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Re: Theos-World ACT Newsletter

Mar 31, 1998 10:27 AM
by Bart Lidofsky

    I have just read the ACT newsletter. Not surprisingly, I have mixed views on
it (though mostly positive). Before anything else, I would like to point out
that I think it was a mistake to announce the web-site in its current state; as
I mentioned before, the web-site gave a false impression that it was one person
trying to build up a real organization from a fake one. If it had been even
somewhat complete, it would not have done so (for example, notable in its
absence was the list of the ACT Steering Commitee, which DID exist). In the
future, remember that, contrary to popular opinion, content is more important
than format on the Web. Look at Rudolfo Don's page to show that you can have a
well-designed page without a lot of bells and whistles (we will ignore the
controversy about whether or not an individual member can represent the TSA
without the permission of the TSA).

    In any case, as far as the objects go, I have no quarrel with most of them,
but I would like to comment on a few. If I do not make any comment, it can be
assumed that I am in complete agreement with them. Please note that in most of
those principles on which I comment, the disagreement is in detail, not

#3) I am in partial agreement with this. Still, there has to be some mechanism
for removing a member from the TSA, especially if they have been removed from a
local Lodge for cause. For example, if someone came into members meetings, and
was physically violent on a regular basis, a Lodge would hav reasonable cause to
rescind the membership, and National should also be able to rescind that
membership as well. I have no problem with making it more difficult to do,

#4) Bylaw #9 alone does not remove teh autonomy of Lodges. Lodges could be
dissolved by a simple majority of the Board of Directors before then. What Bylaw
#9 did was remove some of the harmful consequences of doing so. I feel that the
PURPORTED purpose of Bylaw #9 (to prevent an outside group from taking over a
Lodge and transferring the property to that group) is a good idea. Therefore,
there are two problems: preserving TS property, while preserving the autonomy of
the individual Lodges. The key, in my opinion, is not on Bylaw 9, but in the
rules for dissolving Lodges. If Bylaw 9 ceased to exist tomorrow, National could
still dissolve a Lodge with a simple majority vote.

#5) In terms of membership lists, I would prefer a compromise, where individual
members can decide whether or not they wish their information to be distributed.
I would HOPE that the members of ACT would not want personal information about
individual members released without their permission.

#6) See #5. I like the phrase, "as required by statute".

#7) I am generally in favor of this, but have no idea of the cost of doing so.
It would probably be a good idea, in terms of future examples, if an estimated
cost could be given, to show that it is not prohibitive.

#8) There IS a difference between a doctrine, a teaching, and a dogma. Also, for
purely technical reasons, I am in favor of splitting the Quest from the American
Theosophist again. The Quest, I feel, should be general interest, while the
American Theosophist should be TS oriented.

#9) The E.S. was created to be a separate section of the T.S. It's purpose is
pretty much for those who wish to fully accept T.S. doctrine as correct. While
the E.S. does not publish its hierarchy, the information can be gained by asking
a member. Also available for the asking is what goes on in E.S. meetings. I hope
you don't mean to say that if someone agrees with T.S. doctrine, they should not
be allowed to lead the T.S.! (Note that, having inquired about the E.S. myself,
I have a number of problems with the way it is currently run, and am not and do
not intend to be an E.S. member).

#10) I STRONGLY agree. I have a major problem with group meditation (invariably,
about 10 minutes into it, I develop a need to cough, and spend the rest of the
"meditation" painfully stifling the cough). In the New York Theosophical
Society, we make an extra effort to avoid making people who do not participate
in the group meditations feel uncomfortable. For example, during the summer, we
have a half-hour members meeting followed by a meditation. Due to
air-conditioning considerations, the meditation is in the same room. To allow
people who do not wish to join in the meditation to leave gracefully, we enforce
a 5 minute break between the end of the meeting and the meditation, where
everybody who is not infirm is asked to get out of their seats. We also go out
of our way  to prevent the vegetarians from taking a "more-evolved-than-thou"
attitude towards the non-vegetarians.
Re: Is Olcott a Community as Intended?

    I have not heard any of this from the staff members with whom I have had
close contact. I had been assured that the morning meditation was strictly
voluntary (note that religious freedom is an important issue with me). As far as
Mr. Ohlrich's problem goes, if the job he wanted required presenting information
about the Theosophical Society on the fly, then everything in Dr. Algeo's
alleged statements (except morning meditation) is reasonable. If the information
position was something different, then they are not.

    Note that I wrote a recent article in TS-L (and am going to expand it and
submit it to Quest), where I express my belief that it is a mistake to have the
organizational leaders of the TS also be spiritual leaders, and noted that not
even the Mahatma's were able to find a single person capable of both (though Sri
Ram and John Coates came close). Unlike many here, I think that John Algeo is
honestly trying to do what he thinks is right, but I also think that there is
NOBODY who could take on that level of responsibility without incurring a lot of
bad feeling.
    I am looking forward to seeing the slate of officers that ACT will be
putting up for nomination, as well as actual platform. I, unfortunately, will
not be able to attend the Annual Meeting this year, but I believe my wife,
Michele, will be able to attend.

    I will start subscribing to ACT-L, so that non-TSA people in these lists
won't be bored by ongoing political conversation.

    Bart Lidofsky

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