it implies WHAT OUGHT, rather than projecting forward WHAT IS.

God created cause and effect, and He created man to supersede cause and effect. (p.19)

10.Prophecy is not based on approval from others, it is not a Gallop Poll. Part of the meaning of Judaism is the willingness (courage) to be unpopular!

“…the whole world is just in a terrible mess today because we have no prophets.  We have only predictors.” (p.21)

11.The Greeks compared different cultures, but accepted them as-is. No judgment is involved. Humanism does not mean everybody accepting each other or being nice, Greeks were warlike and lived by tribal vendetta.  But not being willing to make judgments, not being willing to act on what they knew  in order to change their society for the better, they weakened the power of the great philosophies they created.

Lecture – 4

1.In this chapter ERH discusses the process by which Greeks made two orders into one, and how Jews  rejected both.  First, he declares that in 1945 an era of approximately 1900 years is complete, and now we should be able to combine the four modes of life – tribal (kingships), empire (priesthood), Greek (comparisonism and poetry),  and Jewish (rejectionism and prophecy) – all into a single mode. All of these were embraced by Christianity.

ERH first makes the case that in America we remain “Greek” thinkers; we embrace a mode of living whereby one accepts with equal validity all other modes of living, but observing them from the outside and not taking a stand for a single one. In short, we remain aloof from traditional religious involvement. However, in a broader sense, “Religion is where I have a singleness of purpose…..Nobody who lives can be just Greek.” (p.3)

[By “Greek”, I believe he means, thinking is enough, participation in the affairs of his community is unnecessary.)

2.The notion of “Greek thinking” is important related to his claim that it is the same as “American thinking.” Greek thinking, is secular (or temporal and objective, which is to say not committed to any particular mode of living other than secular. All of this assumes a mechanistic universe over which humankind has no control.  The “mind” – meaning logical thinking – can be controlled, but “nature” cannot be. The Greek separates thought from the body, from the temporal world. The IIliad testifies that mankind is controlled by nature, except for his thinking.

3.The implication of these ideas is profound. Christian Religious thinking assumed that we are under an obligation to create a unity on earth, to unite all peoples and all animals, to be the stewards of the earth,  “…that’s our destiny. We are meant to do this.” (p.11)   THIS IS THE CHRISTIAN MANDATE TO MANKIND.

4.The Christian religious logic is that either man has the power to intervene in the social and natural world,  or he is an automaton. [RF – my own interpretation of these ideas is that our destiny is to build “liveable communities.” This is our common necessity with other peoples on earth, and the idea that should unify us,   mind, spirit, and body. Greek thinking, ERH declares creates schizophrenia.]

Greek thinking therefore is incapable of creating a future, as it tends to remain an observer of what nature has in store for us.

5.Whenever knowledge is acted upon, it has social consequences to which we are never indifferent. Therefore it is impossible for us to be really objective, except in the act of verifying events.

To live in the mind only (as Greeks proclaim) is to separate one’s spirit from inclusion in life. Greek objectivity puts us outside humanity, outside nature. We can therefore usefully examine any subject only by admitting our own superstitions and our own bias. By such admission we become capable of rising above them, limiting the influence of our bias.

6.We can realize some fulfillment in life, (“find our bliss,” as Joseph Campbell terms it) only  by following some cause – and our only worry should be coming to that cause too late! THE MIND IS THEREFORE SUBSERVIENT TO THE HEART, to our loyalties.

…I have never seen a divine reason so far, but I have seen divine beauty in bodies, and I have seen divine hearts, and  divine souls…The mind — most people I know, are stupid. Lazy, prejudiced, blind, wishful thinking…that’s the least  important thing about us. But we have pure-hearted people, fortunately among us. (p.27)

[RF – ERH goes on to provide a number of useful examples pointing to weaknesses of the “mind” and pointing out that thought cannot be separated from our body. It is our logic that creates prejudice, hatred, greed, etc, or it fails to correct these base emotions.]

7.The Jew puts the church ahead of the mind, that is, ahead of our college training. The church must direct our thought and actions. The purpose of the Sabbath is to “have time” to unclutter our minds from daily struggle and action and become re-oriented to our true purpose.

Lecture – 5

1.This chapter is a type of summary explanation of the importance of distinguishing between Greek and Christian thinking. THE PROBLEM ERH raises is, “What is the limitation of Greek thinking, in terms of encyclopedic comparisons of different modes of life?”  A simple answer is that they made comparisons of current events, in the present time only. This led to generalizations about common elements. Generalizations tend not to inspire dedication.  One cannot love, “in general,” for instance.  One must love someone, or some idea or some thing, and act in particular situations. The same is true for any dedication to a cause.

Thus, Greek admonition to the “good” does not inspire dedication to one cause. “We can’t have a pluralistic universe for our worship.” (p.6) So an important idea, to generalize and see the big picture with all its elements, has been rendered impotent by robbing it of an additional concept, which is to select a particular application to a particular problem at a particular time.

In other words, it is one thing to have a tool box full of tools (in this case, intellectual tools), and quite another to know when and how to use a particular tool in a particular situation. Living in a world of abstractions (generalizations only), is artificial. We cannot live (survive) meaningfully in an artificial world for long. Anarchy results.


This Christian mode of thinking also harbors an important historical implication.  That is to say, if having  many tools in one’s tool box makes for the best carpenter (or community builder), then one needs to utilize as many case histories of past experience as possible, to know what tools are available and under what circumstances they seemed to work.

2.For example, ERH claims that:

“…in 1850 God went out of fashion more or less.  And you got universalism, and unitarianism, which is an attempt to have a Greek Christianity.” (p.6)

3.He points out several facets of Greek thinking that if carried to (if practiced by everyone), lead a society astray. For instance, homosexuality results from separation of the mind from the body (ala Descartes). Here ERH does  not refer to what we know today about genetic causes of homosexuality.  His conclusion is not that it was  immoral in itself, but representative of a larger pattern of wrong thinking, and certainly no model  for all of society. This is why Christianity opposed it as a guiding concept. [RF – it would  therefore seem that the fundamentalist Christians today have got the meaning all wrong. That is, they are misreading history by rejecting homosexuality on a moral ground.  They tend to reject other pre-Christian (Greek) contributions as a whole,  e.g.  their mantra against “secular humanism.”]

The aspect of Greek thinking tries to create an artificial world, with a mind, body, and soul outside reality, and  which strives to live in its own ivory-tower existence.  And a mind that tries to create its own world, of course will prefer a friend to a woman who has to bear children with great travail, and which is very expensive to run a household; financially, it costs little comparatively to have a friend. (p.8)

4.Another example of the limitation of Greek thinking (in spite of their great contributions to society) is that of eternal war. Since the mind is dominant above all else in their thinking, Greek humanism posits that man is the measure of all things. Therefore they, the Greeks, are both heaven and earth, and  “…everybody else has to be destroyed, or has to be kept out.” (p.9)

They simply could not, therefore, conceive of a world without eternal war!

5.     Encyclopedic knowledge, pure intellectual curiosity…all the vices of sex, which come from mere keyhole peeping — pluralism for everything,…absorption, annihilation, as Greeks — the Greeks were unable to hold their own politically or morally.  They’re just a closed book.  They ended. (p.9)

6.ERH concludes that our future depends upon, or is directly proportional to, its vitality, to how far we go back into history to see what human experience has been, so that we can see better the nature of our time. And therefore what modes of living are most likely to help us face and rise above our present social problems.

Today he suggests:

If you want to become a writer, your topics are not arbitrary.  They are dictated to you by the spirit of the age.  And if you want to know what you should write about today, you must write about pre-Homeric man. …WE HAVE TO GO FORWARD TO THE END OF TIME BY BRINGING OUT AGAIN THE ACHIEVEMENT OF THE PAST. (p.11)

7.ERH dwells on “Greek thinking”  because it reflects our times in America.  We have become too abstract in our thinking in our view and description of the world. Abstractions = generalizations. Buster is not thought of as Buster, but of his classification as a dog. The term “love” is an abstraction until it is felt in corporeal terms, as in our wife, husband, daughter and son. Greek pluralism provides us with many choices, but no direction as to how to guide our efforts.

The spirit of our times, he claims, is based on both Egyptian and Greek thinking about the spirit of prosperity and the spirit of plurality (generalizations or abstracting).  All of this leads to stoicism, cynicism, boredom,    and skepticism – everything is possible (anyone can be president), but nothing is necessarily true. (p.15)  [RF – I believe ERH intends “true” in this instance to mean, of social import.]

Contrarily, the pre-Homeric god-kings or god-men, gave commands and it was the duty of people to follow them.  The spirit of heaven in those times was manifest in real people and therefore could be related to.  What do we hear from people polled about their attitude toward American politics today?  Resoundingly, that we need leaders, someone honest and moral, someone we can be inspired to follow!

8.What the Greeks did then was to strip every proper name and replace it with a concept. God, in pre-Homeric times was the creative spirit within mankind. God, to the Greeks, became a concept, – mind.  In other words, mere description of the world in impersonal terms is adequate, and it is all we can do. The rest lies with the only element humankind can control, the mind. This attitude puts one outside the life of the universe; one is not god-like, but god himself. Such is the extreme of the life of the mind.

Lecture – 6

1. The basic idea of this series of lectures is that the Christian Era represented a new idea, which is that the creation of human community is going on now and every day. All previous views of reality maintained that there existed an established order in the universe, that all things were pre-ordained, that life consisted of endless repetitive cycles. Tribal life, Egyptian thought, and Greek thought were the same, that there was order in the universe and creation was not in the hands of humankind.

With the tribes, the dead judge the living. With Egypt, the living judge the dead (they, the dead, made mistakes which should not be repeated).

2.The Christian view was that humankind was capable of being co-creators of society in partnership with God. THE IMPLICATION HERE IS PROFOUND ACCORDING TO ERH.  It is that to live a fruitful life, we must do thingsdeliberately, according to our own decisions.  It means, therefore, that one does not live by mere imitation of Jesus, or for the sake of impressing others, but rather because it is the way we must live if we wish to improve community life.

[RF – By implication, humankind has the potential of enormous power engendered by language.  If morality is not the guiding principle for behavior, or at the very least of powerful and controlling leaders, society will tear itself apart from inherent animal instincts.]

Is there a difference between blind obedience or understanding and acceptance of a principle? How does one, for instance, tell if one imitates blindly, or intentionally, to impress others, or because one honestly believes in “the way?”  THE ANSWER IS THAT WE MUST ACT INTENTIONALLY AND TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR OUR ACTS, and not blame others when we fail. If one acts only to attract, it is the beginning of falsehood.

The intent of principles assumes one must act honestly and in the interest of the community. To take  responsibility for our actions is to be invested with the Holy Spirit.

3.The subtle meaning of the term, “To live a life in imitation of Christ.”  then is to be creative, to accept the spirit of responsibility for the state of community, and to act as a co-creator.  The converse, the “childish” view of religion, on the other hand is to accept the notion of “imitation” of good deeds for the sake of being good, more or less acting “mechanically” and unknowingly, assuming a narrow, denotative interpretation of language.

Following from this, the meaning of “Holy Spirit” (language) derives from actions. Words are cheap. Actions reflect their spirit, investing meaning.

4.To learn from past experience and to act to improve our communities is to live in the spirit of both past and future, unifying the two. Thus, one honors the visible and the invisible. Faith is invisible; we must believe that our acts in the present will create movement toward some desired future. The Holy Spirit is a mixture of these three spirits, of past, present, and future.  It is a dead end to be “stuck” in the spirit of past only, or present or future only.  For a fruitful life one must utilize all three. (pp.9-11)

5.The tendency today is to believe we are independent of the obligation to sacrifice if we wish to build a future for our children, or for the community   (it is the same). To be independent in the spirit of self-serving is to live only in the present.  To be logical is to learn from our experience and to reason in terms of what we know and can prove and can feel. IT IS NATURAL TO ACT THIS WAY. But to be creative, to think originally, to sacrifice for some unknown (future)  is not natural. It is “super-natural.”

6.In another sense, “…life is explained by death.” (p.6-14) –  This means that, as a guide to how we should act to be fruitful (live a fulfilled life), we must understand that we must learn from what others have taught us.  To learn from that is to know the significant parts of the past. The significant parts of the past have been created by those who sacrificed to find important truths, truths that tell us how to regenerate the community or to destroy it, as the case may be.

How does one write a constitution, found an organization, raise a child, sit on a jury, inspire love? In our lives, from time to time we reach impasses and don’t know how to act, and therefore require guidance.

7.Christianity tells us the meaning of dying, which is grounded in significant acts, defined as those worth dying for.  Socrates taught us how to die.  Jesus taught us why we must die,. so that an idea might live on past our death. SIGNIFICANT GUIDANCE FOR FRUITFUL BEHAVIOR CAN BE INHERITED FROM THOSE WHO PRECEDED US.  Death and life are intimately connected;  to know how to live includes also knowing how and why to die, or sacrifice, stand for an idea that must live on as a model for those who follow us.

8.We fear death, naturally.  But to die “well” creates new life.

9.Ultimately, the ideas that drive generations exhaust themselves and need to be renewed. Mankind is a strange animal: the evolution of society does not live in a single person or in a single principle, but is renewed during many generations, through many interpretations of the principle.  ERH claims not to be an idealist.  He believed in flesh and blood. “Idealists aren’t crucified,..” (p.19)  Jesus believed in life.

10.Understanding death is fundamental to living, and a broad generalization for the idea of creativity and change.  Life, the community, and movements cannot be renewed if they are not re-interpreted when they are no longer potent. For instance the power of Christianity has ebbed and flowed over the ages.  Christianity stands for renewal. “Creation is now and always.”  Today Christianity as practiced in institutions…

“…has been given to babes and sucklings, and has become this candy stuff for Sunday school, which makes it absolutely impossible to assign Him any importance….if I think of these Sunday schools, (I can’t) do anything but vomit all my Christian tradition.”  (p.21)

The uniqueness of humankind is that it can have the same spirit all over the globe.  This is not possible with any other animal.

11.No one born into this world can know his/her direction.  We must learn it from the experience of others. Prayer is noble when it admits one’s own will is not good enough, and asks for guidance from others.  God is not interested in the individual,  only in the community. (p.24)

12.One cannot organize anything after his/her death, but one can have influence in that one’s spirit enters another person.  This is not the same as prescription (following rotely) because creativity is driven by spirit. It must be free at every moment. Creativity is the ability to express and old idea in a new way, or to see an old problem from a new perspective. Ironically, commerce pays for predictability, which is the opposite.

13.Theology is the “enemy” of faith and religion.  Faith is the willingness to act without clear assurances. Religion is the willingness to carry forward a necessary idea that underpinned someone’s act from the past. Theology is the “philosophy” underlying some particular organization, an organized representation of a set of ideas. Its weakness is that it prescribes behavior, which is antithical to creativity. Prescription of behavior is to be contrasted with prescribing the spirit, or purpose, or hoped-for consequences of some behavior.

Any subject becomes dead in our minds when we believe everything is known about it. It then becomes an object of mechanical response; one can be objective about it when everything is revealed.  If this were true of humans, we would be nothing more than animals. The truth is that to renew ourselves, to be vital, we must continue to grow, to surprise ourselves, to have new revelations about ourselves.

14.Any living thing in nature dies.  Humankind  escapes death only through living on in the memories of others.  If a life was fruitful, then its spirit will influence others positively. One’s death should therefore be given meaning when it engenders a new beginning for another person.

15.The uniqueness of the Christian era was that it connected generations. (p.36) The meaning of the sacrament of marriage is that it creates a future by teaching children there can be peace (between the sexes). A child brought up in peace can hope to find the same peace.

The church therefore connects all peoples and all churches in that it harbors

“…the fruits of previous generations to sow the seeds of future generations.” (p.37)

16.Still another unique quality of the Christian church was that not only drew from past generations, but made those fruits “…total and explicit.”   As long as customs are not articulated explicitly, as long as they remain vague, then future behavior based on learning from past experience remains accidental.

Peace is created by everyone’s willingness to sacrifice. “The church says, `It costs a price to live in peace together’.”  (p.40)

Lecture – 7

1/7Making peace and moving toward solutions to social problems requires, 1) that one define the problem that caused dissention, 2) recognizing that the problem remains, 3) that past solutions are not working and finally, 4) a willingness to try something new.  Each era is confronted with a problem that, if not solved, will eventually terminate that culture or civilization. In this way epochs are identified and rendered explicit.

You have not made peace in 1865. You have not made peace in 1918. You have not made peace in 1945…And the whole life of the Christian era is based on the assumption that to break with one calendar, to break with one order, can only be done explicitly. (p.2)

Western man is living by accident, not having learned the lessons of these wars. A new epoch begins when people begin to think differently. There are two types of historical facts: those that change our thinking, and epochal events that fail to result in a change in thinking. The two world wars were epochal events, but they have yet to change our thinking, and therefore we remain “inside” this epoch, unable to break out by way of addressing the cause.

In America we are bringing on the next world war because we have not learned this lesson, and we support tyrants around the world. (p.6)

2.We remain, therefore, “jellyfish”; foreign policy is based on the immediate needs of commerce. And the churches seem impotent to address these problems.  Historians DO NOT MAKE EPOCHS, but when they are insightful they properly interpret them.

The first Christians suffered for 300 years before the rest of civilization recognized that Jesus brought on a new epoch.

There have been four epochs of the Christian church in 1956 years, soul, culture or role, mind, and nature (these have been defined in the first 5 lectures of this series).

3.People called the Reformation the dawn of a new era. A “counter term” for this era by non-Christian thinkers (whether in the church or not) was Renaissance, when science and art began to guide thought, rather than the church continuing to do so.

One cannot remain capable of regenerating society as long as one believes one must think according to the values of the 20th century; rather one must understand that we live in the much broader Christian epoch. (p.13) Only in this larger context are there regenerating criteria to guide evaluation of epoch-making events. Only thus can we know more completely what are the killing and what are the regenerating forces in that epoch.

4.Epochs are only slowly recognized. The turning points of 1776, 1789, 1917 were at first recognized only by the Americans, or French, or Russians, respectively, but in time the world recognized the consequences of these events that changed the world.  Our thinking about marriage, about what is public and private, about how to do business, about public responsibility, about the nature of the family, about rights and responsibilities has been changed by these events. The common term “community” has drastically changed its meaning.

5.ERH discusses a major outcome of these events.  This is the constant discussion of means as contrasted with  ends.

A good American is a man who declines to discuss ends.  He wants to discuss means…If you have a country that consists of 300 minorities, 300 denominations,..300 languages, you can only discuss means, because you’ll never agree on ends. (p.26)

The lesson to be learned here is something about the difficulties of bringing unity among peoples. Only some modicum of agreement as to what are common,  eternal values unites peoples.

6.The work of Christianity was to create this type of unity. The first 1,000 years of the church was needed to create the church; it looked mainly inward at its own forms. The old temple of Israel was taken over by a New Church, by a new Israel. (p.28)

The second 1,000 years was spent in unifying the world. “Now an empire is a world by itself.” instead of a limited set of borders.  There are no more emperors.

Today, we enter the 3rd millennium, and a new problem has arisen. Science and technology have fragmented the peoples of the world, families and communities, and the institution of marriage has all but been destroyed. Today in America almost 50% of all children are born out of wedlock.  THE GREAT PROBLEM OF THE 3RD MILLENNIUM IS TO RE-INVENT THESE SOCIAL UNITS.  We must bring some unity within and among them, beyond commercial interests and cruise ships.

How else can one account for divorce, the rampant use of drugs, juvenile delinquency, the common need for psychiatrists and other counselors, the general social alienation within national boundaries, as well as distrust between many groups, as evidenced by the present ethnic wars around the world?

7.Another measure of this fragmentation between social units is the over-valuing of commerce as the dominant criterion for judging the efficacy of public decision-making.

This great issue of our one of the greatest experiences of the remaking of the human mind, in the face of great events…Does anybody deal with the real, the great transformation of the human soul and the human spirit?  (p.38)

8.In conclusion, what we need to do now is to find our place between the past and the future, to articulate where we are in our evolution so that we can see what is needed and get started. we must create one society out of these disparate fragments of society. “So that’s the theme of a real universal history.” (p.40)

Lecture – 8

1.Today, especially in America, we seem not to be interested in shaping a future. [RF – Other than for commerce and sewer systems, of course.] Crime, poverty, and alienation are rampant.  No doubt part of this stems from a misplaced faith in science, that it can tell us what is going to happen. But that’s the limitation of the scientific attitude.  If we believe in forces outside ourselves, in commerce and in nature, then we feel powerless to shape our communities.  BUT THE VERY FUNCTION OF RELIGION MUST BE TO DO JUST THAT – TO BELIEVE THAT A BETTER FUTURE FOR SOCIETY IS NOT LEFT TO CHANCE, THAT IT IS POSSIBLE TO ENVISION AND THEN DIG IN TO REMAKE IT HAPPEN.

Prophets are no longer fashionable today because we have lost faith in our ability to shape behavior in the direction of improvement. Today our pseudo-prophets are scientists, or “futurists,” who predict how many cars and plastic building materials will be available in the future. “Prophecy believes in the invisible, and is perfectly immune against what it sees before its eyes.” (p.3)

2.Over-population, crime, poverty, unmanageable bureaucracies, reliance on science as a method for pointing the way to a future  – all alienate us from each other. They atomize society, as Martin Buber said,  destroying our communities. WE NEED TO RE-ESTABLISH COMMUNITY AT ALL LEVELS, RE-ESTABLISHING REVERENCE FOR THE FAMILY, FOR DEVOTION AND LOYALTY AND PRIDE. WE HAVE LOST THE ABILITY TO FEAR THE LOSS OF THESE HUMAN VALUES.

When Darwinian concepts are applied to human interaction, when all commerce is “cut-throat” and personal interaction competitive,  then we tend to destroy all trust and integrity; the commercial ethic has a nasty habit of creeping into all interpersonal relations, as it seems to be doing today. Darwinian “evolution in history is decadence.” (p.9)

ERH gives evidence of the way Christianity has stood for regeneration by integrating all previous social accomplishments, i.e. the family, science, poetry and philosophy, prophecy  e.g. the accomplishments of the tribes, of the great empires (Egypt, etc.), Greek thinking, and Judaism.  (pp.10-16)

3.The issue of prophecy touches on the Gospels in terms of their representation as a stage in social change. The Gospels differ because each was addressed to different groups, each with different biases.  Matthew speaks to the Jews, Mark to the Egyptians and Romans, Luke to the tribes, and John to the Greeks. They were written in four different places, addressing different groups and value systems, but essentially with the same message.

So the four Gospels tell you of the march of the church.  In order to penetrate into these four regions, the church had to write its Gospel in four forms. (p.19)

4.THE SIGNIFICANCE OF COMMUNICATION CAN ONLY BE DETERMINED BY AGREEMENT WITH THE GROUP ADDRESSED. Thus, individual experiences by themselves have no meaning. This notion is fundamental because it indicates how language is vital – no group can exist without communication, the method of which is commonly agreed upon and understood.  (p.19)


5.ERH  addresses the relationship of death and dying to generating a future, how death can be fruitful.  (p.15-26)

6.The relationship of the state to the church is important to understand.  The state represents our need to survive in our present physical environment. The purpose of the church is to represent the future, how we solve present problems so that our communities may someday live in peace and prosperity. The church then should organize our will, our soul, our willingness to sacrifice for that future.  THE CITY OF GOD, (St. Augustine), makes the statement that no state must take away our yearning for a better government – no human can be God.

7.           …the mother tongue is not the only tongue in which the life can be expressed.  We know today that the spirit has to be transported in every generation…You cannot preach the Gospel without translation.  A fundamentalist is the enemy of Christianity, because he makes it impossible for a decent man to believe that the God of the Christians is a living God.  He’s just a paper god. Because a fundamentalist cannot translate.  They take the letter vivified, but the letter killeth…` the spirit vivifies, and the letter killeth’ is expressed in this tradition of Jerome where the Bible is translated into Latin….Jerome says the Gospel cannot be preached by repetition. (p.30)

8.How does one convert a number of people to a single spirit?  First, by converting individuals. Then, by groups of individuals.  In the Christian church, the first 500 years. were spent on converting individuals, and the next 1,000 years were spent unifying tribes.

Lecture – 9

1.”It seems to be a law…Nothing important happens unless somebody is willing to die for it.” (p.1)

2.There seem to be four steps to the renewal or founding of either a church or a secular community; ERH noted that for the church these steps were: a) Martyrs, b) fathers, c) monks and d) kings. In a like way the secular version of these steps is a) crusaders, b) discoverers, c) explorers and  d) inventors

Crusaders expose their lives to give to a cause; the discoverer seeks new continents or new aspects of the world; the explorer completes this process; and the inventors explore the inner world increasing knowledge.


3.One of the great problems of learning about others is that one tends to reject what one doesn’t like, judging it unimportant or for some reason objectionable. But to truly learn from social experience is to the reality of the processes, roles and values of different communities, whether we like them or not.

4.In a like way, each academic subject matter deals only with one aspect of a phenomenon.   For instance, science describes almost entirely with numbers. The sun is more than so much energy, it is also a useful metaphor, and it tells us about social phases related to growing food, etc.  This fragmentation of disciplines, which in turn reflects our thinking, results in barriers to understanding the larger context of problems.

…we enter today a third millennium.  There’s no doubt that by the year 2,000 the world will have to have a religion or it will not exist, a different form of our religion.  Mankind, society demands another group of leadership.  You can’t live by discoverers and inventors, if you want to organize peace. (p.11,12)

The two social types, explorers and inventors, are important, but not sufficient to maintain a world at peace, and by over emphasizing there value we are tearing the world apart.

5.This is why we must be interested in history, because there we learn these lessons – if, that is, one hears an organized and comprehensive view of history, a universal history!

True history is interested in transformations, without which human life cannot exist. LIFE IS GREAT BECAUSE, OR WHEN, IT DEALS WITH CREATING COMMUNITY.  Man becomes complete, not as individuals, but in community, where much greater tasks can be performed.  A dam cannot be built by a single individual with a single skill – it takes thousands, who must cooperate.

6.One person cannot know much of reality by oneself.

Get a friend who tells you off when you are wrong, and tell him off when he’s wrong, and you know each other. That’s the only way of living. Any attempt for self-scrutiny leads to the psychoanalyst. (p.13)

7.Holidays group people. “Easter is the holiday by which the members of the Church recognize they are members of the Church….God created man as a corporation-forming animal.” (p.14)

8.One of the major functions of the Church is to remind people that their very existence has been bought by the blood of many martyrs, by soldiers who fought to protect our country against enemies, by our revolutionaries, by those who fought for unions, for the environment, for justice, at great expense to themselves.  TO UNDERSTAND THIS MAKES US INTO  DIFFERENT PERSONS THAN WE OTHERWISE WOULD BE. And those persons are ones capable of creating peace and justice in the world. All of this has been given us without previous merit on our parts, and we therefore owe society a commitment whereby this tradition is carried on. It is this spirit which the church must give us.

9.The family is also a crucial incubator for engendering this spirit. The work-place is not. When, as today all institutions have lost their way, one can only begin to regenerate society by beginning with small groups, – family, neighborhoods, clubs, churches, etc.

Now the family, the tribe, the society of the future, which is the Tribe of tribes, has only one first interest: how can parents and children be of one spirit? How can mother and a daughter be of one spirit? How can mother and son be of one spirit?…What nature cannot give is one spirit between a father who is a banker and a son who is a professor.  Or one spirit between a daughter who is married, and a mother, who is Mrs. Luce.  (p.17)

The only force that will allow people with disparate experiences to live together in peace, must begin with a family (primary social unit) where more than one generation lives, plays, and prays together.

This engendering of one spirit is particularly difficult today, when the churches seem to view themselves as social, rather than spiritual organizations, and where they teach a religion for children. “The spirit is only true when people of different sex, and different age, and different mind serve in this spirit.” (p.19)

10.Part of this sharing of spirit requires one to realize there are different divisions of labor, or roles, for each of us at different times, whereby one is not equal to another. Today we seem not to believe in expertise in many instances. We believe our own experience is equal to, or superior to, that of others.

11.Also we kill the spirit with too much wealth. “Security is the death of life. Don’t ask for it.” (p.21)

ERH informs us of the prophet Malachi,

“I shall turn the hearts of the parents to their children, and the hearts of the children to their parents.  If this does not happen, the earth will be cursed and will perish.”  (p.22)

Generalizing this notion, if generations are not unified:  ERH BELIEVES THAT THIS PROPHECY HAS YET TO BE FULFILLED, AND THAT THIS IS THE JOB FOR THE 3RD MILLENNIUM. Our tendency today is to fragment the generations, and we seem to be “degenerated.”  As Buber says, “Industrial society atomizes society.”

12….children no longer believe what their parents believe…psychoanalysis is just an attempt to do something about this ridiculous disunity between the generations…Where there is one spirit,nobody has any Freudian complex.p.24

…obviously the human society has today a tremendous and dignified task…nothing is gained by running forward…it will be less and less church and more and more Free-masonry,..more philately, and future to you.  THE MIRACLE WHICH YOU HAVE TO PERFORM IS TO RECREATE THE SPIRIT WITH PEOPLE THAT HAVE GONE BEFORE YOU….

Progress is out, in your sense, technological progress….The only interest, the only field of action, the miraculous new foundation of the universe can only come when, against all expectations, some among us have the power to wait until they can act in two generations. (p.25)

13.The primary notion here is that significant movements and acts must be carried out in more than one generation.  ERH claims that “liberals” tended to believe in change for its own sake, thus, the son believed less than the father, in a shorter time span.  THE TRUTH, ERH CLAIMS, LIES IN JUST THE OPPOSITE. THE BASIC PROBLEMS ARE THE SAME, BUT METHODS FOR ACCOMPLISHING THEM DIFFER.

…children depend on your power to bestow on them a spirit in which they speak. They have to learn English, and not basic English. But high English, the highest, the English by which they can invoke and implore another person to join them, by which they can found a family again. (p.31)

14.It is always up to each of us to discern which, of the lessons from the past, need to be employed or emphasized at this time to re-establish or revitalize our present systems. Antiquity taught us the need for family, Egypt and other empires taught us science, philosophy, and the arts, and we must heed their lessons. We have the power to establish peace if we will only use it; otherwise we tear ourselves apart with war.

15.The origin of all creativity, and of power and motivation, is always “spirit.” It is not of this (the concrete) world, except as our actions manifest that spirit; the terms has no meaning if not acted upon.  The origin of a marriage is the spirit of love, and all actions (duties) follow.  For instance, duties of marriage to support, to help grow, to raise a family, to sacrifice, suffer, etc, all derive from love.  The origin of law is a love for justice and order.  ERH uses the term “incarnation.”

There is nothing else to be said about the whole history of mankind, that first love, and freedom, and imagination say it, and then we do our duty to have it come true.  And that duty takes suffering; it takes martyrdom; it takes fathers; it takes monks; it takes kings; it takes crusaders…and now it takes founders of families…all laws are the sedimentation of free creation.  Anybody who has experienced love knows that it comes first; it’s a new beginning.

If you ever in your life had a bright idea, or a new instinct of a new change of heart, make this the cornerstone of your understanding of the universe and you will understand that the universe begins with creation.  And it ends in incarnation, because that’s the experience of every potent and creative man in the world.  (pp.34,35)

Love begins, and hope and faith keep you going.

16.Summarizing:  We are powerless and lost until we learn how to create our lives — what engenders the spirit and what kills it.  To learn this, we must learn from experience,  going back to the beginning of history.  Personally, in the beginning we have little experience, and must therefore learn from history – what succeeded and what failed, what corrupted and what regenerated vitality.  But fruitful action always begins with spirit.  Since each generation lives in a different social, physical, and political environment, and since the notion of “incarnation of the spirit” means a change in human nature itself, the values and institutional forms each generation inherits must be renewed.

It seems today that our institutions (law, education, medicine, politics, religion, etc.) are not vital, and therefore are in critical need of redefinition. No doubt change of this magnitude will be wrenching, with no guarantee of success.  Today all forms of life on earth are threatened, as has always been the case before some great change began civilization anew!



Feringer notes
Last edited: 12-98


Lecture 1

1.   “…history is all that which explains why education has to keep changing.  History is those events which make it dangerous, which make it intolerable that people should live as though they lived from time immemorial.” (p.2)

2.There are many unimportant events that should not influence tomorrow. So history is dualistic, sitting in judgment of things that should not come back (like slavery), or of events about which we should make new decisions so that they can be carried on. In this sense,  then,  “…the past is still ahead of us.” (p.3)

3.Great events are brought about by people who do things, “regardless of the consequences.”  And this is an admonition for all of us, for our future, if it is to be fruitful.  The community must be directed by this attitude of having to decide what must be forgotten and what must be carried on (regardless of personal consequences).

The fecundity of the human race is based on the white heat of decision and the good conscience that we are in harmony with past action, and for this reason, have a future. (p.5)

Freedom cannot be achieved if you ask,  “What will be the result for me?”  Results are always uncertain.  One must therefore act without regard to pressures of the moment.

4.People from the past who deserve to be remembered either changed conditions or met new conditions in the right fashion.  Because we are free agents, we are free to change.

5.Things never stay the same.  Thus, our actions and behaviors must not be the same as they were in the past.  “In other words, past and future are both alive….nothing which has been bought by real human investment of heart and courage must vanish from this earth.”   (p.7)

6.Time is not homogeneous; historical epochs occur in fits and starts.  “In great moments, there is condensed the resolution and the decision of man to enter a new day, or to end an old day.”  (p.11)

7.Today, an event in one part of the world has repercussions everywhere else in the world. The human race is now indivisible, and if we cannot find world peace, we will tear ourselves apart.

8.Real history contains only  what once was new. “History then is the story of those things which have to be told because at one time they appeared to be impossible.”  (p.9)

History Must be Told – 1955 – Review

Today an event in one part of the world has repercussions everywhere.  The human race is now indivisible, and if we cannot find world peace, we will tear ourselves apart.  How can we find such peace?  Of course, by learning lessons from the past.  People from the past who deserve to be remembered either changed conditions or met new conditions in the right fashion.  “History then is the story of those things which have to be told because at one time they appeared to be impossible.”


HISTORY MUST BE TOLD – Draft Transcription

Lectures 1-6
Trial Studio Recording, not used for Record
Feringer notes
Last edited: 5-7-97

1.   History today tends to be either ignored as boring, or irrelevant.  There are too many “histories”, for instance, of science, of a war, or of a culture or country.  But ERH suggests there is only one history that has power, that is the history of mankind.

In my view, only such an approach to history gives it power to help us create our future.  Too often these “too many histories” are mere recordings of sequences of events, or are put together from a bias that distorts any ability to find truth from past events. (see p. 1-2 with the reference to Schopenhauer which indicates this view).

2.   Three points about history: 1) it occurs without regard to our happiness, 2) people conscious of history may be without an academic degree (i.e. not experts), 3)  true history is (should be) about changes, about newness. “It is the inheritance of acquired qualities, the transmission of new qualities.”(of human society.)p. 1-3

3.   It tells us how one thing came into creation, despite all the reasons why it shouldn’t. “History then is the story of new creations, or it is nothing.” p. 1-5

4.   “…history can only consist of the things that cannot be rationally analyzed and deduced..?” p. 1-5  For instance, animals mate because of chemistry.  Humans, by contrast never know when it is time to love. “It makes true love all the more miraculous…..History is the sum of the unbelievable things that become believable because they are told.” p.1-6

5.   For these reasons, the second dogma of history is that it is rather short. History is both new and old;  events, at a general level recur, and an recurring sunrise may be the dawn of a new day (for mankind.)  Thus, the telling of history is subtle and rife with choices by the story teller.  And since the “important” events cannot be rationally deduced or explained, history must be told as a story.

6.   From here ERH goes into a discussion of time, past present and future. i.e. The present is in tension between future and past. We have obligations to continue from the past that which should be continued (i.e. democracy, environmental respect etc.), to ignore the insignificant events, and to act to carry on those which must be carried on.

7.   The present is the time to act, we can lose time and gain time, past generations have prepared our own future, the future must be constantly re-created by our free choices.

8.   In order to maintain our sanity we cannot feel isolated, alone; we must feel we are part of the larger group or society . “What we call `history’ then is a sequence of acts that are freely done by people, and then in the end, miraculously fit together.” p. 1-13  To the extent that cultures of the world remain fragmented, at war, we will tear ourselves apart as a world.  To the extent that there will be some type of unity, we will then have a future.

History Must Be Told – Draft

Trial studio recording, not used for record


Rosenstock-Huessy never gave the same lecture twice, nor taught the same course twice.  To have heard him again on the same subject one thus found the same fundamental points, but always with a difference. New examples, a different orientation and in the end the listener experienced, not contradictions but greater depth of understand and respect for the subtleties of the subject.  This issue of History Must Be Told covers the basic points about,  how we must make decisions and begin action in the present and the thrust of those actions must be toward creation of our desired future, how we must connect ourselves with larger communities so that we do not feel alone in the world.  He then goes on the examine how history represents choices which need to be made about what from the past should be forgotten and what must be told if it is to have the power of enlightenment.


Lectures 1-7
Feringer notes
Last edited: 12-98


This series of seven lectures deals mainly with the meaning of historical knowledge and the first stages of human history – tribal life.

Lecture 1

1.There are several guides one must follow before any meaning can be deduced from history.

a.One must be conscious of one’s bias, otherwise there is no reference point for selection of issues, or for  organization. Everyone has a point of view; one cannot operate for one day without one.

b.History can be told only as a story because the whole value of the effort is to determine how something new happened in the world, against all odds saying it couldn’t happen. Every great advance in civilization, whether in science, or politics, or art, had to break some mold and go against traditional knowledge.  When Jesus was crucified, who could have guessed at that time that his influence would persist and a great church would be formed? Einstein was first thought to be mad, and Rembrandt was unrecognized as a genius during this lifetime. SO THE IMPORTANT PART OF HISTORY IS TO CONVEY HOW SUCH A GREAT MIRACLE HAPPENED AGAINST THE ODDS. THE PURPOSE IS TO HELP SOCIETY THROUGH SOME CRISIS , THE SOLUTION TO WHICH SEEMS HOPELESS.  HOW THIS HAPPENED CAN BE TOLD ONLY THROUGH THE MEANS OF A STORY – NARRATIVE HISTORY IS THE ONLY MEANINGFUL HISTORY, because there is no logic or prediction in how those events happened.

c.Lack of predicted events means these events go against what can be seen at the time.  The famous stage-play HARVEY is a case in point.  The rabbit cannot be seen, but through a story it can be made believable.  Great creations of man likewise cannot be seen before they have occurred, because they exist only in the mind of the perpetrator.

d.Newness is always recognized with great difficulty, and with some delay. A generation or more may need to pass. Einstein waited 17 years before even a few scientists believed his theory of special relativity was valid, and longer before the whole scientific community accepted it, and longer still before public recognition.

2.History is the story of creation, of how all the elements of new life came into the society of different cultures. Lincoln would not have been a historical figure if he had not acted to maintain the Union and abolish slavery, thus changing life in the United States. truly historical events are therefore unique, unexpected, unheard of miracles of social creativity. Nothing else in past events is particularly interesting.

3.The purpose of history is to help us create a future; it should begin with the problems of our time. To solve these problems, our first step should be to examine similar past events to see what these might tell us about similar problems. Thus, the value of history in creating our future lies in direct proportion to how far it extends into the past.  Today Western culture refers to the Christian era.  To understand and respond to our religious problems then, one must go  back at least that far. History can be interesting, only as long as the future is interesting. (p.18)   “…the future of history is always the revival of the miracles of the past, plus those miracles that are necessary to make this revival possible.” (p.10)  One turns to the past in order to discover newness.

4.True history assumes that mankind must participate in regenerating society, which is to say that mankind is yet unfinished.  Each new advance represents an incarnation, a new life for society. And at each point, human nature changes as well.  Only such assumptions make  history vital, living, and relevant to our lives.  This is why history must be rewritten every generation.  New problems arise, old problems take on new forms, and different issues become the focus of examination of past events.

5.Part of the creative force of true history is to free one from superstitions in judging old from new. As said before, we are all biased and could not make decisions without  predisposition. Paradoxically, to change we must forget those biases in order to strike out anew.  The old saying, “history never repeats itself,” is an incomplete aphorism.  Old methods that establish qualities of life must be repeated,  for example, the fight for freedom, the fight for peace, the resistance against oppression.  Battles against these forces are eternal, and so there is some repetition. But there is also newness, and therefore, new means must be found in order to reestablish desirable conditions.

6.Of course individuals commit acts of self-interest so the repeated stories of human failure are neither new nor interesting.  BUT WHENEVER SOMEONE COMMITS AN ACT, NOT OF SELF-INTEREST, THIS BELONGS IN HISTORY. (p.26)

7.     …history is the sum of the events which make it necessary for a child to grow up differently than before. Other events we will not mention. They are not historical…Lincoln now belongs to the ages, your children have to learn the Gettysburg Address… If he had only lived in his own time, like professor Everetts, the senator,…your children could grow up without ever hearing the Gettysburg Address…So we call history those events which have made it necessary — a different way or approach of any man born afterward. (p.30)

Lecture 2

1.”All history, then, is between speakers and listeners. It is not between professors and students.” (p.1)

History in bits and pieces makes no sense and has little value.  It has value only if mankind is conceived as one, not as 23 different civilizations living side-by-side but isolated from each other.

There can be no meaning in the creation of the world and in its preservation and in its redemption if there is not one history.  The pluralism of history is the greatest atheistic enterprise of our age. (p.1)

2.ERH admonishes us in this country for providing too much freedom to the uninformed (mainly children), asking them to make choices for which they are ill equipped.

…modern education denies the  American child the privilege of being told…This is the first age in which man is left alone in space. (p.4)

3.We, he asserts, are lost in space with no direction.  We are space-oriented   thinkers  craving more material things, consumption-oriented, lacking much in moral judgment. We will not tax ourselves to improve education, we want lower taxes, we destroy the environment for profit and  we run up enormous national debt that leaves our children and grand-children to pay – in every sense destroying our future.

We have freedom to change all this, FREEDOM TO ORIENT OURSELVES, but to change requires our respecting and following the rhythms of time. The past, present, and future is a unit of time which must be understood and acted upon as a unit.  That is, we must begin in the present by working for a future we desire, then seeking similar past events that will guide us to move in that direction. When we are conscious of how to use the present in this way, it becomes expanded,  larger, meaningful, fulfilling.

4.Meaningful history, fruitful study of past events, creates this expanded present.  ERH points out these important distinctions between space and time. Space is things we can see and measure, and represents events in the material world.  Time, in contrast, is not visible, but is driven by the spirit.

The spirit, in turn,  is driven by listening to commands. Whether one becomes a physicist or doctor or teacher, one’s primary drive stems from one’s spirit, for better or worse.  To create a future has everything to do with the problem of time, and of specific times in which we live.

5.To enter our “times” is to enter history,  to participate in actions that will regenerate the community, and will move toward creating a future for it.

People who ignore this call are “counted out” from entering life; they remain beings with no spirit, with no future, and no sense of a fulfilled life, except to be able to consume more and die from chloresterol-clogged arteries.


6. ERH asserts that for the last 1,000 years we have developed our concepts of space, developing  science and technology.  But science and technology cannot provide us with guidance for action in community-building (except of course where to put the sewers.)

Using technology and science (space thinking) has nothing to do with the heart, with our feelings, or with engendering our spirit (soul). Heart and soul are the core of a vital social order, the source of its power.

All the marriage problems of the human race are problems with timing… Timing is a much broader field (than politics). But we have allowed it to crumble and to shrink, to so little bits of life that the rest of life is not taken care of. (pp.16,17)

It is as though our lives are like the 10-second time bites of advertising, With no extended time from past, or into future. Our knowledge of past provides us with case studies for guidance for action in the present.  Our drive must be, not only to survive in the present, but to do it in a way that creates the future we wish.

8.        …the heart is given us as the pre-eminent indicator of time, of timing. We have no other. The brain can never tell you.  The brain always tells you the opposite. The next millennium at this moment —we will have to start on timing, because today timing is destroyed. (p.18)

The theme of the future is not the world (i.e. more science), but society. And there is a definite opposition between society and world…World is everything visible and measurable. (p.19)

9.His point is not to reject science, but to define its contribution and balance it with other factors.  For instance, in science, contradiction is to be avoided.  In society, we constantly immigrate from one stage to another, wherein we become the opposites, child to adult, bachelor to husband or wife, husband and wife to parents, parents to grandparents. Receivers of past wisdom and authority mixed with our own experience, we use them to create added authority from our actions.  All of these stages require different laws for guidance, different appropriate behavior.

Today we tend to worship the mind, but in the third millennium we must re-learn the lesson that the mind must also love and be guided by its opposite, the heart, by an intuition of what feels right.

10.       I have tried to show you that we are at this moment vaulting between the second and third millennium of an era, which had three tasks to make all people so free that they could go into the future.  To allow them to conquer space. And now to allow them to organize society.

We have therefore three great thousand-year topics, themes of history which deserve your attention.  Church, for the people. The world, for space…And now we have the social problems.  Society, as the organization inside which man must be allowed to know when to do one thing and when to do the very opposite. (p.25)

Lecture 3

1.ERH identifies the crucial indicators of changes throughout history; these represent, not only the stages we have gone through, but also present evidence that those changes occur against seemingly impossible odds, and that these odds are overcome.

…we have now to round out now the whole era of history, the whole times of human endeavor into the impossible, into the surprising, into the unexpected, into the unnatural. (p.1/3)

Applying these criteria he identifies the stage we are now presently entering and thus the major thrust of our times.  Of these three different endeavors, we now are prepared to enter the third.

a.The creation of a church (Christian), that creates a universal guide to moral behavior fired all people to find a universal basis for integrating all peoples of the world. Universality also frees us to gain perspective on the physical universe (space). This took the first 1,000 years of the Christian era.

b.The second stage was the evolution of science and technology, which allows us to control our environments and thus frees us to address the final problem,  social organization.  This scientific achievement was the preoccupation of the 2nd millennium, how just ending. ERH asserts that space has now been conquered in the sense of basic methods and understanding, and that anyone who sees this as not accomplished, belongs to the past.

c.Finally, we enter the 3rd millennium to address the problem of better organizing society.

2.ERH reminds us of what is believed to be a common truism, that if one wishes to look into the future, one shall see what children are interested in.  This he refutes: “They are always behind. That’s why they are children.”  CHILDREN SIMPLY HAVEN’T HAD ENOUGH EXPERIENCE TO UNDERSTAND WHAT LIFE IS ABOUT; they have yet to support themselves, found a family, send sons and daughters to school.  The truism is a handicap to parents on this issue.

3.In general, man’s (humankind’s) evolution is from being “natural” (animal-like) toward becoming unnatural (civilized). Our evolution beyond animals has occurred only through society, and thus we have weathered changes that have engendered this progress:  a) Evolving language (and therefore families) to expand and validate experience. b) Learning from past experience, respecting authority (a & b were tribal eras).  c) Developing science, (i.e. the great empires like Egypt).  d) Developing philosophy and poetry (Greek accomplishments). e) Creating a future through prophecy (Jewish accomplishment). f) Integrating these previous eras into universal principles (Christianity). And now, g) Entering the 3rd millennium, to organize society.

Each era created freedom to progress to the next step.

4.THE DANGER OF CONTINUING TO ALLOW SPACIAL ORIENTATION (SCIENCE) TO DOMINATE OUR THINKING IS THAT INDIVIDUALS TEND TO BE TREATED AS COGS IN A MACHINE.  This is why we must now address social organization, which allows us to evolve as humans. This is to say, to organize society so that we have the appropriate freedom and peace among all groups on earth.

[RF – ERH in other essays, explains the consequence of modern social science having borrowed too much of its orientation and method from natural science: humans are treated as cogs in machines. The, social scientists seem to have forgotten that their field is differentiated from that of natural science.]

Scientific laws, by definition, allow no freedom, and no human future; society becomes fixed, ant-like, non-creative.  We no longer can act as an image of God, participating in the creation of the social world and of ourselves. Freedom means not being bound by natural science attitudes, which cause us to misinterpret the meaning of our experience.

5.To create a future, and to change is to create time, to have time to plan.  That is the meaning of the sabbath.  [RF – this is a subtle issue, time. What I believe he is getting at is that we have freedom for creativity only when we have time to reflect and re-examine and re-search.]

The church was to create a single people out of many presently separate and alienated peoples.  Science created one universe out of many universes, and in the 3rd millennium we must create one time out of many times.  [RF – the idea is, I believe, that human society cannot evolve when we are fragmented, when we are constantly battling each other.  The crucial notion then is that all creativity is in creating a society at peace.  To do this requires a unified concept including all cultures and races. One of order, but an order that can change when  our concepts of how to do this indicate reexamination (when war threatens).].

For instance, the Jews invented a life that was more concerned with the future than with the past or present.  Contrasted with Jews, the tribes invented a life dominated by ancestor worship, being more concerned with the past, and Egypt created a society more interested in the “eternal present.”  Christianity then unified these concepts, to the point of saying, “We need the freedom to choose to emphasize any one of these, depending upon the problem.” When social problems arise we may need to revert to some past practices, or on the other hand, invent something new.

6.   So the three elements of our history, one people, one space, one time, or – one church, one universe, and one society. (p.15)

From page 14 through the end of the chapter, he provides historical examples of how this sequence of events takes place in different cultures. Ultimately, unification is always the goal. Pre-Christian history has four stages, which, when combined, allow us more social tools and therefore more comprehensive ways to understand human experience. This in turn allows us to better communicate, find common interests and be more likely to create peace. Again, the four pre-Christian orientations were a) the tribal orientation, b) the empire orientation, c) the Greek, and  finally d) Jewish. Christian beliefs contributed to unifying all of these attitudes into a single way of thinking.

Lecture 4

1.The Christian era admonishes us to recognize time as the primary method for ordering society; to seek, not only the right actions, but the right time to act. For instance, “If you want to learn something in a new environment, the minimum today, as things stand in this country is two days and three nights,…” (p.2) If we are “space minded,” as we are brought up to be, i.e. technologically minded, then we believe that “seeing” is adequate to knowing about a place.  This, however, does not allow us to ascertain the spirit of the place.  That takes time; it takes speaking to people, getting their opinions, identifying what is important to them.

2.It takes time to become conscious of our illusions and biases, to interact with people, to get them to respond to us  “…people who do not know how to time their lives are licked.”

3.What leads a country into a future?  Not education (that leads to a career), and not science (that is a method only, as is education).  Neither science nor education  can create a new conscience, a new hope, or faith.

What are the great mysteries of our time?  What we do not yet know, and must know, is, 1) how society will organize work for all peoples in the world, for all tribes, and 2) how the Jews were replaced by the church.  HOW, IN OTHER WORDS WERE PEOPLE ABLE TO CHANGE DIRECTION IN ORDER TO FREE THEMSELVES FROM THE RESTRICTIONS OF BEING, MERELY TRIBAL OR MERELY EGYPTIAN OR MERELY GREEK OR JEW?  We know some of these things, but not how we will organize, or how the church came into being. (pp. 5-7)

4.In other words: 1) What is to be our principle for social organization, the role of women and all citizens? Peace between individuals, between cultures and ethnic groups, between nations, between sexes still evades us. 2) How do we incorporate the church (ethics and concern for building a future for society) into our everyday living, by not being trapped in one method (one cultural mode)?  ERH goes on to explain that we separate the church from the state “inside us.”  We do not consider career and worldly judgments from the standpoint of moral principles.   The standard for judgment today is that business are one sphere and church another sphere. Church is for Sunday morning.

5.At present, we say that all nations or peoples are equally right, or have a right to live the way they please.  THIS CANNOT BE TRUE, BECAUSE,  ONE CULTURE ENSLAVES ITS MINORITIES OR WOMEN, AND DESTROYS THE ENVIRONMENT, AND IT EFFECTS THE REST OF THE WORLD.  ALL IDEAS ARE NOT EQUAL!  It is a truism that, “What my neighbor does effects me and the rest of the world.”

6.A decent future, one that regenerates a spirit to allow for stable, regenerating societies the world over – this is worth sacrificing to the hilt for today, in the present, now!  (p.11)

To be creative is to sacrifice, to dedicate oneself totally, as Abraham did when he spoke out alone, or Jeremiah (voice in the wilderness). Real dedication is to persist when one is totally alone to have faith in one’s cause. From ancient ways of life we learn of models whose ideas succeeded beyond their death. THESE ARE THE EVENTS IN HISTORY THAT NEED TO BE REMEMBERED AND REPEATED AT THE RIGHT TIME.

Creation cannot take place as long as your own will enters anything you have to do. You see it must be stronger than you, yourself  (p.17)

7.Why do we have to recall the past, especially the Bible? “…to remind us of the intensity of living, of the singleness of purpose.” (p.18)  The ancients didn’t allow people to change. There was unity for one way of life only. “Once a baker, always a baker.”  To remain vital, individuals must have freedom to change, as do societies as well.  That is achieved through unity with a universal religion – one that is comprehensive, encompassing all of the past accomplishments of different religions, as well as the ability to select one emphasis (way of life) that may be called for at a particular point in time.

At one time, for instance, past authority may be most important to listen to, especially when some necessary way of living has been forgotten. At another time, new ways may need to be evolved.

8.To the end of the chapter ERH describes how ancients practiced many lifestyles within a tribe, pacificists, warriors, vegetarians, meat-eaters, etc.  But what we must learn is that those who survived practiced certain things that are necessities.  To fight when necessary, to maintain communication (language), to listen and respect elders, to bury their dead, to maintain a unity by respecting the rights of all members of the tribe equally, by dividing labor appropriately, etc.

Lecture – 5

1.This notion must be repeated as long as necessary, no matter how tired one may be of hearing it – that we must stop worshipping science, or commerce as ways into the future. (p.1/5) Today, technology and profit form the principle criterion used to justify all decisions. A forest with all its wild species will be destroyed for the sake of profit and a few short-term jobs.

What is most likely to carry us into a decent future (i.e. quality of life) will be our frail “consciences,” our willingness to tell the truth in spite of the risk, and ability to learn more from our experience and how people brought about change throughout the ages.

2.No one is free by declaring oneself to be free.  One can be partially free only by knowing one’s own prejudices, one’s own weaknesses, by knowing life’s temptations, by knowing how the family should be sacred, by knowing that we can only discern viable truth in social life after something has been experienced by at least three generations, each generation believing strongly enough to pass it on to the next.  Then we know what is necessary in lifestyle.  ALL OF THIS WE LEARN FROM HISTORY. ONE MAN, OR ONE GENERATION, OR ONE CULTURE CAN NEVER EXPERIENCE ALL THAT IS NECESSARY IN LIVING.  One must learn vicariously about the many variations inspiring the spirit of people to change, from the beginning of human time. Then we must be creative in seeing how to apply wisdom to present problems, risking new methods for solving problems when necessary. Individually, we are too frail, too ignorant, too naive to survive.  Individually, we would never have language or a heritage of learning – we would be as animals.

3.ERH points out that for our individual lives, we could exist with animal sounds.  The necessity and miracle of speech is that it allows us to communicate between generations. (p.8)

Speech is language which is to last for more than one generation…all language in the beginning is only vow. The first vow is the name of a person. They vow themselves to the name of their ancestor. You vow yourself to your husband as husband and wife. You vow yourself to recognize children born as your children. (p.9)

Language is only indispensable when part of the human being’s concerns are away, or dead, or not yet born….Mr. Korzybsky, the Russian, has called it that man is a time-binding animal. (p.10)

4.        …I’m not teaching what is in my head, but I try to put through my head what has been true for the last 7,000 years. And that’s obviously worthwhile. (p.11)

…names were created so that something would survive death.  And names are created so that somebody would live into the future with some clear consciousness of who he was. (p.12)

The horizon of time for tribesmen was between great-grandfather and great-grandson.

5.ERH claims to see no contradiction between the Bible and modern science. The Bible says that first plants were created, then animals, and then man, who is a little higher (because of his ability to participate in creation of society). The contradiction is seen only by “…silly asses who misunderstand both science and the Bible….So what’s the contradiction?”  (p.14)

6.A BASIC GUIDE TO UNDERSTANDING OUR EXPERIENCE RELATES TO OUR FEELING OF SECURITY.  Do we not often feel lost,  lacking of power over our lives, alienated, misunderstood, confused, not belonging, with no clear direction or unsure of what it might be?  Are these not common emotions?  We experience “today” as an eternal presence of these types of insecurity.  ONE PART OF THE SOLUTION is through our experience of time.  We cannot control the ticking of the clock, BUT WE CAN CONTROL our emotional impressions of time. 50,000 years back is an abstraction to us, but we can comprehend to some extent the life and sacrifices and environment of our great-grandparents, and imagine what the lives of our sons, daughters, and grand-children might or should be.

Time is therefore an important measure of our location in life.   Thinking in these terms of generations, immediately before and after our lives, gives us a sense of realism about what has been done and what  might be done, and what price there is to pay for certain types of behavior.  This tribal way of thinking about time is something we need to rediscover.

7.ERH claims this “raft of time” gives us orientation, and therefore reduces our insecurity and increases our feeling of hope and faith in gaining some control.

The name-giving process which tries to get hold of your ancestor and of your great-grandchild is incisive.  There is no speech without holidays, without great events, without picking and choosing some moments of time to be lifted above the average run-of-the-mill time.

Man’s history does not consist of the natural time of the scientist.  It is not a sequence of a thousand years, but it is the sequence of beginnings and ends which is something quite different; of epochs, of ages, or of generations. (p.16,17)

8.He asserts that we want to know how our parents and grandparents lived and worked, and of their accomplishments and problems, and how they confronted them. These are the people who have established our personal direction in society, figuratively speaking, the people from whom we have received orders.  We live today in the light of their accomplishments (and of course, in punishment for their shortcomings).  And we need to learn and understand these experiences as a basis for our own decisions today!

ERH states elsewhere that most of the time we act through weakness and cowardliness, and ONLY OCCASIONALLY RISE TO THE OCCASION to carry out acts that contribute to the community.  We need to understand these realities, and attempt to improve on them.  To be too self-centered (for instance, leaving a national debt for our children and grandchildren to face), or to avoid facing problems, only to have them grow to overwhelming proportions later, is evidence of our weakness.  All of this weakens a possibility for our future.

9.To act “rightly” always puts one in the minority.  But such acts can have such power as to convince the majority.  To act as a model “converts” the majority.

If the minority of yesterday has an important issue, then it will become the majority of tomorrow, but the majority will at the time, when the law is finally enacted, be already behind the times. (p.25)

Lecture – 6

1.People who are marching into an unknown future are great people because they face death.  They know change must occur and are willing to act on a prophecy.

Today’s poets enhance the act of prophecy because they sense our times, and cast back into history to find some period that parallels our present problems, which is also to guide us into change.  They then enlighten us by bringing forth from history what has been forgotten and what needs to be remembered now.  His example is that of poet Robert Graves, who was interested in exploring pre-Greek times, when they were attempting to meld the Tribal and the Empire ways of life. Once again, one must ask, “How, in other words did they manage this change?”

2.ALL OF THIS POINTS TO HOW WE GO FORWARD BY LOOKING BACK.  The fundamental needs of human society are the same in all times, and thus every generation must understand what those needs are, and how they are manifest in modern times.

3.Ideas are based on what we have seen (experienced) before – our hopes can only be based on recovering or enlarging those past desires.  ANY MEANINGFUL FUTURE THEREFORE CANNOT BE BUILT UPON HOPE ONLY,  BECAUSE THE FUTURE CAN NEVER BE THE SAME AS OUR PAST. Changes occur from one generation to the next.  WHAT IS A FUTURE BASED ON?  Certainly knowledge of past solutions offers a foundation, as does a sense of present conditions.  But then one must invoke faith as a motivator, because one can never be sure of  consequences.  The only entry to a future is through faith.  That is why those who are willing to act, to march forward into the future are great, because they have faith that their actions now will help create that future.  The norm in bad times is to give up hope.

This is why our prayer should be for faith, not hope. Faith overcomes the dread of the change. (p.6)

4.Any renaissance, any new life, any change realistically begins with something we do not understand.  Hope is always for “sausage,” for something physical.  Physical desire cannot strengthen us to march into the future. “Faith is a future cleansed from your clutterings of mind, and opinion, and ideas, and programs.” (p.9)

Of course we must unavoidably bring some clutterings of mind – opinions and ideas and plans. But the point is, one needs to be ready to release those ideas when it is called for.

5.What mediates between hope and faith?  Love, of course.  The spirit of love can function only in the present. Hope, love and faith integrate past, present and future.

ERH goes on to assert that today, in America, people function  only on hope. For instance, our present policy, personal and public, seems to be driven almost entirely by principles of commerce.

Nobody in this country at this moment has faith in the year 2200, at least not officially….If you read the editorials, they all think — by that time there has been a third world war and the whole world has gone up in flames. (p.11)

[RF – One might observe also that medicare is not expected to be available in a few years. The forests are going fast, pollution is progressing, etc., etc. Ironically, ERH points out that many “so called Christians” venerate the primacy of commerce as a basis for making most judgments.]

6.ERH points out that the “ancients” had only hope and faith, which were always in balance, as evidenced by their actions at death.  If the correct ceremonies, including sacrifices, were not performed, it would bode ill for the future.

7.Names conquer death.  To carry out any act today, “in the name of,” is to say in the spirit of, for example, Aristotle, or de Vinci or Bach – or the law. This connects the past with the present and future.  It is a recognition that the spirit of those great persons from the past lives on today.

[RF – Elsewhere ERH describes the fantasy of believing that individually we never die, but are transformed into some other “place,” e.g. a heaven of sugar-plumb fairies, or a hell of fire and brimstone, obviously all images of sensory life.  This, he claims,is not in keeping with true religious intent.]

Rather, it is the spirit of one who has died, that lives on in others, that invades the spirit of other people.  Scientists emulate the spirit of Einstein, thus, give him eternal life. The religious admonition is then to each of us individually is to live in a way that memory of each of us is likely to live on in others who knew of our way of life.  (20)

The real story of mankind has always been a religious story between one’s own hopes of that which is already done, can be preserved, can be expanded, perhaps, and that, something that is lacking will be created, despite our lack of creativity. (p.21)

…hope (can) always (be) expressed by quantity.  You can say “more” of something.  Faith can never be expressed by quantity, because it’s a new quality that doesn’t exist, yet. (p.22)

8.To summarize contributions of the tribe to civilization:

a.The grave, where recognition of the elders and ancestors manifests in the burial ceremony. The invoking of the ancestor’s name to carry into the future. The phrase, “in the name of,” carries past wisdom into the future.

b.The altar where “…all crooked things have to be straightened out again.”  The modern “altar” is not where animal or human sacrifices are made or paid, but other types of sacrifice; i.e. the future is only reached through sacrifice.  Sacrifice is the first payment by which change is made possible, because it means preparation in the present, the and cessation of some things we are doing now, which is often painful. For instance, consuming less, recycling.

c.Strangely, war is a contribution to the future.  War is the sacrifice made to protect our values.  It is not murder, which is individual.  It protects us from brutalization and other forms of exploitation from bullies.  The fifth commandment from the Bible, “Thou shall not kill,” does not speak to war.

d.Celebrations, the gathering, the meeting place, the getting into the “mood” to make commitment are all part of cementing unity among the people.  The notion of a holiday is fundamental to this unifying process.

Lecture – 7

1.Continuing on this theme of contributions of the tribe, we see that they possessed hope and faith, but not love in the sense of its regenerating power. ERH correlates hope with the past, with history.  Hope can, you recall, only be based on desiring something out of the past that had been experienced.

The past is long, and to learn its lessons takes patience:

History brings together all classes of themes.  Its superiority over any other type of knowledge is evident. And all minds concede its supremacy…. You (in America) believe that physics is superior to history…Physics is dust, dealing with dirt…History: it makes us into human beings….  (history)…unites the foreign — the far-distant one and that which is right around us.  It joins the past to the present.  It combines the most diverse forms and the most distinct species.  It is the dead who speak to you in the name of the dead, and it is accessible to you in the language of the living.  (p.2)

2.The spirit is material,  having a physical presence in connecting us with the dead and with the future generations. This is why history must be told, as it physically unites us with the past.

Hope results from being able to see something.  Faith, by contrast, is not located in the eye.  Rather it rests in the emotion of anxiety.  We are anxious about that which we cannot see.  Fear and hope are related.  We fear what we can see, or have seen!  Love (charity) is to be balanced with sacrifice.

3.History connects us to great events of human endeavor, or to the sum of the human spirit, as though each of us were the cell of a great man (Jesus or God?).  “THERE IS NO HISTORY UNLESS YOU BELIEVE THAT ALL MEN ARE ONE.  Instead you (in America) believe in this cheap `brotherhood of man’.” (p.13)

[RF – “All men are one”, means that we connect our individual lives with all of humankind through history, as contrasted with the notion of “brotherhood,” meaning “be kind and understanding to others.” While this notion of brotherhood may not be bad, it is inadequate.]

4.We, teacher and students, eat and live together, and I teach in order that I may harness human thirst to serve and enliven the community.  The community forms us, and individually we owe our lives to it.  It passes down to us language, history, our very physical existence, a government that protects us, a community by which we discover reality, and most of all a spirit that engenders creativity. It emboldens us to discipline and a willingness to sacrifice, all of which  supports our ability to rise above our animal nature and become HUMAN.

5.Ash Wednesday originally was the day of the dead,  the day in which the dead spoke to us.  At Carnival, masks are warn so that one can speak for the dead, for one’s ancestors. This is why every tribe had to have at least one mask.

6.To be spoken to is much more important than speaking ourselves. We get direction when someone speaks to us. The purpose of the medicine man was to redirect persons into the right path.

7.In the tribe, the dead speak to the living to provide orientation.  In empire culture (e.g. Egypt, China, Babylon), the living speak to the dead to give them direction.  Jesus speaks to both the dead and the living, because nothing in either the living or the dead has final meaning.

In the tribe, the living are always wrong, the dead always right.  Judges in modern society are the manifestation of the dead speaking to the living.  Law comes from the past.

In modern life, corporations and lawyers are also masks, legal fictions with no life unless real persons are behind them.  This fact is perhaps the most important problem in America (all industrial societies), much more so than competing ideologies such as capitalism or communism.  The problem is, what is most real or powerful, individuals or corporations?  Today, corporations seem to have all the power, BUT WHAT ENGENDERS VITALITY AND MORAL BEHAVIOR?

VITALITY AND FRAILTY GO TOGETHER. FEAR, HOPELESSNESS, AND FAITHLESSNESS DRIVE MANKIND ON TO SEEK MORE AND MORE POWER, but in the process life, humanity, and vitality are lost.  This is how power corrupts.

8.The curse of the tribesmen is that they don’t believe their ancestors have died. The achievement of history is based on the attempt to keep the spirit alive.  The trap of non-death is that succeeding generations cannot change. The misplaced tribal assumption is that all knowledge is already known (by the ancestors).

9.ERH goes on to explain that the primitive tribal people were fine and courageous, but simply wrong about some things, and that it is of course wrong for us to look down on them.  They solved the eternal problem of mankind by admonishing tribal members to carry their burdens of guilt and pain and to persevere.  They were kept in line  (on the straight and narrow) by the witch-doctor.

10.Survival of the fittest should mean, “He who helps his fellows survive beyond themselves.” (p.22)  The individual was always seen as less important than the survival of the tribe (no personal egos). Egos speak with authority, and the only authority in the tribe was the dead.

11.He goes on to define the sacred word “person” as understood by Americans.  The status of person:

…has been bestowed on every brat, without any obligation to continue the life of the race. But the word “person” is only available to those who want to do right, and who will fight wrong, because in this very moment, they enter upon a beaten path of life which they have to continue. (p.24)

To know right and wrong does not come about by introspection.  In reality, right and wrong is discerned by knowing what happened as a consequence of certain actions, and how those actions (might) need to be changed (manifested in a new way) in a present situation.  “You want to alter a law, you first must understand the law.” (p.25)

12.Uniforms, and other specific types of dress such as the robes of judges or the Pope’s dress indicate the wearer is speaking of the wisdom from the past (exercising authority from former generations).



Feringer notes
Last edited: 12-98


Chapt. 1

1.ERH begins with a description of the wealth and sickness of the U.S.,  i.e. our worship of “means” for producing wealth.  With only 7% of the world population we use up 42% of its GNP, and therefore every other country must go to war with us.  We over-eat (3,400 calories average where 1800 is enough), over-drink etc. WE HAVE LOST SIGHT OF OUR ENDS.  This wealth does not produce genius or health or peace of mind.

2.Thus, we have put means before ends, and this does not produce a vital culture.

…we will have to learn that prophecy and vision always precede realization…In accidental events, the means come before the ends.  In historical events, the ends constitute the means. (p.5)

Saints, seers, monks, poets, all creative people have the ends (vision) first, then they work on means. He cites an example of the great chemist, Kekule von Stradonitz who was not allowed to study chemistry (which had no status as a profession at that time). But Stradonitzs’ vision was what chemistry should become, and he eventually followed “his bliss” as Joseph Campbell would put it.

3.Visions create new means to destinations.  Today, for instance, there needs to be an integration of the secular and the religious because the two points of view live side-by-side, but each isolated from the other, and thus neither has power. (pp.6,7)

4.WHAT ERH IS DRIVING AT IS HOW TO INTEGRATE SECULAR AND RELIGIOUS.  e.g. The Church  (Christian) tries to organize its ideas around how people die, secular thought, on the other hand, tries to organize around how people live. (p.8)

This process (the creative process that he declares is at the heart of Christianity) is also interested in how we change, (i.e. we are creative in the sense of seeing new possibilities for integrating thought).  (p.9) He points out how change is wrapped around the notion that change is a death and resurrection, an integration of dying (of old ideas) and renewing life.

5.        …at this moment, in the world of ours, there is nothing as a carrier and bearer of spiritual truth left but the family.  The family,  however has been reduced to something material and physical.  (p.12)

What he means by the term spiritual is the willingness between people to speak the truth to each other without endangering the relationship.  In this sense, “spirit” does never exists within a person alone,  but only between people.  It is a commonly shared “inner” feeling of willingness for fellowship. “Spirit is breathing together of different people….it means the founding of groups.” (p.13)

We seem only to be able to make people feel comfortable, thus achieving physical comfort at the expense of establishing common understanding.  Organizations, government, military, industry, even the church are too big, ERH asserts, to create this common spirit.

6.[RF – It seems to me this is a crucial point defining industrial civilizations and goes far to explain the reason for the breakdowns in our lives.  I have long felt that one of our main problems is to be more truthful with people. Truthful in a caring way, but without offending them.  Such behavior is, of course a subtle balance between naive, inappropriate trust on the one hand, and  an unwillingness to speak the truth at the right time. To be willing to hear and accept an uncomfortable truth requires courage and can only occur in an environment of a common spirit. ]

He suggests that the only place to re-establish the spirit is to begin in the family.  (p.13)

We seem to be artists at smiling and putting on a false face, as “…you cannot distinguish when a spirit is genuine, and when it’s just put on.” (p.14)

7.This notion of spirit is central to his philosophy and indicates why “religious” issues are ultimately at the core of all problems, most of all those of regenerating the community.  Only when we can be capable of truthfulness to others can we begin to restore or create human community.  This aspect of belief becomes the core of our ability to change, and  learn and finally  to our ability to be creative (find new truths).

8.HOW TO ESTABLISH SPIRITUALITY?  We cannot begin by defining what we (each of us) wants, but rather with a recognition of the sacrifices others have made for us.

This is to say, we must recognize that down through history those who have fought for freedom against oppression of any kind, against hunger, for truth in science and the appropriate establishment of professional ethics in all fields. Perhaps most difficult of all, to recognize those of our family who have gone without, so that we might have a better life.

Such a new type of defining makes for a very different yardstick for molding one’s attitudes toward the community. One then must find one’s own place in life BY MEASURING UP TO THESE HISTORICAL SACRIFICES BY BECOMING WILLING TO SACRIFICE WHEN NECESSARY TO PROTECT THOSE ACHIEVEMENTS.  THIS IS WHAT WE OWE TO THE COMMUNITY.

Chapt. 2

1.STUDYING THE PAST MUST begin with a goal, addressing a significant problem out of the present, then derive a method (of analysis) likely to achieve a solution. Otherwise history leads nowhere!

A life is not a good life that doesn’t know its direction.  It is groping for the means, but it is quite sure of its destiny, of its end.  (p.1)

Not to know the purpose of one’s life is to duplicate the life of the animal.

2.To invest in the idea of what one is willing to die for is like “…a capital of mankind in a new bank for the unity of the human race.”

We never know our destiny before the time of our death, that must be hidden from us.  However, in all great literature one knows the end of the story in the beginning.  What we learn is the means.  The Iliad, War and Peace, the biography of the William James Senior’s family (parents of William Jr. and Henry James, are examples of this point.  THE POINT IS TO LEARN THE SPIRIT BEHIND THE ACTIONS, TO KNOW WHAT WENT INTO SOME PARTICULAR OUTCOME.

Our present “secular” values are based on physical comfort. One knows not the

direction, but one learns means. This betrays our valuing of consumption above all else!

3.ERH goes on for several pages to tell why he venerated William. James Senior, to whom he attributed the possible regeneration of Christianity in this country, although James claimed to be an atheist!

James practiced and spoke of Christian principles, but never quoted the Bible He lived it!  The same with Saint Paul, who ERH claims is the greatest disciple. Paul never quoted Jesus, but spoke of the live moment, applying the principles to himself. (p.6)   This represented a oneness, a unity, a universality of principles for all people. This revealed a common spirit that could unit a community.

4.***  Act first to demonstrate the principles, only then can they be understood.  [RF – Now I understand what he has said in other places on this point that we can only understand that which we have experienced] “…history is a mysterious process of confronting a new situation which might be called `B,’ then relating it to an old event, `A’ ”  (p.9)

The power of this idea ERH demonstrates in the life of the James family as a great story. where William Jr. and Henry, although they tried, could not escape the ethical principles taught them. That is, the principles molded their spirit because they understood and lived them.

5.In this way the meaning of the principles is advanced, because each succeeding generation fulfills the prophesy and in the process attempts to out-do it.  Is this the meaning of the term,  “getting back to basics?”  One is both free to advance (change),  and reflect the wisdom of the past at the same time, (an apparent paradox). (p.11)

6.SACRIFICE: If there is no willingness to sacrifice for a principle, then ultimately war will arise to settle the issue. The revolt of youth of the 60’s in the U.S. is an example of the consequence of liberalism, where ERH claims the parents sacrificed for the children, but didn’t demand or teach them that sacrifices had to be made by them.  Likewise in pre-WWII Germany, where the immature youth were asked to make decisions, and this resulted in the rise of Nazism.

7.The job of teachers is to hand to the next generation what their own generation has given them.  If students have not been taught that the past has something to say to them about their survival, then teachers are in a Catch-22 situation, held in little respect.  THIS SEEMS TO BE THE ATTITUDE OF OUR TIMES NOW.  One’s own age is too limited, too narrow in experience to be a complete source for understanding our experience.

Only history of the ages, if one has studied it properly, can reveal the purposes for which we must make sacrifices.  For instance, carrying on the “eternal varieties” such as freedom, speaking the truth, being one’s brothers keeper, etc. The relation of one’s freedom to one’s own age is that one must understand what is necessity.

8.***History, in order to make sense, requires that a bridge is built between past generations and the present. Each new age faces new variations of old problems, and some new problems as well, and is therefore unique; and it must understand itself to be unique. Then when problems arise, it looks backward to see its relationship to the past wisdom.  Another of live’s many paradoxes is that  one needs to be individualistic, but also universal.  (p.16)

In the process of looking back one must ask “What is spiritually dead?”  How much of tradition is to be carried forward?  One can only answer this by saying, “First I must be independent, then I must be interdependent.”

Chapt. 3

1.ERH believes that civilization will fly apart unless there is unity of time in this way; that is, since the basics of survival cannot be understood to be revealed in any single epoch, all epochs of human existence must be drawn from.  And he points out that progress does not occur in a logical, evolutionary manner.

Rather, each generation tends to forget the principles upon which it was founded. It attempts to reinvent the world, seeking its own uniqueness, and in the process setting aside lessons from the past.  In practice shortcomings of its limited dogma should force it to look backward for both learning and visions of the future. [RF, it seems to me he implies that each generation reinvents reality (or tries to), then understands it has merely put “old wine in new bottles.”  Hopefully, the hard edges of reality penetrate its consciousness, forcing it to understand its freedom to invent is limited.]

2.This process seems to define a religious life, meaning that we see ourselves as needing to pass on the insights for survival to the next generation and instill in it the power of wisdom so that the future may be fulfilled.  In other words, to live not only for ourselves, but also for future generations.  It is therefore anathema to believe we have the moral right to live only for ourselves! THAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A RELIGIOUS AND A SECULAR ATTITUDE! A religious life is one that lives to contribute toward the community and its continuance, while a secular life lives only for itself, as though no past or no future existed.  “People are loved who have been able to go beyond their temporary will.” (p.2)

3.The next question is, “How can an independent generation, without loss of character and individuality, enter the interdependence of generations?” (p.2)

ERH  says the answer is given by example of the James family described above, where the spirit of one generation enters that of the next generation.  This describes “how  the spirit of one generation enters the hearts and ears of another generation.”

This is the essence of moral questions. And the response is, each person must begin to act morally, caring for the welfare of others in addition to him/herself. William James, Sr. for example, had brought moral values into his home, down to earth, so to speak.

…the church had come down to earth in every life, and wasn’t dependent on a Sunday service, or on a liturgy, or on any denominational tie-up.

…something denominational just doesn’t work…because everybody feels that we live in a universal society-a greater universe.  And no denomination can cover it totally.  It’s just impossible. (pp.3,4)

4.He points out a “great historical law”,  THAT THE HERETICAL FORM OF AN INSTITUTION, AT THE RIGHT MOMENT, HAS THE POWER TO OUTLAST THE ORTHODOX BECAUSE IT ALREADY HAS A FOOT IN THE FUTURE.  This is because it becomes eloquent in the fact that it is responding to a situation has presented a barrier to progress. (p.5)

***Obviously here he speaks directly about the universal principles common to all serious religions.  How does one realize this power to transcend one generation into another, or, by implication, renew an institution?

By translating all the liturgy, the sermons, the chorales, the hymns, the thoughts, the prayer of the Psalms, of the Church into dinner talk, into breakfast talk, into the witty and cordial exchange, and the affectionate speech between parents and children. (p.5)

5.ERH goes on to show another example in history, of the revolt of the Patricians and Plebes against the Roman Senate, whereby Cneius Flavius broke the taboo of keeping secret the Roman law. (p.5)

During the next few pages he gives several other examples in history of the same phenomenon whereby generations were connected.  And, getting back to the James family, Henry James was a heretic. WHERE, IN OUR PRESENT AGE OF DOMINATING SCIENTIFIC THINKING, WHERE WE WILL NOT ACCEPT THE MORAL PRECEPTS OF THE POPE, OR THE PRESBYTERIANS, OR EPISCOPALIANS, ETC., WE WILL ACCEPT THE SAME IDEAS SPOKEN IN SECULAR LANGUAGE.  The implications of this notion of the HERETIC are fundamental.  It means that no one need become the slave of the organized church, that he/she can serve the community in the name of ethics (when the institution of the church becomes corrupted). One can deny the authority of that institution. (p.6)

6.In the same vein, the older generation cannot claim final authority; the heretic is essential for regeneration when reform is essential. Such heresy is founded on the love for our maker rather than for any earth-bound authority!

The James family was an example of the regenerating unit; in this age of bigness where personal commitment does not carry much power, the family is the unit that must preserve ethics, where they must be taught and lived out.  The reputation of the mindless bureaucrat is the image that one is left with as an alternative, an alternative that is obviously sterile in this age of little dedication beyond self-interest or avoiding blame for failures!

In the case of Henry James, he could inherit the spirit of comradeship better outside the church, but with no intention of weakening the church.

7.Private and public life must be one; there cannot be, as the business men assert, different standards for different institutions in life. THE POWER OF THE SPIRITUAL LIFE DEPENDS UPON OUR WILLINGNESS TO TAKE THE CONSEQUENCES OF OUR DECLARATIONS, OF OUR COMMITMENTS.  THE SPIRITUAL LIFE IS THEREFORE NOT PRIVATE, NOR PUBLIC, BUT OPENLY CONFESSED. In this sense we must live in the open, our commitments known to those around us.

8.Regeneration of our community and the success of our sons and daughters (whether of our own blood or of our community) lies, not in their parroting our ideas, but in their having the same spirit of invigoration and application to what we do, and to seeking and reflecting the truth, and representing the great achievement of the ages.  Our offspring will do it in a different way than we do, but we must have faith that they will do it. [RF – if properly taught, one must add.]

The heretic cannot command that his followers follow his ideas, because his very heresy disqualifies him from such work.  [RF – I’m not sure of the meaning of this notion, the reader is referred to the text.  (p.12)

9.The notion behind heresy is that we know today’s ideas are not the same as those in 1895, nor will they be the same  tomorrow.  But the seeking for truth, the faith in the future, and willingness to change will be the constants that must be passed on.

10.My purpose must be to make myself known to the next age, to belong to all ages, but to represent the past to the next generation so that they may have some reference points by which to judge their own lives.

11.To live a truly religious life is to stand for the whole of creation, the whole community and all that is in it, and for its continuation, its future.  (p.19)

One functions on several levels, for the self, for the family and group, for one’s profession, but ultimately all of this must have its place in creating the good community. “The world as created is good, gentlemen, but it isn’t good enough.”

Chapt. 4

More examples of previous points.

Chapt. 5

1.God is the power in us that allows us to speak.  It is the power to appropriate within us the power of language.

…all your rights to live in a democratic society depend on our conviction that you can appropriate the spirit of the institution in which you live by the power of the word….instead of becoming a product of your environment (as are animals)– you become the creator of your environment–the re-creator of your environment, by this strange volunteering for the affirmation.  (p.1)

2.We are a strange mixture of animal and divinity.  If the community is to survive, one must honor the language, speak the truth and get involved in commitments to the community. When too many people abuse this gift, they believe they can lie, cheat, refuse to get involved, all with impunity; as a result of course, the community degenerates.

3.*** We tend to live in a world filled with much fantasy [RF – Even scientists display this quality, I would suggest. They cling too long to questionable theories, unable to let-go of ideas which seem comfortable.] The world of the mind is safe, comfortably hidden from scrutiny.    It is reality that people often mistrust us, abuse us, our actions are unfruitful, our assessment of how people would respond to us is all off.  This is the price for living too much of our lives in fantasy, in daydreams; we are frustrated by the gap between our beliefs and reality.

Ultimately the way to a fulfilled life is to live as much reality as possible; that is, to not abuse the power of speech!  To find reality, truth (only possible through real speech), is to live a fruitful (religious) life.

4.Our nature, our natural faculties, are our animal part. “Man begins where you declare that your nature isn’t good enough.” (p.5)  We begin to overcome and rise above our nature through development of our spirit, of our soul. This is the process of becoming human in the true (spiritual) sense.

5.We all grow up with the acquiescence of others who forgive us our inanities.  They have faith that one day we will mature and contribute to the community, and respond appropriately to them.  Eventually we will do our part, in other words.  Our innocent youth is analogous to the fruit ripening on the tree. At this time, nothing we say is held against us. Judgment is held in obeyance because of our innocence.  EVENTUALLY, THEN, WE ARE MORALLY OBLIGATED TO PAY SOCIETY BACK. Certainly the argument that none of us asked to be born is irrelevant. We are here and given a gift, and therefore owe repayment whether we like it or not.  We never stop using the language we were taught, or the knowledge passed on to us. EARLY EDUCATION SHOULD BEGIN TO MAKE YOUTH CONSCIOUS OF THIS FACT AND TEACH THEM TO ADMIT THE REALITY OF THEIR CONDITION.

In short, it is our religion to give youth food, shelter, clothing, and most of all appropriate freedom to make up one’s own mind, in spite of the fact that youthful decisions are usually poor ones.  But, most of all, the youth should be taught to realize what they are given.

…the conditions of this freedom are very clear. You cannot do less than we are doing for you.  The society which you have to establish by your own deeds has already certain minimum requirements.  And they are unassailable.  (p.7)

These are the Christian prerequisites of life.  They are also the American, German, Egyptian, Muslim, Buddhist or tribal prerequisites that followed the universal principles of community-building through the ages.

6.TEACHING, is a metaphorical term.  Whoever speaks the truth about reality is in the role of teacher, or father, or mother, or mentor, regardless of age. The role is that of the speaker, and the students, son, daughter, etc. are to be listeners most of the time.  All cultures through the ages have developed and protected the integrity of languages and given this gift to the youth of each generation. This is why anyone who uses and accepts the power of language is admitting the value of religion.

7.        24th book of the Old Testament, the prophet Malachi has a strange prediction.  He says the earth must be cursed, and will perish, unless the parents turn their hearts to their children, and the children turn their hearts to their parents. And…the New Testament is considered the fulfillment of the Old….When Jesus comes, He says that the hearts of the parents now are turned toward their children. But the other held, that the hearts of the children must be turned toward their parents, is left to the Americans to fulfill.  (p.10)

ERH points out that Henry James and his family is an exemplification of this prophesy.  At risk is the future of any community when one denies the wisdom from the past.  THE TEACHER MUST HAVE AUTHORITY AND BE SEEN BY THE STUDENTS TO HAVE THAT AUTHORITY, AND STUDENTS MUST TAKE THAT AUTHORITY ON FAITH AT FIRST.

Chapt. 6

1.Each age tends to live by a dogma, isolated from the past and future.  To survive one must realize this, articulate that dogma, and fight against its parochialism.  “That is what the ancient people called the `question of salvation’.”   We are always called upon to rise above the dogmatism of our own age.

The genius of the just-past age was what created our own age.  An effective heretic must therefore go back, to, not to the letter, but to the creative spirit of the genius of that past age. The other side of the coin is just as necessary, to see the fallacies of that age and let go of them!

It is precisely that spirit of genius from the past age that is greater than our individual spirit, however necessary that individual spirit is; that “received” spirit is what regenerates the universe.  It is the same with church dogma.  Paradoxically, dogma is necessary, but more important is the spirit behind it. The dogma must always be overcome; but the spirit behind it must live on. This universal spirit thus frees us from the dogmatism of our individual spirit.

2.When we abdicate the discipline required to listen to the wisdom of the ages, or the lessons from the past age, we do not have freedom, but live in the prison of anarchy and war. THIS IS WHY WE HAD TWO WORLD WARS. OUR LEADERS DID NOT LEARN THE LESSON OF THAT EXPERIENCE.  These were caused because the past age lived within the dogma of its own age, without listening and disciplining itself with past wisdom.

3.What we do not solve in one generation  arises in the next.  As of today, over-population, politicalcultural isolation (as in Yugoslavia), uncontrolled massive bureaucracies, grossly unbalanced distribution of wealth (between rich and poor, both people and countries), despoiling of nature, disrespect for language, and most of all, lack of concern for the education of the young.

4.We cannot know everything, it is difficult to see the wisdom of a command from an authority or even recognize an authority.  One must learn to obey and be satisfied to learn of the meaning later. Paradoxically, if our leaders are seen to be stupid and slothful, one must react against them (such as when they make decisions for personal expediency, which seems to be common these days). IN SUM, WE MUST BE MORE WILLING TO MAKE SACRIFICES BEFORE WE UNDERSTAND. (p.7) [RF – Of course, ERH’s assertions about accepting commands from leaders “on faith” assumes those leaders deserve this respect. If not, they must be thrown out before the community can move ahead with its problem solving.]

5.***The basic plight and goal of mankind is that one must carry on from the past that which is worth carrying on. But also in our age we must strike out toward new ground, begin anew.

The main question is, …We come too late in our own lives unless we are allowed to continue what is worthwhile, and unless we are going to rely on other people to do with our lives something in continuation. (p.10)

6.Probably, each of us comes too late into our own lives by not understanding what must be continued from the past.  At the very least, we can pass on our own mistakes to others. Thus, our lives are wasted if we do not pass these mistakes on, because we usually cannot see to correct them during our own lives.

But we must also learn authority by having the freedom to discover it.  “Freedom begins with the recognition of necessity.” (Hegel) – just another paradox in living.

7.***We must also learn, and pass on to our children, that we must be, not only contemporaries of our own age, but contemporaries of another age. This is to say that heretics need to have help from another age in order to make their point.

If you are totally nature, then only your own time counts.  If you are not totally nature, you can get out of the accident of birth, the accident of your own time.  But then immediately you must look for allies in other times. (p.13)

Chapter – 7

1.The essence of ERH’s opening comments are based on the notion that WAR is the normal condition of human relations, and every once-in-a-while PEACE breaks out. Furthermore, if one does not take this fact into consideration, wars continue to be the normal course of events.  The cure for this is to prepare for future peace during peacetime, acting as though a war could happen at any moment if one does not anticipate its possibility..

These two realities, war and peace, must be kept in mind all the time; when one does not try to create peace all the time, war is always inevitable.  [RF – ERH believed that war was occasionally necessary because, when  brutes or tyrants are allowed to arise, like McCarthy in the America of the 50’s, or Hitler, or Mladic (in Yugoslavia), people must get rid of them, and this may require violence. If one does not fight them then the brutes continue to rule.

…the double ring of life consists of an alternation between faith and knowledge, between darkness and daylight, between war and peace. (p.2)

War is universal throughout society, including the battle of the sexes, war between friends at times, between boss and worker at times, between businesses – in addition to shooting wars, which are merely one manifestation.

2.One also prevents shooting by not sitting in judgment of others too quickly.  In the U.S. today, we tend to judge too soon the intentions of our enemy, or ignore them until the time for reconciliation has passed. No cause becomes fruitful unless someone is willing to die for it. Concordance results from putting oneself into the other’s shoes.

3.In this next section he dichotomizes rationalism and emotion.

Rational is everything sexless…Rational – (meaning) where no children have to be born and no people die – you can be rational.  But as soon as you get into this mystery, that if you do not sacrifice, there is no continuity of history, you get into the story of Adam into the last judgment day. (p.7)

This is nothing more than another expression of the notion of life always being half war and half peace, half rational and half emotional.  We tend to think like Greeks, i.e. in a world of abstractions, of theories, of ideology. “Plato and Aristotle, left the city of Athens and lived happily ever after in an academy, and taught what they pleased. BUT the result was that the first disciple was Alexander the Great…” (p.7)  In real life one is not free to think just anything, if one wishes to survive.  It was for this reason that ERH believed William James’  MORAL EQUIVALENT OF WAR is nonsense.

4.War comes when the sacrifices of the last war are forgotten. We must admit, he asserts, that we owe our existence to war and to peace.

5.***To be a Christian is to be willing to lay down your life, to make sacrifices for your community. Of the several roles in life, one must be ready and willing to take on any of them as the time demands, to be a civilian, to be a soldier, and to be a martyr. Willingness to sacrifice is what Christianity means. It is to pay the price of creativity, to create a life, a community, or to recreate (regenerate), constantly.  That is what renews life, continues the generations. The meaning of the “virgin birth” in Christianity is to be reborn by a spirit that has been passed to you,  then you become willing to pass it on to another.

To be a Christian is to fight for an integration of mankind, of equality among races, of justice, for example. The Jews believed, for instance, in one God.  This was heresy at that time because rulers were believed to be a god of the religion of that culture. It was for this reason that they were persecuted by almost all cultures.  That antipathy has lived on to a great extent.

6.The true soldier does not hate the enemy, “…only civilians do.”  (p.16)

7.Life is not just physical existence, but also a way of life, a culture.  Thus, fear of death is not just a fear of physical existence, but also for the culture, for the community.   (p.22)  He points out that physical existence, as a total value, is very limited; the French, in his example, were willing to surrender to the Nazis’ rather than to have Paris bombed.  Ironically, it was this very spirit (of value for the physical) that represented the degeneration of the soul of the French at that time.  Sticks and stones were more important than the spirit of the people!

Ironically, the very willingness to sacrifice physical survival for the cultural or spiritual survival of your community,  means that the prospect of war is reduced.   (p.24)

Chapt. 8

1.ERH venerates Jonathan Edwards, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and William James, who “…have rebuilt the American way of life three times.” (p.1)  Edwards put the question of the scientific mind “…squarely into the center of his work…”  In 1758 he was called to become the president of Princeton University, for integrating the church and the “secular brain”, of “…science gone wild on its own.”

2.We pray individually, in the privacy of our homes, but only a congregation can give us understanding of our age and our obligation to it (an obligation that may be against our will and self-interest).  Our personal desires (wills) are of no interest to the world of mankind.   The demands of the community are what are important.  “You don’t go there (to church) for good feelings). (p.3)

3.THE MINORITY in any organization or country or community must rule, that is, if they are the top. However,  he says that if the minority, only, reflect or manipulate the majority for their own selfish benefit, then the minority must not rule.  But the majority are never strong enough to stand on their own feet, they must be morally  led by the  “top minority.”  The prophets are those who should lead.

4.Edwards recognized three communities he needed to address. Each had to be addressed in different ways, just as with the apostles. These were, the fundamental church members (the converted), the agnostics (doubters), and the outright “sinners”, those who opposed the gospels. Each were spoken to in different terms. To the “outsiders” (sinners or intelligencia – people who believe in the dominance of their own willpower), he could point out the shortcomings of their views by reason.

It is a truism however, that the  powers that run the world are not reason, but emotion!  The majority possessed this innate power and were (are) poor in scientific expertise (reason), the intelligencia widened this gap and thereby raised their own importance.

5.Restoring the balance between science and religion was the reform that Edwards sought, after the beginning of the scientific age.

The social problem of humanity is caused by, or deepened because of, different points of view between neighbors. This will always be, but one must also accept the fact that we are one and the same part of humanity. Paradoxically, we remain different, but also the same. The problem is to learn to live together in peace. This is a non-secular assertion.  This unproven fact is not proven by any secular rationalization.

…no self interest can ever explain why the man who is interested in his own aims, and in his own self, has to feel that the people who do not serve his self-interest, like, for example, a good priest, or a good missionary, or a good preacher, or his wife, or his mother, why they are more intimately connected with him, and have more solidarity with him than all the people who he can make jump at his command and at his whim. (p.10)

This isn’t a dichotomy of two opposites, but one between perpetuity and of transiency. The secular world is transient; the ecclesiastical is more permanent.  The secular tendency, as a dominant force, leads therefore to degeneration because it becomes the law of the jungle, survival of the fittest leading to constant war.

6.The true contributors to the community therefore are those who do service without needing to be recognized. PARADOXICALLY, INDIVIDUALLY GUIDED BY OUR CONSCIENCEs WE CEMENT THE ORDER OF THE UNIVERSE, PERPETUATING  THE COMMUNITY AND THE CULTURE. (p.12)

7.The driving force to perpetuate the community is love, not will; love and will are opposites.  Love is like a newborn baby, weak but full of potential, the future.  Will is like the bomb, full of power, but enormously destructive when undisciplined by love.

8.The theme of secular philosophy in the last 300 years is that knowledge, emotions and will should have authority.  But these three qualities do not indicate that we are members of humanity, of a community, and they therefore possess no innate authority to require us to listen to them.

Secularism is an attempt to rival religion as a source of authority, describing the individual as not a member of a church, not married by love to a larger unity, and not taught and inspired by a higher authority. Thus, secularism, at the core, is brute force, pure force!  (p.14)

9.The sinful ego is analogous to Freud’s theory that we are driven by desire, and all of our rationalization is an attempt to justify those desires.  What Jonathan Edwards calls man’s bleakness, despair, blackness, being fettered by his repressions, and his pains and desires, are given in Freud’s analysis.

10.We are free only at certain times, and not at others.  We have freedom of will, but are also driven by desires. We are part god and part animal, and we must learn when to act as one or the other. When we fear, we are not free, and when we do not fear we can be free. Our will is an addiction that can enslave us.  “Freedom is something constantly lost and re-acquired.” (p.16)   The universal prayer in Christianity is to be emancipated from our own will,  because the will isn’t free, and we are god-like when free.

The person who has everything – money, success, women (or men) – no longer belongs to humanity and therefore cannot be taught, or guided, or inspired. He no longer represents the order of the universe in his own time.  When are people free, and when enslaved,  is the crucial question.  The animal is never free.

Chapt. 9

1.ERH differentiates between Greek and Christian.  The Greeks are encyclopedic and objective.  The Christians can love other than themselves.  The Greeks loved only Greek creativity. [RF – interesting statement; meaning that the Christian fundamentalists and homeopaths are Greek in their thinking, not Christian!]  The Greeks might be said to be passionate about ideas in the abstract.  Christianity, by contrast, asserts that mankind must be one, that there must be peace (between the intelligent and the stupid, between different races, and all forces that divide humankind).

2.Romanticism creates a second world, not of our world, but one that supplements it. Romanticism is “…just a world of feelings.”   Fiction is the creation of a second world, a toy, a plaything.  Intellectualism, the worship of ideas,  creates a world where the mind (logic) rules, e.g. Darwinism,  where the brutes exploit all others.

The implication for intellectuals is deep.  The educated classes tend toward Greek thinking, pre-Christian, the veneration of logic.  The time in which we live has nothing to do with the stage of our thinking.  That is, dominant logical, secular thinking is pre-Christian, and it perpetuates violence, exploitation, inequality, etc. THE HISTORICALLY MINDED PERSON KNOWS WHAT HE/SHE WANTS, WHICH IS NOT TO REVERT TO THE WORLD OF PRE-CHRISTIAN, BECAUSE HE HAS LEARNED THROUGH HISTORY WHAT THIS TYPE OF THINKING LEADS TO. (pp. 4,5)

Chapt. 10

1.ERH introduces the problem of choosing, as contrasted with having chosen, in which case  one reduces the arena of choice. In other words, to have order in one’s life, one must choose a point of view that  dictates other choices, and this is PURELY AND SIMPLY ONE’S RELIGION.  Once this occurs, one must become passionate about taking action.  One cannot live a useful life without acting.  One cannot survive always being encyclopedic.  In other words, one cannot survive with Greek thinking, as ERH calls it.

One’s religion must be an end in itself!  It must be all-encompassing, it must be the meaning of one’s life. It is not a means, but an end in itself.  Franklin, the scientist and secularist, said the ends are the means.  Means to what? He doesn’t say; a good life maybe, but that leads to the secular thinking described above. (p.3)

2.The willingness to treat all others as equal, the willingness to serve the community, the ability to experience the joy of giving and receiving, the unwillingness to destroy or to exploit, the willingness to trust and to love,  are all ends in themselves.  When present in one’s spirit, they represent the omnipresence of the divine spirit within us.

Ultimate “ends” and “means” are entirely different things.  Concepts and theories are means, and human beings are ends (hopefully becoming endowed with the divine spirit as defined above). “All escapists hide behind concepts.  The problem is that we often find it difficult, or cannot distinguish means from ends. “This is a terror of life.” (p.7)

3.ERH asserts that historically, Franklin and others subscribing to scientific (Greek) thinking were still accepted as religious members of the community.  But in time that thinking manifested itself into the form of what it always leads to, exploitation, then the wars, racism, ethnic cleansing, hate and exploitation in all its forms.

(RF, My sense is that, unless we believe that our intelligence and our power, is loaned to us, and that the source of our inspiration is one common spirit, then we degenerate into our animal nature of Greek thinking, as ERH calls it.)

The truth is charity, and hope, and faith, every quality of unconditional membership in human society can never be reasoned out by people who say that everything has to be useful.  This talk about enlightened self-interest is just ridiculous. (p.9)

4.The essence of secular humanist/logical thought is that we can have the content of religion without its form.  That we, individually, can decide ethical elements of social life, that we can be masters of our fate.  On the U.S. dollar bill this form of secularism is imagined; the pyramid, the eye of Horus, the 5-pointed star is Egyptian, a pagan star.

5.We live by dogma and cannot avoid it. Our dogma in America is the Constitution, or commonly accepted moral values. I cannot kill you except in self defence, etc.  And, by inference ERH says the existence of a good community is an end in itself.

It is not possible to have an opinion about anything without a dogma. We all depend upon dogmas every day.

The Trinity dogma is  1) everyone believes that God created the Universe, 2) people can redeem (create human community at peace), and 3) humans, acquiring the Holy Spirit is the method by which this could be accomplished.    (p.13)

6.ERH differentiates “real” or sublime literature from mere melodrama; real literature talks about reality, people in ernest trying to deal with life, with undesirable characters, and with man “whole,” not romanticized, into two dimensional characters.

Chapt. 11

1.Useful historical thinking is not just anecdotal, but tries to find the ideas of the ages reflected in the thought and actions of historical persons.  It ties together past, present, and future.

With this perspective one cannot predict from past experience in human society. One must await one’s death or the end of an age before knowing the consequences of actions, because humankind is capable of changing on short notice and taking a new, unpredicted direction, acting on passions or dogma rather than on logic. When a new course of action is taken by a community, we must therefore wait to see all its manifestations.

We can only write the history of George Washington now, and the man who writes this history fifty years from now must write a different and a better story…because he knows better.  (p.2)

2.History is most informative when the long-range consequences are known. Events cannot be understood at their beginning.  In the beginning, Christianity could very well be mistaken for 50 other religions. History begins only when one man’s life leaves an impression on another man’s life.  We can therefore only know the minimum when it spans two generations; this is the atomic unit of history.

3.Faith connected with action reflects one’s personal religion, or one’s manifestation of the religion one proclaims.

Tragedy is not that grief befalls people, but rather that their actions had no influence on others.

…I have taken the liberty of trying to give you the problem of a history of the human spirit, as opposed to the history of the human body, or human bodies of the mortals in us …  (p.9)

…reflecting the relation between the religious and the secular.

4.The problem of the historian is to get into two generations, two different “times.” A generation that follows another either enlarges the first values, or diminishes them, and this can never be predicted by causes, but it can be described after the fact. “By their fruits we shall know them.”  Secular history looks at causes. [RF – As an aside, today we even hear about raising our standard of living, about expanding production and consumption, when in reality we need to lower our standard of living.  Obviously the value of consumption and of free enterprize has become destructive of environment and of the family, as has our allopathic medical practices, our educational system, our courts and justice system,  all revealed to the perceptive observer.  Yet, the destructive nature of these practices has yet to be accepted by the average historian.

5.The story (meaning) of Christianity can be destroyed if one looks only at individual lives SEPARATELY. The major point of Christianity is that we see two generations as a unit; for example,  the life of Jesus and that of the Apostles.  Jesus laid out the ideas, then died and turned everything over to the Apostles.  THIS MEANS IN PART THAT EVEN THE LOWEST FISHERMAN COULD INHERIT THE SPIRIT OF GENIUS.  This was the first time in history that the unity of generations was proclaimed, and that is why it heralded the beginning of a new era.

6.A universal story meant that now all peoples could understand their relation to other generations, and therefore how to live in relation to others in the present. (p.15)

7.Here ERH takes off on an essentially new and significant idea, that Christianity also means that one must decide the economics between spending all one makes, or planning for sustained resources for future generations.  This is the whole problem of the capitalistic system, that it has failed to restrain greed or to consider sustaining future generations. [RF – The excuse is, “Technology will solve the problem”, while ignoring abundant facts to the contrary. Atomic waste is one of many examples.]

8.Paul never quotes Jesus, he lives the holy spirit instead.  Speaking with or claiming AUTHORITY does not derive from quoting others, but rather from living an idea and paying the price for doing so!  (p.17)

9.Americans are usually half-hearted, practicing one thing and acting on only part of the idea.  We claim to be democratic, but revere police and pay a heavy price (perhaps too much) for order in our communities.  Instead of preventing crime, we put money into prisons and punishment.

Obviously we need both centralized and decentralized decision-making, but the problem is how much of each, and how to bring balance. In other words, we should seek to be neither extreme  centrist or decentrist but rather progressive, balancing each according to the demands of the situation.

10.ERH asserts that the great decisions of history have nothing to do with morality of the individual who takes action.  It has everything to do with whether those decisions support the great movements and allow for progress.  Even the criminal can be redeemed if he/she carries out the right acts to help the community. “…if you have this sixth sense of history, you are fit for the kingdom of Heaven.”  (p.21)

11.The condemnation of Greek science or Greek philosophy is valid only when science and secular philosophy lead our thinking, rather than being led by the Christian principles.  We need science, but it is not an end in itself!

Chapt. 12

1.Secularism means one lives by one generation. To live only in one generation renders one impotent, unable to regenerate the culture.

2.To create a future one must be in earnest and disciplined in that direction.  In today’s world, people get ahead who smile, who are pleasant, and sympathetic, friendly, who “get along.” However, he asserts,  “Fruitfulness is not amiability.” (p.3)

[RF – ERH’s statements in this segment about loving  the opposite as meaning fruitfulness is not developed and seem to me un-understandable at this time.]

Chapt. 13

1.The soul is different from the mind.

2.Nature is neither good nor bad, it just is.  The notion is fundamental to beliefs of the secularistsnaturalists like Thoreau and Emerson and  Franklin, who held that nature is good and society is corrupted.  The point is, we cannot take our cues from the animal kingdom.  Their nature doesn’t change, but ours does every day.

3.We require and must live in more than one generation because our own is too limited, too parochial, too self-centered.  To live in another generation also renders the ability to make a comparison and thus, to see reality better.

The act of seeking the truth, no matter where it leads, always connects us with all of humanity, and this act is much more important than that of our own lives. (p.7)

4.To seek truth then is to be able to compare our own beliefs with something else, validating experience, so to speak, to find a higher truth.

Chapt. 14

1.[RF – the essay is rather abstruse here, but I believe he is making a distinction between seeing our fellow humans disconnected from ourselves. We often think of each other “objectively,” which makes our fellow humans into (its). This becomes a barrier to seeing one’s fellow humans with compassion. The difference is profound because we cannot really objectify our sense of interpersonal relations without separating ourselves from others, putting ourselves outside their lives.  To put ourselves outside their lives means disconnection; “we cannot take or give orders to them.” ]

Ultimately, to be unable to consider ourselves a member human  is to act in an animal way.   IT IS ONLY IN RELATION TO OTHERS THAT WE CAN RISE ABOVE AND GROW OUT OF, OUR ANIMAL NATURE.  This means to be capable of speaking to another. To exercise this choice, i.e. to be either part of, or consciously separate ourselves from others, is the only type of freedom we have as humans, and we possess this freedom only by virtue of communication.

2.Human beings cannot fathom why they think, unless they confront themselves with the fact that they, or a loved one, will die some day, or has died.

3.We think because we know we will die. “If only we would live (indefinitely), we would not think.” (p.6)

Our experience teaches us different things about life, and we are constantly fluctuating in our opinions about that experience.  To generalize (to think analytically) is to stabilize our thinking, to ascertain some truth about life.  And to ascertain truth inevitably leads us to see death all round us. We attempt to see our destiny, and we measure belief in a cause to the extent that we will die for it. Thus in our history we cannot avoid martyrs.

4.Catastrophes always bring out the more profound forces in humans. Catastrophe, risk, destiny, and the destiny of mankind  “…becomes only known by those acts of yours where you risk your life.”

5.FIVE RINGS OF IMMEDIACY :  These indicate the descending importance of risks we take in life.  The first four are essential for living, the last represents greed.

a.  Any event that demands death is most important.

b. Any event that demands personal devotion, dedication, standing up and being “counted”, i.e. a marriage, taking an oath of office etc.

c.Loyalty to some cause

d.Criticizing, but not acting (this is what most do, most of the time according to ERH)

e.To have an “attitude” an opinion, to describe, only events, puts one outside society.  The business tradition tends to live in this sphere, little loyalty, as little risk as possible, not to take a stand unless one must. The attitude is self-centered.

All of t his revolves around willingness to sacrifice (self) for the community. The first four are “living” – the fifth is just greed.

6.These are important rules for the continuation of the community. All persons must be concerned with the destiny of the community, because without it all individuals perish.  All of the first four are  essential, one cannot pick and choose if one wishes to find peace and progress.

7.To speak of the destiny of mankind is to know what has allowed society to progress, and to know that those qualities in the community must persist.  This means law, civil rights, economics, education, etc, all must exist in any generation.

8.To know all these things is to know that the past, present and future are one unit of time, and then one lives across the generations.



Feringer notes
Last edited: 12-98


Lecture 1

1.A universal history is beneficial for comparisons   between different political orders, and to identify change in terms of progress or retrogression. For instance, change in classical Greece brought both  strength and weakness.  Their brand of Humanism could tolerate  but not accept other political systems surrounding them; they could never achieve peace, except temporarily. On the other hand, their invention of philosophy, and with it the concept of generalization,  freed them to see themselves and others objectively. Their development of poetry  freed them to see others differently:  “…a man can see himself and somebody who lives in another order, as friends.” (p.2)

2.In the past we have had no universal history because Greek scholars assumed that all things (Western) began with the Greeks, when in fact their culture was not invented full-blown but built upon Egyptian and  tribal customs. (p.1)

3.The Bible is a basis for a universal history because it contains all phases of  mankind, including Greeks. The Greeks could never establish anything political,  however, because they were poets and philosophers, neither of which advocates taking  political action. THE ILLIAD REPRESENTS A COMPLETE REFLECTION OF THE GREEK CONTRIBUTIONS.

4.ERH organizes this essay to establish some of the basic lessons from history  about mankind, and thus why a Universal History is important to teaching people these basic lessons.

a.God, the tribe, Jews, and empires  “..feel eternity whenever they officiate”  WHAT IS NOT ETERNAL. This is to say, when they officiate what is unique, individual. The Bible’s  great lesson is that humankind will die, and life must be organized around this fact.

b.The idea of “self” was born by the Greeks about 1,000 B.C. Before that time,   the individual was like a cog in some association,  all individuals seen as the same in the tribe  and nation as well.  Thus, human uniqueness was not a reality.  To relax, to read and write poetry as the Greeks did, is to attend the “self” and to conceive one’s self-consciousness.

c.Modern psychology makes the mistake of seeing the “self” as coming first, but  this concept is not historically accurate. Our first consciousness is that of being a part of something else.

d.Four different forms of the Greek spirit evolved,  1) epics (narrative dramas of Homer), 800 BC,  2) tragedy, 400-500 BC,  3) philosophy, 387-300 BC,  4) literature and Alexandrian period  philology, poetry, encyclopedias, 300 BC,  during periods of Greek history.

5.In general,  ERH attempts in this essay to show us that, unless one can see what changes have been made by different cultures, and what differences there are, then:

…they don’t know where they have to be liberals, and where they have to be fighters, and where they have to be family members, and where they have to patriots. (p.11)

These are the conditions under which tragedy might occur (e.g.  The Persian war’s effect on Greece).

The great problem of each era is to change, to rise above the problems at hand, and unless we can see our ways clear, to see how others through history have changed, to see phases by which change occurs. Unless there is a universal history we will be stuck within our own society, with no peace within or without.  Contrarily, cultures that believe the world began and will end within the time period of their culture have no way of identifying and understanding the consequences of their beliefs.

Universal History – 1951 – Review

This is a fragment that more or less outlines purpose and issues raised in the more complete series of lectures on the same subject dated 1967.  However, in this essay he emphasizes the place of the Greeks and their contribution as a summation of previous tribal and “sky empire” cultures and as a preparation for Christianity.  He asserts also that the Bible is the first universal history.


Lectures 1-6
Feringer notes
Last edited: 10-98


Lecture – 1

1.Universal history must rest on several premises: 1) the unity of all humans, 2) the evolution of fundamental attitudes toward the world  (i.e. who is man and what is his place in the world?),  and 3) attitudes and values likely to create a community voluntarily at peace.  These questions unify all movements and concepts of reality throughout history.  What we learn from a universal history is how we might regenerate our communities, unify the world, and create a society that will allow mankind to survive physically and grow spiritually.

2.ERH identifies four  basic sets of concepts, sources of our knowledge about reality: 1) tribal (pre-Homeric), 2) the great “sky” empires of Egypt, China, Babylon, etc., 3) Greek (beginning with Homer), and 4) Jewish. ERH sees each of these four  as important, but incomplete in itself.   Christianity  integrates these four approaches into a unity.

3.Tribal cultures taught us to look to the past as authority for guidance. This was called by anthropologists “ancestor worship.”

4.Empires, so-called discovered through star observations, that there was order in the universe, and thus created the foundation for science.

5.Greek philosophy mainly encompasses 1) mind, which we call intellect, 2) will, and 3) sentiment.  These three-mind, will, sentiment – are the gods of Greek thinking. The will wants, the intellect defines, and feeling sentimentalizes the environment. (p.3/1) These are the gods called humanism.  Will deals with things “outside”, love deals with the people who follow us, creating future.  Love and will are mutually exclusive. Will makes you a god, while love causes you to give yourself to others.  Will is management, and  love is mutual inspiration. THE GREEK MIND IS ONE‑SIDED INDIVIDUALISM. dominated by the male.  (p.7/1)

The Greek is at home away from home, e.g. in today’s jargon “at the office.”  Today, both man and wife are away from home, uprooted.  Thus, the suppression of feminine consciousness and preoccupation with Greek thought encourages homosexualist’s, break-up of the home, divorce, etc.

6.Jewish belief, supports the voice of prophecy and  the gods of Jewish thinking are love, hope, and faith. The soul is between hope and faith. Hope defines the future in terms of what knowledge from the past needs to continue, in addition to our present state of insights about what should change from the present. Faith  puts the future above the past, divesting oneself of definitions, (p.3/1)  Love is the arbiter between hope and faith – it tells you how much love balances naive hope against overstating faith.    Here the wife and daughter are  “…prominent features of the soul.” (p.7)  Their faith in the future is the major quality of the female soul.  TO THE GREEK MIND, TEMPERANCE, JUSTICE, AND COURAGE ARE UNDERSTANDABLE, WHILE FAITH, LOVE AND HOPE ARE, UN-UNDERSTANDABLE.  (p.10)

Who gets up in the morning because he is intelligent!? Rather it is because he’s full of hope.  Why work?  Because one loves one’s family.  Why go into politics? [RF – in the best sense of the word!]  Because one has faith in the future.

“…love is only possible (necessary?) because of our deficiencies.”  (p.13)

“Nature” tends toward advantages, favoring that which has more sun-light, is stronger, has more money, etc.   HUMANISM IS BASED ON WHAT IS “NATURAL” (on that which is external in the world). CHRISTIANITY IS BASED ON OUR DEFICIENCIES  (that which is “internal”).

7.Christianity,  “…is that institution which has tried to reconcile the Greek mind and the Jewish soul.  Christianity is a synthesis of antiquity, and it had to reconcile tribe, empire, Homer, and the prophets…..We today have to create out of the Christian experience the mind and the soul’s experiences.” (p.13)

Some crucial distinctions can be summarized in terms of three basic attitudes toward life, to wit: 1) The Greek believes all reality is  in the world and is natural, and one must adjust to it. 2) The Jews believe man is a sinner and eventually goes to God (out of the world).  3) The Christian believes he comes from God (out of the world), and enters  the world to create community. Thus, he needs to be reborn, re-incarnated,  regenerated, and changed each day.

The Christian is born every day.  The Jew leaves the world every day. The Greek adjusts himself to the world with the help of mutual recognition. …The Christian takes it upon himself to return to this world, and to encounter it. (p.15)

Obviously all three are necessary elements to living.

There is a paradox between allegiance and non-allegiance.  Clearly we need both, which Christianity recognizes.  Tribal and “empire” life had only one allegiance and possessed unity, but no freedom.  The Greek and Jew had other allegiances, but difficulty in unity.  Christianity attempts to unify these by causing revolution (change) each day.

Such revolution presents constant difficulties (paradoxes) as we experience  life.  In revolution,  the law must be changed.  On the other hand, woe be unto he to breaks the law.

Lecture 2

1.MULTIFORMITY.  The Roman says, once a Roman, always a Roman.  The Jew says the same about Judaism. The Christian says, we are all of these things, Romans (when in Rome…), Jews (with a soul) , but the Greek (with a mind/will/sentiment) depending upon the situation and need.

2.ANTI-CHRIST means man sees himself as god, and in so doing is against the brotherhood of man. (p.2/2)  Christianity attempts to unify – one humanity, one human race.

3.Each of the four  –  tribe, empire, Greek, Jew – is an approach to humanity.  Christianity, in attempting to unify these,  says the world is outside man because it is man’s soul that determines his “confronting” of the world, and he has the freedom to decide at each moment what course to take (of the four).

4.ACHIEVEMENT BY INDIRECTION.  “…to achieve anything in life, you must never aim at it.  It must always be the by-product of your highest aim.” (p.4)  Americans, ERH claims, are constantly unhappy because they seek happiness directly.  Unless we are willing to sacrifice self-interest we will never achieve it.  “He who wants to have a soul will lose it; and the man who is ready to lose his soul, will gain it.”  (p.5)

If you can admit that something is true, it is against everything you are interested in, then the truth will hit you.  Then you begin to live. (p.6)

5.Christianity and social unit,. mean  not only one human family over the world (treating, with equal concern, all people), but also unity through time, “…from the beginning of time to the end.” (p.7)

6.Surviving through time.  As individuals we must learn to survive through time.  Could we survive the end of the United States and still feel strong?  We must be willing to do this,  then to work to re-establish the spirit of the U.S. Thus, ERH left Germany and said to himself he could no longer be a German.  All immigration implies this choice. “Every man in the Christian era has a double allegiance.  He has to give God what is God’s, and to Caesar what is Caesar’s.” (p.9)

7.ON CHRISTIANITY AND DEATH;  “…Christianity is always based on a four-fold death.”  This is to say that in order to create a decent community and change and grow, one must be willing to sacrifice, or let go of certain things; 1) One must be willing to die for a cause, or to let go of his personal aims,  2) to let go of our government, 3) to let go of the boundaries of our region, and 4) to let go to the “…spirit of his own day, of his own time.”  (p.10)

8.ERH claims that today we are in a position where Christianity has lost its hold on the country. Christianity has lost sight of its aims, its spirit.

9.Christianity in the first 1,000 years  was established by the actions of four great monks. Jerome, who established that God’s word was not only in a single language, that it could and should be translated, and continue so in every generation.

Anthony said that not only Egypt’s fertile valley was “God’s country,” but the whole earth (he lived in the desert.)

Augustine taught us to go beyond the boundaries of the empire. Christianity was universal. God’s world and Caesar’s are different.  “Give unto Caesar…”

Athanasious was a revolutionary, against the government, against emperor gods.

Through these men, the evidence, validity, and philosophy  of Christianity was established.

Lecture 3

1.Modern humanism is impotent because it analyzes, and criticizes,but  then fails to act.   Anthony, St.Augustine, Jerome, and Athanasius were powerful for Christianity because they did act; they did sacrifice. THIS WAS WHY THE SPIRIT OF CHRISTIANITY COULD CARRY BEYOND AND RISE ABOVE THE TIMES.

2.”…the West is in decline, and that only the planet can revive it.  (p.2)  By this ERH means that  the West can revive only if it learns from the rest of the planet.  [RF, certainly the decline of U.S. credibility and power in the rest of the world confirms this notion expressed 25 years ago.]

3.We are born into a hostile world,  which we must come to love.  [RF – if we are to survive and create peace.]  We must love all of the world, that is, even the unlovable elements. The meaning of THE CITY OF GOD  is that belief in God’s world is essential to helping us through the dark night of this world’s experiences.  We must have faith that this can occur.  This is what is meant by getting outside time and space by means of our faith. [RF – dreams would be an example of “outside time and space.”]

4.Every generation in the Christian era depends upon reincarnations of the assertions of Jerome, Augustine, Anthony and Athanasius. (p.10)  (That is, someone in each generation should make these acts manifest in their own way.)  The 19th century literary figure, Herman Melville, in his novel , MOBY DICK created a metaphor for reincarnating these four acts.

The four evangelists speak to four different points. 1)Matthew spoke to non-Jews, writing against the Hebrews, the 12 tribes.  2) Mark wrote  against the Egyptians and their star worship, 3) Luke addressed the Greeks, relating their philosophy to its place in Christianity. And lastly, John spoke to the Christian converts. ALL TOOK ACTION, just as did the four after them, in 300 AD.

The church tries to help everyone acquire the power to get outside time and space. (p.13) [RF – If I understand this concept correctly, it means living not according to the mores of one’s own time, but the mores that ought to come true in the future.]

5.How does one acquire this power? Only by contagion, by example and in fellowship. One protects another; one has a place to flee when persecuted.

6.The second millennium is the era of revolutions against the four distortions of ancestor worship, star worship, poetry and systems worship, and prophecy worship; each was important but incomplete in itself.  (p.14)

These revolutions were replaced by the concept of “world” as one world. ERH claims the second millennium repeats the feats of the great empires in that it developed modern science. The 19th century was the age of domination of modern scientific thinking.

7.In the third millennium, we must now re-establish tribal interpersonal relations, but extend  them throughout the world. This will take the place of the tribes of antiquity, re-establishing the family of man on a global scale.

8.Six revolutions must be reincarnated each generation. During the  second millennium, the first three of these revolutions were instigated by monks who re-entered the world to become revolutionaries, Pope Gregory VII, St. Francis of Assisi, and Martin Luther. The second three were gentlemen who re-entered the world to become revolutionaries,  Cromwell, Napoleon and Lenin.

In short, all power in this world corrupts and must be opposed by a “Spiritual sword.” (p.19)    Gregory VII thus led the church into social action for the purpose of separating the spiritual role of rulers from that of spiritual leadership.  This was the inception of the movement to separate  church from state.

St. Francis freed us from oppression by proposing rotation of governments.  Luther freed us from oppression of church corruption and established “the nobility of the professional man.” (p.20)

Then came the three secular revolutions, English  (Cromwell and the right of citizens to bear arms), French/American and Russian all of which were universal revolutions.  The English limited the king’s powers, the French established universal civil rights, and the Russian,  limited industrial monopolies in their  move toward total control over  production.


1)Lasting and positive change in  the world can only be achieved when built on a foundation of          spiritual power,   because the physical powers of the world cannot correct themselves .  Society can only be moved by pressures from the outside itself.

2)  Every secular power must be short-lived.

3) Action in the physical world is always in motion, either expanding or retracting, but never static. These revolutions represent that which left to themselves, always oppress. Gregory VII mitigated the power of emperors by making the church a counter political power. St. Francis countered the hereditary power of the state by insisting it be transient, even within the formal church organization. Luther fought corruption within the church and dignified the professional man.

4)The English, French,  and Russian revolutions were world revolutions as well. Cromwell introduced the right to bear arms against the state, or for the state to maintain a professional army.

Gregory said the worldly powers must be opposed by spiritual power. The world never moves by itself; we all must be motivated and our tendency is to remain static, stable.  God and saints are prime movers.

10.All movements (revolutions) try to make things revolve, while kept in balance.  The heroes of the second millennium are not saints, but revolutionaries. (p.24)

Lecture 4

1.The 2nd millennium of the Christian era tried to keep the achievement of the first millennium, the establishment of the church, and added to it the establishment of the “world” of mankind as a unit, where kings are no better than aristocrats, aristocrats no better than gentry, and gentry no better than commoners. And to accomplish this meant a rotation of roles in all countries. The high may fall, and the low may rise,  no person should “own” another.

2.Progress toward such goals is the aim of all revolutions.  Gregory, St. Francis, Luther, Cromwell, Napoleon, Lenin are examples Revolutionary people.   Gregory VII conceived the church as a world organization. (p.3)

3.The church is to be the builder of the spirit, which is the inner strength to stand up against all things material to the extent that materialism gets in the way. To create a good society takes spiritual strength.

The world is transitory, the spirit is everlasting.

ERH points out, through history,  how these revolutions have been fought to reflect the ideas for progress and freedom.

4.ERH also makes a powerful and convincing statement as to why we must learn more than one language,  to get “outside” our own culture,  as a sort of addendum for method in all of this. The core principle stated here is that to learn another language allows us to see ourselves to some extent as others see us.  And it keeps us from becoming too nationalistic or isolationist.

5.ERH expounds on and excoriates the notion of “liberalism” because it eulogizes thought as separate from language, as though thought were possible without language. LANGUAGE, real speech, speech about important matters is powerful, potent and potentially dangerous,  and may get one into trouble when acted upon. Liberals have a reputation of thinking only, but not acting – as academics tend to do!

The “liberal” attitude, in the process of discounting language, DOES NOT TAKE SERIOUSLY THE RABBLE ROUSERS, who by definition, often practice zealotry:

All the liberals end in nationalism.  The sons of the liberals have all become Nazis, in Germany.  The end of a liberal is always that his son becomes a fascist.  (p.17)

The core of the idea is that rationalism becomes an organizing principle. But, when there is minor anarchy, when there are many minorities, and many languages,  no one can conquer.  By implication, if  the liberals organize, then we cannot be conquered by rabble rousers. (p.18)

I firmly believe that the intellect has run away with Marxians, and that anybody who lives out of the intellect is always, remains sterile.  Marxism is a thought-out revolutionary theory, and therefore will bear no fruit….this time the war itself is the revolution….And the intentionally made revolution is child’s play compared to that.  … civil war…Now when a whole world is at war the only peace you can make is for the world…the real revolution…is planetary man versus national man. (pp.20-21)

6.The second millennium was devoted to revolution, to the rotation of governments. The church (universal) has been established. The physical world has been discovered.  WHAT IS YET UNDISCOVERED IN THE 3RD MILLENNIUM?  ERH’s firm answer is “mankind,” the re-establishment of the family, the tribal family to become universalized from the tribe.

The world revolution began with the Russian revolution in 1917 after WWI , and ended with the Russian revolution at the end of WW II.

“…we are now in the midst of living in one world, but not one family.  And therefore we are all divided in our loyalty.  Every one of us two parties….Man is ambivalent. (RF – multiform)  He has more than one valence.  And he must be occupied, and he must be able, you see, to operate a switchboard.  (p.