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Re: holdermans; hitler

Oct 29, 1994 07:44 PM
by Arthur Patterson

Hi Jerry,

Here is my response to your letter. I enjoyed thinking about what
you had written and am grateful to you for your offer of
resourcing. I hope the formating is not a problem, I downloaded
and wrote the response.

Jerry 1>I was stunned to read your post of 10/27.  We live in
Turlock, a major center for the Holdermans, who broke away from
the Mennonites because they considered them to liberal.  I have
two friends from this group who experienced much the same
shunning as you did.  They were not given the benefit of an
explanation--they were just told to set themselves right with

Arthur 1> This tendency to desire more and more purity is part
and  parcel of the sectarian perspective. I see it in many groups
that seek to live a more disciplined or higher life than the
collective. The early Anabaptists from which the Mennonite,
Hutterites and Halderman come were differentiating themselves
from the more lax Lutherans and Calvinist. Their emphasis on
discipleship and suffering got them into a denial of the world
situation. Little did many Mennonites realize that they created a
"new world" with its lower instinctual legalism. This has harmed
many who are unaware of the difficulty of breaking out of the
earth bound perspectives.

It is extremely difficult to break the habits even though you may
change your ideology. There are legalistic New agers, dare I
imagine Theosophists?, legalistic Liberals as well as legalistic
Fundamentalists. Because we share the same propensity toward
demanding conforming and being intolerant I think it important to
find the roots of dogmatism in something larger, perhaps more
spiritual than any given ideology.

Jerry 2> No doubt you are in touch with how deeply hurt they were
to be suddenly pushed away from the very community of people they
grew up in.  One is married to a theosophist who belongs to our
group. The other is still going through the pain of separation.

Art 2> Yes, it is terrible to be ostracized and judged. I was
talking to an anthropology professor who I haven't connected with
and he had some interesting perspectives on self identity. He
told me that you are who you belong to. I know there is more to
it that that but this is helpful in looking at any form of
separation. When I separated from my job as a minister my
identity so changed over a few years that I had to symbolize it.
I do so by using the name Arthur instead of Paul now. I was Paul
and still am to my older friends but I use Arthur on the net and
when I write. It follows the practise of renaming given in the
Christian Scriptures and indicates "new birth".

I am certain of the continuity between the identities but I know
that to move forward I need to make some symbolic changes. Its
not as radical as it may sound since my first name was Arthur but
my parents called me Paul. The symbol indicates the the
separation is deep.

Jerry 3> I plan to give them copies of your post the next time of
see them.

Art 3> Please do and if they want to correspond my snail mail
address is:

Arthur Paul Patterson
694 Victor Street
Winnipeg, Manitoba
Canada, R3E 1Y5

Jerry 4> It seems that you have already done quite a bit of
exploring outside of your tradition.  With Theosophy, you have
discovered the historical beginning of the promulgation of many
of those ideas you have already discovered in other philosophies,
so I'm sure that you will find a lot that is already familiar.

Art 4> Indeed. I am however at the very beginning of my formal
Theosophical search. Some people have suggest that I start with
Steiner because he is more Western as opposed to HPB. Let me know
what you think.

What I understand from what you say is that Theosophy has to do
with the roots of human spirituality. The grand over arching
schemata so to speak. I hope that it is true. I need some work at
intergration. I have deep doubts that it is because I have hear
claims to ultimacy before and am slightly suspicious but I am
also open to testing. Unlike my former conversions I am not going
to swallow things without passing them through what I have
already tested to be experientially sustaining. So I follow a
hermeneutic of experience with a dose of suspicion.

Jerry, I wanted to ask about "history". Are we talking about
"heilsgeschite", salvation history here or is there a literal
group of Mahatmas or a literal civilization of Atlaneans? In my
studies I have found that symbolist interpretation helps me more
than historial critical or literal ones. For instance the
evangelical believes in Creation in seven days with a talking
snake to boot. I believe the Creation account is a polemic
response to other competing religious mythologies and not a
scientific account of what happened. This of course demands that
the meaning of Creation be addressed at the deeper level. The
meaning would be that there is a sovereign God called YHWH who is
not in competition and creates in peacefulness. etc... I could go
on but won't... You do see however what I mean is HPB to be taken
literally or symbolically?
Jerry 5>I feel that the most central book--that reaches to the
heart of what the theosophical movement is about, is ~The Voice
of the Silence~ by H.P. Blavatsky.  I would be very interested in
your response to the work.

Art 5> I went out directy and bought this book. I started reading
it and find it very eastern but not unfamiliar. Being a novice I
am unfamiliar with the Tibetian, Hindu terms but when I read in
the index I am familiar with concepts that seem parallel in some
of the traditions I have looked into.

What I would like to do if anyone is interest is to read very
small snippets of this book. And then translate them into the
familiar concepts and interact with each other on the list. I
will post something on say the first few sentences on the
Fragment and then have those who know much more than I comment on
my response, make their own more informed comments and continue
in that manner. Does this seem possible on the listserv, Jerry?
Perhaps there is a better way of doing this but let me know.

Jerry 6> On the other hand, theosophy means a lot of things to a
lot of people, and there are many "Theosophical Societies" in
this world, each with very different traditions.  The only link
they all have in common is Blavatsky.  In this country there are
four main organizations, plus a lot of independent students who
are associated with none of them.

Good luck on your search.  Needless to say, I already feel a
connection to your experiences, because of those of my two
friends here.  If you need any information or resources, I'm more
than glad to help.  I have a background of over 30 years in
theosophy, and a special interest in the core teachings of
theosophy and in theosophical history.

Art 6> Thank you for your offer of resources I hope I have not
been too over eager in my pursuit of understanding Theosophist
thought. My suspicions are things I want to overcome - its the
way I am beginning to learn now.

Under the Mercy,

Arthur Paul Patterson

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