Letter from John Bloom, General Secretary
I am beginning 2018 with an enlivened sense of gratitude for the depth of soul and thinking that permeates those working in and through the Anthroposophical Society. In my first year as General Secretary, I have been graciously received at numerous branches, organizations, and events, and been part of a General Council that is moving with clarity of purpose and values for the future of the Society. I get to work with a group of inspired Leadership Team members managing the day-to-day work of the Society with joy; they have the will to meet many challenges and take on initiative with limited resources. Engagement, exploration, and asking the hard questions are all part and parcel of the work of reconciling the inheritance we have received from Rudolf Steiner, and standing for Anthroposophia and her wisdom as we meet what is coming toward us.
Few would argue with the observation that the climate, meteorological and metaphysical, is adumbrating the cultural, political, and economic conditions in which we are asked to be of service to both the material and spiritual world. At the same time, one key phrase from the Foundation Stone—“so that good may become”—carries in it a reminder of why we are here in the first place. Each day I reflect on my actions and interactions with the question: Did I do everything possible today so that good may become of it, whether that is near or far away in time? My sense from meeting so many of you (and there are many more to go) is that love is a profound motivator across our membership—even when there are existential questions about the US and worldwide Society.
My colleague General Secretaries from around the world are in this same exploration. One hundred years later, what does it mean to be an Anthroposophical Society? Is it about the preservation and promulgation of our legacy? Is it about letting go of the past, of old forms, and seeking the emergent out of spiritual scientific research? Can we tolerate the risk of such experimentation? And finally, and most important for the future, can we cherish the evolving body of wisdom founded by Rudolf Steiner in such a way that it is an invitation to the next generation?
If we cannot find a way to do this soon, no good will become of all the generative work of our predecessors and those who have followed and made anthroposophy their own. The practical work around the world as well as in the US—Waldorf education, biodynamic agriculture, and all the other fields—has touched thousands of people who have experienced something of anthroposophy’s gifts. Some have been transformed by those experiences. Ask any Waldorf parent if they are the same after being a parent in a Waldorf school for three years or more. They will attribute that change to the values and practices of the teachers and school, though they may not necessarily understand the source of those practices. Of course, the risk to anthroposophy is that the practical organizations lose their deep connection to Rudolf Steiner’s insights and do not continue to evolve them. This is why one important focus of the Society is tending this wellspring and continuing to cultivate a connection to anthroposophy in individuals working in those organizations.
The spirit of the Society seems to become more evident wherever there is engagement—at this year’s AGM in Phoenix, in branch and regional gatherings, in numerous webinars and through some of the extraordinary financial gifts we have received. On a more personal note I have received over 160 thoughtful individual responses to General Secretary postings, which have been forwarded frequently. This just tells me that we as a Society want to be engaged in conversation, to reach out of our comfort zone to meet others who share an interest or just need to be seen and met. Such engagement is a form of cultural activism so needed in the world today. I feel most heartened when I hear colleagues speak not out of theory or beliefs, but rather out of self-knowledge and direct experience of life. It is in this realm that we can all truly meet as equals and, through that meeting, come to understand that individuality is actually a shared revelation. This creates a real and sustainable foundation for serving the world.
We can change the climate. Inner warmth is ours to enkindle and to share where it is wanted and needed. With warmth of relationships we can meet the uncertainties of the future, locally and globally, and continue to serve the spiritual world— which is waiting for us to get over the shadows of the past and the materialism of the present. William Shakespeare wrote in The Tempest: “What’s past is prologue.” The past foreshadows the present and possibly, but not necessarily, the future. We know we have choices to make, this is the destiny question. Let’s make all those choices so that good may become. Otherwise we risk the future as our epilogue.
Wishing you inspiration from the Holy Nights and a fruitful 2018.