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"Colonel Arthur L. Conger" by Alan Donant

Mar 20, 1999 07:00 PM
by David Green

Mr Frank Reitemeyer wrote-----
>>The Donant article is biased and full of misconception and gives 
hardly a
>>true view of history. 

Mr Jerry Schueler wrote-------
>There are always at least two sides to history (which is why history
>is so much fun for historians). Yes, I "really believe" Alan's article.

Mr Alan Donant's article "Colonel Arthur
L. Conger" is quite onesided 
in its presentation. This is regrettable
because the article first appeared in 
"Theosophical History"--- a scholarly 
journal edited by Dr James Santucci. I
would've believed a more balanced assessment
should have appeared in such a scholarly 

Regarding Colonel Conger's "role in the
dismissals from the headquarters staff at
Covina," Mr. Donant wrote [page 45]-------

"On October 22, 1945, Colonel Conger was
elected by the Cabinet as the Leader of
the Theosophical Society.  At this time
he was confined to a wheelchair by
Parkinson's disease.  It was a prejudice
against this illness that lay at the 
heart of the turmoil to come."

Mr. Donant doesn't support this contention
about the prejudice with one iota of 
evidence & testimony.  Nothing.

Now review these two statements by
Mr Donant-----

"Resignations from positions of respon-
sibility of these and other members of 
Colonel Conger's administration were
asked for after nearly eight months
of their continuous, public expression
of dissatisfaction."

"Some of these individuals did have
strong differences with Colonel Conger
and his Theosophic policies.  Some even
attempted to become more organized 
in their dissatisfaction."

Surprisingly, no details, no evidence & 
no testimony are given to document the
"dissatisfaction".  Why was there 
"dissatisfaction"?  Dissatisfaction about
what?  It is all a mystery in Mr Donant's 

And how do the strong differences &
dissatisfaction relate to the alleged 
prejudice against Colonel Conger's 
illness? Mr Donant doesn't answer 
this question either.

Mr Donant takes pages to refute the
observations of Dr Gregory Tillett, who was
not a participant & eyewitness to the
1946 turmoil.  Yet Mr Donant fails to quote
extremely pertinent passages from an 
account by an actual participant in 
the events.

Mr Donant refers to this account as
"Appendix IV of the Point Loma 
Publications edition (1975) of C. J.
Ryan's book 'H.P. Blavatsky and the
Theosophical Movement'."  He quotes
one extract from this essay but 
fails to mention that the appendix
that is titled "Later Point Loma
History" was written by W. Emmett
Small.  This appendix reflects the
views of Mr Small as well as those
of Mr Iverson L Harris.  Both Mr
Small & Mr Harris were participants
in the "turmoil".  Both were on the
Cabinet of the TS & both voted to
elect Colonel Conger as Leader.  And
both were dismissed months later 
by Colonel Conger.  

According to Mr Small's account, 
the turmoil, the dissatisfaction, etc. etc
had nothing to do with a prejudice 
against Colonel Conger's illness.  

Mr. Small writes-----------

"The position that Colonel Conger was 
elected to fill, it should be emphasized, 
was one of purely exoteric and 
administrative authority.  An E.S. Council
at the time was directing the activities
of the Esoteric Section. . . . . . . .
Within three months of his election Col.
Conger assumed headship of the E.S., 
declaring he held the same status as
H.P.B. did.  Within the next few months
he had summarily dismissed from office all
who did not immediately acknowledge him
in this capacity, even though they had
conscientiously asked for more time to give
it careful and full consideration.  Those so
uncharitably and swiftly deprived of former
duties and responsibilities included, among
others, the Chairman (Iverson L. Harris) and
the Secretary (W. Emmett Small) of the 
cabinet. . . . . . . . . . ." pages 363-4

The omissions indicate that Mr Donant's 
essay is a biased, onesided account of 
the turmoil surrounding Colonel Conger's TS 
administration.  I don't take sides in 
this controversy but ask for a more 
thoughtful, balanced essay on the subject
than Mr Donant's.

David Green

I thank several theosophical students
for their observations which I've
incorporated into my comments.   

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