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Sep 18, 1995 00:49 AM
by K. Paul Johnson

This weekend I received the September issue of Ergates, a new
project of the San Francisco ULT lodge. Perhaps my posting my
address here is already reaping benefits, and I thank Rich who
I presume put me on the mailing list.

Every new Theosophical journal is reason for celebration, and I
am glad to receive this one. However, the lead article gives
some advice that I think can be/has been harmful to perception
of the Theosophical movement:
Many associates of U.L.T. are aware that in the May 1995 issue
of Smithsonian magazine, an article by Edward Hower portrayed
H.P.B. and Colonel Olcott as dubious characters out to deceive
others with their Theosophical Society and spiritualistic

PJ- From my correspondence with the article's author, I never
got the sense that this was his intention, nor does the article
itself confirm such an accusation. Some of the captions were
disrespectful, and Hower is no Theosophical fundamentalist.
However, he is a TS (Adyar) member, and feels respect for the
Founders. I have been accused of similar "character
assassination" by a ULT associate. Perhaps at the root of this
misunderstanding is the idea that any work which conflicts with
the ULT interpretation of the Founders is an attack on them.

The article goes on to say that Smithsonian received 33 letters
from Theosophists about the article, and several times that
number might have been sent had Theosophists been "organized
and informed in a timely manner. Therefore, Ergates hopes to
keep track of misleading and unfair publications on Theosophy
and its Founders, and to keep its readership informed." The
article then goes on to announce a new article in Wired for
July, which is offensive to Ergates, and encourages readers to
send letters of protest.

Theosophists who write letters denouncing books and articles
should understand several things which the Ergates writer
seems to ignore. The effect of an onslaught of orchestrated
protest letters is to alienate the publication in question and
to make Theosophists look like anti-intellectual cultists.
Smithsonian, no doubt, it well on the way to seeing
Theosophists as akin to Scientologists, Christian Scientists,
Eckists, etc., cults which try to intimidate any publication
that discusses them in less than worshipful terms. When I
wrote a piece for Gnosis, when I got a good review in the
Quest, and when another came in the NYTBR, ULT associates
rushed to the fore with letters of denunciation. In the case
of Gnosis, I know what impression the editors got; in the case
of NYTBR it cannot have been helpful for a ULT Theosophist to
take out a large ad denouncing the publication itself, in its
own pages, as well as two reviewers and two authors.

Those who feel called to write letters in response to recent
books and articles should ask themselves, "what kind of
impression of the Theosophical movement does my letter
convey?" If it conveys the impression of a bunch of fanatics
who want to control all discussion of their favorite topic, who
feel justified in attacking anyone who has a different
approach, who have no respect for the literary or scholarly
virtues of works they disdain for sectarian reasons-- then it
hurts the cause. What cause? The cause of productive effort
to increase appreciation for HPB and her teachings.

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