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Constructive suggestions for Daniel

May 06, 1998 08:45 AM
by K. Paul Johnson

I'm delighted, Daniel, that you are embracing an ethic of calm,
civil discussion about Theosophical history and look forward to
the results of this change of heart.  It may well be a good thing
that your House of Cards is to be issued in a revised and
expanded version.  I have a number of suggestions that would help
make it more credible to people who are not fundamentalist
Theosophists, and more constructive in encouraging discussion of
the issues addressed.

1.  Change the title.  Using an individual's name followed by
"House of Cards" implies both a personal focus and a destructive
approach.  Something much more neutral and objective-sounding
will add to your scholarly credibility.  How about "M. and K.H.:
an Examination of Evidence Concerning Their Identities?"

2.  This is one I repeatedly implored you to do for years before
it came out.  Get rid of the ALL CAPS AND EXCLAMATION POINTS!!!!
It comes off like screaming from an enraged partisan rather than
scholarly investigation.

3.  Start out with some acknowledgment of what you see as the
strengths of the book(s) and whatever value they contribute to
the field before starting to attack two particular chapters.
That will come across as much more fair and balanced.

4.  Take into account all my responses as published on Dave
Lane's website and revise your own epistemological assumptions
accordingly.  You might as well take advantage of my work in
answering your objections.

That's enough advice for a start.  I don't doubt that you have
some genuinely constructive intentions behind what you're doing,
but believe that they've been overwhelmed by a destructive attitude
and presentation that does nothing to help anyone.  There are
some extremely right-wing Theosophists out there who have and
will continue to egg you on to be personally hostile in tone and to make
untenable assumptions about HPB always telling the truth.  But
having allowed your discourse to be shaped by the demands or
expectations of that tiny audience, you have greatly diminished
your contribution to objective scholarly consideration of the
subject.  That can be set right by revising the work with the
help of a nonpartisan observer, and I assume such can be found.

Finally, I suggest that you reread David Pratt's piece, which
makes all the same mistakes mentioned above, and consider it an
example to be avoided rather than followed or promoted.  You can
do better, as evidenced by the tone of your recent posts, than he
did at being fair, balanced and objective in tone.

Best wishes on your new edition and all other things,


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