Richard Feringer's Notes on Rosenstock-Huessy's Works

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.